The Famine Early Warning Systems Network has projected a rise in retail maize prices this month which is earlier than when prices normally rise in October.
In its latest forecast, FEWSNET said retail maize prices in June in most markets reduced typically but are expected start to increase by August.
It said prices will remain above the recent five-year average due to increased cost of production and the high demand.
It further observes that Maize meal prices are also likely to increase by August as well due to the high maize buying price.
FEWSNET also observes that livestock prices are expected to remain within average levels, but will start to decline in October as more households need to sell in order to raise income for food purchases.
“Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes will continue from July to January for most parts of the country due to increased household food supplies from the recent harvest. However, Shangombo, Sioma, Sesheke, Mwandi, Kazungula, Sinazongwe, Gwembe, Siavonga, Luangwa and Mambwe districts in south-western, southern and south-eastern Zambia will have stressed food insecurity outcomes during this period due to reduced own staple food stocks due to prolonged dry spells earlier this year,” it said.
“As a result, some poor households have already run out of own produced stocks and are relying on the market for staple food purchases much earlier than when they would normally start in September, and households have limited incomes from non-agricultural labor activities such as the selling of fish, small livestock, wild foods, vegetables, and charcoal.”
FEWSNET expects that in August, 257,592 of the affected population will start to receive food assistance to protect their livelihoods, as recommended by the Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s (VAC) May results.
It said the assistance will be provided through the government’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) from available Food Reserve Agency maize stocks.
And FESWNET says the Food Reserve Agency which plans to purchase 1 million MT of maize for the strategic reserve and for price stabilization sales during the 2016/17 lean period might struggle to meet its target.
“Maize purchasing commenced in mid-July but reports indicated that the FRA is facing challenges in buying enough maize due to stiff competition from private traders that are offering higher buying prices of up to 2.40/kg.”
It further noted that formal maize exports in May were down by 4 percent since April, with 90 percent destined to Zimbabwe.
“These exports are from the 2015/16 exportable surplus that is still being allowed. Per a government directive exports of maize supplies from the 2015/16 crop will only be allowed after September in order to allow FRA purchases. However, regional demand for Zambian maize from the neighbouring countries remains very high due to the large cereal deficits as a result of drought conditions experienced last season.”
“Reports from the Eastern province indicate an increased informal outflow of approximately 576 MT of maize and 102 MT of maize meal to Malawi in June. Security by the Zambian government continues to patrol in order to curb smuggling, however some traders have been using unusual routes to get by security,” it said.