Skip to main content

Crop conditions good in most parts of the country despite delayed start of season

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zambia
  • February 2015
Crop conditions good in most parts of the country despite delayed start of season

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Most households are currently facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity, even at the peak of the lean season. The country has experienced a milder lean season as staple foods are readily available on the markets, while in surplus-producing areas many households are still accessing own-produced stocks with the poor households working for food.

    • Maize prices continued to increase, as is typical during the lean months while maize meal prices that had remained atypically stable in Nov/Dec also increased as millers began to access the more expensive Food Reserve Agency (FRA) maize. It is expected that maize meal prices will stabilize especially in outlying areas partly due to the 28 percent reduction in fuel prices effective as of January 16.

    • Crop conditions are reported to be in good condition despite the delayed start of season and subsequent late planting that followed for most of southern and eastern Zambia, but stressed in the south western part. Good yields are likely if the rains continue into end of March/early April, to provide for late planted crops to reach maturity.

    Current Situation
    • February acute food security outcomes remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) at the peak of the lean period. In general the country has experienced a milder lean season. Even as poor households have depleted own stocks, they are accessing staple foods from the market though with difficulty due to the high price, while others are relying on labor exchange for food.
    • January maize and meal prices increased in most markets due to increased demand as expected during the lean season. Maize meal prices that had been stable in Nov/Dec increased mainly in urban markets as millers started to access FRA maize at ZMW 1.50 per kilogram as compared to ZMW 1.40 per kilogram they had been buying from traders up till December. Maize and maize meal prices in most markets remained within the previous year’s levels but above the five-year average due to increases in production and processing costs. It is expected that in the coming months (March/April) maize meal prices may stabilize for some markets as some millers announced a marginal reduction in prices for rural outlets, taking advantage of the 28 percent reduction in fuel prices announced on the 16th of January.
    • Food assistance is being distributed to about 120,000 people in seven districts of Western province. This is out of a population of 350,000 in 14 districts that was initially recommended by the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC)  May 2014 in-depth assessment, which was mainly based on chronic food insecurity. There has been no appeals from the other seven districts from the Eastern and Northern provinces, an indication that most of the poor in these areas are coping normally.
    • Despite a late onset of rains in southern and eastern Zambia, rainfall has generally been consistent and well distributed, though the extreme southwest experienced prolonged dry spells in February. Maize crops are generally in good condition – at the mid/late vegetative in Eastern Province and flowering/grain filling in Southern Province. Most of the other crops are also performing well, but are mostly in the early vegetative stages especially in Eastern Province due late planting as first priority is given to planting of the staple food (maize). In the western and north western part of the country where the start of season was earlier, maize is at the grain filling stage. Reports of delayed application of top dressing fertilizer under the government-supported Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) may contribute to reduced yield. In some districts, the attractive FRA maize prices has led to an increase in the maize area planted, while in other areas farmers have opted to grow more cash crops (i.e. cotton) for which they are paid early, unlike FRA payments for maize, where most farmers received their money in Dec/Jan for maize supplied in Aug/Sept. Overall crops are performing well and a good harvest is likely if good rains continue into March/Early April.
    • Maize exports remained limited due to low regional demand and the uncompetitive price of Zambian maize compared to that of South African maize especially for the Zimbabwe market. However, there was an increase in formal maize exports to Zimbabwe in January. Informal maize exports to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) market has remained atypically stable, which could be attributed to the fact that traders can export formally without restrictions. Meanwhile, maize exports to Tanzania that had reached their peak in August at 500 MT have stayed low at 20 MT in January as there is no more demand for the Kenya market.
    • An outbreak of African Swine Fever was reported in Kalulushi district in Copperbelt Province in January and Government has put restrictions on the movement of pigs and pig products in order to contain the disease. This comes after having contained a similar outbreak that occurred in December last year in Solwezi district (in neighbouring Northwestern province). Swine fever outbreaks affect better-off farmers and lead to reduction and/or loss of income for farmers in the affected districts.

    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 2015. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the Zambia Food Security Outlook for January to June 2015.

    Projected Outlook through June 2015
    • Crop conditions are expected to remain good and a good harvest is feasible for the May/June harvest period if the rains end normally. The recent SARCOF forecast expect Zambia to receive normal to above-normal rainfall for the remainder of the rain season (March/April) which should provide adequate moisture necessary for crop maturity especially for the late planted crops.
    • Maize grain supplies to community markets will remain stable but given the increased demand prices are likely to continue to increase until April when most farming households will start to access the new harvest. Households are expected to continue to depend on the market a month longer than normal due to the late start of the season and consequently prices are likely only to start to decline in May. On the other hand, maize meal prices will remain stable given the stable supplies and price of maize from the FRA (the major source). Overall supplies will remain adequate throughout the outlook period from the FRA, private sector and later, the new harvest in May/June. Acute food security outcome for the country is expected to remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for the rest of the outlook period.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top