Reference Date: 25-November-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Planting of the 2014 crops is underway, with overall favourable rains forecast for the 2013/14 cropping season (October-July)
Maize production in 2013 estimated at an above average 2.6 million tonnes
Maize supplies sufficient for domestic requirements in the 2013/14 marketing year, but exportable surplus reduced
Food security situation remains favourable
Planting of the 2014 crop underway
Planting activities for the 2014 crop commenced in November. Although good rains were received in western areas, the main maize growing regions in the east and south have recorded only sporadic precipitation, which is likely to have delayed planting activities. Forecasts for the 2013/14 rainy season (October-March) however, indicate that the country will receive average to above average rains.
The government has allocated ZMK 500 million to the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), targeting 900 000 beneficiaries, as in the previous year, 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 includes increased investment to rehabilitate feeder roads in rural areas. The investment in rural infrastructure aims to facilitate improved trade of agricultural inputs and outputs.
Maize production in 2013 remains above average, but below previous year’s output
Maize production in 2013 is estimated at 2.6 million tonnes, 11 percent lower than last year but above the short-term average. Production of rice, sorghum and millet are also estimated to be lower than 2012, due to reduced yields; however, increased plantings for rice helped off-set a larger reduction. In regard to cash crops, the lower prices of cotton last year contributed to a contraction in plantings and production consequently fell by about 50 percent to 140 000 tonnes. By contrast, soybean production increased significantly by 30 percent.
Sufficient cereal supplies, but lower exportable surplus
National maize supplies for the 2013/14 marketing year (May/April) are estimated to be more than sufficient to cover domestic requirements. The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) completed its public procurement programme, purchasing approximately 426 000 tonnes for the national strategic reserves (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).
Given the lower the production in 2013, the government introduced trade restrictions to control supplies, authorizing only government-to-government trade agreements and exports by the WFP. Between May and September only about 75 000 tonnes of maize has been exported, roughly one-third of the quantity of the previous year.
The country is self sufficient in all cereals, except rice and is expected to import approximately 20 000 tonnes to cover the national deficit.
Maize meal prices continue to increase
Maize meal prices continued their steady rise since the first quarter of 2013 and in October exceeded the previous year’s level by more than a third. Similarly, maize grain prices are equally high, but experienced a temporary decline in the post-harvest period between April and June. The reduction in the 2013 harvest underpinned the higher prices, while the removal of the maize and fuel subsidies added further support. The purchase of maize by the FRA also increased upward price pressure. However, unlike 2012, exports are significantly reduced this year, following the implementation of trade restrictions, which has helped to maintain stable domestic supplies and lessen pressure on prices.
Food security conditions stable
Overall, food security conditions are stable, reflecting adequate national supplies from the 2013 harvest. However, higher maize meal prices are expected to have negatively affected household’ access, while erratic rains resulted in crop losses in southern areas, particularly in the Southern Province. An estimated 209 000 were assessed to be at risk of food insecurity, mostly located in the Southern province, according to the 2013 vulnerability assessment report. Government assistance is being provided to affected households up until March 2013.