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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
|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|
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.
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.
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.
• Late delivery and high cost of fertiliser and lack of credit facilities for small-scale producers; and,
• Inadequate access to villages outside the main roads and hence difficulty of delivering fertiliser and extension services.
The 1997/98 maize production in the province is estimated at 20 287
tonnes, 53 percent below last year’s production.
The 1997/98 maize production for the province is estimated at 25 895
tonnes, down 51 percent from last year.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
|Maize||Sorghum/Millet||Rice 1/||Wheat||Total cereals|
|Total Utilization||1 224||85||28||137||1 474|
|Food||1 044||67||27||113||1 251|
|Other uses and losses||140||16||-||4||160|
|Import Requirements:||596 2/||0||23||41||660|
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.
|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:
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.|
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