FAO GLOBAL INFORMATION AND EARLY WARNING SYSTEM ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

SPECIAL REPORT

FAO/WFP CROP AND FOOD SUPPLY ASSESSMENT MISSION TO ZAMBIA

18 June 2002

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MISSION HIGHLIGHTS

  • Prolonged dry spells during the 2001/02 growing season in five of the nine provinces of Zambia, sharply reduced yields and production of cereals.
  • The 2002 output of main staple maize is estimated at about 606 000 tonnes, 24 percent below last year's poor harvest and 42 percent lower than the normal crop of 2000.
  • Cereal import requirements for marketing year 2002/03 (May/April) are estimated at 626 000 tonnes. Commercial imports are projected at 351 000 tonnes with a remaining deficit of 275 000 tonnes to be covered by Government and external assistance.
  • About 2.329 million worst affected people are estimated to be in need of international emergency cereal food aid for a total of 174 383 tonnes, due to the second consecutive reduced harvest and exhaustion of their coping mechanisms.
  • The most affected area is the Southern Province, where 60 percent of the population is estimated to be in need of relief food.
  • Emergency supply of seeds (maize, sorghum, groundnuts) and hand tools to drought affected farming families is urgently required for the main planting season 2002/03.

 

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1. OVERVIEW

Last year, excessive rains in parts of the county resulted in floods that destroyed large cropped areas. Districts in the Eastern and Southern provinces along the Zambezi and Luangwa Rivers were the most affected and overall production of maize, the staple crop, fell by an estimated 24 percent compared to the previous year. This year, large parts of the same provinces were hit by erratic rains and long dry spells during the growing season, exacerbating an already precarious food situation.

Against this background, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Zambia from 6 to 24 May 2002 to assess the 2002 cereal production and estimate import requirements for the 2002/03 marketing year (May/April), including food aid needs. The Mission was joined by observers from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), USAID-OFDA and USAID Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNet). National and international NGOs such as Red Cross, PAM, CARE, World Vision and OXFAM also participated in the field assessment.

The Mission, organized into four teams, visited 28 of the 72 Districts in the country and received full cooperation from Government authorities both in Lusaka and the districts. United Nations Offices in Zambia (FAO, WFP, UNICEF and WHO) provided technical and logistic support. The Mission also benefited from discussions with other agencies including the Zambia National Farmers Union and the IMF.

The Mission collected secondary data from concerned agencies and cross-checked it with information collected from the field through interviews and discussions with farmers, traders and other key informants.
The 2001/02 rainy season was generally characterised by low and erratic rainfall, particularly in five of the nine provinces of Zambia: Southern, Western, Eastern, Lusaka and Central. Large rainfall deficits of up to 50 percent were observed during the season in parts of these provinces. Precipitation steadily declined during January, February and March - the three critical months for crop development - resulting in wilting of crops and low yields. Maize production was severely affected and the 2002 total maize output is estimated at about 606 000 tonnes, 42 percent below the 2000 normal level and 24 percent below the reduced crop of last season

The largest declines in production were experienced in the Southern Province, where maize output fell by 56 percent compared to last year. Worst affected districts were Chadiza, Nyimba, Mambwe and Chama in the Eastern Province, Kabwe, Chibombo, Kapiri Mposhi and Mkushi in the Central Province, as well as all districts in the Southern Province.

The Mission estimates all grains import requirement in marketing year 2002/03 at 626 000 tonnes. Commercial imports by traders and millers are forecast at 351 000 tonnes, which include carryover imports pending arrival into the country from last year's contracts. This leaves a deficit of 275 000 tonnes, which needs to be filled with Government and international assistance. International emergency food aid for 2.329 million most affected population amounts to about 174 000 tonnes. The Government has already committed the equivalent of about US$12 million to import maize, which could cover up to some additional 50 000 tonnes.

Unless relieved by food assistance, the coming months will be very critical for large numbers of low-income households who have exhausted their coping mechanisms as a result of last year's poor harvest. Government and donor support is urgently needed to avert hunger among the very vulnerable groups of the population.

Emergency supply of seeds (maize, sorghum, groundnuts) and hand tools to drought affected farming families is also urgently required for the main planting season 2002/03. Production of good quality seeds of cereals and cassava cuttings, as well as promotion of conservation farming practices and seed multiplication, are recommended measures to further improve food security at household level.

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2. RECENT MACRO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

Zambia is endowed with abundant agricultural and mineral resources. Agriculture's contribution to the national GDP accounted for 24.8 percent in 2000 compared to about 15.5 percent in 1996. The share of agriculture to the national economy increased mainly due to the decline in the export earnings of the mining sector in the 1990s. This decline resulted from low international prices and a decrease in domestic copper production due to under-investment in the sector. The average international copper prices fell from US$119/lb in 1990 to US$81 in 2000. During the same period, copper production fell from 422 000 to 260 000 tonnes per year. In spite of the steady decline in the mining sector, Zambia continues to depend on copper and cobalt for its foreign exchange earnings. Of the total export earnings of US$800 million in 2000, US$521 million (65 percent) was generated from the export of copper and cobalt.

Despite its vast land resources, Zambia suffers from a relatively high incidence of poverty. The 2001 UNDP Development Report puts Zambia as one of the poorest African countries with about 63 percent of its population living on the equivalent of US$1 or less a day. Rapid inflation combined with sharp devaluation of the Zambian currency (Kwacha) in the last decade, has been eroding the purchasing power of households worsening the food security problem and poverty level of the country. In the 1990s, inflation rates reached triple digits (183 percent in 1993) and the Kwacha was devalued by more than 350 percent in less than 6 years (US$1 buying Kwacha 1200 in 1996 against Kwacha 4000 in 2002). The latest IMF/Zambia report indicates that incidence of poverty reached a national average of 73 percent with rural areas having an even greater figure (83 percent).

The HIV/AIDS PANDEMIC continues to adversely affect the economy by reducing the number of active labour force and increasing the number of dependent widows and orphans both in the rural and urban areas of Zambia.

Nevertheless, current economic data show signs of improvement in a few, but key economic/financial indicators. The rate of inflation on an annual basis has been drastically reduced from a high of 183 percent in 1993 to 18 percent in March 2002. Although the Government is trying to put appropriate measures to lower inflation rates to 12-13 percent by the end of 2002, it may be a difficult task considering the impact of two reduced harvests on food prices. In recent months, the Kwacha showed some degree of stability floating in a narrow range. The Bank of Zambia has recently taken measures to reduce the gap between the Forex Bureau's and the Bank rates allowing a slower and smoother depreciation. One major obstacle that may lead to a faster and volatile depreciation of the Kwacha is the uncertainty over the future of the mining industry caused by the decision of the Anglo American mining company to close Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), unless a buyer is found by the end of 2002.

The commitment of the Government to finalize the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) document puts Zambia in a better position to benefit from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) programme. With access to HIPC relief, Zambia's debt servicing is expected to fall in the coming years releasing financial resources for funding development projects that lead to increased food security and reduced poverty levels.

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3. THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

The potential for agriculture-led economic growth in Zambia is not questionable. Agriculture is the leading sector in terms of its contribution to GDP (24.8 percent in 2000) and to employment (about 50 percent of the total labour force). Zambia is endowed with vast land of about 75 million hectares, of which 40-50 percent is suitable for the production of livestock and a range of both traditional and non-traditional crops. Although the potential for expanding agriculture into the relatively fertile lands is high, only 10-15 percent of that potential is exploited. The 2001/02 crop production estimate shows that the total arable land allotted for crop production is only about 1.5 million hectares.

When maize and fertilizer subsidies reached their peak in the late 1980s, the area under maize cultivation was about 1 million hectares accounting for about 70 percent of the total cropped area. During the past ten years, the share of maize to both cultivated area and production has declined significantly. While in 1989, the area under maize cultivation was estimated at about 1.02 million hectares, in 1999 it was only 585 000 hectares, a decline of 43 percent.

With the importance of maize declining both in area and productivity, other crops have been increasing their share in the livelihoods of Zambians. Among these crops, the most important are the two cash crops, cotton and groundnuts, and the relatively drought resistance root crops, cassava and sweet potato. Between 1989 and 1999, the cropped area under groundnuts increased by more than 100 percent and the area for cotton increased by 65 percent. The total area planted to cassava and sweet potato increased by 65 percent and 54 percent, respectively. Table 1 below shows that production of cassava flour has more than doubled in the past ten years. According to a study by the Food Security Research Project, cassava's percentage of energy produced by smallholders has increased from 16 percent in 1993 to 31 percent in 1999. However, cassava production in 2001/02 declined by 12.4 percent compared to 2000/01.

Table 1: Zambia: Production of cassava flour

Year
Tonnes
1993
152 952
1994
131 549
1995
112 561
1996
98 069
1997
189 511
1998
231 253
1999
n.a.
2000
413 000
2001
416 700
2002
365 000

Source: 1993-1998 FSRP; 2000-2002 Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives

The factors that caused the shift in production at the national level from maize to other crops have been the subject of much discussion and speculations. The withdrawal of the subsidized credit for maize, under the economic liberalization since 1992, appears as the major factor for the shift. Poor and erratic rainfall patterns have also contributed to the downward trend in maize production. Other socio-economic factors include: reduced use of fertilizer caused by higher prices, lack of credit, and inefficient input delivery system. Ministry of Agriculture and FRA data show that the annual consumption of fertilizer fell from 234 000 metric tonnes in 1988 to 89 000 tonnes in 1997.

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4. CROP PRODUCTION IN 2001/02

4.1 Main factors affecting production in 2001/02

Rainfall

Zambia is divided into three agro-ecological zones with distinct mean annual rainfall, ranging from 600mm to 1200mm. Agro-ecological Zone I has rainfall ranging from 600 to 800mm, while agro-ecological Zones II and III experience rainfall in the range of 800 to 1000mm and 1000 to 1200mm respectively. The rainy season starts in October in northern parts of the country, moving gradually southwards. By contrast, the end of the rainfall from April begins in southern parts. This implies that the north experiences a longer growing season than the south.

The 2001/02 rainy season started well. However, from December onwards, rains were insufficient, erratic and poorly distributed, especially in southern parts where precipitation amounted to only 30-60 percent of normal. The districts further north reported closer to normal rainfall.

Figure 1 shows the rainfall pattern in six of the country's nine provinces, comparing actual rainfall from July 2001 to January or March 2002 with the long-term average. In Southern Province (Livingstone), rains were normal until December 2001 when they declined sharply to almost zero in March. Thus, the growing season in Southern Province was dominated by a drought which caused widespread crop failures. This was the worst affected province. In Eastern Province (Lundazi), normal rains until January were followed by a dry spell in the critical month of February, which severely reduced yields. In the west (Shesheke), the rainfall situation was characterized by extreme fluctuations. Unfortunately, rainfall data goes only to January 2002, missing the critical maize period of February to March. In the Central Province (Kabwe), rains were adequate until November but they dropped sharply in December and January.

By contrast, in the Northern Province (Mbala), rains this season followed the normal pattern benefiting crop development. In the North-Western Province (Solwezi), precipitation was adequate until December, it declined in January and was virtually zero during the critical month of February. Rains in March were insufficient and late to prevent serious reductions in yields and production of maize.

Figure 1. Zambia 2001/02 rainfall compared to long term average

Undisplayed GraphicUndisplayed Graphic

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Agricultural inputs and cultural practices

In the Northern Province, both land cultivation and weeding is traditionally and largely done by hand using hand hoes. Use of oxen is very limited for such purposes. In the Central, Eastern and Southern provinces, cultivation and weeding are done by both hand hoeing and oxen draught power. In the Southern Province, the use of oxen for cultivation has greatly decreased in recent years because of the huge losses of cattle from the east coast (corridor) disease.

In general, farmers in the north of the country use local seeds which are of low quality with low germination rate. By contrast, hybrid seeds are highly used in the southern part of the country. Limited access to chemical fertilizers have been a constraining factor for small scale farmers in the last 3-4 years. In most of the districts assessed in Central, Southern, Western and North-Western provinces, there were complaints of lack of timely access to good quality seeds and fertilizers. In many cases, these important inputs were not available until December or January, resulting in late plantings. These crops were at a crucial developing stage when the rains ceased, causing complete failure.

In Eastern Province the cost of basal dressing D compound was K65 000 per 50 kg bag while the top dressing Urea was K 70 000 per 50 kg bag. In the Western Province prices were K85 000 and K80 000 respectively. Most farmers cannot afford to purchase fertilizer at these prices. The use of manures has recently increased, particularly in the south where livestock numbers are still high as compared to the north.

The Mission noted that although there were some seed multiplication programmes in the Southern Province, there was limited access and most farmers were simply recycling hybrid seed. In addition, many communities informed the Mission's teams that they have begun to consume their seed and will have none for the coming planting season.

Pests and diseases

During the 2001/02 cropping season, pests and diseases were not a major problem in most districts. However, some cases of higher incidence than normal were reported in the Southern Province, where cotton showed aphids and bollworms, and while cowpeas had aphids and borers. In North-Western Province there were reports of stalk borer, black maize beetle and streak virus.

4.2 Maize production forecast for 2002

The 2002 maize production forecast for Zambia is presented in Table 2, along with comparable data for 2001 and 2000.

Table 2. Zambia: Maize production 2002, 2001, 2000 (in tonnes)

Province
2000
2001
2002
Change (percent)
2002/01
2002/00
Central
150 848
162 296
128 175
- 21
- 15
Copperbelt
134 074
68 080
56 711
- 17
- 58
Eastern
288 693
196 317
193 954
- 1
- 33
Luapula
22 062
14 988
15 308
+ 2
- 31
Lusaka
76 564
58 127
51 642
- 11
- 33
Northern
83 002
43 496
31 590
- 27
- 62
N/Western
23 365
19 184
19 582
+ 2
- 16
Southern
228 490
211 281
92 749
- 56
- 59
Western
32 992
28 120
16 461
- 41
- 50
Zambia
1 040 090
801 889
606 172
- 24
- 42

The 2002 maize production is estimated at about 606 000 tonnes, some 24 percent lower than last year's flood-reduced crops and 42 percent lower than the normal 2000 level. Much of the production shortfall is attributable to poor rainfall, both in amount and distribution, which have mostly affected the southern half of the country. The declining trend in the use of fertilizer has also contributed to the decrease in maize productivity.

4.3 Other major crops

While maize is the main crop in Zambia, its importance varies by provinces. According to field visits and to the Zambia Food Security Research Project, Southern, Central and Eastern provinces are primarily (80 percent or more) maize producers. Farmers in Western Province rely less on maize with increasing importance of cassava and sorghum production. In general, crop diversity rises with increased rainfall: Northern Province is a high producer of cassava with some sorghum and millet, while North-Western Province has become a cassava-based agricultural area in northern parts. Table 3 shows production of all cereals by provinces.

Table 3. Zambia: Production of cereals by provinces in 2002 (in tonnes)

Province
Maize
Sorghum
Millet
Rice(paddy)
Southern
92 749
1 045
445
0
Western
16 461
546
2 163
1 701
N/Western
19 582
3 444
608
40
Lusaka
51 642
67
44
0
Central
128 175
1 827
4 239
96
Northern
31 590
2 372
26 597
4 502
Eastern
193 954
1 236
1 277
2 452
Luapula
15 308
453
5 669
721
Copperbelt
56 711
4 606
150
33
Zambia Total
606 172
15 596
41 192
9 545

4.4 Livestock and pasture

Eastern Province has the highest percentages of all types of livestock, followed by Southern Province having the highest number of cattle and trained oxen (for cultivation). In recent years, however, the East Coast Fever (also called corridor) killed a huge number of cattle. In Southern Province, about 60 percent of cattle died over a 5-year period from the disease. A large number of cattle are also dying in most parts of the Eastern and Western provinces. Veterinary services are limited or not functioning.

Cattle are a major source of draught power for land cultivation whilst goats, pigs and poultry are a major source of income and constitute a large component of the household coping strategy in times of hunger. In parts of the Southern Province, farmers have sold or traded most of their small livestock in order to survive last year's poor harvest.

There is a problem of drinking water for animals this year in the plateau and hilly areas, due to the poor rainfall. This has already had a negative impact on the quality of pasture for livestock and some farmers are forced to travel greater distances with their animals to locate adequate food and water sources.

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5. AGRICULTURAL SITUATION BY REGION

Southern Province

More than 80 percent of the crops planted this season was maize, which is the main staple of this province. Other crops grown were sweet potato, cowpea and groundnut, cotton, tobacco, paprika and sunflower.

Cultivation is done both by animal draught power and hand-hoes. Most farmers borrow draught power, as the number of oxen has decreased substantially due to Corridor disease over the past five years. As a result, planting was completed somewhat late.

The very poor 2002 crop production in this province has been largely due to drought. Some districts received only 30-60 percent of the normal rains. Total annual rainfall was not only very low but also poorly distributed. As a result, crop yields were drastically reduced.

The Mission estimates the 2002 maize production for the province at 92 749 tonnes, which is only 44 percent of last year's reduced level.

Western Province

Many districts of this province have both wetlands (30 percent) and highlands. Major crops are maize, sorghum, millet, cassava, groundnut, rice, cowpea and sweet potato. Maize accounts for only 30-50 percent of the total production. Cultivation is mainly manual, but farmers also use oxen. Maize seeds were only available in late November, after the start of the rains in October. Although fertilisers were available, many farmers could not afford them and their application was very limited.

Most districts in the province experienced a dry spell of three weeks in January that negatively affected crops, particularly maize which was at its tasselling stage. Rice was also affected by floods along the Zambezi River.

Maize production in the province is estimated at 16 461 tonnes, a 50 percent decline from the normal level of 2000.

Lusaka Province

Rainfall was below normal, erratic and poorly distributed and led to a 70 percent decline in production compared with the normal season of 1999/2000. Fertilisers arrived late this season also contributing to yield reductions.

Worst affected are valley areas, particularly Shikabeta and Rufunsa, where the food crisis has been exacerbated due to crop destruction by elephants. Due to hunger, most farmers were compelled to harvest as early as March and are presently running out of food.

Northern Province

The amount of rainfall distribution was reasonably good and similar to the normal. However, flooding due to excessive rains in February in some districts badly affected crops. A total of 8 020 families experienced crop losses.

The distribution of fertilisers and seeds this season was on time. Despite this, access was restricted by high prices.

Maize production is expected to drop by 27 percent, as compared with the last season, and 62 percent from the 1999/00 normal season.

North-Western Province

Rice is usually grown in the dambos and plains under irrigation on the East Bank of the Zambezi River. Cultivation is usually done by hand but in some instances animal draught power is used. Seeds of local varieties are predominantly used. PAM supplied cassava cuttings, sorghum, maize and sweet potato in some districts. Fertiliser, supplied by PAM, was on time for both lowland and upland plantings. Cow dung is usually used to improve soil fertility and soil structure.

Cassava is the main staple crop in the province for majority of people, except in Kasempa where sorghum is the staple. Maize, groundnuts and sweet potatoes are cash crops, but these are also eaten with cassava.

The contribution of this province to national maize production is very small, estimated at only 2.4 percent. Sorghum, millet and beans are widely produced but in small quantities and mostly for family consumption. Sweet potato production has expanded rapidly in recent years for both home consumption and export to the Copperbelt where consumer demand is high.

Rainfall during the growing season was generally adequate until December but dropped sharply from January to March. The 2002 maize production in the province is estimated at 19 582 tonnes which is about 16 percent below the normal level of 2000.

Central Province

The total annual rainfall for this season was roughly half of the long term average (400 to 500 mm compared 700 to 1200 mm). Its distribution was highly variable, with prolonged dry spells that severely reduced maize yields.

Most farmers used hybrid seed. PAM and FRA distributed agricultural inputs through credit. However, inputs were late to reach farmers. The Mission estimates that crop production will decline by 25-30 percent from the normal level. Although this reduction could be largely attributed to drought, non-availability of agricultural inputs on time, as well as pests and diseases in parts, contributed to the reduction.

Large numbers of population did not harvest anything. Prices of maize in local markets are well above their level of a year earlier.

Eastern Province

During the 2001/02 season, this province was affected by a prolonged dry spell in February, particularly in the lowlands near the Luangwa River. Cumulative rains were well below normal. Most districts had only 6-10 rainy days during February and March.

Most farmers normally use chemical fertilisers for maize production. However, during the 2001/02 season, fertilisers were delivered late.

Maize production is estimated at 193 954 tonnes, 33 percent below the normal level of 2000. Production has been mainly from four districts (Chipata, Katete, Petauke and Lundazi) as the remaining districts were highly affected by drought. In Nyimba district, for instance, production was only 13 percent of normal.

Because of the limited supply of maize coming to the markets, prices have increased sharply in the past months.

Alternative food crops to maize are sweet potatoes, rice, cassava, sorghum and millet. Cassava is currently produced on a small scale but its area is increasing. Sweet potato is grown by most households but is largely consumed in the early months of the maize marketing season.

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6. FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION

6.1 Current market situation

In Zambia, the normal maize price trend shows prices starting to rise towards the end of the year (October/November) and steadily increasing until February, when they reach their peak. Prices begin to fall two to three weeks before the harvest, from April, with the downward trend continuing until September. During the 2001/02 marketing season, however, prices started to rise as early as July indicating a significant shortfall in the supply of maize.

By December 2001, maize prices became so high that the real maize prices surpassed the CPI Index for the first time in many years. For example, in Kasempa, a maize deficit region, the real maize price (15kg of grain) increased 300 percent from 1 500 Kwacha in November 2001 to 4 500 Kwacha in February 2002. In Kalomo, a maize surplus region, the price rose from 1 500 to about 2 500 Kwacha in the same period. In the capital city Lusaka, a large consumer centre, the price doubled from 1 500 in November to 3 000 Kwacha in February (Figure 2).

Prices declined from March/April 2002, with the arrival of the new maize crop into the markets. However, they have remained well above both their level of a year earlier and the average of the past five years. The high maize prices are severely affecting access to food by a large section of the population. However, prices of other crops such as millet, sorghum and cassava remain relatively low. As the market demand for these crops is low, this year's output decline is not significantly reflected in the prices.

Figure 2. Retail maize prices


Undisplayed Graphic

Undisplayed Graphic

There are great variations of prices between locations reflecting large distances to and from markets, coupled with poor state of roads in several areas. This makes it uneconomical for traders to move beyond certain distances.

6.2 Cereal supply/demand balance in 2002/2003 (May-April)

The 2002/03 projected balance for cereals is summarized in Table 4 based on the following parameters and assumptions:

Table 4. Zambia: Cereals balance sheet, May 2002-April 2003 (`000 tonnes)

 
Maize
Rice
Sorghum/Millet
Wheat
Total
Domestic availability
626
7
57
77
767
Opening stocks
20
1
-
2
23
Production
606
6
57
75
744
Total utilization
1 201
18
57
117
1 393
Food use
1 011
17
56
111
1 195
Other uses
170
-
1
4
175
Exports
10
 
-
-
10
Closing stocks
10
1
-
2
13
Import requirements
575
11
 
40
626
Estimated commercial imports
300
11
-
40
351
Food aid
275
-
-
-
275
of which:
emergency food aid
174
     
174

The total cereal import requirement for 2002/03 is estimated at 626 000 tonnes. Import requirements of 40 000 tonnes of wheat and 11 000 tonnes of rice, mainly for consumption in urban areas, are projected to be fully covered on commercial basis.

The maize deficit amounts to 575 000 tonnes. Commercial imports are anticipated at 300 000 tonnes. About 48 000 tonnes are pending to arrive in the country from contracts made in marketing year 2001/02. Additional 252 000 tonnes are expected to be imported by traders and millers, who last year contracted somewhat lower volumes. The final level of commercial imports will, however, depend on Government's decision to continue last year's policy of subsidizing imports. Food aid to be covered by Government and external assistance amount to 275 000 tonnes. Emergency food aid to the worst affected population is estimated at 174 000 tonnes. The Government has already committed the equivalent of about US$12 to import maize, which could cover up to some 50 000 tonnes.

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7. Emergency Food Aid Needs for 2002/2003

7.1 Vulnerability assessment

Overall, there has been a substantial decline in maize production this season in Southern Province, and parts of Central, Eastern and Western provinces. This was partly due to acutely irregular rainfall amount and patterns as well as more chronic problems of loss of cattle/draught power from Corridor disease, untimely access to fertilizer and quality seeds, recycling of hybrid seeds and heavy reliance on a single crop for income and consumption.

Several of the most affected areas also experienced drastically reduced yields last season as well. All of these issues combined have left a large number of rural farmers in these provinces in an extremely vulnerable position.

Market access

Zambia has one of the lowest population densities in the region, and as a result, distances to and from markets are greater compared to neighbouring countries. This, combined with the poor state of the roads in some areas means that it is uneconomical for traders to move beyond the districts with the best infrastructure.

In Eastern and Lusaka provinces, most of the districts are linked by a good road network, which provides farmers relatively good access to markets and also allows traders to travel to villages. Apart from maize, most farmers will sell cotton, sunflower, groundnuts and tobacco. The growing of these cash crops have received support from organizations such as Cotton Growers Association which has helped farmers in the growing and marketing of cotton while the Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) and Food Reserve Agency (FRA) help farmers in the growing and marketing of maize. Most farmers in the Northern Province sell part of their crop production for cash. Crop sales usually reach around 40-50 percent of production but reduced harvests may affect the ability of farmers to earn enough income from this source. However, farmers may actually sell more than normal due to attractive market prices at harvest time, leaving them with less for home consumption. In these provinces (including Central) the stronger link to formal marketing systems, regardless of access, leaves them more vulnerable to price fluctuations for both sales and purchase of food and livestock.

Besides cotton, most farmers in the Northwest, Western and Southern provinces will sell maize (20-30 percent of production in Western), sorghum, millet, groundnuts and cowpeas for cash and in-kind - mostly in local markets or to other villagers. Many villagers complained of having to travel long distances to trade fish or other items for maize meal. Formal market systems are lacking in most areas with reports of traders from the urban areas coming to the villagers, taking advantage of their vulnerable state by purchasing small livestock at very low prices. As far as purchasing prices of maize meal, very few communities reported extraordinarily high prices - perhaps because they are purchasing in-kind.

Health and nutrition

Figure 3 shows the trends in malnutrition (< -2.00 waz) in children under five, by province. There have been reductions in Luapula, Northern, Copperbelt, and North-Western provinces, while Southern and Western show definite increasing trends. Prevalence has fluctuated in Central, Eastern and Lusaka provinces. With Southern and Western provinces being among the most affected by the poor production this season, it is cause for close monitoring of changes in both child and maternal nutrition. In most communities, it was learnt that women suffer more in times of food shortages and are often the last to eat - if there is any food left.

Figure 3 - Trends in child malnutrition by Province

Undisplayed Graphic

Source: CSO, 2002

In almost all areas of the country those most common illnesses reported by communities are malaria, diarrhoea, coughing, and eye and skin infections. Many of these ailments are exacerbated by a poor diet. Many people are relying heavily on wild fruits and vegetables and attribute some diarrhoea problems to this poor diet and consumption of unfamiliar foods. In addition, regular access to clean water sources is a major problem in most rural areas - especially those in the more remote communities in the south and west

Zambia is known to have a severe problem with HIV/AIDS - even in rural communities. Infection rates are among the highest in the region (20percent) resulting in extraordinarily high numbers of widows and orphans. Nearly every community assessed by the Mission indicated that these people were among the most vulnerable in the village. Communities in Lusaka Province also mentioned that there were a high number of AIDS orphans in the community (this area is not far from Lusaka), which has increased the household size and thus reduced household level food security. Also, one district shows a very high rate of adults presenting for STDs, which is an accurate proxy indicator of HIV infection.

Coping strategies

Families in Central Province have adopted new coping strategies such as poaching, fishing, asset & charcoal sales, and agricultural labour for income and food. Migration to towns is also increasing in Central and Eastern. Border communities engage in cross border trading and piecework. For those in rural Lusaka Province, they engage in the sale of livestock and petty trading and fishing along the river valley to earn income or food during shortages.

In parts of the Northern province, farmers harvested maize early, sold off household assets, engaged in wage labour, consumed cassava chips as coping mechanisms while others migrated to urban areas to find work. In North-Western Province, farmers collect and consume wild foods, brew beer, do carpentry work, sell livestock and other assets during the lean season. Usually there is little migration for work but this year it is reported to increase due to some crop failure.

In Southern Province villagers named typical income earning activities such as piecework, handicrafts, livestock sales, crop and vegetable sales and trading as coping mechanisms. In addition, many families reported collecting, selling and consuming of wild foods and reducing meals in these more severe food shortage times. However, it was agreed that most of these activities began earlier this season and were used more intensively than in past years. In some communities, this was the first time they've had to rely on coping strategies as they've always produced enough food in the past years.

In normal years, most farmers in Western Province are also self-sufficient if access to seed is timely and adequate. During the lean season, people normally reduce food intake and frequency. However, many have reported that they will start food reductions sooner this year as a result of the poor harvest. Normal coping strategies are: fishing (year-round), sales of livestock, beer brewing (Nov-Dec), migration for work, grass cutting and wild fruit collection in the lean season.

The level of dependence on the above normal coping mechanisms is increasing as a result of both increased chronic vulnerability as well as the vulnerability directly related to the current crisis. The list of activities which individuals and families are now resorting to is extensive. Unfortunately as the situation deteriorates, the activities are more likely to be socially degrading or environmentally damaging.

Those issues relating to longer term (chronic) vulnerability include:

Other issues relating to the current (acute vulnerability) food crisis:

7.2 Populations in need of food assistance

Table 5 and map below show the immediate emergency food needs for the worst affected population, however it is recognised that there are very few communities and individuals in Zambia that are not affected in some way by the current crisis. These figures represent the worst and immediate needs. It is clear that Southern province which has been affected the most by the erratic rains and associated crop losses, has the greatest need for food assistance.

Table 5. Zambia: Populations in need of food assistance

Province
Percent of population
Number
Cereal Requirements
(tonnes)
Central
31
337 154
22 317
Copperbelt
0
0
0
Eastern
37
514 787
35 897
Luapula
0
0
0
Lusaka
14
212 913
15 525
Northern
4
62 140
4 047
North-Western
9
67 690
3 290
Southern
60
828 721
76 227
Western
38
305 452
17 080
TOTAL
21
2 328 857
174 383

Undisplayed Graphic

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Office of the Chief
GIEWS, FAO
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
E-mail:
giews1@fao.org

Ms. J. Lewis
Regional Director, ODK, WFP
Fax: 00256-41-255115
E-mail:
Judith.Lewis@wfp.org

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