HARARE, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is bracing for the worst food shortages in four years that one in every four Zimbabweans in rural areas are expected to need food support, a UN agency said Tuesday.
Citing a new study, the UN World Food Program (WFP) said an estimated 2.2 million people are to hit by hunger before next year's harvest season, the direst situation since early 2009 when about half of the nearly 13 million population needed food aid.
The current high levels of food insecurity are being attributed to various factors including adverse weather conditions, the unavailability and high cost of agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers and projected high cereal prices due to the poor maize harvest.
The UN agency monitoring in rural markets has found grain prices 15 percent higher than this time last year.
"Many districts, particularly in the south, harvested very little and people are already trying to stretch out their dwindling food stocks," said WFP Country Director Sory Ouane.
Ouance said the WFP and its partners will provide regionally- procured cereals as well as imported vegetable oil and pulses. Distributions will be gradually scaled up from October until harvest time in March next year.