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SADC Food Security Bulletin Monthly Update 31 Oct 2002

Harare - Zimbabwe

- Land preparation and planting commenced after significant late October rains... Northern and central parts of SADC reported normal to above normal rainfall of between 31 to 150 mm between late October into early November, enabling land preparation/crop planting to commence. Significant rains were recorded in north-eastern Tanzania, much of Zambia, southern Mozambique, Swaziland and central Zimbabwe. The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone continued to provide rains in the DRC and northern Angola.

- Increased maize plantings likely in South Africa and Mozambique... Surveys on producer intentions suggest a possible 19% increase in maize plantings in South Africa due to better price expectations while a 3% increase is likely in Mozambique, based on projections of average cropped area per household, cropping patterns and input availability.

- Input supply shortages could hamper production recovery in some countries... Shortages of either improved seed and/or fertilizers continued to be reported in Angola, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Enough seed has been stocked in Namibia; in Zambia, supplies of seed and fertilizers are adequate but high price may reduce usage. Scarcity of tillage tractors for hire and shortages of draught power have been cited in Swaziland and Lesotho.

- Several countries have embarked on input supply support initiatives... Free seed distribution is on-going in Botswana; a subsidised inputs programme is being implemented in Lesotho; a "starter park" crop input scheme covering over 3.0 million households is planned for Malawi.

ANGOLA: Remotely sensed information suggests that the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone continued to provide rains in a belt stretching from northern Angola through the DRC to western Tanzania. The rains over northern and parts of central Angola have continued in earnest. No information has been available on input supply. Indications are, however, that seeds, fertilizers and other inputs will continue to be insufficient for distribution to growers whose numbers are likely to swell following increased peace prospects. The humanitarian community has indicated the spontaneous return of 850,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) to their homes who will hopefully get through the rainy season and hopefully have access to seeds and tools to plant for the new season.

A cereal deficit of 650,000 tonnes is assessed for the 2002/03 marketing year. Current relief efforts have seen some 293,00 tonnes of cereal imports having been delivered (221,000 tonnes commercial and 72,000 tonnes food aid). A further 433,000 tonnes are in the pipeline. However, an increase in the population needing emergency assistance from 1.5 to 1.9 million IDP as well as 80,000 former UNITA troops and their 300,000 family members in 42 quartering areas have created fresh challenges for the humanitarian community. UN relief agencies have so far received about 53% of the US $292 million requested for Angola for this year. Expectations are that the government will do more to help that relief process.

BOTSWANA: Light rains recorded in the first dekad of September in the Central region were not significant to activate ploughing activities or even germination of grasses. No ploughing had started countrywide because the rains had not yet commenced. Land preparation had started by end October only in commercial farming areas of Pandamatenga where 9 780 hectares have been ploughed and an additional 1 200 ha have been prepared for minimum tillage. Free seed distribution is on-going in most areas, having started in August in Maun region and spreading to other regions in September.

While there is no shortage of water for livestock, grazing has deteriorated both in quantity and quality and condition of livestock has seriously deteriorated countrywide. Farmers are being encouraged to provide animals with supplementary feeds. However, no livestock deaths have been reported. A cereal deficit of 289,000 tonnes assessed for the 2002/2003 marketing year depicts a worsening position from the 2001/2002 deficit of 273,000 tonnes due to much reduced stocks. The cereal import programme put in place to address the deficit amounts to 275,000 tonnes of which some 148 200 metric tonnes of grain or 54% of the programme had been received by the end of October. The remaining planned imports of 126,000 are expected to be delivered before the end of the current marketing year.

LESOTHO: Normal to above normal rainfall was recorded throughout the country during early to mid-September before dry conditions set in for the later half of the month. The highest rainfall was in Leribe in the north and Qacha's Nek in the south. While Mafeteng and Mohale's Hoek received much reduced falls. By end September, ploughing and planting of summer crops have been completed in the mountain areas but had just started in both the highlands and lowlands. In efforts to fulfill a policy of leaving no field unplanted, Government intends to go into partnership with subsistence farmers where subsidized inputs will be provided to capable farmers. Production could, however, be hampered by inadequacy of tractors, draught power, improved seed and fertilizers. Meanwhile, winter wheat is at grain filling stage and in spite of the dry spell from mid-September, a normal harvest is expected. The food security situation remains unsatisfactory as a cereal import gap of about 87,000 tonnes remains to be filled. NEWU expects this gap to be covered through increased commercial imports by milling companies. Deliveries of current planned food imports has, however, been satisfactory so far with 83 % of the 199,000 tonnes delivered by the end of September. Donors have responded to the food emergency by importing and distributing 11,200 tonnes of maize meal and 2,500 tonnes of maize grain while further pledges amounting to 15,500 tonnes of maize grain equivalent are still to be fulfilled.

MALAWI: By end October, significant rains had been recorded only in parts of the southern region. Land preparation is underway in most districts. In an effort to boost food output, Government is promoting crop diversification, irrigation and expansion of a free farm input scheme for subsistence producers. A civic campaign is underway to diversify cropping and consumption habits from dependence on maize to drought-tolerant cassava and also rice. FAO assistance is being used to promote irrigation through provision of 200,000 treadle pumps to poor rural households. Government is financing an expanded free "starter pack" scheme to reach an extra 1.0 million farm families over and above the current donor-funded 2.0 million families. Each starter pack, first introduced in 1998/99, contains enough fertilizer, maize seed and beans to cover 0.1 hectare; the scheme is aimed at achieving a maize outturn of 2.3 million tonnes in the 2002/2003 season.

Food balance analysis, based on final crop estimates shows the country faces a maize deficit of 733,000 tonnes. Planned commercial maize imports are 250,000 tonnes that is to be sold at a subsidized price of MK17/kg; a total of 167,000 tonnes of commercial imports have been received so far. Maize food aid pledges are 149,000 tonnes of which 42,000 tonnes have been received by end October. An import gap of 334,000 tonnes of maize remains uncovered.

MOZAMBIQUE: Good rains reported in early and late October in the southern and central provinces did not signify commencement of the rainy season. Scattered showers were received in parts of the northern provinces which still expect rainy season to commence as usual in December. Projections by the Ministry of Agriculture, based on average area cropped per household, cropping patterns and input availability, suggest a 3% increase in area planted to cereals and pulses and 2% for cassava. Farmers have been urged to plant early, to grow drought-tolerant cassava, sorghum/millet and short-cycle maize varieties.

Food balance analysis, based on final crop estimates, depicts the country as facing a cereal deficit of 441,000 tonnes. A total of 587,000 have been assessed as needing food assistance until the next harvest in April 2003 under the WFP emergency operation for the country. The current WFP food aid pipeline will provide for 60% of the population in need. Distribution of in-country supplies has been slow due to limited capacity by implementing agencies as well as limited available resources. Up to 92% of food aid has so far been distributed through food-for-work programmes.

NAMIBIA: By the last dekad of October, isolated light showers were recorded only in North-central regions. No significant rainfall has been received in most cropping regions, including Caprivi where good rains to allow early planting should normally have been received. A small proportion of growers has seriously started land preparation and dry planting in anticipation of the first rains. Major seed distributors to both smallholder and commercial farmers have already stocked enough seed and arranged for delivery of fast maturing seed varieties. The latest food balance analysis, based on final crop production estimates, depicts the country as facing a cereal deficit of 155,000 tonnes comprising 107,000 tonnes of maize and 48,000 tonnes of wheat. However, planned imports of about 125,000 tonnes still fall short of required imports for the 2002/2003 marketing year by about 39,000 tonnes, including the need to cover a small export commitment of 9,000 tonnes of mostly wheat and maize to markets in southern Angola.

Government has pleaded for international food aid to provide relief to 345,000 people in drought-hit northern regions who face food shortages over the months leading to the next harvest in 2003. The Emergency Management Unit in the Prime Minister's Office has indicated that Government has set aside US $14 million for the relief effort that comprises food-for-work programmes and school-feeding schemes.

SOUTH AFRICA: Unusually high rainfall over the winter months have improved soil moisture in most areas, thus providing favourable conditions for planting of the 2002/2003 summer crops. Rainfall totals of up to 100mm recorded during October over most parts of the maize producing areas were still below normal and less than expected. Surveys on producer intentions suggest the area planted to white maize could increase by 19% over the previous year due to better price expectations, crop rotation as well as the white maize deficit in southern Africa. The area under yellow maize could decline by 7%.

Revised food security assessments point to an increase in the maize surplus from 571,000 tonnes to about 1.34 million tonnes, due to both an upward revision in the 2001/2002 maize harvest to 9.46 million tonnes (against earlier projections of 9.10 million tonnes) as well as a downward revision in national requirements to 7.63 million tonnes (8.08 million tonnes earlier). Winter wheat output has also been revised upwards from earlier forecasts of 2.43 million tonnes to 2.50 million tonnes, thereby giving an overall surplus of 42,000 tonnes. Despite these surpluses, access to food by most poor households remains a problem, mostly due to rocketing food prices. The Government has recently announced a relief package that would cut the price of non-branded maize meal by nearly half, as part of its endeavour to assist access to food by poor households.

SWAZILAND: No rain was received from September through to late October, the normal planting period for maize. Reasonable rains were only received countrywide in the last dekad of October, triggering the commencement of land preparation and crop planting in most parts of the country. Planting has progressed in low-lying areas while ploughing is the main activity in western areas. Given the impressive rains in late October, pasture condition has improved in the Highveld but remains poor in other regions.

Crop production could be hampered by the current lack of draught power, shortages of tractors for hire and serious shortages of fertilizers. There are reports of a shift from maize to the more lucrative sugarcane production by small farmers around the recently build Maguga Dam, a development which may lead to a reduced national maize harvest.

A total of 270,000 people or a quarter of the population will need food assistance up to March 2003. The 2001/02 cereal output was 33% lower than normal, resulting in a deficit of 131,000 tonnes. Even with higher than normal commercial imports of 94,000 tonnes and pledged food aid of 15,000 tonnes, the country still faces an uncovered food gap of 27,000 tonnes. Food aid has also been slow in coming to the destitute population.

TANZANIA: The short rains (Vuli) started during the last dekad of September in Kagera region and early October in Mara, Mwanza and Shinyanga regions. The second dekad of October saw the rains covering Kilimanjaro, Arusha as well as the Northern Coastal areas. The rest of the country (unimodal rainfall regions) remained dry as at the end October. Crops are mostly between emergence and vegetative stages in the Vuli rainfall areas while land preparation was the main farming activity in unimodel rainfall areas.

The food security situation is generally satisfactory with most farmers still having sufficient quantities of grain, root and tuber crops as well as bananas in storage on their farms. Sufficiency of food supply is also reflected in food prices which have generally remained stable in October while wholesale prices have generally been below those at the same time last year as well as the average prices for the last five-years (1997 -2001). However, shortages of staple foods such as maize and rice have been reported in parts of Korogwe in Tanga region and Same in Kilimanjaro region, where prices are also higher than normal.

ZAMBIA: Reports indicate that there was an early start to the season over Northern, Luapula and north-eastern Provinces, where rains started as early as late August/early September. As of the end of October, most parts of the country had received appreciable amounts of rains except some parts of the Southern Province.

Land preparation and planting are the main farming activities especially among the small scale farmers where maize is the main staple. Current reports indicate adequate availability of input such as improved seeds and fertilizers. However, high prices of inputs may reduce usage.

The food security situation remains critical with an estimated 2.4 million people requiring food assistance during the months of October and November, but rising close to 3 million people by the end of March 2003. The situation is especially critical in rural areas of the Southern half of the country where crop production was extremely poor during the 2001/2002 season. The WFP and some NGOs are currently engaged in emergency food distribution including the setting up of several feeding programmes in the affected districts. The whole programme of the WFP has, however, been disrupted by the ban on distribution and importation of GMO maize in the country.

ZIMBABWE: By early November, almost the whole country had received more than 80% of normal rainfall following significant and well-distributed rains since late October that marked the start of the 2002/03 rainy season. Land preparation and planting commenced in most districts but the state tillage services are reported to be inadequate to meet national demand. Acute hard currency shortages since 1999 have led to shortages of essential inputs. While available hybrid maize seed of 47,800 tonnes is adequate to plant 1.6 million hectares and is sufficient to meet domestic needs of 40,000 tonnes, uptake may be hampered by a prohibitive price increase of over 200% effected in early October. There has been a general shortage of planting material for sorghum/millet and pulses. Only 400,000 tonnes of organic fertilizer are available locally while national demand is for 1.0 million tonnes; the shortfall is unlikely to be covered due to currency shortages.

The maize deficit remains at 1.48 million tonnes (which rises to 1.98 million tonnes if 500,000 tonnes for replenishment of SGR stocks is included). A total of 6.7 million people (about half the population) faces starvation. Under a programme to address the food crisis, Government has so far commercially imported 452,000 tonnes of maize while WFP has received about 50% of donor funds requested through the Consolidated UN Appeal. However, an uncovered gap of 330,000 of maize remains to be addressed. Distribution of relief food has reportedly been hampered by political interference.