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Restricted maize exports likely to continue

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zambia
  • February 2013
Restricted maize exports likely to continue

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Key Messages
    • As anticipated, the general food security situation has remained favorable with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes across the country. Most households are depending on market purchases in order to access their staple food. Ongoing sales of maize to millers by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will continue ensuring adequate supply of maize meal in markets.

    • While formal maize exports have been significantly reduced following restricted exports in September, informal maize meal exports have increased between September and January.  

    • The impending opening of three spillway gates at Kariba Dam in March is expected to cause downstream flooding in Chirundu, Kafue, and Luangwa districts, possibly displacing households in those areas. 


    Current Situation

    As projected in the January Food Security Outlook, the food security situation has generally remained favorable and acute food insecurity is Minimal (IPC Phase 1). As the peak of the lean season continues, most households are depending on market purchases for their staple food.

    The delayed onset of rains in December caused delayed planting, along with armyworm infestations in parts of the country, especially the southern half (central, south and eastern maize belt areas). As a result of these events maize crops are at varying stages of development, ranging from vegetative to early fruit formation. Most of the crops in the south are in the late vegetation to flowering stage and in fair to good condition, indicating that most green harvests will be delayed until mid to late March. For most poor rural households this means continued dependency on the market for food purchases. Similarly, maize crops in the Eastern Province are in the late vegetative to tasseling stage and the crop conditions are mixed. Common in all of these regions is the very late (January/February) delivery of subsidized top dressing fertilizer, which has resulted in localized yellowing and stunting of some crops. Waterlogging in parts of the country, especially the south and central areas, due to extremely heavy rainfall in January has also contributed to the fair crop conditions. Following poor selling prices in the current season, most small scale farmers have cut back on cotton production and either put more land into maize, soybeans, or groundnuts. The cash crops are generally in good condition, while livestock is benefitting from the good pasture and routine vaccinations against major diseases.    

    Despite the high dependency and demand for staple food on the market by both urban and rural consumers, the market is generally well supplied with maize meal. Despite gradual meal price reductions in certain markets following the Government directive to reduce prices, lower maize prices have yet to register in border towns such as those neighboring Tanzania and Democratic republic of Congo (DRC), where active meal trade continues. 

    While the maize export restrictions instituted by the Government this past September has resulted in sharp reduction of formal maize exports (Figure 3), informal meal exports have increased (Figure 4). During the 2011/12 marketing season, most maize was formally exported to Zimbabwe and South Africa (85 percent), while formal exported maize meal went to the DRC. During the current season, most maize has been exported to Zimbabwe (60 percent). These maize exports are serving humanitarian activities in Zimbabwe through local purchases by the World Food Program and so far about 22,000 MT has been moved into Zimbabwe since November 2012. Another 20,000 MT of maize is destined for Tanzania through a bilateral arrangement.


    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of January to June 2013. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the Zambia January Food Security Outlook.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Formal maize exports (MT)

    Figure 2

    Formal maize exports (MT)

    Source: Central Statistics Office

    Monitored informal maize meal trade (MT)

    Figure 3

    Monitored informal maize meal trade (MT)

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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