The availability of some basic commodities has improved but prices continue to rocket. According to the latest report by the Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) Network, maize grain, cooking oil and bread supplies have improved in most areas of the country.
The number of residents in Harare and Chitungwiza who said maize grain was now readily available improved from 17 percent in January to 71 percent in June. Those who said maize meal was now readily available rose from 3 percent to 23 percent.
But prices had continued to soar with maize prices at Mbare Musika increasing from $166 a kg in July to $211 a kg in August. Prices at the city centre market in Bulawayo has risen from $440 to $560 a kg.
The survey also indicated that while a 2kg packet of sugar was supposed to sell for $330, it was selling for $1 800. A 20kg packet of mealie meal was going for $19 000 instead of $2 748. Bread was still controlled at $250 a loaf but was selling for $950 while cooking oil was going for $7 500 for 5 litres instead of the controlled $2 909.
Only 25 800 tonnes of maize had been imported in August reducing the cereal gap to 818 464 tonnes. Food imports by both the government and donor agencies estimated at 374 200 tones will reduce the deficit to 444 264 tonnes.
An estimated 5 million people will need food assistance totalling 465 000 tonnes. This is largely because most households will not be able to afford the new prices of maize.