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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

28 February 2006

Southern Africa update

Growing Season - Aside from delays at the beginning of the 2005/06 agricultural season, rainfall has been generally favourable throughout the region this year with highest precipitation in December 2005 in eastern areas, and during January/February 2006 in central and western areas. Conditions for crop growth have thus been generally good although late December localized heavy rains in southern Malawi and central Mozambique caused serious flooding and some damage to crops. In Zimbabwe, shortages and/or high prices of key inputs such as fertilizer, fuel, draft animal power and spare parts at planting time will likely result in relatively low yields. In Zambia, animal diseases such as East Coast Fever in Southern province and plant pests such as Army Worm were reported in Western and Southern provinces. Without proper control these can have negative effect on food production in affected areas.

Food Security Situation - The hungry season has reached its peak, with household food stocks nearly exhausted. Food shortages are generally reflected in rising staple food prices, especially in Zimbabwe and Malawi. Nearly 12 million people are in need of emergency food assistance at various degrees of severity in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia. In Malawi, a significant amount of food aid has been pledged (around 200 000 tonnes), but the bulk of it is yet to arrive in country. The World Food Programme has appealed for an additional US$ 211 million dollars (equivalent to 446 000 tonnes of food) under its regional Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation for 2005/07, to bring the total to US$ 622 million.

Regional Balance - Of the total maize import requirement of 2.7 million tonnes for the subregion, excluding South Africa, for the current marketing year (April-March), an estimated 1.6 million tonnes of maize have so far been imported commercially, with an additional 543 000 tonnes of cereal food aid (mostly maize) being pledged/received. At the same time, due to a bumper 2005 maize harvest, maize stocks in the Republic of South Africa as of late April 2006 are forecast to be about 4 million tonnes.