Southern Africa Faces Food-Supply Shortage From July, WFP Says

Southern Africa nations such as Zimbabwe are faced with “significant food-supply shortages” from July this year because of erratic rains, the United Nations’ World Food Programme said.

“Of great concern is Zimbabwe, which is facing a looming huge food deficit due to imminent widespread crop failure,” the WFP said in an e-mailed statement. “By February 2015, an estimated 23 percent of cultivated land was considered lost.” Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar are also likely to experience food-supply shortages, it said.

Zimbabwe will lose more than 300,000 hectares (741,316 acres) of its corn crop because of mid-season dry spells, resulting in a food shortfall that will require imports, the WFP said.

The worst drought since 1992 in South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn producer and traditional supplier of its neighbors, has damaged plants, with the nation predicting a 32 percent drop in the 2015 harvest to the smallest in eight years. Botswana said crops are showing signs of “total failure” due to below-average rainfall, while floods in Malawi and Mozambique have curbed production.

“The reduced maize production in South Africa will impact maize markets regionally by pushing up prices,” WFP said.

The price of white corn in South Africa has surged 29 percent so far this year, while that of the yellow variety gained 12 percent in the same period.

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