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Stable food security forecast for Sadc region

Assessments by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) project that a good harvest recorded from the previous season is sufficient to meet the region’s requirement until March next year and even beyond.
Fewsnet said improved harvests in Sadc countries over the last few years was due to favourable rains as well as various agricultural interventions by national governments to boost production.
“Food security conditions over
most parts of the region remain generally stable, and are expected to remain so throughout
October 2010 to March 2011,” Fewsnet said in its assessment.
Fewsnet added that most parts of the region, including Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia will not experience any “acute food insecurity” in the first quarter of the year while some parts of Angola and Zimbabwe might require additional imports.
However, the situation was likely to be manageable as most Sadc countries are predicting a bumper harvest this season.
In Zimbabwe, harvest is expected to be good following improved rains and increased hectares of planted crops.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made announced that the area planted with maize was up from about 530 000 ha in 2009/2010 to 660 000 ha in the 2010/2011 season.
Malawi, which since 2005 increased its production to record levels, has predicted a bumper harvest. The country is forecasted to produce about 2,35 million tonnes of maize, just over the annual requirement of
2 million.
Malawi was the first Sadc country to allocate 10% of its budget to agriculture, and this is credited as one of the factors in Malawi’s bumper harvests in its recent agricultural seasons.
As a result of this robust turnaround in the agricultural sector, Malawi has moved from being a food deficit country to one producing surplus grain for other Sadc countries. In fact, the phenomenal increase in maize production has saved the country a yearly budget of US$120 million that it had spent in 2005 importing food aid.
While other countries are still to make more comprehensive predictions, estimates suggest that production levels would be better than, or the same as those achieved in the previous season.
The overall food security situation in southern Africa for the 2009/10 marketing year was favourable, with a regional cereal surplus of 476 000 tonnes compared to a deficit of 1,78 million tones registered in 2008/09.
However, there have been concerns that despite having a good surplus of cereals, the region has a number of people who are still failing to access food due to various challenges such as low income and high food prices.
—Sadc Today

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