FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Poor rains in central and eastern regions at the start of the 2011/12 cropping season delay planting activities
Maize prices climb moderately, but remain at relatively low levels
Overall food security situation is stable
Uneven rains at the beginning of 2011/12 cropping season
Due to the late start of effective rains at the beginning of the 2011/12 agricultural season (normally beginning in October) in southern and eastern parts of the country, planting activities were delayed and continued into January 2012. As a result of the potential shorter growing period, this induced some farmers to opt for early maturing maize varieties. The low moisture levels recorded at the start of the cropping season also hindered early crop development and consequently replanting was required in some affected areas. Cumulative rainfall levels in the large maize producing provinces of Central and Eastern were about 10 to 20 percent below average levels between October and December 2011. However, in northern and western regions, generally favourable rains have been observed over the same period. Forecasts point to increased chances of normal to above normal rains for the remainder of January and February, which should help ease early season water deficits and benefit crop development.
The Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), which expanded its coverage for the current cropping season, is expected to continue boosting production, particularly for maize, if favourable weather conditions prevail during the second half of the cropping season. The government has announced that the focus of the FISP towards supporting a larger variety of crops other than maize will be broadened in subsequent cropping seasons.