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Southern Africa to face high food price, insecurity – FAO

THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) predicts increased food price and food insecurity in southern Africa this year due to the poor rainfall experienced in the 2014/15 season.
Zambia is among other countries in southern Africa expected to register reduced harvests compared to the 2013/14 bumper yields as a result of poor rainfall.
Recently, FAO posted on its website that southern Africa’s maize harvest is expected to shrink by 26 percent this year, a situation that will trigger food price increases and adversely affect recent food security gains.
FAO says initial production forecast for maize, which is a staple food in the sub-region, currently stands at 21.1 million tonnes, about 15 percent lower than the average for the last five years.
“The reduction in yields is mostly due to the impact of erratic weather conditions, including the late start of seasonal rains, followed by heavy rains that caused flooding in parts of some countries, and then a long dry spell in the southern areas of the sub- region in February and early March.
“Zambia and Malawi are the second and third biggest maize producers in the sub-region [respectively] and they are also expected to register reduced harvests compared with the 2013/14 bumper crop,” the report reads.
Lower maize yields are also anticipated in Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Commenting on the development, FAO sub-regional coordinator for southern Africa David Phiri, however, said last year’s carry-over stocks are expected to partly offset the impact of lower domestic production and contribute to stabilising national supplies in some countries.
“…We have to be cautious until governments, with the support of FAO, have completed all the assessments in the coming days. FAO is closely monitoring the situation on the ground,” Mr Phiri said.
Similarly, FAO resilience coordinator Dominique Burgeon said the expected reduced maize production may result in price hikes in the southern region.
“Improved food security situation may be reversed in 2015/16, especially if timely interventions are not made. Close monitoring is critical to trigger early action to reduce any negative effects on people’s food security and livelihoods…,” Mr Burgeon said.