Reference Date: 04-November-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Favourable rains forecast for 2014/15 cropping season
Planting of the 2015 cereal crops is underway. Despite earlier concerns of an El Niño-affected 2014/15 rainy season (October-March), which is normally associated with drier-than-normal conditions, seasonal forecasts indicate overall favourable precipitation until March 2015. The Government will continue to support input access through the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), aiming to further diversify crop production. The recently-released 2015 national budget also indicated the allocation of funds to increase the number of agricultural extension officers by 500 people, expand the area under irrigation and to purchase 500 000 tonnes of maize through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for national strategic reserves.
Record maize crop harvested in 2014
Maize production in 2014 is estimated at a record 3.35 million tonnes, about 30 percent higher than last year’s below-average output, reflecting both higher yields and a larger planted area. Good rains and input support from the FISP, which targeted 900 000 beneficiaries, contributed to the increase.
For other crops, mixed outputs were estimated for sorghum (‑23 percent) and millet (+27 percent) compared to 2013, while a small increase is estimated for rice. The winter wheat crop, with the harvest expected to be completed in November, is forecast to decrease sharply to just over 200 000 tonnes, reflecting a decline in plantings. Overall, cereal production in 2014 is forecast to increase by 25 percent compared to 2013’s near-average output.
Large surplus maize supplies estimated in 2014/15
The Government increased the purchases of maize through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) from the original target of 500 000 to about 1 million tonnes. Combined with its carryover stock, the FRA is estimated to hold approximately 1.35 million tonnes. Given the ample supplies and export surplus, the Government revoked the export ban earlier this year. However, there are comparatively limited export opportunities in the region, as most countries, including Zimbabwe which imported Zambian maize in the last two years, recorded sizeable production gains in 2014. Furthermore, the comparatively low prices in South Africa are also partly limiting Zambia’s competitiveness in the region.
Maize grain prices increased seasonally, but milled prices continued on gradual decline
Maize grain prices increased seasonally in August and September, after sharp declines in preceding months that followed the record 2014 harvest. The national average grain price was about 5 percent above its year earlier level. Prices of milled maize have been more stable this year, but continued their steady declining trend in September and remained between 6 and 10 percent higher than the previous year. The removal of maize and fuel subsidies in 2013, limited stronger losses this year and partly contributed to the slightly higher year-on-year levels.
Food security conditions stable
The 2014/15 national vulnerability assessment estimated that 351 267 people (4 percent of the rural population), up 68 percent from the previous year, require food assistance. Most of these households are located in the western parts, which experienced a dry spell earlier in the year resulting in reduced crop production. However, reports indicate that no formal request for food assistance has been made, except from one district in the Central province, pointing to a continuation of generally stable conditions.