Mr. Henri Josserand, Chief, Global Information and Early Warning Service, FAO Rome, provided a comprehensive overview of the findings of the recent joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment missions (CFSAM) in the southern
Africa region. He also outlined the national cereal food supply and demand for each of the six countries.
(Full information can be found in the power-point presentation on the accompanying CD-ROM or on
The CFSAMs determined that over 70% of the minimum cereal food requirements in the six affected countries would likely be met this year from domestic availability. Although the food security situation has improved significantly due to good weather and input availability, the recovery of the region was characterized as "fragile and uneven". There are significant variations of production within the region, and even within countries of the region.
Moreover, even with increased rainfall next season, serious structural problems impacting food security will remain, including chronic poverty and market inefficiencies. Policy reforms are key to ensure that the region is able to move away from food insecurity and that access to food is improved for families who have not yet recovered from last year's shocks.
The need to study to what extent local production can be used to meet regional food needs (both commercial and through food aid) was emphasized, as was the need to study further the impact of HIV/AIDS on overall food production and availability. The CFSAMs provide an initial overview at the time of major harvest in most countries, but it is critical to closely monitor the situation in the coming months to determine if the assumptions regarding crop and food supply are realized. The results of on-going assessments will also be critical to monitor the food security situation for the most vulnerable people and identify priority areas for intervention.
Implications for Food Assistance:
Although overall production figures have significantly improved compared to last year, food aid will continue to be necessary this year, and perhaps beyond 2004 in some areas.
The prevailing situation in the countries of concern was summarized as follows:
In Lesotho, cereal production is still well below 5-year average. There is an urgent need for soil and water conservation and better farm practices to improve crop production. The cereal food aid requirement was estimated at 30,000 metric tons.
In Malawi, production has greatly improved and is now close to the 5 year average. National cereal requirement was met from local production, due to better rainfall and better cereal prices. The major food security problem in Malawi continues to be the lack of access of the most vulnerable people. Total cereal food aid needs are estimated at 30,000 metric tons of which 5,000 metric tons are anticipated to be food aid imports. The rest is to be bought locally.
In Mozambique, overall production is better than the 5 year average. However, most of the surplus is in the north with the south experiencing an acute food deficit. Moving food from the north to the south of the country is very difficult and expensive due to transport and logistics obstacles. The cereal food aid requirement for the most vulnerable districts in the southern and central provinces was estimated 196,000 metric tons.
In Swaziland, production is still well below the 5 yr average. The agricultural sector is fragile and there is a need for better agricultural practices to be put in place. Commercial inputs could make up the bulk of the deficit, whereas the cereal emergency food aid requirement was estimated at 24,000 metric tons.
In Zambia, overall production is above the 5 year average, although the general economic base in the country remains weak. At the national level, most food requirements can be met by local production. However, due to big differences in food production between districts and inadequate access by the poorest households, particularly in the south, limited food aid assistance will be needed in a number of districts.
In Zimbabwe, production is better than last year, but still only half of the 5 year average. There is a serious shortage of hybrid maize in the country. Poor rainfall, shortages of inputs and fuel, a declining commercial sector and serious market constraints have all contributed to this situation. The food aid requirement is estimated at 610,000 metric tons.