Special report: FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission to Swaziland


Mission Highlights

The 2004/05 production of Swaziland's staple food crop, maize, is estimated at 82 240 tonnes, about 10 percent higher than last year's official post-harvest estimate but 6 percent below the average of the previous five years.

The improved performance was due to favourable rainfall and increased use of chemical fertilizers combined with farmyard manure in the Highveld and Middleveld. The Lowveld and parts of Lubombo suffered serious crop failure due to poor rainfall.

From a longer-term perspective, maize production in Swaziland appears to be on the decline. Factors causing this decline need to be investigated; most likely they include recurrent droughts and the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Cereal import requirements for 2005/06 marketing year (April/March) are estimated at 110 600 tonnes, of which 69 700 tonnes are expected to be imported commercially. With about 6 200 tonnes of food aid in stock and pipeline at the beginning of the marketing year, there remains an uncovered deficit of 34 700 tonnes which needs to be met by additional international assistance.

Access to food for poor households remains a serious issue. Available data indicate that per capita consumption of maize has been declining over time without significant cross-substitution with other foods. There is an urgent need to reform the country's existing pricing and marketing policies for maize.

It is estimated that 226 640 people will face severe food shortages for 4-7 months during the 2005/06 marketing year, with another large segment of the population suffering from shortages of shorter duration. The Swazi VAC estimates that approximately 27 020 tonnes of cereals (or income equivalent) will be needed to meet the deficit of the affected households.

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