Zimbabwe: A Window on Africa’s Growing Food Crisis

Zimbabwe, once known as Africa’s breadbasket, has struggled to feed itself since the seizure of thousands of white-owned farms under former President Robert Mugabe.

But the price hikes here also indicate how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as UN agencies warn, will deepen a food crisis across the continent.

“Lately there’s been a shortage of cooking fat, our cooking fat comes mainly from South Africa, and most of the oil is made locally, but it’s also increased, I’m sure , because of the war in Ukraine and the cost of fuel. So those are some of the major issues.”

The Ukrainian conflict has disrupted shipping in the Black Sea, limiting exports from Russia and Ukraine to markets, including in Africa.

Nearly half of the continent’s 54 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for wheat imports, says Abebe Haile-Gabriel, deputy director-general at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“This war in Ukraine, the impact is superimposed on the crisis that has already unfolded in some African countries.”

Even before war broke out, food inflation was pushing many African families to the brink.

According to the FAO, world food prices soared more than 23% last year, the fastest pace in more than a decade.

In Zimbabwe, fuel prices are rising and the currency is rapidly devaluing. Annual inflation jumped to 96% in April from 61% in January.

According to government statistics, about half of Zimbabwe’s 15 million people survive on less than $1.90 a day.

Tarisai Gweje, a resident of Harare, says her family used to eat three meals a day.

“But these days you can even go seven days without eating meat, without having three meals a day, so it’s really difficult for people and it’s really difficult for a family living on a basic salary. .”

Across Africa, food insecurity is on the rise.

The Horn of Africa faces its driest conditions in more than 40 years, a civil war in Ethiopia has pushed hundreds of thousands into starvation conditions and millions more are at risk in South Sudan .

West Africa is facing its worst food crisis on record, sparked by militants who forced millions off their land in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

Floods and droughts, linked to climate change, have destroyed crops and lives across the continent and now the conflict in Ukraine is making a dire situation even worse.

About Dwayne Wakefield

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