By Freeman Ngulu.
09 January 2017 – The latest Agricultural Input and Household Food Security Report forecasts that current grain supply and demand shortfalls are likely to be met with commercial grain imports by the major millers.
The report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry points out that since the marketing season is still ongoing the shortfalls are usually covered through more commercial imports. Exact detail on the grain import requirement will only be available by 30 April 2017 when the Cereal Supply/Demand Forecast for 2016/17 marketing period ends.
Since the start of the current marketing season in May last year, above average commercial imports were received by the end of November 2016 with 39,700 metric tonnes of wheat, 50,100 metric tonnes of white maize and 8,000 metric tonnes of mahangu.
There are however still uncovered shortfalls of 24,800 metric tonnes, 49,000 metric tonnes and 44,000 metric tonnes respectively for wheat, white maize and mahangu.
The food security report indicates that very little has changed from the previous reporting period due to the poor rainfall at the beginning of the 2016/2017 rainfall season (October to mid-November), with no cultivation activities taking place.
“Even so, by late November to early December, most parts of the traditional grain-producing areas were reported to have received moderate to good showers and cultivation activities have since started,” the report states.
For the upcoming harvest season, wheat production is forecast at 12,700 metric tonnes, maize at 46,400 metric tonnes and mahangu at 21,000 metric tonnes. Opening stocks at May 2016 showed a meagre 2,900, 28,100 and 1,200 metric tonnes respectively.
At the end of last year, the expected grain shortfalls for 2017 were expected to be 64,500 metric tonnes for wheat, 99,100 metric tonnes for white maize and 52,100 tonnes for mahangu.
Meanwhile, residents at Eenhana told the report compilers they had to purchase mahangu in Angola for their daily sustenance requirements as the 2016 rain season continued to disappoint. Some villages bought mahangu from neighbouring villages where there were small surpluses but even this source has been depleted in the last months of 2016.
Furthermore, it is reported that only a small number of rural households still have mahangu available with stocks expected to last only up to the end of February 2017. Once the indigenous grain stocks are depleted, the daily staple is substituted with white maize meal.
As an emergency measure, drought relief food distribution is taking place in Eenhana but according to farmers in the constituency, the distribution is not regular and only targeting certain households.