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Government centralizes maize export permit process

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Zambia
  • September 2012
Government centralizes maize export permit process

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated Food Security Outlook through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Five months into the 2012/13 marketing and consumption year the food security situation remains favorable and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity conditions exist throughout the country. Many small-scale farmers are desperate for cash in order to purchase inputs for the upcoming 2012/13 growing season. Poorer households who have run out of food stocks are mostly engaging in off-farm casual labor in order to meet their food needs through market purchases.  

    • The Government of Zambia recently instituted new maize export permit measures that have slowed down the formal and informal outflow of maize from the country. 

    • Seasonal rainfall forecasts indicate that areas in the southwestern and northeast regions of the country have a higher chance of receiving normal-to-below normal rainfall between October and December. Areas in the north will likely receive normal-to-above normal rainfall, while normal rains are likely in the south between January and March.  


    Updated Food Security Outlook through December 2012

    As projected in the July Outlook, the food security situation has generally remained favorable five months into the 2012/13 marketing and consumption year and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity conditions exist throughout the country. These conditions are in line with the good harvest attained during the 2011/12 production season. As a result, better-off rural households still have some food stocks available and those with surplus grain are busy selling in local markets at the height of the marketing season. Small-scale farmers have increased their sales to both the private traders and the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) because they are desperate for cash in order to purchase inputs for the upcoming 2012/13 growing season. As reported in the July Outlook, the assumptions for the projected food security scenario remain valid.

    Poorer households who have run out of food stocks are mostly engaging in off-farm casual labor in order to purchase food from markets. Food insecurity has generally remained Minimal in marginal areas and areas of concern in the extreme southern parts of the country because poor households are adequately accessing maize from surplus areas. Current maize prices are stable and within average levels, ranging from 10,000 ZMK/18kg to 24,000 ZMK/18kg.

    Markets and Prices

    Maize market supplies remain good after the surplus harvest from the 2011/12 production season. Maize prices which had atypically increased in early August in some markets have since stabilized as of late August. In August, the increased number of foreign traders buying maize to supply mostly Zimbabwe and several countries in the Horn of Africa resulted in higher prices as private trader purchases from small-scale farmers competed with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

    In their effort to regulate the increasing purchases of maize by foreign traders and growing formal exports, the Government of Zambia recently instituted new maize export permit measures in order to standardize exports. This measure is specifically aimed at safeguarding the staple food in the country, monitoring the volumes of maize being exported, and centralizing maize export permit processes. The immediate impact of this measure has varied across the different borders. In Nakonde (bordering Tanzania), increased control has reduced informal maize trade through the usual points, but it has increased use of alternative routes that are not usually monitored in order to move maize across the border. Although informal maize export volumes have significantly reduced at Kasumbalesa (a major point bordering with the Democratic Republic of the Congo), at Kipushi border (a minor point bordering with DRC) there has been little or no impact on the volumes of maize exports. In response to the reduced supply of maize at these border points, maize grain prices atypically increased by 30 percent (K65,000/50Kg to K85,000/50Kg) and 50 percent (K70,000 to K105,000) on the Zambian and DRC side, respectively, between July and August (Figure 3).

    While informal maize exports to the DRC decreased, maize meal exports atypically increased as Zambian millers increased meal supply to their outlets located at the Kasumbalesa border, in response to increased demand in the DRC (Figure 4). At the border with Zimbabwe (Chirundu), formal maize exports from Zambia have continued but with increased export permit control. It is not clear when the Government of Zambia will start considering new applicants for maize export permits.

    As a result of firmer regulations on exports, FEWS NET observed that some small-scale traders in Lusaka who had been exporting maize to Zimbabwe are continuing to buy from farmers, but they are holding the stock in anticipation of export opportunities once the new export permit process resumes. Furthermore, discussions with traders and visits to markets revealed that there is still a lot of maize flowing into Lusaka from the Eastern and Central provinces and that farmers are desperately looking for good markets in order to get needed cash for 2012/13 agricultural inputs.  

    Update on Food Security Scenario

    During the September to October period, the food security situation is expected to remain favorable as food supplies on the market remain adequate and maize and meal prices continue to be within average levels. Poorer households will become more dependent on market purchases and will be employing normal off-season livelihood strategies to meet their food needs through casual labor.  

    The seasonal rainfall forecast released by the Zambia Department of Meteorology indicated that the country will receive mostly normal rainfall in the first half of the season. However the southwestern and northeast regions have a higher chance of receiving normal-to-below normal rainfall between October and December (Figure 5). During the second half of the season, the northern half will likely receive normal-to-above normal rainfall while normal rains are likely in the southern half. This is in line with forecasted conditions in the event of an El Nĩno. Based on El Nĩno events in previous years, there is a likelihood that some districts (Sinazongwe, Choma, Kalomo, and Kazungula--Southern province; Sesheke, Shangombo, and Senanga--Western province; Isoka, Nakonde and Chama--Northern province) could experience extended mid-season dryness between January and February. Consequently, farmers should consider planting early and using early maturing varieties in areas in the extreme south.  During the second half of the season, there is a likelihood of flooding in flood prone areas along the Zambezi, Luangwa and Kafue Rivers. Districts susceptible to flooding include parts of Chavuma, Zambezi, Lukulu, Mambwe and Kafue districts. Depending on the severity of the flooding, there could be downstream impacts which normally affect Luangwa, Kazungula, Sesheke and the Gwembe valley.

    Overall normal rains are expected in most parts of the country. In November planting is expected to be timely and labor opportunities abundant for poorer households in the areas of concern (Mazabuka, Chikankata, Mambwe, Chavuma and Gwembe). This should provide poorer households with needed food and income during this period of the consumption year. Additionally, the FRA is likely to start community maize sales in order to offset any grain shortages in low producing areas from November to December. During this period the food insecurity situation is expected to remain Minimal (Phase 1). 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Source: FEWS NET

    Informal Maize export price trends (ZMK/Kg)

    Figure 2

    Informal Maize export price trends (ZMK/Kg)

    Source: FEWS NET

    Informal maize grain and meal export from Zambia to the DRC (MT)

    Figure 3

    Informal maize grain and meal export from Zambia to the DRC (MT)

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal rainfall forecast for October-December 2012/13

    Figure 4

    Seasonal rainfall forecast for October-December 2012/13

    Source: Zambia Department of Meteorology

    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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