Zambia's staple crop production hard hit by El Niño - international assistance required
In addition to the impact of the weather on food security, a serious cattle disease -thileriosis, or "corridor disease" - caused widespread livestock losses in the Southern Province. The oxen population - a major source of draft power for the small-scale farmers - has been drastically reduced.
Cereal imports for the 1998/99 marketing year (May to April) are estimated at 660 000 tonnes. With commercial cereal imports anticipated at 364 000 tonnes, the uncovered deficit, including emergency food aid estimated at 45 000 tonnes, amounts to 296 000 tonnes.
The Special Report issued by the mission warns that, "Current import capacity of the country is extremely low, with foreign exchange reserves enough to cover only about six weeks of imports of goods and services. International assistance, in the form of grants, concessionary imports and targeted food aid, will therefore be required."
24 June 1998