Fulai Joaquim has enough food to feed his 10 children for another week, maybe two. Then, he says, it is in the hands of God.
A cyclone ripped his cassava crop from the ground, leaving the roots to rot in the field, and the floods that followed washed away his maize.
“There have been a lot of tears,” said Joaquim, 45, as he trudged past the small plots of land that hug the mud and stick homes of Nhampuepua, also destroyed by the storm. “Everyone is hungry.”
Hundreds of rural communities were plunged into food crisis after Cyclone Idai tore through central Mozambique on March 14, humanitarian workers say. The government estimates that more than 700,000 hectares of agricultural land was flooded, leaving many farmers with nothing to harvest.
From the air, the kilometres (miles) of flattened crops look like thinning, slicked-back hair.
More than 750 people died in the storm and heavy rains before it hit Mozambique and two other southern African countries, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Two weeks later, as search and rescue operations wind down, the focus is shifting to feeding the survivors.
Maize imports to Mozambique could double this year from the usual 100,000 tonnes, said Wandile Sihlobo, an economist with the South African agribusiness association, Agbiz. How that might impact prices is uncertain.
“Food-security-wise, it’s been devastating,” the World Food Programme’s director for Southern Africa, Lola Castro, told Reuters at the airport in the cyclone-hit port city of Beira.
“We have to scale up fast.”
WFP has delivered food aid to some 200,000 Mozambicans and aims to reach a million in the next two weeks, Castro said.
But that is not enough. Farmers also need seeds to re-plant as quickly as possible.
“It needs to be done yesterday,” Castro said.