Reference Date: 13-March-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Favourable production prospects for the 2014 maize crop
Significant volumes of maize imported from South Africa in the current 2013/14 marketing year (April/March)
High domestic maize prices following low 2013 maize output and high prices in South Africa
The number of food insecure persons increased to 2.2 million in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 1.67 million in same period in 2013
Production prospects point to an above average 2014 maize crop
Harvesting of the 2014 maize crop is expected to begin in April/May, and current production prospects remain favourable. Preliminary planting estimates for maize indicate an 18 percent expansion, to 1.66 million hectares, based on the Government’s First Crop and Livestock Assessment in February. If good rains persist until the harvest period, an above-average crop is foreseen. In addition to favourable climatic conditions, generally timely maize plantings ensured sufficient growing time for crops, while farmers benefited from assistance from both the Government and humanitarian community, with an estimated 1.6 million farmers receiving maize seed. However, just under half of the targeted quantity of fertilizer under the support programme was distributed, which may limit yield potentials in some parts. Furthermore, heavy rains in the first quarter of 2013 caused some flood damage to crops. Production of sorghum and millet are also expected to increase on last year’s good outputs due to larger plantings.
Tobacco production is anticipated to increase in 2014, following an estimated 21 percent growth in plantings. This contrasts with a 16 percent contraction in the cotton area, a second consecutive yearly fall.
South Africa supplies the bulk of import requirements
Maize import requirements increased in the 2013/14 marketing year (April/March) due to the sharply reduced 2013 maize harvest, 17 percent below the previous year’s below-average level. South Africa has become the county’s main supplier of maize following the reduced exportable surplus in Zambia. As of the end of February, approximately 230 000 tonnes of maize were imported from South Africa, while small volumes were also imported from Zambia.
Prices of maize increased at the end of 2013
The low domestic 2013 harvest and high maize prices in South Africa have put upward pressure on prices. In January 2014, prices of maize reached USD 0.51 per kg, about 75 percent above the previous year’s level. However, the depreciation of the Rand against the US dollar is expected to have helped lessen imported inflationary pressure, given the large consignments of maize and food from South Africa.
Food security deteriorates in first quarter of 2014
The national vulnerability assessment committee (ZimVAC) estimated that 2.2 million persons (25 percent of the rural population) will be food insecure until the start of the main harvest in April 2014, mainly as a result of the lower domestic production in 2013. The current level is a significant increase compared to the 1.67 million persons assessed to be food insecure in the first quarter of 2013.Provinces in the south and west recorded the highest rates of food insecurity, reflecting poor cereal harvests in 2013. Food assistance is currently being provided through the Seasonal Targeted Assistance (STA) programme. However, funding shortfalls limited the operations of the programme with half‑rations being distributed to approximately 1 million people. The start of the early harvests in March is expected to improve food security conditions.