ZAMBIA: Localised crop failures expected
Some rural areas are experiencing total crop failure
johannesburg, 13 May 2003 (IRIN) - While the overall food security outlook for Zambia appears to be better than last year, it is expected that there will still be pockets of need due to crop failures.
The latest report by the office of the UN Resident Coordinator, based in Lusaka, warns that "more than 40 percent of rural households are facing total crop failure" in a few districts of the Southern province.
The report said a March assessment conducted by the government, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and NGOs, "suggests pockets of crop failure" mainly in the south, but also in isolated parts of the west and north.
CARE Zambia Emergency Coordinator Miles Murray told IRIN on Tuesday "the districts mentioned [are mainly] lower [in altitude] and hotter and have received less rain" than the higher northern parts of the country.
"However, the outlook for [total crop production] for the country seems to be pretty much back to normal," he added.
The UN Resident Coordinator's report found the districts most affected were: Luangwa, Gwembe, Sinazongwe and Livingstone districts in Southern province; Shangombo and Mongu districts in Western province; and Chilubi in Northern province.
Other districts at high risk of crop failure included: Sesheke and Itezhi-tezhi, also in Southern province; and Nyimba, Chama and Isoka in Eastern province.
"In Gwembe, only 10 percent of the crop planted along the riverbanks in October-November survived until the satisfactory February rains, but [were] finally washed away and buried by flooding along the riverbanks. In some areas, land is no longer suitable for cultivation due to huge deposits of rocks and sand," the report explained.
The south of the Kazungula/Livingstone area is a low-rainfall area with low agricultural potential.
"Several parts of Luangwa, including Kavalamanja camp, are facing almost total crop failure for maize. However, the few attempts at sorghum and millet are doing well. Elsewhere in the district, the maize crop is patchy. Complete and total crop failure is expected in Sinazongwe due to two dry spells in December and January," the report added.
An absence of rains in April meant that the third replanted crop was unlikely to succeed there.
While in the west, "due to late planting, some crops have been affected by floods that usually happen in April".
"In Shangombo district, the total crop failure is mainly on maize and a bit on the sorghum planted after the 20 January. The performance of cassava, sorghum and cowpeas can be described as average. In Mongu and Chilubi districts, crops have been adversely affected by lack of rain at critical stages of plant growth as well as poor access to inputs," the report noted.
Results from the FAO/World Food Programme (WFP) joint crop and food security assessment will be presented next month, together with key results of the WFP/Vulnerability Assessment Committee survey.