ZAMBIA (10 February)
With late onset of rains, planting of main crops in some areas this season was delayed. The rains picked-up in December and in late January helping new plantings and growth of plants in the ground. Nonetheless, nationally the cumulative rainfall since October 2004 has been below average with the highest rain in the north and the lowest in the south. Still the overall prospects for good harvest are considered favourable. Long range forecast for the season is considered to be normal. Similar to last year, the Government’s subsidy programme for fertilizer and seed to selected farmers was also implemented. As a result of two consecutive good harvests maize prices are reported to be below the ten-year average (FEWSNET).
The 2004 cereal production, estimated at 1.37 million tonnes, was 1 percent over the 2003 bumper harvest and about 23 percent above the average of the past five years. Considering the country’s total utilization needs and substantial carryover stocks, an export surplus of about 150 000 tonnes is expected during the 2004/05 marketing year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the area under mature cassava increased by 47 percent from 140 251 hectares in 2002/03 to 206 051 hectares in 2003/04 resulting in a production increase of 46 percent to about 1.4 million tonnes. The food security situation in the country is relatively good. With surplus maize available from the last two seasons, WFP intends to purchase locally 80 000 tonnes of maize in 2005 for its national and regional operations.