ZAMBIA – The Zambian government projects a 16% decline of corn in the 2019/20 production year to 2 million tonnes, due to drought that impacted the southern parts of the country

Zambia in 2018/19 produced 2.4 million tonnes and is hence expected to have enough corn to meet local demand after carry-over stocks from the previous marketing year are taken into account.

However, according to a USDA’s Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN) report, Zambia’s corn supplies in the 2019/20 season will be tight and exports will be limited. About 120,000 tonnes of corn and corn products may be exported.

In March 2019, the Zambian government lifted the export ban of corn and corn products to neighboring countries after it was introduced in October 2018. Zambia exported an estimated 600,000 tonnes of corn.

Harsh production conditions

Corn Production Zambia’s 2018/19 production season was characterized by extended dry spells between January and March 2019, which affected the Southern and Western provinces especially, and also parts of the Lusaka and Central provinces.

As a result, corn output in these provinces, which produce about 40 percent of Zambia’s total corn crop, reduced by as much as 50 percent.

In the Northern, Eastern and Muchinga provinces, which also produces about 40 percent of Zambia’s total corn crop were also affected reducing by 22 percent from 1.1 million hectares in the 2018/19 to 841,693 hectares in 2019/20.

The total impact of the drought causes a 25 percent drop in the national average corn yields to 1.3 tons per hectare if calculated on area planted.

Consumption and storage capacity

Corn is the staple food for many of Zambia’s population of 17.6 million. It is estimated that Zambia will consume about 1.6 million tonnes of corn for human consumption in 2019/20.

Industrial requirements are estimated at about 130,000 tonnes, while Zambia’s animal feed for the poultry and livestock industries is estimated at around 280,000 tonnes while post-harvest losses are estimated at about five percent of production.

The Zambian government estimated corn stocks at the end of the 2018/19 MY at about 475,000 tonnes with about 303,000 tonnes held by Zambia’s Food Reserve Agency (FRA) held and 51,000 tonnes by the Grain Traders Association

Grain millers held 21,000 tonnes while the rest of the corn stock of about 100,000 tonnes was held by farmers. Zambia has formal storage capacity in excess of two million tons.

FRA has the mandate to buy at least 500,000 tonnes of corn annually, about three months of domestic consumption, to keep as a national strategic food reserve.