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Restricted maize exports likely to continue beyond September

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zambia
  • August 2016
Restricted maize exports likely to continue beyond September

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through January 2017
  • Key Messages
    • Although Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected across most of the country between August and September, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected in districts in southeastern and southwestern Zambia, as well as in Mambwe district in Eastern Province during the October 2016 to January 2017 period. 

    • The cost of food has remained considerably high despite an average 2015/16 harvest and food prices are expected to remain well above average for the remainder of the outlook period. Staple maize prices in July ranged from 45 to 140 percent above the five-year average. 

    • Given that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will not manage to purchase adequate maize to meet their targeted level, it is likely that maize export restrictions may continue beyond September to reduce outflows to neighboring maize deficit countries. 

    Current Situation
    • Since the Zambia Food Security Outlook from June 2016 – January 2017, more details about food availability is available for households in southeastern, southwestern, and eastern Zambia. Secondary market information and data indicate that rural households are currently consuming their own produced staple food. Field reports also indicate that pressure on the market in these areas is low, households are employing normal livelihood strategies, and there is no evidence that they cannot afford their non-food essentials. This new information covers districts in the Southern and Western Provinces, where the impact of the erratic rains during the 2015/16 season was more severe. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes continue in most parts of the country as a result of the average harvest in May.
    • Maize meal prices for the month of July remained relatively stable with respect to June, but are on average 48 percent above the recent five-year average.
    • Most households that produced less grain this season are still consuming their stocks in Gwembe and Sinazongwe districts in Southern Province. However, for poor households these stocks are expected to run out in September and October for Gwembe and Sinazongwe, respectively. Once these stocks run out, poor households in these areas are likely to face a more difficult than usual lean season. Pasture conditions are quite poor and livestock conditions continue to deteriorate. Availability and access to water for livestock remains a concern as well because animal watering points have dried up much earlier than usual.
    • For poor households in Shangombo, Sesheke, Sioma, and Mwandi districts in Western Province the food security situation is similar to that in Southern Province. Most households are still consuming cereals from own harvest. Pasture conditions are poor and water for livestock is limited, requiring that animals trek long distances in order to graze along the Zambezi River or browse and share domestic water sources. In Shangombo district, where the harvest was average, the food security situation continues to be stable. In Sesheke district, famers are selling some maize across the border in Namibia in order to cover expenses for their food and non-food needs.
    • The food security situation for poor households in Mambwe district of Eastern Province is currently stable, but is expected to deteriorate. Households are managing to meet their basic food needs by consuming their small harvests, and earning income from activities including petty trading, casual work, and the sale of small livestock (goats and pigs). Although maize meal from the neighboring and high producing Chipata district is available on the market in this area, no maize grain is currently available. This is due to a more lucrative market for Chipata district in neighboring Malawi and good prices being offered by large traders.
    • Maize purchases by both the private sector and the FRA are ongoing. The private sector entered the market in late April, which is earlier than usual, and is offering cash on the spot. As a result, the private sector has the largest share of the market this marketing season in all surplus producing districts in the country. In contrast, the FRA began purchasing in mid-July and is experiencing tight competition with private traders. Given the low purchases so far and stocks on hand from the previous season, the FRA stocks are estimated to be adequate for no more than three months consumption.
    • The price at which the traders are buying maize from farmers is ranging on average from ZMK 1.6/Kg to K2/Kg which is about 50 percent above last season. The northern parts of the country have the lowest prices, while areas in Eastern Province have some of the highest prices. In Eastern Province, prices range from ZMK 2/Kg to K2.4/Kg, which is very attractive and more than the ZMK 1.7/Kg being offered by the FRA. The traders and FRA are also competing with the attractive Malawi market where prices are reported to be around ZMK 3/Kg due to large cereal deficit in that country.
    • Formal maize export volumes during the April to May period were very low, but increased in June and were mostly destined for Zimbabwe. The lower than normal volumes since April have been attributed to formal maize export restrictions from the new harvest imposed by the government until after September. These restrictions are meant to allow the FRA to purchased most of the 1 million MT of maize for the strategic reserves and price stabilization. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of February to September 2016. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the Zambia Food Security Outlook for June 2016 to January 2017. 

    Projected Outlook through January 2017

    Acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to remain mostly Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most parts of the country due to average production. In the areas of concern in southwestern, southeastern, and eastern parts of the country, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes are projected to begin in October for poor households once they run out of own food stocks and start depending fully on food purchases in local markets because of higher than average prices and below average income earned. These households will have difficulties meeting essential non-food expenditures unless they engage in atypical coping strategies. Overall, staple food prices will remain much above the recent five-year average throughout the remaining outlook period of August 2016 to January 2017. Given that the FRA will not manage to reach their target for maize purchases, it is likely that the government will extend the period of export restrictions in order to safeguard the country’s food security. Demand for Zambian maize remains high within the region especially from neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi which are facing very large maize deficits.  

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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