Cape Town – Zimbabwe is reportedly facing widespread food shortages, with the situation said to be critical in the country’s rural areas.At least 16% of the country’s estimated 13 million population face food insecurity, according to a New Zimbabwe.com report quoting the United Sates-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet)."Rural food insecurity for the 2015-16 consumption year is estimated at 16% [1.5 million people] of the population during the peak lean season from January to March 2016, compared to 6% last season. Livelihood options are projected to be constrained in most of the country, but especially in the south," Fewsnet was quoted as saying.Vast areas of southern and western Zimbabwe suffered crop failures this year due to lack of rain. Fewsnet said earlier this year that food shortages could reach crisis levels by July if there was no food aid. Media reports said last month that the southern African country needed at least 700 000 tons of maize to avert the food crisis. The imports will cost the country's cash-strapped treasury around $224m, according to analysts. Zambia has already started exporting grain to Zimbabwe.