The 2016 grain harvest in southern Mozambique is regarded as a near total write-off because of the severe drought hitting southern Africa, caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Summarising the situation to reporters after the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) here Tuesday, Government Spokesman and Deputy Health Minister Mouzinho Saide said almost 518,000 hectares of crops –(mostly maize, rice and pulses — were considered lost.

As for livestock, the drought had caused the death of 4,372 head of cattle and that 3,856 of these animals died in the southern provinces, he added.

The amount of crops lost is 11 per cent of the total planted in the country. In northern Mozambique, and in much of the central part of the country, there have been rains, and a good harvest is still possible, Saide said.

Crop failures mean that 375,000 people are now facing food insecurity, and if the drought continues the number will rise to 1.7 million before the start of the next rainy season in October, he said.

Saide added that in order to mitigate the impact of the drought, the government had been organizing fairs of foodstuffs and agricultural inputs, from which more than 48,000 households had so far benefited.

There has also been distribution of drought resistant crop varieties, the opening of more boreholes for water, and attempts to use low lying areas which may have retained some humidity to grow maize and vegetables.

Source: AIM