Home » General » FAO GIEWS Country Brief on Zambia (25-July-2016)

Reference Date: 25-July-2016


  1. Production of maize recovers in 2016 due to beneficial weather between January and March, following El Niño‑related dryness in late 2015

  2. Exports of maize expected to commence from October 2016 and forecast at approximately 0.5 million tonnes

  3. Maize prices declined seasonally, but remain above their year‑earlier levels

  4. Food security conditions worsen in southern parts that were most affected by prolonged dryness and poor agricultural production in 2016

Crop production recovers in 2016, following favourable rains at start of year

Harvesting of the 2016 main cereal crops is expected to conclude in July. Results from the Government‑led crop assessment indicate a 10 percent increase in the 2016 maize crop, estimated at 2.87 million tonnes; at this level, the output is fractionally below the five‑year average. The year‑on‑year increase reflects improved yields that more than offset a 9 percent contraction in the area planted. Despite the impact of El Niño‑related dryness between October and December 2015, rainfall improved between January and March benefiting crop development particularly for the late‑planted crops. However, the early dryness that especially impacted southern parts resulted in a sharp drop in maize production of nearly 50 percent in the Southern Province.

Output of sorghum, although produced on a relatively small scale, increased significantly by 74 percent. The year‑on‑year production gain for this crop is partly attributed to its inclusion in the Government’s Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), which provides farmers with subsidized access to agricultural inputs.

The wheat crop, to be harvested from October, is forecast at about 250 000 tonnes, slightly higher than the previous year. Total cereal production in 2016 is forecast at a near‑average level of approximately 3.2 million tonnes, 10 percent up from the previous year.

Larger maize harvest and ample carryover stocks result in exportable supplies in 2016/17

National maize supplies in the 2016/17 marketing year (May/April), including carryover stocks estimated to be close to 0.7 million tonnes, are more than sufficient to cover the domestic requirements. As a result, Zambia is forecast to export more than 0.5 million tonnes of maize, of which a large proportion is expected to be supplied to Zimbabwe. However, maize exports have been suspended until the end of September.

The Food Reserve Agency (FRA), the Government parastatal mandated to manage the national strategic stock and engage in market facilitation, increased the maize procurement price since an earlier announcement in May 2016 by 13 percent to ZMW 85 (USD 0.12) per 50 kg for the 2016/17 marketing year (May/April). The adjustment was made to better reflect higher maize production costs farmers faced following the depreciation of the Kwacha in 2015, which contributed to raising input prices. In the current marketing year, the FRA has targeted the procurement of 1 million tonnes of maize, the country’s main staple food and grown by approximately 80 percent of smallholder farmers.

Maize prices declined seasonally, but remain higher on yearly basis

Prices of maize grain declined seasonally between April and June, with the national average price falling by about 28 percent during this period. However, in June 2016 the average grain price was 16 percent above its year‑earlier value, with strong regional demand and overall tighter supplies sustaining upward pressure. Maize meal prices began to fall in response to the lower grain prices, but also remain higher than their year earlier levels.

Food security conditions worsen in southern areas

Food security conditions have deteriorated in southern areas of the country that were most affected by the El Niño‑related dryness and consequent reduced agricultural production. The Zambian Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s 2016 evaluation in southern areas of the country estimated that 975 738 people (162 623 households) are food insecure and will require assistance. Between August and December 2016 humanitarian assistance will only target 257 592 severely‑affected people (42 932 households), while during the peak of the lean season (January‑March 2017), the total food insecure population will be supported mainly through the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme.