Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Southern Africa Food Security Update
May 2009
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET)

  • Overall, regional food security has greatly improved in Southern Africa, due to increasing food supplies as the region enters the main harvest period. Harvests have resulted in increased on-farm food supplies, stable market food supplies, and increased access to food by poorer households as seasonal prices drop in most monitored markets. Improved food security conditions are expected to prevail in most of the region until the start of the hunger season in Octobr/November. However, isolated pockets of food insecurity are expected in areas where crop production was affected by weather-related shocks

  • Although the majority of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries have not officially released their harvest estimates, preliminary data points to a better cereal harvest this year compared to last year. South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have released their crop estimates. In Malawi and Zambia, cereal harvest increases are projected at 30 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Malawi has recorded a 3.88 million MT total harvest, compared to 2.99 million MT last year; while Zambia's cereal harvest has gone up from 1.46 million MT to 2.20 million MT. Zimbabwe's preliminary estimates also point to an improved harvest this year, despite the February dry spell and other production challenges. Zimbabwe's maize harvest is estimated at 1.24 million MT, a 92 percent increase over last year's worst-ever production levels.

  • The total regional deficit for the 2009/10 marketing year is projected to be much lower than last year, due to improved harvests, especially of maize, particularly in Malawi and Zambia. Most projected deficits are for wheat, which all SADC countries produce in deficit and import from outside the region. South Africa has the capacity to cover the maize import needs of neighboring deficit countries. Projected surpluses from Malawi and Zambia could also be made available for export if current export bans are removed. The only national-level challenge to overall good food availability is the capacity of deficit producing countries such as Zimbabwe to import, due to financial constraints given current economic conditions there. Further, households that are chronically vulnerable and those that are food insecure due to production losses may not have the means toaccess market supplies and may require assistance to meet food needs.

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