The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) predicts severe food insecurity in parts of Zambia. Economists also warn against maize scarcity and high prices in the long-term, following this year’s chaotic grain marketing season.
FEWSNET linked the looming food insecurity to slower than usual local and regional demand coupled with low prices for maize – one of the main sources of income for vulnerable households.
The network said a research body of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported in its annual vulnerability assessment that parts of Zambia are likely to experience severe food insecurity in the next six months. “The 2017/2018 annual vulnerability assessment has identified 16 chronically food insecure areas and found nine districts need food and cash from this month going into next year,” FEWSNET said.
It said the more than 50% drop in current maize prices has an adverse impact on vulnerable households.
Zambia had a massive harvest, but prices for the crop dipped due to higher production in Southern Africa. Maize prices now range between K35 and K60 for 50kg. Last year the average price was K85/50kg.
Meanwhile, economists say the low prices and maize surplus may be short-lived, leading to long-term scarcity and higher prices. “The low prices will discourage a number of growers from planting maize in the next farming season resulting in low production and related higher prices,” said economist Richard Mbewe.
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