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Armyworm and stalk borer outbreak may compromise the 2016/17 maize production

  • Key Message Update
  • Zambia
  • January 2017
Armyworm and stalk borer outbreak may compromise the 2016/17 maize production

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the lean season continues and the peak period begins, most parts of the country continue to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. A few areas in the southeast, southwest, and Mambwe district in Eastern Province are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and will experience these outcomes through February as they fail to meet non-food essentials without resorting to irreversible coping strategies. Most households are depending on the market to access staple food after running out of own stocks due to a reduced 2016 harvest, in some cases, while others sold more of their 2016 maize harvest than usual due to the attractive buying prices. Most poorer households are working for food as agricultural labor demand has increased with the start of the new production season and they are also depending on the sale of small livestock and wild foods for income. From March to May, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected across the country as households access green harvests and own production from the main harvest in April/May.

    • There is a widespread outbreak of both stalk borers and the fall armyworm, a pest closely related to the African armyworm. As of January 2nd, Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) reported that an estimated 100,000 hectares of maize were affected. By January, 9th, an additional 29,000 ha was reported to be affected, bringing the estimated total to 129,000 ha, of which 68,016 ha could potentially need to be replanted. The affected area represents about 9 percent of the average planted area to maize annually. The worst hit areas include parts of Southern, Central, Lusaka, Copperbelt, Eastern, and Luapula Province. Farmers are being provided pesticides to help bring the situation under control and an alert has been issued to farmers and the public by the DMMU. Government under the coordination of the DMMU and the Ministry of Agriculture is providing pesticides to farmers to help bring the situation under control. 

    • Even with large in country stocks, maize prices remain high as the peak of the lean season commences and demand for staple food from the market rises. This is keeping maize meal prices at levels that are much above the five-year average. Prices are exceptionally high in the towns bordering the DRC due to the high demand for Zambian maize, even with the maize export ban in place. Traders continue to informally export maize meal through unusual routes between the two countries. The resulting high prices on the Zambian side are compromising consumer purchasing power. However, the 100,000MT commercial exports to the Government of Malawi has stalled due to some contract challenges.  

    • After a slow start of season during the November and early December period, rainfall performance has significantly improved in terms of both amount and distribution nationwide. As of the end of December, most areas that experienced early season deficits have received normal to above normal rainfall. In line with the effective start of season, most planting took place in mid-December, which is within the recommended planting period for maize and other crops.  

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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