Wednesday, March 23

Headed For The Maize Maze

In the past, Zambia has endured droughts and been forced to import maize. Last year, however, Zambia produced a surplus of maize, which it exported to neighboring countries. This year -- although forecasts had predicted plentiful rainfall for the 2004-2005 growing season -- it appears that erratic rainfall will force Zambia to import at least 300,000 tons of maize to avert a food shortfall.

According to Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana: "This scanty rainfall has happened as a complete opposite to the weather bureau forecast." Ironically, rainfall in some parts of the country has led to flooding and the collapse of housing.

Stanley Ndhlovu, disaster management coordinator with the Zambia Red Cross Society, claims: "We found 40 to 80 percent crop failure in five provinces . . . [and] We found 100 percent crop failure in the southern province, where we could not even find green maize on the plants."