A series of dry spells during the 2004/05 growing season and early cessation of rains, especially in Southern and Western provinces, sharply reduced yields and production of cereals.
Reduced availability and late delivery of inputs together with shortage of animal draught power were important factors adversely affecting performance of staple crops.
The 2005 production of white maize is estimated at about 820 000 tonnes, 32 percent below last year's bumper crop and 12 percent lower than last ten years' average.
Prospects for winter crop production (planted in June/July and harvested in November/December) are limited by dry weather conditions and low availability of seeds.
Cereal import requirements for marketing year 2005/06 (May/April) are estimated at 269 000 tonnes in cereal equivalent. Commercial imports are projected at 222 000 tonnes, with a remaining deficit of 47 000 tonnes to be covered by Government and/or external assistance.
The Zambia VAC estimates that approximately 185 000 people will require food or cash assistance starting from July 2005, with the numbers rising to about 1.2 million during the hunger period from January to March 2006. A total of 118 300 tonnes of maize (or equivalent cash transfer) will be needed to meet the deficits of the affected households throughout the season.
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