Calvin Kaleyi of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) reportedly said that a significant amount of the maize crop in key production areas had wilted, and that it is likely that this will affect the harvest.
Kaleyi added: “If this trend continues into February, we are in trouble. We may be lucky to hit 1.8 – 2 million t of maize.”
This is compared to 2.87 million t in the 2015/2016 season and 3.61 million t in the 2016/2017 season. The maize production season in Zambia starts in October – November (when the planting is done) and is completed in March – April (harvesting).
According to Reuters, Kaleyi said that the dry spell this season has affected small scale farmers, who are responsible for producing 82% of Zambia’s maize and depend on rain-fed irrigation.
Kaleyi also noted that the situation will worsen because of late access by small scale farmers to fertilizer from the government.