GIEWS Country Brief Zambia 01-December-2017



  • Preliminary production prospects point to aboveaverage cereal output in 2018

  • Production of maize reached record high of 3.7 million tonnes in 2017

  • Exports of maize expected to increase in 2017/18, on account of ample domestic supplies

  • Following stressed situation in previous year, food security conditions improved in 2017/18, on back of larger agricultural output

Early production outlook favourable for 2018 crops

Land preparation for, and planting of, the 2018 cereal crops is underway and is expected to be completed by early next year. Most of the country has received average to above-average rainfall since the beginning of October, facilitating planting activities and early crop establishment. Forecasts for the remainder of the season, with the cereal harvest expected to begin in the second quarter of 2018, points to a higher probability of average to above-average rains in most areas. However, there is an increased likelihood of below normal rains in the Northern Province, where only small quantities of cereals are produced.

The Government is continuing its Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), which uses an e-voucher scheme and targets 1 million small-scale farmers to help improve access to fertilizers and seeds. Based on the current weather forecasts and continued favourable access to agricultural inputs, the production outlook points to an above-average output in 2018.

Maize production in 2017 estimated at record high

Maize production in 2017 is estimated at a record high of 3.65 million tonnes, up 27 percent from the previous year. The increase is mainly reflective of beneficial weather conditions, despite a delayed start of seasonal rains, in the main maize-producing Central, Eastern and Southern provinces, which combined, contribute to approximately 60 percent to the national output.

An infestation of the invasive Fall Armyworm, which was first detected in late 2016 and reportedly affected about 22 percent of the cropped land with maize, had initially weighed on production prospects. However, the overall impact of the pest was limited, owing to the wetter weather conditions and control operations by the Government that combined to contain the outbreak.

Overall, the 2017 cereal output is estimated at just under 4 million tonnes, well above the previous five-year average and 24 percent up on an annual basis.

Supply situation improves, increasing export potential and lowering prices

The cereal supply situation in the 2017/18 marketing year (May/April) has improved significantly compared to 2016/17, prompting the Government to reverse the export ban that had been in place earlier in the year. As a result, up to 500 000 tonnes of maize are forecast to be exported this year. However, as neighbouring countries, notably Malawi and Zimbabwe, also registered bumper maize outputs, export destinations may need to be sought outside of the subregion. The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is also targeting the local purchase of 500 000 tonnes to replenish the national strategic reserves and is offering to buy maize at ZMK 1.2 per kg.

In November 2017, prices of maize meal and grain were almost one-third below their year-earlier value, mostly due to supply pressure.

Number of food insecure declined significantly in 2017/18

Food security conditions have improved significantly this year, mostly owing to the larger agricultural output. However, due to localized floods, pest infestations and droughts, an estimated 77 000 people will still require food assistance in 2017/18, according the results from the annual Zambian Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s evaluation. This is a notable improvement compared to the previous year, when almost 976 000 people (about 163 000 households) were estimated to be food insecure and required humanitarian assistance.