Zambia’s 2019 maize production is expected to reduce by 16 percent to about 2 million tonnes from 2.39 million tonnes last year.
And production of tobacco, sunflower, cowpeas, Sorghum, Cassava flour, Soya beans, Sweet potatoes is also expected to reduce by an average of between 19 and 40 percent.
Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo announced that the 2019 Crop Forecasting survey for the 2018/2019 agriculture survey shows that to Maize production is expected to decrease to 2,004,389 metric tonnes from 2,394,907 metric tonnes produced last season
Mr. Katambo said that the reduced maize production was largely due to prolonged dry weather.
He said Zambia still had enough maize stocks for human and industrial use until the next harvest next year.
Mr Katambo said the country had carry-over stocks of maize amounting to 474,515 tonnes from the last season, including more than 300,000 tonnes held in strategic reserves adding that the country had a total of 2.47 million tonnes of maize available, above its total requirement of 1.96 million tonnes.
The Minister said medium scale farmers are expected to contribute up to 94.5 percent or 1,893,845 Metric tonnes to the total maize production, while the large scale farmers are expected to produce 110,544 Metric tonnes of Maize.
He said the national average yield rate for maize has declined to 1.29 metric tonnes per hectare from 1.72 Metric tonnes per hectare last season.
“The reduction in the total maize production and yields for the 2018/2019 season is largely due to the prolonged dry spells that were experienced in the growing season. In addition, area expected to be harvested also reduced by 22.4 percent to 841,693 hectares from 1,086,006 hectares in the 2017/2018 season. Thus, of a total area of 1,557,314 hectares under maize this season, only 841,693 hectares or 54 percent of the area planted is expected to be harvested,” Mr Katambo announced.
He added, “the Maize production this season has been estimated to be 2,004,389 metric tonnes. the country also has a maize carry-over stock amounting to 474,515 metric tonnes as at 1st may, 2019. of this – 8 – amount, the food reserve agency (FRA) is holding 303,475 metric tonnes, the Grain Traders Association is holding 51,474 metric tonnes, Millers Association of Zambia 21,204 metric tonnes, large scale farmers are holding 36,362 metric tonnes and small and medium scale farmers are holding 62,000 metric tonnes. The total supply of maize available for the 2019/2020 marketing season is therefore 2,478,389 metric tonnes. For the current projected population of 17.6 million the total maize required 1,961,357 metric tonnes. The total requirements are broken down as 1,558,339 metric tonnes for human consumption and 409,018 metric tonnes for industrial requirements.”
“The prolonged dry spells have had a negative impact on the production of most crops. in addition, we had reports of army worms attacking maize fields countrywide. The severity of the army worm attacks this season have reduced compared to previous seasons due to improved management by farmers. in the 2018/2019 season, a total of 215,735 hectares of maize fields were affected by the army worms. Despite the prolonged dry spells experienced in this agricultural season and the negative impact of dry spells on crop production, i am delighted to inform the nation that we are food secure till the next harvest in 2020,” he said.
Mr Katambo also announced that the production of other crops is also expected to reduce.
“The production of groundnuts is forecast to decrease by 28 percent from 181,772 metric tonnes in the last season to 130,825 metric tonnes. production of rice is also forecast to decrease by 31.3 percent to 29,584 metric tonnes from 43,063 metric tonnes last season. The production of burley tobacco is forecast to decrease by 20 percent to 9,176 metric tonnes from 11,512 metric tonnes. the production of Virginia tobacco has – 4 – also been forecast to decline by 4 percent to 12,839 metric tonnes from 13,382 metric tonnes last season.”
“The national cassava flour equivalent production for the 2018/2019 season has been forecast to decrease by 2 percent to 1,009,146 metric tonnes from 1,025,575 metric tonnes of cassava flour equivalent produced during the last season. Production of sorghum is forecast to decline by 49 percent to 6,684 metric tonnes from 13,130 metric tonnes last season. The production of millet is also expected to reduce by 23 percent to 24,843 metric tonnes from 32,278 metric tonnes last season.”
He added, “Production of soya beans is expected to decrease by seven percent to 281,389 metric tonnes from 302,720 metric tonnes last season. The overall reduction in the production of soya beans has been due to a 19.6 percent reduction in the average national yield from 1.46 metric tonnes per hectare in the 2017/2018 season to 1.18 metric tonnes per hectare this season, and the reduced rainfall in some parts of the country.”
“Production of seed cotton is forecast to reduce by 17.8 percent to 72,508 metric tonnes from 88,219 metric tonnes last season. The production of sweet potatoes is forecast to decrease to 109,336 metric tonnes from 183,280 metric tonnes in the last season. This represents a reduction of 40 percent in production. the Production of cowpeas has been projected to reduce by 47.8 percent, from 6,824 metric tonnes last season to 3,566 metric tonnes this season. sunflower production is also expected to decline this season from – 6 – 47,594 metric tonnes last season to 34,208 metric tonnes this year, a reduction of 28 percent.”
Mr Katambo said in the 2018/2019 agricultural season, the country experienced prolonged dry spells between January, 2019 and March, 2019 which affected the Southern, Western and parts of Lusaka and Central Provinces.