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As the peak of the lean season sets in, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present across typical deficit-producing areas, with most poor households facing increased food gaps. In the communal areas of the surplus-producing areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to prevail, while the more productive resettlement areas are expected to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes throughout the lean season. However, the start of harvests in April/May is expected to improve the availability and access of staple and other food crops across the country.
In January, most southern, eastern, and western areas experienced prolonged dry spells, resulting in moisture stress mainly for crops in the late vegetative and early reproductive growth stages. This dryness compounded dry spells experienced from mid-to-late December, with a potential reduction in cropped areas. In northern Zimbabwe, well-distributed and normal to above-normal rainfall in January is improving crop conditions, but general fertilizer access is limited for some farmers, which, if it persists, may eventually reduce potential yields in some of these typical surplus-producing areas. Additionally, the harvesting and curing of dryland tobacco has begun, with the curing of the irrigated crop reportedly almost complete. The 2023 tobacco marketing season will likely begin in late February/early March.
Parallel market exchange rates increased in January following the December festive season hikes. The USD is trading up to 1,200 ZWL, nearly 25 percent above the peak December rates. Price increases are being recorded for some basic commodities, even in USD, which is atypical this time of the year. As demand for cereal increases through the lean season, market supply is declining, particularly in most deficit-producing areas. This has increased prices in some monitored markets by up to 20 percent. The demand for maize meal is also increasing, with imported brands remaining available, especially in some southern areas, despite the import ban in November 2022.
Across Zimbabwe, some poor households are engaging in petty trade and casual labor to earn income and collecting and selling seasonally available wild foods. Since December, households have been harvesting, selling, and consuming Mopane worms (Gonimbrasia belina), also known as amacimbi or madora, particularly in the southern and western districts. The highly-nutritious and popular worms are reportedly available in near-record amounts this year. The availability of seasonal domestic and wild fruits and "vegetables" is also supplementing household food consumption in some parts of the country. Households are also increasing livestock sales with the start of the new school year.
This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.