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Average maize production expected for the 2012/13 season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Zambia
  • April - September 2013
Average maize production expected for the 2012/13 season

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Area of Concern
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Overall the food security situation is favorable with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes. Across the country, with the start of the harvest households are accessing adequate staple food supplies and an increased variety of seasonal foods. As part of the new harvest starts to enter markets, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) continues to ensure food supplies on the market through maize sales to millers and needy communities at fixed prices. 

    • Although the 2012/13 season maize production prospects remain fair to poor in southern Zambia due to prolonged dry spells, resulting in lower yields, the country is expected to attain at least an average output for maize. The increased area planted to maize due to the decrease in area planted to cotton will partially offset maize yield loss. This coupled with the minimum carryover stocks of 250,000 MT from FRA will ensure adequate maize stocks to meet the national maize requirement.

    • From April to June, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected among poor rural households as they continue to meet their basic food needs through their own production and purchases in local markets. As households begin to deplete their food stocks earlier than normal in areas in the extreme south, poor households will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from July to September.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    The country’s food security situation remains largely favorable. The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) continues to supply markets with staple food through maize sales to millers and needy communities at fixed prices. The early seasonal harvest (including squashes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, and seasonal vegetables) have increased household food diversity in the northern and central parts of the country, and to a less extent in the southern parts where crop conditions deteriorated due to extended dryness. Overall acute food insecurity outcomes for the majority of poor rural households are Minimal (IPC Phase 1).  

    Following seasonal trends, maize prices increased during the lean period and peaked in February/March, while mostly remaining within the five-year average. Maize meal prices throughout most of the country have relatively stabilized with stable supply of maize to millers. However the demand for maize in neighboring Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) kept prices in some northern districts significantly above the five-year average. With police patrolling instituted at major border points, captured informal maize and meal exports have decreased significantly.  

    Overall national production prospects remain good to fair despite indications of a possible 30 percent reduction in maize in southern Zambia. This likely decrease in production is as a result of the late start of season, erratic rainfall, and extended dryness. Although armyworm outbreaks and delayed distribution of fertilizer impacted crop yield in different parts of the country, in areas where rainfall was adequate the yield loss for maize was compensated by increased area planted since farmers substantially reduced area planted to cotton this season.


    The Food Security Outlook for April to September 2013 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    Staple food supply: With the expected average 2012/13 maize harvest and the estimated 250,000 MT carryover stock, the country is expected to have an adequate supply of staple food on the market during the outlook period (April to September). While many rural households will depend more on their own production for staple food in the northern and central parts of the country, those in the extreme southern parts are likely to start depending on the market by July. Markets are expected to be well supplied throughout the outlook period. Generally, the available seasonal foods will continue to increase food variety at the household level in the rural areas, further promoting diet diversity.

    Markets and prices: Given the harvests and the increased food stocks at the household level, most rural households are expected to reduce their dependency on markets for staple foods and this should reduce pressure on maize prices. Consequently, maize prices are expected to fall seasonally as supply on the market increases. The FRA will likely stop the maize market sales to millers by the end of May as the new harvest enters the market. The FRA is expected to purchase 500,000MT from small scale farmers between June and October for the strategic grain reserves.

    Maize and maize meal trade: With increased supply of maize on the market after the harvest, informal maize and maize meal exports to the DRC are expected to increase. However, the government is likely to continue with restricted exports throughout the outlook period. During the FRA maize purchase period of June to October, informal maize imports from Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi are expected to increase. 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Across the country, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected in the first half of the outlook period while for the second half of the outlook period (July-September) poor rural households in the extreme southern and south-western  districts will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Although the country expects a reduced harvest this season, gross national maize production is likely to be within the five-year average; this production supply along with carryover stocks should meet the country’s national maize requirement. Official crop estimates will be released by early May.

    From April to September, rural households will mainly depend on own food stocks, while poor households in production deficit areas impacted by the dry spells are likely to start depending on market purchases earlier than normal once they deplete stocks from their own production by June. The full impact of the erratic rainfall on the affected population’s livelihood will be established through the annual vulnerability assessment that will be carried out from late April to May. Income sources for the poor during this period are expected to mainly be from non-agriculture wage labor, brewing, petty trade, and fishing (in south-western and western Zambia). Traders are expected to adequately supply staple food to markets in these deficit areas with maize from the neighboring high producing districts. Government response to any staple shortages will be through the FRA and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU). The FRA will likely respond by supplying grain on the market through community sales while the DMMU will provide relief food if the situation warrants it in certain areas. No external food assistance is expected to be needed throughout the outlook period.

    Stable and lower staple food prices are expected for the duration of the outlook period. Given the increasing food stocks at household level as the new harvest becomes available in the rural areas, there will be reduced demand for staple food on the market. Maize and maize meal prices will follow their usual seasonal trend as farmers offload their production on to the markets. Households in deficit areas are likely to benefit from increased market supplies and stable prices which should improve their access to staple food.  

    Restricted maize exports are expected to continue. Domestic maize and maize meal supply levels will be sustained by stringent export permit regulations, therefore limiting formal maize exports. However informal maize and maize meal exports to the DRC are expected to increase and follow a normal seasonal trend. As in previous years, informal maize imports are expected to increase as traders and farmers from Mozambique and Tanzania take advantage of the annual FRA maize buying program that usually buys at above market prices from June to October.

    Area of Concern

    Gwembe Valley livelihood zone (Sinazongwe, Gwembe, Siavonga, southern Kalomo and southern Kazungula districts)

    Current Situation

    Households are meeting their basic food needs from consumption of their reduced own crop production and purchases with income from the sale of labor.  Farmers in these areas experienced a dry spell during the critical stage of crop growth, in addition to a late start of the season, and replanting due to armyworm attacks. Crop yields are estimated to be 40 percent less than in a normal year. This reduction in crop yield has meant little improvement in household dietary diversity at a time of the year when food variety is usually at its peak.  Current acute food security outcomes for poor households in these areas are Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    • In May, maize prices will fall to levels within the five-year average as the new harvest in high producing areas become available on the market.
    • Compared to a typical year, the 2012/13 staple food harvest in these districts will decrease by as much as 40 percent, reducing poor household food stocks significantly. Because of this reduction poor households are expected to deplete their food stocks by June (two months earlier than normal).
    • There is likely to be reduced local labor demand by the better-off households as their harvest has also been reduced this season. Labor incomes for the poor will therefore decline by about 30 percent in comparison to a normal year.
    • During the outlook period, limited vegetable production is expected due to the ongoing dryness and this could result in lower incomes for poor households.
    • Households will increase consumption of wild foods and less preferred foods (i.e. sorghum, millet) during this outlook period.
    • During the outlook period the number of household members going to neighboring districts in search of work will increase between July and September.
    • By July small traders are expected to increase their supply of staple food to these maize deficit districts as market demand increases. Maize inflow will be from neighboring high producing districts (Choma, Monze and northern Kalomo). In addition, the FRA will likely start the sale of community maize in these districts earlier than normal in order to increase supply and stabilize prices.  
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From April to June, poor households will have access to reduced household food stocks, but they will likely maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes. Household stocks are expected to only last until June. Once stocks are depleted, households are expected to increase their consumption of less preferred food, further decreasing their dietary diversity, while increasing their gathering and consumption of wild foods in order to narrow the food gap. These households will need to depend on the market for purchases earlier than usual in order to meet their food needs. With off season vegetable production disrupted due to dry streams, coupled with reduced labor opportunities due to the lower local production, household members will need to look outside of their districts for labor opportunities. Some family members will likely migrate to neighboring districts (i.e. northern Kalomo, Choma, and Monze) in search of casual work (mostly non-agriculture) by July. Increased sale of chickens and wild foods will help generate a bit of income to supplement households between April and June.

    During the July to September period, many households in these areas will continue to extend their livelihood strategies, but may still be facing difficulties in accessing adequate food even while selling off their small livestock, and increasingly spending most of their income on food purchases rather than investing to improve their livelihoods. Poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during this period.

    Other Areas of Concern

    Zambezi West Bank and Mulobezi Woodlands livelihood zones (Sesheke, Kalabo, Shang’ombo and Senanga districts)

    As a result of the erratic rainfall and extended dry spells, production in these areas is expected to be similar to Gwembe Valley livelihood zone and will likely be reduced by as much as 40 percent. For Kalabo district, extended flooding earlier in the season destroyed some maize and rice crops. While relying on reduced production amounts and purchases in local markets, poor households in this area will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes between April and June. From July to September households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) since labor opportunities are expected to decrease due to a reduction in production levels by better-off households, and possibly reduced availability of pasture for livestock due to dry conditions. Members of households in this area are expected to extend their livelihood strategies by increasing their participation in fishing activities, selling of more small livestock than usual, and by increasing consumption of cassava. Most likely households will not have adequate seed for off-season planting that is typically done in July for a 

    Events that Might Change the Outlook



    Impact on food security outcomes

    Parts of Gwembe Valley, Zambezi West Bank and Mulobezi Woodlands livelihood zones.

    Significant reduction in crop output in high producing districts of Choma, Kalomo, Monze, Mazabuka and Kalomo.

    This would create shortage of maize and therefore increase prices to abnormal levels making it inaccessible to these poor households.

    Few wild foods due to poor rainfall.

    This would result in reduced income earned through the sale of wild foods and could significantly increase the poor household food gap.

    Water shortage and reduction in pasture availability. 

    This would result in panic sales of livestock by better off households resulting in reduced income earned from livestock sales in order for households to purchase food in local markets.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, April 2013

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, April 2013

    Source: FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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