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Average maize harvest attained despite a poor and erratic start to the season

  • Key Message Update
  • Zambia
  • May 2016
Average maize harvest attained despite a poor and erratic start to the season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The harvest for the main cropping season is ongoing, and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes will continue from May to September  in most parts of the country due to increased household food supplies. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected during this period in parts of the extreme southwest and southeast, where local production was adversely affected by prolonged dry spells.

    • Despite the late start of the 2015/16 season and erratic rainfall experienced during the first half, recent crop forecast survey estimates indicate that Zambia’s maize production this season will be at the national average of 2.87 million MT. This year’s maize production, combined with the estimated maize carryover stock of approximately 667,500 MT, is expected to substantially exceed national requirements this consumption year.  Average production is also estimated for sorghum, millet, and groundnuts, while cassava, rice, and beans are estimated to be at levels that are below average. Sweet potatoes are expected to increase significantly this year because these crops were planted when seasonal rainfall improved during the late January/February period. Commercially planted soybean production is also expected to increase this season.

    • In order to protect consumers from the high maize meal prices, the government has been implementing price interventions since April. This intervention has resulted in some price reductions in some areas, however prices for non-food items continue to be high as well, reducing household purchasing power. Although local currently has appreciated by 14 percent since April, this has not translated into commodity price reductions. Between May and July, maize prices are likely to reduce or stabilize but will still remain above the recent five-year average. Maize prices are also expected to rise earlier than usual during the outlook period because of very high regional demand. Livestock prices are expected to remain within average levels given the average crop harvest. 

    • Given the estimated moderate maize surplus, the high export parity price, and the anticipated regional deficit, demand for Zambian maize will be very high. Strong export demand is expected from the DRC, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. This high regional demand is likely to keep local maize prices high. The DRC has already requested  30,000 MT formal exports from Zambia and this will be met by the private sector. The government has announced that they will purchase 1 million MT of maize for the same price as the previous season from the FRA.  To safeguard the country’s food security, new maize exports will begin after September 2016. However, exports already contracted from the previous season will be allowed. 

    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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