According to a recent qualitative survey done by IAPRI, the Northern and Eastern Regions of the country remain food secure for the most part, owing to the good performance of the production and marketing seasons. Rural farm households have enjoyed increased income levels from the sale of various crops such as; maize grain, soya beans, sunflower, cotton, and groundnuts. Most of these crops have fetched higher prices during this 2019/2020 agricultural marketing season than average. The improved income levels have enhanced the purchasing power of most rural
households and contributed to rapid Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) deposits in preparation for the 2019/2020 agricultural production season.
Unlike the Northern and Eastern Regions of the country, the southern half has seen a deterioration of the food security situation. Crop failure, which has resulted in tight supplies of food crops at household and market level, coupled with the burden of livestock diseases, have resulted in reduced market participation among rural agricultural households. This has resulted in reduced income from agricultural output sales. While this may be the case, the government, through DMMU and FRA, has continued to provide relief food to the vulnerable households in communities that experienced crop failure as a result of the prolonged dry spells. So far, the main support line has been in the form of mealie meal. Other lines of support being explored to enhance food and nutrition security include the provision of pulses, soya pieces, and emergency social cash transfers. At the national level, the Stocks Monitoring Committee meeting held on September 20, 2019, established that the country currently has maize grain stocks of about 684,291.9 MT, based on reported stocks by FRA, GTAZ, MAZ, and ZNFU. This stock level is estimated to be enough to last for about six months, excluding any stock that is held in the hands of smallholder households and other small grain traders.
The FRA has intensified its community sales to facilitate access to the main staple for the rural farm households that had a poor harvest and whose own produced grain has depleted. FRA
community sales peg a 50kg bag at ZMW 110 per 50 kg, which is below the prevailing open market price, ranging from ZMW 115 – ZMW 200 per 50 kg bag, on average. However, distance to central
depots remains a challenge for remote households.
Rural farm households with a more diversified enterprise portfolio have proved to be more resilient to the effects of the weather and income shocks. This kind of resilience is real, especially for those engaged in gardening activities as livestock trading has remained limited in the light of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak and the consequent livestock movement restrictions.