Market and Trade Policy for Staple Foods in Eastern and Southern Africa
Edited by Alexander Sarris and Jamie Morrison
Chapter 8: Regional Trade and Food Security: Recent Evidence from Zambia
* Paul A. Dorosh, Simon Dradri and Steven Haggblade1 1 INTRODUCTION Maize, Africa’s number one food staple, provides over half of all calories consumed in Zambia. Yet dependence on rainfed maize production leads to highly volatile output from one year to the next, in Zambia as in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Given the erratic rainfall, and with less than 5 per cent of cropped land under irrigation, Zambia’s maize crop fails to satisfy national consumption requirements in one year out of three on average. In good harvest years, Zambia produces a maize surplus, enabling the country to export maize. In bad years, when drought, reduced planting area, or input supply bottlenecks constrict output, Zambia imports maize. Given this pronounced production volatility, trade becomes a valuable tool for stabilizing national food supplies. Yet, in much of Africa, governments mistrust traders. Policy makers fear a loss of government control over maize supplies and the politically sensitive maize price. They fear that collusion by traders may lead to market manipulation and profiteering that could, in turn, lead to politically damaging food shortages and price spikes. As a result, in recent years, Zambia’s default policy has been to restrict private sector cross-border maize flows. Following the deficit harvest of 2005, the Zambian government restricted maize imports. And following successive good harvests, in 2006 and 2007, the government has tightly controlled exports.2 The mistrust is mutual. In part, traders have difficulty anticipating what government will actually do. During the first half of 2007, the government...
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