ZAMBIA (2 June)

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the country in April/May estimated the 1998 cereal production at 707 000 tonnes, some 37 percent below the previous year’s level. Excessive rainfall throughout the season, with extensive flooding, particularly in low-lying areas, resulted in crop losses and reduced yields in northern areas while the southern region experienced near-drought conditions which drastically reduced crop yields and total production.

The food supply situation for the 1998/99 marketing year is expected to be tight. Commercial cereal import is forecast at 364 000 tonnes (including 23 000 tonnes of rice and 41 000 tonnes of wheat), leaving an uncovered deficit of 296 000 tonnes, of which 45 000 tonnes are for emergency food assistance. With an extremely low import capacity at present, the country will need international assistance in the form of grants, concessional imports and targeted food aid to cover its food requirements. Food aid pledges amount so far to 3 000 tonnes, but no deliveries have been made.