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As maize prices decline, food security remains stable

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zambia
  • June 2013
As maize prices decline, food security remains stable

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • The food security situation in the country remains stable following the average 2012/13 harvest. At the household level, staple foods are available through either markets or own production. Acute food insecurity outcomes for June are expected to be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) across the country. 

    • Maize prices in most markets have declined following seasonal trends, improving access for market dependent households. However, prices are expected to begin increasing earlier than normal due to several factors: the recent fuel price increase, anticipated Food Reserve Agency (FRA) purchases of maize, and regional exports.

    • From July to September, acute food insecurity outcomes for most households will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) given the availability of maize. However, according to the annual Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) assessment, a small proportion (<20 percent) of households in 18 districts will face livelihood protection deficits during this period. 


    Current Situation

    As projected in the April to September 2013 Food Security Outlook, acute food insecurity outcomes throughout the country will continue to be Minimal (IPC Phase 1). Household food stocks have been replenished following the average 2012/13 main season production. The national maize surplus has decreased to 454,000 MT, which is 54 percent below last season’s levels. Many rural households have reduced dependency on markets because they are accessing their own production. In some areas of southern Zambia that experienced a significant decline in maize production due to a late start of season and erratic rainfall, the current food security situation has remained stable. Poorer households in these areas of concern are meeting their basic food needs by engaging in labor in exchange for food.

    • Results from the VAC assessment conducted in April/May 2013 established that out of the 44 districts that experienced some hazard events (dry spells or floods), 18 districts will be eligible for relief and rehabilitation programming. That programming is scheduled to take place from August 2013 to March 2014. The districts of concern include Chibombo, Itezhi-tezhi, Mkushi (Central province), Nchelenge (Luapula province), Chongwe, Luangwa (Lusaka province), Isoka, and Mafinga (Muchinga province), Pemba, Kalomo, Mazabuka, Chikankata, Monze, Namwala, Siavonga (Southern province), Lukulu, Sesheke, and Mwandi (Western province).
    • In the 18 districts, the VAC estimates that approximately 209,498 people will require food assistance. However, this need will be met with domestic grain stocks. In line with local relief distribution modalities, 80 percent of the food will be provided through food for work programs, while 20 percent will be free food distribution for the elderly and those unable to work.  
    • The FRA will begin the annual maize purchase program in early July once most maize grain has dried. They plan to purchase 500, 000 MT of maize for the strategic reserves and 250,000 MT for regional export needs at a fixed price of ZMW 65.00 per 50Kg.
    • The Government expects millers to procure their own stocks to cover the 2013/14 marketing/consumption season, but the level of private sector participation in maize purchases will depend on whether or not the FRA procures additional grain as the season progresses.
    • Maize prices in most markets declined or remained stable in May as supplies from the harvests entered the market. Significant price decreases were recorded at Mongu (35 percent), Kasama (32 percent), and Solwezi (25 percent), while prices in Lusaka increased by 10 percent since April.  That increase is likely due to lower than normal supply entering the market. This situation may be attributed to farmers holding on to their maize in order to sell to the FRA at a better price. During a recent visit to the main market in Lusaka, FEWS NET found very little maize being brought in but a lot of soya beans were being supplied.
    • In general, roller maize meal prices remained stable in May as most farming households started to consume own produced and locally processed maize meal, thus reducing dependency on maize meal sold in markets.
    • Informal cross border trade in maize is expected to substantially increase once supplies on the market increase and as traders start to take advantage of the price disparities across the borders. Maize and maize meal exports to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are on the rise despite stringent police patrols at the Kasumbalesa border due to increased maize supply on the market. Maize inflows from Mozambique and Tanzania are expected to be on the rise as traders respond to the comparatively high FRA maize purchase price. 

    Updated Assumptions

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


    Projected Outlook through September 2013
    • According to VAC assessment findings, less than 20 percent of the households in each of the identified 18 districts will be food insecure during the July-September period. However, it is expected that by end of July poor households in these districts will have depleted their own stocks and will face reduced labor opportunities, while potentially experiencing an early increase in staple food prices at the same time.  All of these factors are expected to make it increasingly difficult for poor households in these areas to meet basic food needs. It is expected that the Government will provide assistance in supplementing their food needs.
    • Given the general food consumption situation and stable livelihoods, the acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in the identified 18 districts during the outlook period. The projected classification has improved in the extreme southern region because the affected groups make up less than 20 percent of the population—however livelihood protection deficits are still expected among poor households between July and September.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    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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