Food Security Outlook Update

Maize prices start to fall as farmers increase sales to the private sector

September 2014
2013-Q3-1-1-ZM-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected countrywide through December 2014, with poor households providing labor in exchange for basic staple food.  

  • Recent maize price decreases in September, despite higher-than-usual FRA purchase prices, may reflect panic selling by some farmers who still hold large grain stocks. These lower prices should improve poor market-dependent consumers’ access to maize. 

  • The FRA continues to buy maize despite meeting their 500,000 MT target in early September, which may interfere with private sector participation in the market and lead to high grain losses as the rainy season starts due to limited FRA storage capacity.

Current situation

Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes remain as the marketing season reaches its peak.

  • Rural households in many parts of the country continue to rely on own harvests, following record-high 2014 maize production.
  • The maize market is at its peak as surplus-producing farmers are still trying to secure a market, with many selling to the FRA, who are paying eight percent above the previous years’ price.
  • The FRA continues to buy maize, despite meeting their 500,000 MT target in early September, and despite having inadequate safe storage and not having paid many farmers for maize already purchased. This may affect farmers’ preparations for the coming season and result in large grain losses when the rainy season starts.
  • The FRA’s above-market buying price for maize caused prices to rise 8-18 percent in most markets in August, following price declines in June and July. However, as of September, farmers in high-production areas of Central, Southern, and Eastern Provinces have increased sales of maize to private traders at between 50-65 ZMW/50 kg. These sales at below-FRA prices are likely due to delayed payment by the FRA, the need for immediate cash to purchase inputs, and the need to destock maize before the rainy season ruins stocks in poor/inadequate storage facilities. Field reports indicate large stocks of maize in the high-producing areas of Eastern, Southern, and Central Provinces are yet to be sold.
  • Retail maize prices remained, on average, 14 percent higher than in August 2013, and 39 percent higher than the previous five-year average. Maize meal prices mostly remained stable, but above the five-year average. Prices decreased in some markets as households continue to access staple foods from own stocks, keeping market demand low.
  • Food assistance coordinated by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, scheduled to target 351,000 people in 14 districts (mostly in Western Province) has not yet begun. The VAC has recommended that most assistance be in the form of cash/vouchers, since supply of staple foods on the market remains good. Despite the delay, there have been no official requests for assistance from the districts, an indication that the situation is currently stable.
  • Despite the open export market policy, maize exports remain insignificant given low regional demand and high Zambia maize prices making it uncompetitive on the regional market. The World Food Program has procured 15,000 MT locally that is committed to regional humanitarian assistance. Informal exports to the DRC remain stable, and exports to Tanzania destined for Kenya increased by at least 10 percent in August. Continued FRA purchasing has maintained high informal imports from Malawi and increased those from Mozambique by 35 percent, potentially contributing to the high maize supply in Eastern Province.

Updated Assumptions

The Department of Meteorology’s September seasonal forecasts indicates a high likelihood of normal to above normal rainfall for Zambia, suggesting an on-time start to the season. The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most-likely scenario for the July to December 2014 period remain unchanged. The full scenario is available in the Zambia July Food Security Outlook

Projected Outlook through December 2014

  • Maize prices will fall in October-November as farmers get desperate to sell to the private sector due to poor household storage facilities and the need to raise cash for inputs to the 2014/15 production season, which begins in November for most areas. However, maize and meal prices will remain above the five-year average through December given the increases in cost of fuel, electricity tariffs, and FRA purchase price.
  • Planting is likely to start on time, given seasonal forecasts of normal to above normal rains and the early delivery of government-subsidized inputs.
  • In areas of concern, poor households will continue selling their labor in exchange for food (primarily) and cash in order to meet their basic food needs. Labor demand is expected to be good as the better-off have enough food to pay workers as land preparation starts in September, followed by planting in November/December. The small harvest from off-season maize planted in August will be available in December for consumption. Additionally, in Western Province, households will be accessing maize through the sale of fish through November and rice exchange through December. Food assistance will likely begin in October. The combination of good harvests and employment of normal livelihood strategies will sustain the poorer households and ensure that acute food insecurity remains Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through December. 

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics