FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Zambia

4 June 1998


Mission Highlights 

  • 1997/98 crop production in Zambia sharply reduced to well below average by El Niño-related weather anomalies. 
  • Aggregate maize production declines by 43 percent from last year’s and 41 percent from the average of the last five years. 
  • Severe and widespread loss of cattle due to "corridor" disease (thileriosis) in Southern Province further undermines food security of households and drastically reduces oxen population, a major draught power resource. 
  • Cereal import requirement for 1998/99 marketing year (May-April) estimated at 660 000 tonnes. 
    • With commercial cereal imports anticipated at 364 000 tonnes, the uncovered deficit, including emergency food aid estimated at 45 000 tonnes, amounts to 296 000 tonnes. 
    • Current import capacity of the country is extremely low, with foreign exchange reserves enough to cover only about six weeks of imports of goods and services. International assistance, in the form of grants, concessionary imports and targeted food aid, will therefore be required. 


    Of all the countries of southern Africa, Zambia appears to have suffered the most from El Niño-related weather anomalies. The northern part of the country experienced abnormally high and incessant rainfall and extensive flooding throughout the season, while the southern part experienced near-drought conditions.

    In view of these unfavourable conditions, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited the country from 27 April to 14 May 1998, at harvest time, to assess the impact of the weather anomalies on foodcrop production and the overall food supply situation, and to estimate cereal import requirements for the 1998/99 marketing year (May-April), including food aid needs of the affected populations. The Mission was joined by observers from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the USAID Famine Early Warning System (FEWS).

    In carrying out the assessment, the Mission held discussions with national authorities at central, provincial and district levels, UN and bilateral agencies and donor representatives, NGOs, senior management of relevant private companies; and carried out extensive fields visits during which discussions were held with farmers simultaneously with on-the-spot crop assessments. The Mission covered 8 of the country’s 9 provinces, the uncovered Province being Copperbelt, which is overwhelmingly a mining province with relatively little crop production. Information on this province was obtained from secondary sources and inferences from the neighbouring provinces in the high rainfall northern part of Zambia.

    The Mission found that crop production in 1997/98, particularly maize, the nation’s main staple, has sharply declined from last year’s and in comparison with production in the last five years. Four major factors account for the decline. The first is the abnormal behaviour of rainfall. The northern provinces of Zambia, namely, Copperbelt, Luapula, Northern and North-Western, received excessive rainfall throughout the season, with extensive flooding, particularly in low-lying areas. As a result, crop losses have been significant and yields have been very low. The southern part of the country, consisting of Lusaka, Southern and Western Provinces, experienced near-drought conditions which drastically reduced crop yields and total production. Only two provinces, Central and Eastern, were relatively little affected by the weather anomalies. The second factor has been a massive loss of cattle in Southern Province, caused by "corridor" disease (a form of thileriosis) over the past year. For a province traditionally dependent on ox-cultivation, this has been a severe blow, with large reductions in planted area. Thirdly, access to inputs, particularly fertilizer, by small-scale producers has been highly constrained by lack of credit, high prices and late delivery. Fourthly, with elimination of subsidies for maize as a result of market liberalization policies, there has been a marked shift from maize to cash crops supported by private companies through seasonal loans and extension and marketing services, as well as to food crops which are less fertilizer-intensive.

    The Mission estimates 1997/98 total maize production at about 548 000 tonnes, sorghum at 24 000 tonnes, millet at 60 000 tonnes, rice at 4 000 tonnes, wheat at 71 000 tonnes, totalling in all 707 000 tonnes of cereals. Cereal stocks held by the Food Reserve Agency, private millers and traders, and rural households are estimated at 107 000 tonnes. Total cereal availability for the 1998/99 marketing year, therefore, amounts to 814 000 tonnes. Set against this, total cereal utilization, taking into account human consumption (adjusted for cassava-maize cross-substitution), seed retention, livestock feed, beer brewing, and food losses, is estimated at 1 474 000 tonnes, yielding a deficit of 660 000 tonnes.

    Private importers who can draw on their external sources of foreign exchange are reluctant to get involved in importing maize, citing the unstable Kwacha/Dollar exchange rate and low consumer purchasing power. On the basis of these considerations, the Mission estimates commercial cereal imports, including maize flour from South Africa, at 364 000 tonnes (including 23 000 tonnes of rice and 41 000 tonnes of wheat). This leaves an uncovered deficit of 296 000 tonnes, including emergency food assistance estimated at 45 000 tonnes.

    The import capacity of Zambia is currently extremely low. As of 28 February 1998, foreign exchange reserves held by the Bank of Zambia amounted to about US$166 million, estimated by the Bank to cover imports of goods and services for only 6 weeks. Therefore, in order to cover the deficit of 296 000 tonnes, Zambia will need international assistance in the form of grants, concessionary imports and targeted food aid.



    2.1 Performance of the Economy 1/

    1/ This section is based on the World Bank publication "Debt Management in sub-Saharan Africa" and miscellaneous sources

    Zambia, a landlocked country, covers a surface area of approximately 750 000 square kilometres, with an estimated total population of 10 million as at 31 December 1997, growing at the rate of 3.2 percent per annum. Compared to other sub-Saharan African countries, it is highly urbanized, with half of the population living in urban areas. It has vast land resources as yet unutilized, available for agricultural expansion. It is also endowed with a range of minerals, chief among them copper and cobalt, on which it has overwhelmingly depended in the past, and continues to depend, for foreign exchange earnings.

    However, since the mid-1970s revenues from mineral exports have been on a downward trend due to unfavourable external trade environment and falling output volumes. In addition in 1980, the country had an external debt amounting to US$3 261 million; in 1990 it amounted to US$7 265 million; and in 1995, the latest year figures could be obtained, it stood at US$6 853 million. The standard of living of Zambians has declined over the years: per caput GNP stood at US$630 in 1980 and was estimated at US$430 in 1996. Since 1992, the Government has persued an economic reform programme designed to encourage movement towards a full market economy and to reduce the role of the state. However, economic performance has been less than expected, with high dependence on external financing of investment.

    The import capacity of Zambia is currently extremely low. As of 28 February 1998, the country had reserves of US$166 million, estimated by the Bank of Zambia to be equivalent to only 1.5 months of imports of goods and services.

    2.2 The Agriculture Sector in the National Economy

    Compared to other sectors of the Zambian economy, the agriculture sector’s contribution to GDP is small. In 1996, its share was only 16 percent compared to 40 percent from industry and 44 percent from services.

    The agriculture sector is divided into three sub-sectors based on farmer categories, namely: large-scale farmers (>40 ha), medium, "emergent" farmers (10-40 ha) and small-scale farmers (1-10ha). The majority are small-scale farmers, estimated at 92 percent, with large-scale and medium-scale farmers making up the remaining 8 percent.

    Maize is by far the dominant foodcrop and the nation’s main staple. In 1997, it accounted for 60 percent of the food crop area, while other cereals (rice, sorghum and millet) accounted for 15 percent. Sunflower, soybeans, groundnuts, mixed beans, roots and tubers accounted for the other 25 percent.

    Three provinces, Central, Eastern and Southern, account for 75 percent of total maize production. Small-scale farmers use family labour with simple hand tools or animal draught power, especially in the three provinces just mentioned. There is clear evidence that farmers are diversifying away from maize into other food and cash crops, resulting from the cessation of subsidised credit for maize under the economic liberalisation policy.

    Cash crops that are supported by private companies through seasonal loans (cotton, sunflower and tobacco in particular) and extension services, as well as food crops that are less fertiliser-intensive, are increasingly replacing maize. Sweet potatoes are rapidly becoming important both as a food and cash crop. In areas where cassava was not grown before, farmers are looking for planting material in order to have an alternative food crop in the face of declining maize production.

    2.3 Maize Production Trends

    Production of maize was on a rising trend from the early 1980s to 1989. From 1990 onwards, however, production started trending downwards, with a sharp decline in 1992/93, a drought year for most of southern Africa. While some recovery was made after the drought, production has not regained its 1988-89 levels (Fig. 1)
    Undisplayed Graphic


    Foodcrop production in the 1997/98 cropping season has suffered a major decline, particularly for maize, compared to recent levels. Maize production declined by an estimated 43 percent from last year and by 41 percent from the average of the last five years. This is the result of both reduced area and lower yields.

    3.1 Characteristics of the Season


    The rainfall behaviour in Zambia during the 1997/98 crop season may be attributed to the El Niño weather phenomena. The northern part of the country experienced excessive rains, with severe flooding in many areas. Most areas received rainfall twice the normal amount for the season. As a result, yields were negatively affected, particularly of maize, cassava, beans and sorghum. Flooding was particularly severe in dambos and wetlands, and along major river basins. An estimated 15 percent of cropped land was lost. However, crop losses and yield reductions were less severe on the upland. Yields of sorghum and cassava are estimated to have slightly increased in these areas. On the whole, the season’s output has been poor and well below average.

    In stark contrast, rainfall in the southern part was very erratic, below normal and poorly distributed. Crop yields were drastically reduced, with a large number of farmers harvesting no crops at all, particularly maize. Figure 2 shows a comparison of rainfall between northern and southern Zambia from October 1997 to April 1998. What is more revealing and what the figure does not show is the number of rainy days per month. While the rains were continuous in the north, the rainfall data from Mochipapa research station, for example, shows that the amount of rainfall in November (134.8 mm) fell in 8 days, while the large amount in January (266.7 mm) fell in 17 days. In February, there was no rainfall from 1st to 11th, and the 95.8 mm received thereafter fell in 9 days. The average rainfall for February is 280-300 mm.

    Figure 2: Actual rainfall (in mm) compared to normal in the north and south of Zambia
    Undisplayed Graphic

    Input Supply

    Inadequate access to inputs, particularly fertiliser, has been a major limiting factor for small-scale producers. Farmers and field extension staff at all levels (province, district, block and camp) expressed concern with regard to the long-term impact of eliminating fertiliser subsidies, lack of credit and late delivery of fertiliser. Also, physical access to fertilizer was difficult for farmers due to impassable roads in the flood-affected areas, while in general limited purchasing power was a major constraint for a majority of small-scale producers. Thus, the low use of fertiliser, coupled with excessive rains, greatly reduced yields and total production of maize.

    In addition, maize seed supplied to farmers in the north was reported to be of relatively low quality, with poor germination. However, the relative contributions of the excessive rainfall and poor quality seed would be difficult to determine.

    Farm Power

    Normally, ox-cultivation is widely practised in Central, Eastern and Southern Provinces. In Southern Province ox-cultivation during the 1997/98 season was sharply curtailed due to massive and widespread losses of cattle, including work-oxen, caused by "corridor" disease (a form of thileriosis). For a province traditionally dependent on ox-cultivation, this has been a very serious blow. As a result, the area planted to maize is estimated to have declined by between 25 – 30 percent from last year’s.

    Crop Pests and Diseases and Food Losses

    Plant pests and diseases have not been a major problem for all provinces. However, in the northern provinces, beetles adversely affected bean production, while maize and sorghum were affected by leaf blight due to excessive rains. Cassava mosaic virus and mealie bug infestations were also reported in these provinces.

    Post-harvest losses for maize were reported to be generally high due to inadequate storage structures on most farms, while pre-harvest losses for cassava due to floods will be exceptionally high this year in the northern, cassava-producing provinces.

    3.2 Yields

    Taking into account all the factors discussed in the above section, it was quite clear to the Mission that yields of most crops were substantially reduced. The aggregate maize yield was estimated to have declined by some 18 percent from last year and 21 percent from the average of the last five years.

    3.3 Area Planted

    In the northern provinces (Copperbelt, Luapula, Northern, North-Western), area planted to maize was reduced due to a combination of excessive rains, floods and, to a less extent, a shift from maize to other crops. In Southern Province, there was a large drop in area planted, estimated by the Mission at 25 percent, due to the severe losses of work oxen. In Central and Eastern provinces, reductions in the area planted to maize were largely due to diversification from maize to other crops, mainly cotton, sunflower and tobacco which are supported by private companies. In Western Province, area planted to maize was reduced by floods in the Zambezi river basin (floods originating from upstream in North-Western Province), which is the most productive part of the province.

    3.4 Area Harvested

    In the northern provinces, area harvested was substantially below area planted due to floods. In Southern Province, the area harvested is estimated at 50 percent of the already reduced planted area, as a result of the near-drought conditions.

    3.5 Total Production

    The large reductions in yields, area planted and area harvested resulted in a large drop in total food production in the country. For maize, the staple of the country, production is estimated by the Mission at 548 362 tonnes, which is 43 percent lower than last year’s and 58.6 percent of the average for the last five years (Table 1).
    Table 1. Trends in maize production by province (tonnes)
    Maize Production  1997/98  96/97  95/96  94/95  93/94  1992/93  5-year Average  %change (1997/98 from 1996/97)  %change (1997/98 from 5-year av.)
    Luapula  14 021  33 807  37 679  31 362  47 320  29 027  35 839  -58.52  -61
    Northern  40 128  97 251  113 010  117 828  180 862  71 984  116 187  -58.74  -66
    Central  126 000  153 325  347 969  172 177  218 990  172 795  213 051  -17.82  -41
    Western  23 076  39 963  61 053  30 897  35 834  13 733  36 296  -42.26  -36
    Southern  74 693  251 936  286 532  84 455  193 605  25 215  168 349  -70.35  -56
    Lusaka  29 969  44 453  76 416  19 329  31 889  39 471  42 312  -32.58  -29
    N/Western  20 287  38 258  34 653  33 565  43 595  16 602  33 335  -46.98  -39
    Eastern  194 292  248 093  375 942  197 936  213 845  82 317  223 627  -21.69  -13
    Copperbelt  25 895  53 102  76 230  50 288  54 806  32 348  53 355  -51.24  -51
    Total  548 362  960 188  1 409 485  737 835  1 020 748  483 492  922 350  -42.89  -41

    3.6 Livestock Conditions

    In the livestock sub-sector, small-scale farmers account for 82 percent of the national herd. Efforts to introduce higher-yielding cattle breeds in the past to increase farmers’ income and draught power have had mixed results. In Southern Province, "corridor disease" has decimated cattle herds in recent months, resulting in a substantial loss of income and draught power by a large number of small-scale farmers.



    4.1 Southern Province

    The 1997/98 crop production in this province has been very poor and well below average due to a number of factors. The most important factor has been rainfall, which was insufficient, very erratic, poorly distributed and characterised by prolonged dry spells. As a result, crop yields have been drastically reduced, estimated by the Mission at 50 percent of last year’s. Many farmers have totally lost their maize crop, their most important staple. The second most important factor has been the severe and widespread loss of cattle, including work oxen, caused by the "corridor disease" (a form of thileriosis). For a province traditionally dependent on ox-cultivation, this has been a serious blow, with a reduction in maize area estimated at more than 25 percent compared to last year. Superimposed on this reduction there has been a decrease in the harvested area due to poor rainfall. The Mission estimates harvested area to be just over 50 percent of the planted area. The other major limiting factors have been inadequate access to fertilisers due to lack of credit following the closure of the main state-supported credit institution, Lima Bank, low purchasing power, use of early-maturing but lower-yielding maize varieties, late planting due to the erratic rainfall and shortage of draught power, and diversification away from maize into cash crops such as cotton and sunflower.

    Taking into account the impact of all these adverse factors, which was verified through extensive on-the-spot assessment and discussions with farmers, the Mission estimates the 1997/98 total maize production for the province at 74 693 tonnes, which is 30 percent of last year’s production and 44 percent of the average for the last five years. Sorghum and millet, which are mainly grown in the low-altitude (valley) areas, have suffered significant yield reductions and total production is also well below average.

    4.2 Western Province

    Crop production in the province has been very low due to a combination of below normal rainfall and floods on the plains. In Sesheke, for example, shortfalls of rainfall were experienced, with a total of 424.6 mm (normal 600 mm), while most of the fields on the plains (the most productive areas) were flooded, reducing yields to zero. Maize production in the district this season is estimated at some 23 076 tonnes, which is a 40 percent decline from last year. In Senanga District, very low rainfall led to complete loss of crops on the upland, while the low plains are completely flooded from the heavy rains in North-western Province, with no harvest at all. The situation is very similar elsewhere in the province with the exception of Kaoma District where rainfall was much better and there were no floods due to its higher elevation. However, maize seed was only available in late November after the early rains. Although fertiliser was available, many farmers could not afford it and therefore its application was very inadequate. Area under maize is estimated to have declined by 45 percent from last year. However, area under millet and sorghum has increased by 100 percent and 5 percent respectively compared to last year. The Mission estimates the 1997/98 total maize production for the province at 22 534 tonnes, which is 42 percent lower than last year. Cassava harvests have also been greatly reduced due to rotting under floodwaters. Many households do not have livestock to sell as livestock ownership is highly skewed in the province. Other sources of income (fishing, beer brewing) will not be sufficient to meet many households’ minimum food needs.

    4.3 Lusaka Province

    Rainfall in this province, as in Southern Province, was inadequate, erratic and poorly distributed. Kafue District, which borders Mazabuka District in Southern Province, received good rains from late December through January, but these were followed by prolonged dry spells in February and March at critical stages of crop growth, sharply reducing crop yields, particularly for maize. In addition, loss of cattle, including work-oxen, led to significant reductions in planted area. As a result, maize production is estimated to have declined by up to 70 percent compared to 1997. Luangwa District, much of which lies in the low-altitude areas of the Luangwa river basin, is a chronically food-deficit area, and the situation was made worse this year by a combination of floods in the lowlands (from heavy rains upstream in northern Zambia) and poor rainfall on the upland. Chongwe District, which borders Central Province, fared a little better in terms of rainfall than Kafue and Luangwa districts. However, dry spells, loss of work-oxen due to corridor disease, limited access to fertilizer and lack of credit, resulted in a large reduction in food production.

    Production of sorghum, millet and root crops in Lusaka Province is on a very limited scale and all have performed as badly as maize this year. The 1997/98 total maize production for the province is estimated to have declined by some 32 percent compared to last year.

    4.4 Luapula Province

    Crop performance varied by location and crop type. Yields and total production on the upland (outside the marshlands, lake areas and river basins) were less affected by the excessive rainfall and floods. In the low-lying areas, however, flooding was disastrous. Crops planted in these areas were destroyed. In the Bangweulu Lake basin floods also affected many villages, including Kasoma Lunga, Bwalya, Mponda, Matongo, Nsamba and Kasoma, as well as Lunga which normally supplies cassava cuttings for most of the area. Consequently, these areas will require cassava cuttings for the next planting.

    The 1997/98 total maize production of the province is estimated at 14 021 tonnes, which is 58 percent lower than last year and 39 percent of the average for the last 5 years. It should be noted that most farmlands in this province are located in the valley areas, a situation which has significantly affected overall production of the province.

    4.5 Northern Province

    The 1997/98 crop production is estimated to be below average due to three major factors: Most districts, including Mbala, Nakonde, Isoka, Chilubi, Luwingu, Mporokoso, Mpika, Kaputa, Chinsali and Mungwi received well above-average rainfall and produced below-average crop output. This was compounded by seed supply and access problems. As a result, the 1997/98 total maize production of the province is estimated at 40 128 tonnes, which is 59 percent below last year and 66 percent lower than the average for the last 5 years.

    4.6 North-Western Province

    Rainfall in this province followed the same pattern as in Northern, Luapula and Copperbelt provinces, characterized by excessive precipitation and severe flooding in low-lying areas. This is one of the main cassava producing provinces but production this year is estimated to have declined by over 10 percent due to rotting of mature tubers under prolonged flooding. The contribution of the province to national maize production is very small, estimated at only 2.4 percent in 1995/96, the best year nationally in the last five years. This year, the excessive rains, which led to leaching of soil nutrients, sharply reduced maize production. Sorghum, millet and beans are widely produced but in small quantities and mostly for family consumption. Sweet potato production has expanded rapidly in recent years for both home consumption and export to the Copperbelt and even to as far as Livingstone where consumer demand is high.

    The 1997/98 maize production in the province is estimated at 20 287 tonnes, 53 percent below last year’s production.

    4.7 Copperbelt Province

    This province is mainly an urban complex consisting of the contiguous mining cities of Chingola, Luanshya, Kitwe and Ndola, with some agricultural production in the peri-urban areas. In 1995/96, the best year in the last five years, it contributed only 5.4 percent to national maize production. As it is situated in the northern part of Zambia which experienced excessive rainfall and flooding in 1997/98, crop yields were adversely affected.

    The 1997/98 maize production for the province is estimated at 25 895 tonnes, down 51 percent from last year.

    4.8 Central Province

    The season’s crop performance is rated as average for all crops. Rainfall amounts and distribution were favourable, despite a break in February. However, the lowland areas of Chisomo, Lukusashi, Luano and Luangwa river basins experienced flooding with damage to crops.

    Total maize production is estimated at 126 000 tonnes, which is 18 percent lower than last year and 41 percent lower than the average for the last five years.

    The single most important factor for the decline in maize production has been a shift to less input-intensive food crops and cash crops supported by private companies. Inadequate fertiliser supply, high fertiliser prices, late delivery of fertiliser and lack of credit for the small-scale farmers have been the main factors responsible for this shift.

    4.9 Eastern Province

    The overall conclusion from interviews with farmers, grain dealers, government workers, marketeers and field observations of the maize, cassava, sweet potato, and groundnut fields is that the production of maize in Eastern Province in 1998 has fallen by up to 22 percent from the previous year’s production. Three main factors account for this reduction. These are:

    Reduced use of chemical fertilisers due to non-availability of credit.

    Excessive rainfall during the first part of the crop growing period (i.e. December and January), followed by a 4-5 week dry spell when the crop was tussling. Nutrients in the soil were leached, especially in the sandy areas of Katete and Petauke. The result was stunted crops and reduced yield.

    Reduced access to input credit for maize. As a result, many farmers have switched to crops that are being supported by private companies, especially cotton and tobacco. As small-scale farmers are generally short of labour, taking to cotton production has led to significant reductions in the area under maize.

    Alternative food crops to maize are sweet potatoes, rice, cassava, sorghum and millet. However, sorghum and millet are restricted to the lowland areas. Cassava is produced on a small scale and is increasing. Sweet potato is grown by most households but is largely consumed in the early months of the maize marketing season, as it is not stored by many farmers for later consumption. Movement and use of rice (mostly from Chama District and Malawi) is not well documented. Currently it is Malawi rice that is on the market. Chama rice is expected later in June. Based on the estimated reduced maize area and yield, the 1997/98 maize production is estimated at 194 292 tonnes for Eastern Province, 22 percent down from the 1997 production.



    5.1 Food Prices and Access to Food

    Grain maize prices rose from August 1997 until April 1998 when they began to decline with the arrival of the new maize crop on the market (Figure 3).
    Undisplayed Graphic

    However, prices could well resume their upward trend soon in view of the poor crop. Access to adequate food by both the rural and urban poor will be very difficult with further price increases. In the rural areas most households are already consuming the new maize crop, reflecting a scarcity of carryover stocks from last year.

    5.2 Cereal Supply/Demand Balance

    The forecast of the cereal supply/demand balance and the import requirement for 1998/99 (May/April) are summarised in Table 2. The balance sheet is based on the following assumptions:

    A mid-1998/99 marketing year population of 10.24 million

    Production estimate for 1997/98 based on on-the-spot assessment of the main food crops.

    Opening stock figures aggregated from the Food Reserve Agency (50 000 tonnes of maize); private millers and traders (30 000 tonnes maize, 1 000 tonnes rice, 25 000 tonnes wheat) and a total of 1 000 tonnes sorghum/millet estimated to be held by rural households.

    Per caput consumption per annum of 102 kg for maize (reflecting cassava/sweet potato cross-substitution, see below), 2.9 kg for sorghum, 3.6 kg for millet, 2.6 kg for rice and 11 kg for wheat.

    Other uses include:

    Cassava, an important staple in the northern and western provinces (Luapula, Northern, North-Western, Western) is indirectly incorporated into the cereal balance sheet on the following assumptions:
    The crop is predominantly produced and consumed in these provinces, with little outflow to the rest of Zambia due to its bulkiness and low value. For 1997/98 cassava production is estimated at 817 000 tonnes, net of pre-harvest losses caused by extensive and prolonged flooding in these provinces. Total 1997/98 maize production in the same provinces is estimated to have declined substantially from last year’s level (Table 1). It is assumed that in these provinces the fall in maize production will be directly covered by increased cassava consumption, thereby reducing the national maize demand. Any surplus cassava will be carried over to the next season as the crop stores well in the ground for some considerable length of time. In fact, cassava-producing provinces will have a higher degree of food security than the rest. Sweet potatoes are more widely grown in the country than cassava, albeit on smaller plots per producing household. They are traded widely in the country and demand for them is increasing. It is assumed that they will also directly substitute for maize nation-wide, thus further reducing national maize demand.

    The cereal import requirement derived from the balance sheet amounts to 660 000 tonnes. Following discussions with the Bank of Zambia and several private grain millers in Lusaka, the Mission considers that commercial imports of maize, including maize flour from South Africa, will be around 300 000 tonnes. The figure is rather low as private millers expressed a reluctance to get involved in the importation of maize on the grounds that (a) the unstable Kwacha/Dollar exchange rate makes it risky to import; (b) low purchasing power of the majority of consumers will limit sales of imported maize; (c) there is a scarcity of foreign exchange in the banking sector. On the other hand, the deficits in rice (23 000 tonnes) and wheat (41 000 tonnes) are expected to be met fully by private sector imports.

    The uncovered deficit, therefore, amounts to 296 000 tonnes, including an estimated 45 000 tonnes for emergency food assistance. Zambia at present has very few foreign exchange reserves, estimated by the Bank of Zambia at about US$166 million, enough for six weeks of imports of total goods and services. Therefore, the uncovered deficit will need to be met largely by international assistance through grants, concessionary imports and targeted food aid.

    Table 2. Zambia: Cereal Supply/Demand Balance, 1998/99 (‘000 tonnes)
    Projected population at 1/10/98: 10.24 million
    Maize  Sorghum/Millet  Rice 1/  Wheat  Total cereals
    Total availability  628  85  5  96  814
    Production  548  84  71  707
    Stocks  80  25  107
    Total Utilization  1 224  85  28  137  1 474
    Food  1 044  67  27  113  1 251
    Other uses and losses  140  16  160
    Closing stocks  40  20  63
    Import Requirements:  596 2/  0  23  41  660

    5.3 Emergency Food Assistance Requirements

    Three important factors must be taken into account in understanding the magnitude of production shortfall and resulting food assistance requirements for Zambia. First, the rainfall conditions were above average for most parts of Northern, Central, North-western and Luapula provinces, damaging crops and property. In contrast, provinces in the south and south-west experienced below average rainfall, resulting in poor crop production. Second, recent changes in the agricultural input supply policy, particularly for fertiliser and improved seeds, impacted upon decisions of small-scale farmers on the use of inputs and choice of specific type of crops to plant. The Mission observed that farmers are shifting from high-input crops (such as maize) to low-input food crops (such as cassava and to a limited extent sorghum and finger millet) in many parts of the country. The shift in the choice of crops tended to compound the already poor performance of maize production in all the provinces. This has meant that maize production and availability are substantially lower than they would be otherwise. Third, delivery of fertilizer for the regions visited has been late, with the result that many farmers were unable to make good use of fertiliser. This also undermined potentials for increased crop production. Overall, both maize and other cereals and root crop production and productivity declined significantly, affecting the food security of a large proportion of the population.

    Given these conditions, the Mission recognises two levels of food supply problems. The first is of an emergency nature for people living in river basins, wetlands and drought-affected areas who experienced a near complete loss of production, and who will require emergency food assistance. Further needs for emergency food assistance should be evaluated in view of likely market price changes and nutritional conditions, and location-specific coping abilities of the people in the affected areas. Emergency needs of the affected population are estimated at 45 000 tonnes commencing in July/August 1998. The population likely to require emergency food assistance is estimated at about 140 000 households (830 000 people) as shown in Table 3 below.

    Table 3: Zambia - Estimated Food Requirement of the Affected Population
    of Households
    Requirement (MT)
    Central  8 232  50 070  1 457
    Eastern  10 447  61 260  1 662
    Northern  16 680  100 650  3 622
    North western  10 225  60 950  2 038
    Western  45 190  271 177  18 801
    Luapula  32 257  193 180  12 291
    Southern  15 375  93 150  5 116
    Total  138 406  830 437  44 987

    The second level of food supply problem is a more general shortfall, due to the inadequate production of food in the country, which will undermine food availability and nutritional wellbeing of the urban and rural populations unless measures are taken to provide sufficient grains on the market. To redress the general food supply problems in the economy, incentives should be introduced to encourage the private sector to play a more significant role in the importation of grain. It is estimated that the commercial sector will import 364 000 tonnes of cereals. As the country’s import capacity is seriously constrained by shortage of foreign exchange, balance-of-payment support is required to cover an estimated 296 000 tonnes.

    Targeting Food Assistance

    Specific locations that have experienced production losses during the current season are generally located in river basins, lake areas and wetlands of the northern region of Zambia as well as in drought-hit areas of the southern and western parts of the country.

    The population in flood and drought affected areas will be the primary target for food assistance. This will be achieved through two important activities. Primarily, the government in collaboration with a multi-agency Vulnerability Analysis Group should undertake a detailed needs assessment to determine the magnitude of production losses and their impact. Secondly, beneficiary registration should be undertaken to ensure inclusion of the affected population and specific social and economic groups within the affected areas. The assistance should give priority to vulnerable groups (identified by the VA group), focusing on households which experienced a near-complete loss of production, and which are constrained by lack of alternative sources of income and coping ability, female-headed households, pregnant and nursing women and children.

    Identification of the vulnerable population should consider and further explore local coping abilities that may be available for the population in the affected districts and areas, including fishing, livestock ownership (cattle, small ruminants and poultry), trading and remittances. The Mission has identified the following specific locations affected by excessive rains and drought:

    In the northern region of the country the Mission identified specific locations recommended for emergency operation including:  

  • Chambeshi basin covering Mbala, Mungwi and Chilubi districts;
  • Luangwa basin covering Mpika district;
  • Luapula river basin covering the districts of Mwense, Kawambwa and Nchelenge;
  • Lake and wetland areas of the Bangweulu swamps covering Samfya and Milenge districts; the Mweru Wantipa swamps covering Chienge and Kaputa districts; Lake Mweru covering Nchelenge and Chienge district including emergency needs of island population;
  • Luena flats and Kalungwishi river valleys covering Chienge and Kawambwa districts;
  • Luano valley, Lusemfwa, Chisomo Valley and Lukanga swamps covering Mkushi, Kapiri Mposhi and Serenje districts.
  • With regard to the southern and western regions of the country, emergency operation should cover the following areas.

    Similarly, areas in other provinces should also be assessed based on local knowledge and evidence of changes in market supply and nutritional status.

    Follow Up Measures for Identification of Affected Population

    The Mission endorses a joint plan by GRZ, UN system, donors and NGOs to conduct a food needs assessment for flood and drought hit areas to ensure a consolidated and effective targeting of food assistance. In view of the agreed upon steps, the government of Zambia in collaboration with FEWS, VAM, FHANIS and relevant NGOs should undertake the needs assessment immediately.

    Food Aid Logistics

    The WFP in collaboration with the GRZ and other relevant organisations including the NGO’s should identify appropriate means for the procurement and cost of delivery of emergency food consignments up to the port of entry including inland transport to primary and tertiary warehouses. WFP will provide the necessary technical support and work out detailed arrangements relating to storage, and distribution modalities.

    This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required. 
    Abdur Rashid 
    Chief, GIEWS FAO 
    Telex 610181 FAO I 
    Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495 
    E-mail: [email protected] 
    Mohamed Zejjari 
    Director, OSA, WFP 
    Telex: 626675 WFP 1 
    Fax: 0039-06-6513-2839 
    E-Mail: [email protected]
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