The latest US funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reports shows that acute food insecurity outcomes are likely to continue in most areas of Zambia from March to September.
The report notes that stressed outcomes are expected in the extreme southern parts of the country which were affected by prolonged dry spells and poorly distributed rains due to the El Niño conditions during the first half of the cropping season.
FEWS NET projects that some localized areas of Zambia will be in crisis for the remainder of the outlook period.
It says factors contributing to acute food insecurity include delayed and reduced access to the green harvest due to the delayed start of season, the extension of the lean period by at least a month, and a typically high market demand for maize.
“With increased market demand for staple food, maize and meal prices have remained very high though relatively stable in most areas in the January to February period with the exception of border towns,” it says.
The report observes that prices are at least 50 percent above the recent five-year average, which is negatively impacting poorer household purchasing power.
“While maize exports have declined due to reduced market supply, informal exports of maize meal have atypically increased to almost all neighbouring countries such as Malawi, DRC, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia due to increased regional demand,’ it says.
“This higher than normal demand is expected to keep local prices above average. Malawi and the DRC remain the highest importers of informal maize meal. Rainfall over the past few months has increased. However, the improved moisture is likely too late to improve crops that were permanently damaged by the dryness and high temperatures in the southern parts of the country.”
It added, “The late planted crops in the southern region that are in the early to mid-reproductive stage will greatly benefit from these rains Livestock conditions will improve as well because of increased pastures and water availability.”
“Areas expected to experience significant reductions in production output include Western Province, most of Southern and Lusaka Provinces, as well as southern parts of Eastern Province. Based on the water requirement index (WRSI) and field reports, crops conditions in these areas are mediocre.”
The report says local maize stocks are estimated at 848,000 MT, with 216,000 MT committed to exports.
“These supplies are adequate to meet Zambian demand up to August 2016.
The next harvest expected in May should improve stocks in order to meet national needs through the end of the 2016/17 marketing season,” it says.