Reference Date: 18-November-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Normal to above normal rains forecast for the start of the 2013/14 cropping season
Maize production lower in 2013 compared to the poor crop in 2012
Generally stable maize prices in 2013, but higher prices recorded in southern and western markets
The number of food insecure persons is expected to increase to 2.2 million during the lean period (January-March 2014)
Favourable rains forecast for the start of 2013/14 cropping season
Land preparation and planting is underway for the 2013/14 cropping season (November-June). Preliminary rainfall forecasts point to normal to above normal rains between October and December 2013 across the whole country. In the second half of the rainy season (January-March 2014) there is an increased possibility of below average rains in southern regions. Assistance from both the government and humanitarian community for small-scale and communal farmers will continue this agricultural season, with approximately USD 150 million budgeted for inputs (including seeds and fertilisers) for an estimated 1.6 million farmers. According to the Zimbabwe Seed Traders Association (ZSTA), national maize seed supplies are estimated at about 56 000 tonnes, sufficient to plant an area of 2 million hectares, which is above the short-term average area sown to maize of about 1.6 million hectares.
Tobacco production is expected to increase further in 2014, as more than 83 000 farmers have registered to grow the crop, up from the 78 000 in the previous cropping season, encouraged by the favourable prices.
Below average maize production in 2013
Maize production in 2013 is estimated at about 799 000 tonnes, 17 percent and 30 percent lower than in 2012 and the average of the previous five years respectively. Poor rainfall during the main cropping season (November-June) in southern and western provinces, as well as an overall contraction in the area planted, contributed to this year’s production decline. By contrast, production of sorghum, estimated at 69 000 tonnes, has increased by 6 percent on last year but was still 34 percent below average. While the winter wheat crop, currently being harvested, is expected at a similar level to last season’s output.
Overall, the aggregate cereal harvest in 2013 is estimated at about 1 million tonnes, nearly 150 000 tonnes below 2012’s output and about 27 percent below the average of the previous five years.
In contrast to cereal production, the tobacco sector recorded a second year of growth in 2013. An estimated 78 000 tobacco farmers were registered to grow the cash crop, up from 38 000 in 2012. Production is estimated to have reached 164 000 tonnes, compared to the 141 000 tonnes harvested in the previous year. Similarly, sugarcane production in 2013 is estimated above the output of last year, at 4.2 million tonnes.
Maize imports forecast to increase in 2013/14
The national maize import requirement for the current 2013/14 marketing year (April/March) is estimated in excess of 550 000 tonnes, on account of a decrease in maize production and lower domestic opening stocks. In addition to negotiating to import 150 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia, just over 111 000 tonnes has been imported from South Africa between April and October.
Maize prices stable but high
In Harare, prices of maize grain remained unchanged between May and September. At USD 0.34 per kg, the prevailing price is about 17 percent above their year earlier levels, reflecting an overall reduction in the 2013 harvest, as well as increased transportation costs following a rise in excise duty on both petrol and diesel in March this year. In the southern maize deficit regions, prices have been increasing at a faster rate than in the northern surplus regions.
For the 2013/14 marketing year, the GMB raised its procurement price for maize by 28 percent to USD 379 per tonne.
Deterioration in food security in 2013/14
The results from the 2013 national vulnerability assessment (ZimVAC), released in July, indicate that currently (October-December) about 1.5 million persons in rural areas are food insecure. This number is projected to rise to 2.2 million (25 percent of the rural population) during the peak lean period (January-March 2014), mainly due to the lower domestic harvest. This is a significant increase compared to the 1.67 million persons assessed to be food insecure in the first quarter of 2013.
The provinces of the south and west have the highest rates of food insecurity, reflecting those areas that experienced unfavourable weather conditions and consequently poor cereal harvests in 2013. These provinces have also experienced the highest maize prices in the country. A close monitoring of the situation is warranted.