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SADC Food Security Bulletin - Monthly Update No: 2. 2000

Harare - Zimbabwe
MONTHLY UPDATE - APRIL 2000
Released: Harare, 28, April, 2000
1999/2000 SADC MAIZE PRODUCTION FORECASTS

HIGHLIGHTS

Preliminary forecasts suggest a 1999/2000 SADC maize harvest of 18.82 million tonnes, 12% above last year's output of 16.76 million tonnes... Maize production prospects for SADC are generally brighter than last year despite devastation caused by flooding in southern Mozambique and parts of South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Preliminary assessments suggest a 1999/2000 SADC maize harvest of 18.82 million tonnes, equivalent to a 12% increase in production compared to the 1998/99 output of 16.76 million tonnes due to increased plantings and prevalence of above-average rainfall.

Maize production anticipated to increase in South Africa (35%), Zimbabwe (40%), Namibia (122%) and Zambia (7%)... Significant improvements in maize output are forecast in the main grain-producing countries of South Africa (9.63 million tonnes against 7.11 million last year) and Zimbabwe (2.13 million tonnes against 1.52 million tonnes) as well as in Zambia (918,000 tonnes against 856,000 tonnes last year). Malawi's forecast maize output of 2.33 million tonnes is 7% down but remains above average while a 10% decline is assessed for Mozambique (1.07 million tonnes against 1.196 million tonnes last year).

Maize surpluses anticipated in South Africa and Malawi... While comprehensive cereal availability and requirement assessments are not yet available, preliminary projections indicate the likelihood of significant maize surpluses only in South Africa and Malawi during the 2000/2001 marketing year while a small surplus may be realised in Zimbabwe. All other countries are likely to face maize deficits of varying magnitude but are likely to satisfy their import needs from the surplus maize available in South Africa.

COUNTRY ASSESSMENTS

ANGOLA: Maize harvest is forecast to decline to 387,000 tonnes, equivalent to a 10% decline compared to the 1998/99 output of 428,000 tonnes and equates to a five-year average...

Although favourable rainfall conditions have prevailed throughout the 1999/2000 rainy season, REWU assessments point to a maize production forecast ranging between 368,000 tonnes and 406,000 tonnes, equivalent to a decline of between 5 % and 15% over the previous year's harvest. The fall in production has been brought about by a general reduction in maize plantings, lack of essential agricultural inputs and declining yields on account of increased insecurity in the main crop growing areas. Intensification of civil war during the crop planting period of November/December has affected agricultural activities, restricted travel and hampered access to food for the internally displaced populations. A joint FAO/WFP/SADC Crop Assessment Mission is currently in the country and is expected to compile and announce production forecasts for all crops in early May.

BOTSWANA: Maize output likely to remain at 5,000 tonnes achieved last year on account of reduced plantings and reduced yields resulting from flooding in February...

While the usual production forecasts from the Inter-Ministerial Drought Assessment tour are not yet available, REWU assessments indicate a maize harvest of 5,000 tonnes, the same as last year's output. Output has been compromised by flood damage and water-logging emanating from Cyclone Eline in February. Area planted to crops is expected to be lower than normal while yields are likely to fall in the most affected areas of the eastern and southern provinces. Elsewhere, good rains have been beneficial to crops. However, crop production has remained below the 5-year average. Grazing and livestock condition remained generally good.

LESOTHO: Maize production forecast to decline by 7% to 116,000 tonnes against 125,000 tonnes last year...

While national crop forecasts are not yet available, preliminary REWU assessments point to a below-average maize output of 116,000 tonnes, representing a 7% decrease on last year's below - average harvest of 125,000 tonnes. Due to severe dry conditions and poor germination which characterised the start of the season, forecasts are for a significant reduction in area planted and yield prospects remain poor. Although good to above-normal rains were subsequently received between January and March, widespread recovery was not possible and the maize crop condition remained poor.

MALAWI: Preliminary forecasts put the 1999/2000 maize harvest at an above-average 2.334 million tonnes, a decrease of 6 % from last year's record harvest of 2.48 million tonnes ...

The first crop forecast issued in February is suggestive of an above-average maize harvest of 2.334 million tonnes following increased plantings. The forecast production is, however, a decline of 6% over last year's realisation of 2.48 million tonnes because of erratic and below-normal rainfall between October and December. Dry spells at the beginning of the planting season led to fears of another drought. However, normal to above-normal rains since February led to some crop recovery in the southern and central regions but yields are likely to remain lower than last year. Flooding was reported in parts of the southern areas in March.

Given the good production prospects, a domestic maize surplus is likely for the 2000/2001 marketing year. Good rains which persisted into April have brought about pasture improvement.

MOZAMBIQUE: In the wake of unprecedented flooding, maize production is forecast to decline by 10% to 1.07 million tonnes compared with last year's record harvest of close to 1.20 million tonnes...

A joint WFP/FAO/SADC Crop Assessment Mission (which toured the country in the second half of April) is likely to issue its findings in early May. In the meantime, preliminary assessments by REWU, taking account of severe devastation caused by unprecedented flooding in February into March, suggest a maize harvest of 1.07 million tonnes, an average 10% decrease compared to last year's exceptionally good output of 1.196 million tonnes.

While the early outlook was for increased plantings and better yields, most of the crops in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, stretching into the central provinces, were completely lost to floods caused by Cyclone Eline. Production prospects remain good in the major grain-producing northern provinces.

More emergency assistance is required to enable flood victims to cope with the disaster of having lost their crops and food reserves. In the meantime, Government is gearing up for the systematic return of displaced populations to their homes. Such returnees require packages of seeds and tools with which to make a fresh start in their cropping activities.

NAMIBIA: Maize production is forecast to rise by 122% to 49,300 tonnes due to increased plantings and favourable rainfall conditions; improved output of sorghum/millet is also in prospect...

Preliminary forecasts compiled after the first Crop Assessment Mission in late February indicate that maize production is likely to have more than doubled to 49,300 tonnes (or 122% increase) compared to 22,000 tonnes achieved in the previous year on account of increased area planted and above-normal rainfall conditions. The current forecast is also much above the five-year average of 22,000 tonnes. The rains started on time in most areas where cumulative rainfall has remained above-normal since October. Localised flooding and water-logging affected parts of the central and northern areas in February. Crop condition has also been good in most grain-producing areas. Improved yields and good harvest prospects are also expected for sorghum/millet.

SOUTH AFRICA: A 35% increase in maize harvest prospects leads to an above-average output of 9,66 million tonnes; a maize surplus is anticipated in the 2000/2001 marketing year...

The National Crop Estimates Committee (Second Round) has forecast a maize crop of 9.66 million tonnes (including production from the smallholder sector), equivalent to a 35% increase compared to last year's harvest of 7.11 million tonnes. Accounting for this substantial improvement in harvest prospects are increased plantings and favourable rainfall conditions, although harvest expectations were adversely affected by severe flooding caused by Cyclone Eline which damaged crops in the Northern Province, Mpumalanga and parts of North-West and Gauteng. Crop yields are expected to be slightly higher than in the previous season. The current forecast is also much above the five-year average output of 7.97 million tonnes. Sorghum production is also forecast to increase significantly over last year's output of 156,000 tonnes. Preliminary projections point to a domestic maize surplus (both white and yellow) during the 2000/2001 marketing year which starts in May, resulting from anticipations of large opening stocks and improved harvest prospects.

SWAZILAND: Severe flooding has led to a reduced maize harvest of 72,000 tonnes, 37% down on the 1998/1999 output of 112,500 tonnes...

Preliminary indications are for a severely reduced maize harvest of 72,000 tonnes compared with last season's above-average harvest of 112,000 tonnes. Harvest prospects were affected by a 10% fall in area planted compared to same time last year, coupled with a late start of the rains. However, excessive rains since December and severe flooding in February has resulted in water-logging and soil leaching. Crop yields are expected to remain poor. Weed infestation occasioned by excessive rains has compromised the outlook for an improved maize harvest.

TANZANIA: Maize output is forecast to decline by 28% over last year to 2.10 million tonnes following poor short rains (Vuli) and late onset of seasonal rains...

A much reduced maize output of 2.10 million tonnes is anticipated, a decline of 28% compared with last season as a result of late and poor short rains in bimodal areas and below average summer rainfall in unimodal areas which led to a fall in area planted to most crops and poor yields. However, the maize crop has reportedly done well in western, south-western and southern regions where good to moderate yields are expected. Current assessments also put the overall cereal harvest at 4.00 million tonnes, almost 10% below the 1998/99 output. Food assistance will be required during the 2000/2001 marketing year for the food insecure population currently estimated at over 800,000 in regions which suffered consecutive poor harvests.

ZAMBIA: Maize harvest increases by 7% to 918,000 tonnes following good rains and increased fertilizer usage...

Preliminary harvest assessments suggest a maize crop of 918,000 tonnes which is 7% higher than last season's output of 856,000 tonnes on account of favourable rains leading to increased plantings and expectations of above average yields. Production prospects for all other crops, including cassava, have improved substantially in the wake of above normal rainfall during the February/March period despite a poor start to the rains up to January. Excessive rains and flooding affected the Central and Eastern provinces in late February. A significant increase in the use of fertilizers especially by the commercial sector also contributed to prospects of improved yields.

ZIMBABWE: First forecasts suggest a 40% increase in maize output to 2.13 million tonnes over last year's harvest of 1.52 million tonnes and is above the 5-year average of 1.72 million tonnes...

A much improved maize harvest of 2.13 million tonnes is in prospect, equivalent to a 40% increase compared to last year's below average output of 1.52 million. Accounting for the significant rise in production are increased area planted to maize as well as above-average rainfall during the January-March period despite prolonged dry spells in December. Excessive rains in February led to water- logging in some areas. Cyclone Eline also brought about extensive crop losses through wash-aways and flooding which affected most of the eastern and southern provinces. However, more rains were generally beneficial to crops in most of the northern half of the country and crop yields are expected to be higher than last year's.

Due to above-average harvest prospects and significant carry-over stocks, preliminary assessments suggest a satisfactory maize availability position for the 2000/2001 marketing year for which a small surplus may be realised.