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SADC Food Security Update 16 Jan 2003

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FOOD SECURITY CRISIS UPDATE AND AGRO-CLIMATIC FORECAST AS ON 15TH JANUARY 2003
1. INTRODUCTION

The SADC region faces a food security crisis situation, which has been caused by two successive years of droughts, combined with reduced investment in agriculture and the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. By March 2003 a total of 14.4 million people will need food aid amounting to 1.2 million tonnes.

The 2002/2003 seasons had a poor start with delayed onset of the rains. Two months into the first half of the six-month growing season (October to March), some countries had not yet received adequate planting rains by the end of November. These include, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, some parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The rainfall has situation has since improved with most countries experiencing medium to high rainfall as from mid December 2002. Countries which have received good rains include; Angola, Lesotho, Mauritius, parts of Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania.

The seasonal forecast update as of 7th January points to normal to below normal situation for the southern countries of SADC. These are that Swaziland, Lesotho, most of South Africa, Botswana, and southwestern Zimbabwe, central Tanzania.

Angola, DR Congo, northern Tanzania, northern Malawi, central Mozambique eastern Zimbabwe and Seychelles have received above normal rainfall.

Meanwhile, Cyclone Dalphine has caused floods Salima, Karonga and Machinga Agricultural Development Devisions of Malawi resulting in destructions of crops and houses and wash away of roads and power infrastructure. A State of Disaster has been declared and an Appeal has been made for humanitarian assistance to assist the flood victims.

2. RESPONSE TO THE SADC/UN APPEAL FOR HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE

Six months after the launch of the UN/SADC Appeal, US$469.8 million or 77% of the US$611 million has been subscribed, mostly for food aid. In addition the European Commission announced in Johannesburg on 17th of October that they have increased their response to 310 million Euros. This brings the total contribution to US$779.8 million, which covers the UN/SADC Appeal.

Euro177 million is managed directly by the EU for the purchase of food and non-food items. The balance is managed by Member States for the non-food requirements. Details of donor contributions excluding the EC contribution are presented in the attachments provided.

A summary of the response by different donors indicates that the EU with a donation of Euros310 million is the largest contributor, followed by the USA donating US$141.6 million, then, the United Kingdom at US$30.1 million, Japan at US$21.6 million, Germany at 21.2 million Netherlands at US$12.0 million, and Sweden, Norway, Canada contributing between US$5-11 million each.

The response for food aid has been good and the flow of food into the region is satisfactory. WFP is distributing free food through NGOs in all the affected Member States. In addition, Member States have imported commercial maize, which is sold to consumers. There are, however, reports that increasing numbers of consumers are unable to procure food due to rising food prices.

3. AGRICULTURAL RECOVERY PROGRAMME

The Agricultural recovery programme has only received US$10.7 million or 34% of the US$31.2 million required. This has adversely affected the recovery programme.

Affected Member States are implementing a number of programmes to assist affected farming populations to recover from the food crisis. These include the distribution of agricultural starter packs consisting of seeds and fertilizers, and subsidized farm inputs, and tillage equipment.

A meeting of the SADC Seed Security Network held in Mbabane, Swaziland on 25-26 November 2002 noted that most countries had adequate seed supplies except for Angola, DR Congo, Malawi and Zambia. Some farmers, however, had no purchasing power to procure the inputs. Details of the seed supply shortages in the region are presented in the Table below:

Table 1. Summary of Seed Supply Shortages in SADC Member States in (Tonnes)
Type of Seed
Botswana
Malawi
Mozambique
Namibia
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Total
Hybrid maize
171
-8420
251
756
4,000
-3242
OPV* maize
-300
113
3,000
2813
Sorghum
-1148
7
-158
-10
688
-429
Millet
-28
-13
-10
547
496
Beans
-1,050
-38
396
-692
Cowpeas
-22
5
-1
-16
-58
-196

*OPV = Open Pollinated Varieties
Source: SADC Seed Security Network

South Africa has a surplus that should be able to meet the shortages of its usual markets.

Reports from Member States indicate that there are still communities in Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and DR Congo who have not received seeds and/or fertilizers. The large shortage of seed in Malawi has been due to the expanded Starter Pack Programme.

Planting in most Member States can only be done up to the end of December. For those areas where it is too late to plant cereal crops, Member States are urged to provide farmers with planting materials for alternative crops such as cassava cuttings and sweet potato vines where these crops are acceptable.

The availability of Seeds in these countries has further been constrained by a ban on exports of seeds by some Member States. Member States are therefore urged to lift these bans and allow the export of basic seed, which is a crucial input into the production of seed for the 2003-2004 season. Member States are further urged to allow exports of certified seed, which will permit farmers to grow their food requirements this season.

4. Agro Climatic Forecast for 2002/03 Season

The 2002/2003 seasons had a poor start with delayed onset of the rains. Two months into the first half of the six-month growing season (October to March), some countries had not yet received adequate planting rains by the end of November. These include, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, some parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The rainfall has situation has since improved with most countries experiencing medium to high rainfall as from mid December 2002. Countries which have received good rains include; Angola, Lesotho, Mauritius, parts of Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania.

The seasonal forecast update as of 7th January points to normal to below normal situation for the southern countries of SADC. These are that Swaziland, Lesotho, most of South Africa, Botswana, and southwestern Zimbabwe, central Tanzania.

Angola, DR Congo, northern Tanzania, northern Malawi, central Mozambique eastern Zimbabwe and Seychelles have received above normal rainfall.

Meanwhile, Cyclone Dalphine has caused floods in Southern Malawi resulting in destructions of crops and houses and wash away of roads. A State of Disaster has been declared and an Appeal has been made for humanitarian assistance to assist the flood victims.

Following is a summary of the mid season rainfall forecast by Member States.

Angola

Angola continues to receive sufficient rainfall and good production is expected. Production will be hampered by inadequate supplies of farm inputs and training.

Botswana

The country has received insufficient rains in December and early January 2003.The consistent rainfall however will improve the pastureland for the beef industry.

Namibia

The rainfall has been sufficient in the country during December in the Caprivi strip thereby improving the soil moisture. The crops are in their vegetative stages in the main agricultural areas due to delayed rainfall onset.

Malawi

Malawi received good rainfall during the second half of December. Crops range from vegetative to early flowering stages. Incidents of armyworm have been reported in Salima Agricultural Development Division in central Malawi and the situation is reported to be under control.

Floods caused by cyclone Dalphina have resulted in destructions of crops and houses and wash away of roads and power infrastructure in Salima, Karonga and Machinga Agricultural Development Divisions of Malawi. A State of Disaster has been declared and an Appeal has been made for humanitarian assistance to assist the flood victims.

Mozambique

The country has received inconsistent rainfall since the onset. There are Reports of wilting crops in the southern part of the country up to the end of December. The northern part has received good rainfall, which may sustain the production.

Swaziland

The rainfall situation improved in December after a poor start. The prospects of a good yield is still uncertain due to sporadic rainfall performance. Early planted crops are at vegetative and flowering stages.

Zimbabwe

The rainfall situation improved in first half of December but was inadequate in the second half raising fears of an impending drought in much of Zimbabwe.

Lesotho

The country received good rains during the second half of December2002. Summer crops (maize & sorghum) are at vegetative stage with very few at flowering stages due to late of planting rains.

DR Congo

The country continues to receive high amounts of rainfall. The high soil moisture conditions are not ideal for crop production as it suffocates the crops due to lack of oxygen. Good drainage system is advisable in order to realize good yields.

Zambia

The country has received good rainfall in the northern parts while the southern has had minimal rainfall resulting in water stress. The situation will be exacerbated by lack of farm inputs for the 2002/2003 season.

Tanzania

The rainfall situation is satisfactory with the northern, western central and southwestern highlands regions receiving good rains. Only some areas along the northern coast have received inadequate rains.

South Africa

Low rainfall in October and November prevented early planting of maize. However, December has received good rains. About 3.3 million hectares of land have been planted with a potential output of 8.5 million tonnes.

5. Next Steps to be taken?

This situation combined with spreading endemic diseases and the HIV/AIDS pandemic points to a prolonged food security crisis and increased vulnerability of affected populations. SADC should brace herself and implement in earnest measures to mitigate the impact of this potential crisis. Meanwhile there is need for close monitoring of the development of the season and plan for possible interventions.

To address this problem, SADC Member States should implement measures both in the medium and long term to revive agricultural productivity and food production, increase people's incomes and promote trade in agricultural commodities. The Food Security Programme will focus in the following areas:

  • Encourage Member States to deepen policies and strategies that will promote investment in agriculture and trade in agricultural commodities;

  • Develop the underutilized regional irrigation potential to reduce over dependence on rain fed agriculture;

  • Develop a regional food reserve facility which will include a financial reserve and the use of futures markets to hedge against food supply fluctuations;

  • Develop rural, intra-regional and international markets, and rural infrastructure to facilitate trade;

  • Urge Member States to lift the ban on exports of planting materials including Basic Seed and Certified seed;

  • Urge Member States to harmonize seed laws and regulations to facilitate trade in seeds, and;

  • Urge Member States to enact legislation on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to facilitate exchange of genetic materials between Member States.