|food outlook||No.2, June 2005|
|global information and early warning system on food and agriculture(GIEWS)|
In southern Africa, harvesting of 2005 main agricultural season crops is nearly completed. Although the subregion’s aggregate cereal output is estimated at a good level, which reflects the largest crop since 1994 in South Africa, by far the largest producer of the subregion, several countries have had reduced harvests (Figure i). The subregion was affected by erratic rainfall and prolonged dry spells, especially during the critical maize grain development stage in several agricultural areas, reducing yields significantly. FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions visited Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Lesotho and Swaziland in April-May this year. FAO’s early production estimates indicate that the 2005 cereal harvests are sharply reduced by drought in Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe (Table i). Although the Missions calculated some increase in cereal production in Swaziland and Lesotho compared to the previous year, the long term production and per caput consumption in these countries are alarmingly on a downward trend. Some reduction in total production is also forecast for Angola, Mozambique and Botswana compared to the outputs in 2004. In Mozambique, the satisfactory outturn masks regional differences, with a good production in northern parts and a poor crop in southern provinces where the cereal output is estimated 43 percent lower than last year. On a brighter note, an increase in production of main cereals is forecast in Madagascar and Namibia. Also in South Africa, with maize stocks of 3.85 million tonnes (as 26 April 2005), and a bumper harvest expected, the potential exportable surplus for the current marketing year is forecast to be 4.5 million tonnes, which would be more than enough to cover the subregion’s maize import requirements.
The total cereal import requirements in the 2005/06 marketing year, generally April/March for the subregion (excluding South Africa) are expected to increase by 24 percent from the previous year and by 32 percent compared to the average of the previous five years (Figure ii). The amount of international assistance required is estimated to triple to 1.24 million tonnes of cereals compared to the needs in 2004/05. The Government of Zimbabwe has recently announced plans to import 1.2 million tonnes of maize, but commercial import capacity of the country is severely constrained by falling foreign exchange reserves. Should the announced volume of imports materialize, FAO’s forecast of the 2005/06 commercial cereal import could increase further.
Detailed information on vulnerability in the subregion is not yet available, as the national Vulnerability Assessment Committees (VACs) complete their assessments. However, early figures indicate that large numbers of people in the central-eastern part of the subregion including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and southern Mozambique are at risk of food insecurity due to reduced harvests, lack of purchasing power and the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS. Total food aid deliveries in 2004 to several countries of the region (Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) amounted to 838 412 tonnes. The World Food Programme launched a regional Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) earlier in the year requiring some 704 000 tonnes of food commodities over a three-year period (2005-2007) to assist the food insecure and AIDS affected populations in the region. Although, the average annual requirement of 235 000 tonnes under this operation has already been fully resourced (as of 8 June 2005), further food relief may be required. However, a recently announced debt relief package by G8 countries would drastically reduce the debt service in five of the highly indebted southern African countries (Angola, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia), and free up resources for improved food security.
Table i. Southern Africa: Cereal production (‘000 tonnes)
* Zimbabwe 2005 maize production estimated by USDA.