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SADC Food Security Ministerial Brief: 28 Feb 2003

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2002/03 RAINFALL PERFORMANCE AND PRODUCTION PROSPECTS MIXED
Satellite imagery (below) shows that seasonal rains have been notably below normal in many of the same areas affected by last year’s prolonged dry spells. Most of Zimbabwe, southern and central Mozambique, parts of southern Zambia and Malawi and northern South Africa have been particularly affected by below normal rains. On the basis of available soil moisture, prospects for maize production range from mediocre to poor in these affected areas (below). Production is also likely to be down in Botswana, Namibia and northern Tanzania. In northern parts of the region (Angola, DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and northern Mozambique), seasonal rains have been largely normal and production prospects are good.





PRODUCTION FORECASTS INDICATE EASING OF FOOD EMERGENCY

Preliminary production forecasts have been released by a number of countries and by the SADC Regional Early Warning Unit. In those countries most affected by production shortfalls last year (Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe), which have been receiving emergency food assistance, maize production is expected to be better than last season, and in some countries well above normal production. Maize production in Zambia and Zimbabwe could be more than 50% above last year’s production levels. In Zimbabwe, recent rains have improved prospects in some areas, although national maize production, even in the best case scenario, is unlikely to be more than half of the normal production. Crop assessments are currently underway in Zimbabwe. Despite some dry areas in southern Zambia, national maize production could exceed the past five-year average.

Maize production in Angola, Malawi and Lesotho is expected to be up 30-40% compared to last year, and above or very close to long-term average production levels.

In contrast, national maize production is likely to be down in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania. Mozambique has been seriously affected by low rainfall in southern and some central areas, and by excessive rains leading to flooding in some central and northern areas. South Africa is expecting similar production levels as last year. Coupled with current high maize stocks of over 2.4 million metric tonnes, South Africa will have considerable export capacity this year.


High/Low Maize Production Forecasts


Low Production Scenario
High Production Scenario
Mozambique
1,051,000
1,174,000
Namibia
26,000
29,000
Tanzania
2,396,000
2,667,000
Zambia
945,000
1,045,000
Zimbabwe
787,000
838,000
SOURCE: SADC Regional Early Warning Unit


Preliminary 2002/03 Maize Production Forecasts

2003 Maize
Production
Forecast*
COMPARED TO ...
2002
5 year
average
10 year
average
Angola
550,000
?29%
?23%
?49%
Botswana
1,000
?50%
?75%
?88%
Lesotho
114,000
?39%
?23%
?0%
Malawi
2,032,000
?31%
?2%
?13%
Mauritius
2,000
0%
0%
?0%
Mozambique
1,051,000
?15%
?8%
?11%
Namibia
26,000
?7%
?7%
?10%
RSA
9,143,000
0%
?7%
?6%
Swaziland
72,000
?3%
?17%
?23%
Tanzania
2,396,000
?11%
?6%
0%
Zambia
945,000
?55%
?12%
?5%
Zimbabwe
787,000
?55%
?44%
?55%
SADC
17,119,000
?5%
0%
?1%
SOURCE: SADC Regional Early Warning Unit, 15 February 2003.

* Low production scenario for Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe


These production forecasts should be considered indicative. Additional crop assessments will improve production estimates between now and the final harvest.

HEAVY RAINS INCREASE THE RISK OF SERIOUS FLOODING

During the course of a normal rainy season, the SADC region is typically affected by dry-spells in some areas and excessive rains in other areas, leading to highly saturated soils and flooding. Starting at the end of December, heavy rains and the effects of Cyclone Delfina led to flooding over parts of the region. As many as 60,000 people were displaced or lost crops in Malawi, where damaged infrastructure has hampered relief efforts. In Mozambique, flood alerts were issued in several areas in Tete, Nampula, and Zambezia, which helped mitigate the impact, which included damage to transport infrastructure, schools, crops and homes. Heavy rains in February have also resulted in damage in Kabwe, Zambia and in Luanda, Angola. The map (below) , shows areas that have so far been affected by flooding this season. It also shows areas that are currently at high and medium risk of flooding based on the soil moisture index. Heavy rains in February have saturated soils in many areas of northern Mozambique, Malawi, northern and central Zambia and southeastern Angola, increasing the risk of flooding, although rainfall is expected to lighten in these areas. Good rains also fell over those areas of southern Zimbabwe and Mozambique and northern South Africa that have suffered from prolonged dry spells.

 

PRELIMINARY 2003/04 MAIZE BALANCE ANALYSIS INDICATES IMPORT NEEDS

The marketing year begins in April or May in most SADC countries. Based on preliminary production forecasts and opening stock estimates, a preliminary indication of maize import requirements can enable governments and the commercial sector to make advance plans to help ensure national level food security.

At the SADC regional level, excluding stock replenishment, a surplus of 779,000MT of maize is forecast this year, compared to a 1.5 million MT deficit last year. To fully replenish strategic reserves, the region will need to import nearly one million MT of maize this year, compared to a requirement of 3.2 million last year.

The main reasons for the improved situation this year compared to last year is the prospect of increased production by over 800,000MT, and more importantly much higher levels if opening stocks in some countries, particularly South Africa, Malawi and Botswana. Aggressive import regimes in both South Africa and Malawi in response to the regional food shortages, have led to high stock levels at a time when reserves would normally be low, before the harvest.

To meet national consumption requirements (excluding stock replenishment), preliminary forecasts suggest that Lesotho and Zambia’s import requirements could be reduced by 39% and 45% respectively compared to last year. Swaziland’s maize import requirements are likely to remain similar to last year’s levels, while Mozambique's requirements could increase. According to preliminary production forecasts and estimates of opening stock levels, Malawi may be able to meet its consumption requirements without imports.


MAIZE AVAILABILITY
REQUIREMENTS
SURPLUS/(DEFICIT)
2003
Production
Forecast*
Expected
Opening
Stocks
Total
Maize
Availability
Maize
Consumption
Requirements
Target
Carryover
stocks
Without
Stock
Replenishment
With
Stock
Replenishment
Angola
550,000
0
550,000
748,000
50,000
(198,000)
(248,000)
Botswana
1,000
24,000
25,000
122,000
20,000
(97,000)
(117,000)
Lesotho
114,000
0
114,000
262,000
10,000
(148,000)
(158,000)
Malawi
2,032,000
225,000
2,257,000
2,245,000
60,000
12,000
(48,000)
Mauritius
2,000
4,000
6,000
38,000
0
(32,000)
(32,000)
Mozambique
1,051,000
2,000
1,053,000
1,301,000
0
(248,000)
(248,000)
Namibia
26,000
0
26,000
134,000
10,000
(108,000)
(118,000)
RSA
9,143,000
2,412,000
11,555,000
7,700,000
906,000
3,855,000
2,949,000
Swaziland
72,000
0
72,000
149,000
3,000
(77,000)
(80,000)
Tanzania
2,396,000
155,000
2,551,000
3,151,000
150,000
(600,000)
(750,000)
Zambia
945,000
0
945,000
1,278,000
15,000
(333,000)
(348,000)
Zimbabwe
787,000
0
787,000
2,034,000
500,000
(1,247,000)
(1,747,000)
SADC
17,119,000
2,822,000
19,941,000
19,162,000
1,724,000
779,000
(945,000)
SOURCE: SADC Regional Early Warning Unit, 15 February 2003

* Low production scenario for Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe


VULNERABILTY ASSESSMENTS REVEAL SOME IMPROVEMENTS

In Zambia, the national cereal gap was reduced by nearly 60% by including cassava in the food balance analysis using the maize equivalency. The current outstanding food gap is expected to be partially met through continued informal cross -border trade. Despite the late start to the seasonal rains, national maize production could be up by one-third from last year, although some southern areas have been affected by below normal rains and water stress.

The food crisis in Zimbabwe is exacerbated by a severe economic downturn and policies that inhibit production, importation and distribution of basic commodities. Despite import levels that suggest improved national-level food security, the situation on the ground remains dire for a very large number of rural households. Production prospects are poor due to the reduced area planted, shortages of essential inputs and poor rainfall in central and southern areas.

In Lesotho, the estimated number of people in need of food assistance increased by nearly 14% since August, due mainly to higher than anticipated reductions in purchasing power owing to lower than anticipated incomes and high cereal prices. The winter cereal crop was poor. Maize Prices are the highest in the region. This season’s crop condition ranges from fair to good in most areas of the country, and the area under maize and sorghum is higher than last year.

In Malawi, the national level food gap has been reduced considerably through informal cross-border flows of cereal and other commodities. Although at the community level households’ intensity of coping strategies is increasing, maize prices and availability has improved as compared to the same time last year. Production prospects are favorable due to good rainfall and programs that provided input supply support. Some areas will be adversely affected by excessive rains and flooding.

In Mozambique, while cereal availability at the national level is considered normal for this time of year, household food insecurity varies widely, with particular concern in the southern and some central areas. The estimated number of people in need of food assistance has risen since August by 10%. The current crop season is threatened by poor rains in central and southern regions, and flooding in the northern regions, increasing the likelihood of lower production levels than last year.

In Swaziland, maize price increases have been one of the principal shocks to livelihoods across the country. Commercial import deliveries have been far below expectations, raising concerns of further maize price increases from January-March. This season’s maize production is unlikely to be much better than last year due to high temperatures in some areas that led to water stress, and hailstorms in the south which adversely affected maize crops at the advanced stages.


In December 2002, the SADC FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) supported emergency food security assessments in collaboration with national VACs in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These assessments confirm that food aid needs are increasing much as expected, with the most severe months from January through March. Efforts to alleviate this year’s food shortages by national governments, the international community and civil society have thus far averted a major crisis. However, large volumes of outstanding planned imports will be a challenge to realize in the coming months. It is clear that informal cross-border trade, especially from northern and central Mozambique and from Tanzania to Malawi and Zambia, have played a much greater role in filling the food gap than anticipated. The current emergency is a manifestation of chronic poverty and vulnerability, exacerbated by escalating HIV/AIDS prevalence. This demands integration of short-term relief efforts with a longer-term development response within a framework of essential policy reforms.

The key regional trends identified though the VAC assessments are summarized below.

  • The July 2002 estimated cereal gap for all six countries of 3.3 million metric tonnes had been reduced by more than 50% through formal commercial and food aid imports as of December. If all import plans are achieved, the gap would be 85% filled by March 31, 2003. However, combined remaining imports exceed one million metric tonnes , which may be difficult to achieve.

  • Informal trade, particularly from Mozambique and Tanzania to Malawi and Zambia has helped reduce the cereal gap. Although difficult to monitor, informal cross-border trade could be as high as 300,000MT.

  • Acute malnutrition due to food shortages appears to have been kept in check throughout the region, but requires close monitoring.

  • Vulnerable people’s resilience to another poor season next year has decreased. Successive years of stress on households mean that many coping strategies employed during this past year will become less available and/or less effective in the coming year.

  • The highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world are in the Southern Africa region, with adult prevalence rates in most countries in excess of 25%. HIV/AIDS directly contributes to, and is compounded by, food insecurity. The linkages are many, strong, and long lasting.

A regional VAC meeting will take place 3-11 March in Pretoria. All SADC Member States have been invited to discuss institutionalizing the VAC process. The six WFP EMOP countries will finalize plans for the third assessment round, which will be complete by May 2003. Interested stakeholders and partners will be briefed by the VACs in Pretoria on Friday morning, 7 March. For more information, please write vac@fanr-sadc.co.zw .

The SADC Food Security Network Ministerial Brief is a joint product of the FANR, the Regional Early Warning Unit, the Regional Remote Sensing Unit, the Vulnerability Assessment Committee, the Database Project and FANR’s key partners including USAID’s FEWS NET, SC (UK), FAO and the FSRP/Zambia.

For more information, please contact:

THE SADC REGIONAL EARLY WARNING UNIT
PO Box 4046 Harare, Zimbabwe
Tel: (263-4) 736051/2 Fax: (263-4) 795283/729196
Email: rewu@fanr-sadc.co.zw Internet: www.sadc -fanr.org.zw