Reference Date: 15-January-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Good rains received in key maize growing regions of the west, but some water deficits observed in the eastern producing zones during the first quarter of the 2013/14 cropping season
Maize supplies sufficient for domestic requirements in the 2013/14 marketing year, but exportable surplus reduced following a lower 2013 harvest
Maize prices up to one third above their levels of a year earlier, supported by lower national production
Food security situation remains stable
Mixed rains received so far, but overall production outlook remains favourable
Planting of the 2014 maize crop was completed at the end of 2013. Rains in the key maize growing Southern, Central and Western provinces have been mixed since the beginning of the rainy season in October; above average rains were recorded in western parts, while cumulative precipitation in eastern areas has been below average. However, crops are only at the vegetative stage and therefore the early seasonal rainfall deficits are expected to have only a limited impact on crop performance, particularly if favourable rains are received in the coming weeks.
The government allocated ZMK 500 million to the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), targeting 900 000 beneficiaries, as in the previous season, to help improve small-scale farmers’ access to inputs. However, the fertilizer subsidy rate this year has been reduced from 75 percent to 50 percent. The 2014 budget also included increased investment to rehabilitate feeder roads in rural areas, to help facilitate improved trade of agricultural inputs and outputs.
Sufficient cereal supplies, but lower exportable surplus
Maize production in 2013 was estimated at about 2.6 million tonnes, 11 percent below the bumper output of 2012. Despite this reduction, maize supplies for the 2013/14 marketing year (May/April) are estimated to still be sufficient to cover domestic requirements, as well as providing a limited exportable surplus. However, given the reduced national supply, the government introduced trade restrictions, authorizing only government-to-government trade agreements and exports by the WFP.
The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) purchased approximately 426 000 tonnes of maize for the national strategic reserves in 2013 (below the target of 500 000 tonnes), at a cost of ZMK 65 per 50 kg (or ZMK 1.3 per kg), while 2 100 tonnes of paddy rice was also purchased (ZMK 1.5 per kg).
Prices of maize meal strengthened further
Maize meal prices strengthened further at the end of 2013, supported by the removal of maize and fuel subsidies, and reduced national supplies. By December prices were about one fifth higher than their year earlier levels. To temper price increases and ease potential supply constraints, the government began to sell limited volumes of maize from the strategic grain reserves at the end of 2013. The maize will be sold at ZMK 1 700 per tonne to millers. Grain prices have shown slightly stronger increases during the last quarter of 2013, compared to those of maize meal, and increased by 35 percent on an annual basis.
Food security conditions stable
Overall, food security conditions are stable. However, the higher maize prices are expected to negatively impact household’ access. Government assistance is being provided an estimated 209 000 households that were assessed to be at risk of food insecurity, mostly located in the Southern province, according to the 2013 vulnerability assessment.