The latest Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) report shows that Zambia will have reduced maize harvest this year.
It says this is due to late start-of-season and prolonged dry spells between late February and late March will likely reduce crop yields in typically surplus-producing Eastern and Southern Provinces.
Despite the positive forecast by the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum and the Zambia Meteorology Department of normal to above normal rainfall for the 2014/15 rainy season (Oct-April), below average rainfall has been recorded in most parts of southern and eastern Zambia.
The report said in addition, delayed start of season and prolonged dry spells from end of February to end of March at a critical time of crop growth (flowering and grain filling) has led to crop stress and wilting.
‘Recent increase in rainfall may have helped to eliminate moisture deficits in some areas, but prolonged dry spells have already negatively impacted crops and subsequently below average yields are expected in many areas in the southern half of the country,’ it said.
Most of the crops in these areas is in fair to poor condition with maize crop severely stressed having failed to recover after resumption of rains at the end of March.
Other crops which are typically planted after maize such as groundnuts, soybeans, rice, and cotton have also been affected and lower output is expected.
Very few crops (such as sweet potatoes and late planted beans) have benefited from the rains received in April. In these areas, little green harvests are available as most early-planted plots designated for green harvests produced well below-average crops.
Most of the country’s maize stocks are in the hands of the FRA, which is holding about 87 percent of the 1,370,000 estimated total stocks.
The Agency is selling maize to millers at a subsidized price of K1.30/Kg (16% below prevailing market price and 7 percent below cost price) which has to some extent led to stabilizing the maize meal prices.