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Reference Date: 26-May-2015


  1. Maize production declined by 21 percent in 2015 as a result of unfavourable weather conditions

  2. Despite lower production, national stock levels still remain high following record 2014 output

  3. Food security conditions generally stable, but expected to worsen in some areas on account of lower cereal harvests

Maize production in 2015 estimated at well below last year’s record output

Harvesting of the 2015 cereal crops is expected to be finalized in July. Maize production, which accounts for about 90 percent of the cereal output, is estimated to have decreased by 21 percent in 2015 from the record output of the previous year, mainly reflecting erratic rainfall. Dry spells in February and March, during a critical period for maize grain development, resulted in lower yields that more than offset a 5 percent expansion in plantings. Large production declines of over one-third were estimated in the main producing Central and Southern provinces, while a moderate production gain was estimated in North-Western province, on account of generally good rains, preventing further decreases at the national level. Lower outputs were also estimated for sorghum and rice; however, millet production increased reflecting an increase in plantings which outweighed reduced yields. The winter wheat crop, to be harvested from October, is preliminarily forecast to increase from the reduced output of 2014.

Overall, 2015 cereal production stands at just under 3 million tonnes, 19 percent below the record output of 2014 and about 9 percent lower than the average of the previous five years.

Sufficient maize supplies and export availabilities in 2015/16

Despite the production decrease in 2015, export availabilities are still estimated at over 800 000 tonnes for the 2015/16 marketing year (May/April), on account of the bumper output in 2014 and consequently large carryover stocks. Export opportunities are expected to increase in 2015/16, following the sharp reduction in South Africa’s 2015 maize output, which normally supplies the bulk of the import needs in the subregion, and the forecast increase in import requirements for several countries, reflecting reduced domestic harvests. As in previous years, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is planning to procure 500 000 tonnes of maize for the national strategic reserves in 2015/16.

In an effort to stabilize maize meal prices, the Government, through the FRA, sold 150 000 tonnes of maize grain to millers at a subsidized price of ZMW 65 per 50 kg bag. However, the recent increase in fuel prices in May, by up to 15 percent, following several downward revisions earlier this year, may limit the impact on retail prices.

Food security expected to worsen in some areas, reflecting reduced harvests

The food security situation is reported to be generally stable; however, in areas where 2015 cereal production declined sharply, conditions may worsen. The 2015/16 national vulnerability assessment is underway. The report, which is scheduled to be released in June, is expected to provide detailed information on the impact of the reduced harvest and possible food assistance needs. In 2014, the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) estimated that 351 267 people (4 percent of the rural population) required food assistance. This compares with 209 498 vulnerable people in 2013.

Relevant links:
 Cereal Supply/Demand Balance Sheet
 Food Price Data and Analysis Tool
 Earth Observation Indicators
 Seasonal Indicators
 Vegetation Indicators
 Precipitation Indicators
 Graphs & Data
 NDVI & Precipitation
 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) Reports & Special Alerts: 2005, 2003, 2002, 1998
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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