Maize farmers can expect higher than average prices for their harvest at the start of the 2016 marketing season, attributed mainly to increased production costs and strong regional demand for Zambian maize.
According to Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSN) run by USAID, traders from across the board were already buying maize from farmers at prices 35% percent higher than in June 2015, indicating higher opening prices for the 2016/2017 season. Prices seemed likely to stay at these levels because of the strong demand for Zambian maize, and the fact that the southern African region faced large deficits, said FEWSN’s outlook.
Exports started after September to give the Food Reserve Agency time to buy in maize for the grain reserve and to stabilise prices during lean seasons. FEWSN said in a statement that neighbouring countries Zimbabwe, Malawi and the DRC had ready applied to import maize from Zambia.
According to FEWSN, Zambian maize farmers harvested 2, 87 million tons in 2016 despite the season’s erratic rainfall and late start. Farmers saw a 10% increase in yield compared to the previous season.
Zambia had not been as badly affected by the drought as other countries, but farmers in the southern region had been affected by erratic rains that caused below average production. Driven by the El Nino effect, the drought had left a devastating trail with significant animal mortalities in rural flocks and herds, and 7 million people in southern Africa suffering from hunger.