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A worm plague is destroying agricultural crops already hit by drought, and hundreds of desperate small farmers in the village of Chissua 2, in the Cahora Bassa district of central Mozambique, foresee a “prolongation of hunger.”
“There is hunger,” says Chissua 2 resident Lina Hinácia Lungulane, summarizing the poor harvest in the last two growing seasons, and foreseeing “an extension of the hunger sacrifices” from the locust plague destroying the ears of that have resisted the sun.
“This season (2016-2017) we started well and it rained at the right time for sowing, but we started having insufficient rain in early February, at the crucial time for crops, and the situation has worsened with the locust plague,” another resident Alzira Albano told Lusa.
In this poor village of 722 inhabitants, poor houses and crops devastated by the drought affecting the entire district of Cahora Bassa and the southern part of the province of Tete, famine has changed the habits of the population, now making only one meal a day.
“Usually people eat just one meal a day to save on the little food they buy from shopkeepers,” said Rogério Jimo, a local government official, adding that social support is being provided to 40 elderly and other vulnerable groups.
According to Jimo, these single meals are usually interspersed with cucumber and watermelons, whose production is also “very scarce” this year, in contrast to the past when they served as a basis of support for thousands of people in the region.
For emergency supplies, some village women are harvesting pumpkin leaves, beans and okra for drying before they are devoured and totally destroyed by the locusts,
“We dry and then store them in bags to make curries or stews when we have nothing else to eat,” said Alzira Albano, as she spreads green herbs on a raffia bag stretched under the intense sun.
The drought and famine in the south of Tete contrasts with the abundance of production in the north of the province, which has generated business opportunities for small traders, who supply the hungry villagers with cereals and vegetables.Several peasants have try to swap farming for cash work in mining or charcoal production, but their initiative has proved insufficient to curb the unprecedented hunger plaguing hundreds of villages in the region.
“The money we use to buy corn to make our daily meal comes from gold mining and charcoal production, but we still can not fight hunger, because we are already weak at work because of a lack of food,” said Tito Zuze, whose hopes of seeing a crop this season is fading as there is no insecticide to fight the locusts and no rain to rejuvenate the crops.
Data from the Tete provincial government indicates that the districts most affected by the drought are located in the south of the province and include Changara, Cahora Bassa, Marara and Mágoè.
The drought is also being felt in the southern part of Moatize and Chiúta districts, along with the Dôa district in eastern Tete, which together have reported 108,000 farming families having lost their crops.
Tete is the hottest province in Mozambique, and the drought affecting these nine districts has only contributed to the considerable losses of production, making it the province with the most hunger clusters in the country.Source: Lusa