A NEW report by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has stated that food availability is adequate and stable in the country, as it urges Member States to strengthen mechanisms to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.
The 2020 Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa that was released yesterday, disclosed that close to 44.8 million people across Southern of Africa are food insecure.
However, “Generally, food availability is sufficient and stable countrywide. Rice and maize yields are expected to increase by 6per cent from last year. Food stocks and accessibility are expected to increase at household level in the 2020/21 consumption year,” reads the report in part.
It revealed that the prices of major staple food commodities like maize, rice and beans have been declining since June 2020; and attributed this to good rainfall and availability of pasture which has also contributed to livestock population increase.
The report further lists measures that are taken by the government (of Tanzania) in ensuring food and nutrition security as increasing the minimal level of cereal reserve at the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) from 251,000 tonnes to 501,000 tonnes and monitoring food exports, particularly grains.
” In order to ensure food and nutrition security, the country is to conduct timely national comprehensive vulnerability assessments, sustain and promote proper post-harvest handling and storage; as well as increase investment in irrigation farming and continue to create awareness on Covid-19,” recommended the report.
According to the report, the government is also deploying measures to monitor all areas at risk of locust pests and fall army worm, encourage farmers to utilise available water for irrigation schemes, promotion of local production of agricultural inputs, and promotion of preventive measures against Covid-19.
Approved by the Regional Vulnerability Assessment & Analysis Programme (RVAA), the report said numerous factors contributed to food and nutrition insecurity, including Covid-19, climate change, conflict and economic challenges.
It warned that, “The full impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown on food and nutrition security cannot yet be fathomed, as we are still in the eye of the storm; the economic impact of Covid-19 on SADC is expected to be severe.”
The report points out that the emerging and developing economies globally are likely to be severely hit if closures and extended unemployment lingers.
‘ While the effects of Covid- 19 on malnutrition are not yet fully known, it is anticipated that with the effect of Covid-19 containment measures taken, acute malnutrition across the region could increase by 25per cent or more over the remainder of 2020 and into 2021,” read the report.
With these considerations, it is expected to be approximately 8.4 million children who will suffer from acute malnutrition across the region in 2020, and of these, approximately 2.3 million children will require life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition, it stated.