The Central Statistics Office assessment of the National Food Balance for 2009/10 via the CSO Bulletin May 2009:
The 2008/2009 Crop Forecasting Survey (CFS) results have revealed that the total national maize requirement for Zambia during the 2009/2010 agricultural marketing season is 1,747,537 metric tonnes. It is also estimated that the total availability of maize during this season will be 1,950,808 metric tonnes. This total is made up of 1,888, 773 metric tonnes expected to be produced during the 2008/2009 agricultural season, and 62, 035 metric tonnes carry-over stocks available as at 1st May 2009.Zambia is therefore expected to have a maize surplus of 203, 271 metric tonnes in the 2009/2010 agricultural marketing season. This outcome is partly as a result of the good rains that were experienced in most parts of the country.The country is also expected to have a surplus of 464, 632 metric tonnes of cassava flour equivalent. Paddy rice is expected to experience a deficit amounting to 12, 000 metric tonnes. A surplus of 50, 516 metric tonnes of wheat is also expected. There will be no net deficit or surplus for sorghum/millet and potatoes (both Irish and sweet potatoes).The total food surpluses (all cereals plus cassava and potatoes) when converted to maize meal equivalent using a common energy unit of kilocalories, is expected to be 672, 367 metric tonnes. The major staple food crops are maize, rice, wheat, sorghum, millet, sweet potatoes, irish potatoes and cassava.Food balance sheet, what is it?A food balance sheet presents a comprehensive picture about a country’s food supply and demand situation during a specified reference period. In Zambia the reference period relates to the agriculture marketing season which stretches from 1st of May of the current year to the 30th of April of the following year. It shows the impending balance between the supply and demand of food in the country. The accuracy of the food balance sheet is to a large extent dependent on the reliability of the underlying basic statistics on population, food production (supply) and utilization (both human and industrial requirement) and nutritive value. The current national food balance sheet only covers 6 major crops namely maize, paddy rice, wheat, sorghum/millet, sweet and Irish potatoes and cassava.In the case of Zambia, the national food balance sheet, which is also used as a food security early warning tool, basically has two components namely the food availability and the food requirement segments. The food availability segment is made up of crop production from the current agriculture season and carry-over stocks of the main edible food crops from the previous agriculture season. The crop production figures are derived from the Crop Forecasting Survey (CFS) which is carried out every year during the month of March. The CFS covers both the large scale and small/medium scale farmers in Zambia on a sample basis.Conversely, the requirements part of the national food balance sheet comprises staple food as well as industrial requirements. The Food Energy Intake method (FEI) is used to estimate food crop requirement for human consumption. This method is based on the per capita kilo calorie requirement of 2, 094 Kcal per day (NFNC, 1991). However, this nutritive value is further adjusted to 1, 466 Kcal since the 8 crops covered in the balance sheet only account for about 70 percent of the caloric intake of an average person in Zambia, as revealed by the 2002/2003 Living Conditions Monitoring Survey data. In addition, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) also maintains food reserve stocks amounting to about 110, 000 metric tonnes for emergency purposes.Furthermore, the industrial requirements comprise demands for food crops for purposes of making stock feed, brewers and seed stocks. In the case of Zambia this information was collected via an industrial utilization survey which is conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Other items that fall under the requirement side of the food balance equation include estimated seasonal crop losses and structural crop leakages as a result of cross-border trade.The national food balance is simply determined by deducting the total food requirements from what is available for the reference marketing season. The 2009/10 food balance reveals that the food security situation in the country is very much favourable particularly in the case of the most popular staple food, maize. For instance, the sheet shows that the estimated population of 12.9 million people would require about 1, 263, 098 metric tonnes of maize against the available stock of 1, 466, 369 metric tonnes, which is net of the Food Reserve stocks, industrial requirements and other crop outflows. This leaves a food surplus of about 203, 271 metric tonnes.The national food balance sheet is a very important early warning food security tool for the country. It provides snapshot information on the prevailing food security situation in the country. The results from the food balance sheet can also be used to guide the country’s precautionary import/export decisions in as far as the food security situation is concerned.