A lack of rain and the Zambian government's late delivery of fertiliser are being blamed for a poor maize harvest in the southern parts of the country.
Local officials say seventeen thousand people are facing a potential food crisis in the Pemba area alone.
Farmers who could afford to buy their own fertiliser have faired better, but most will harvest a fraction of their usual crop.
The government is still assessing the situation and says that while it cannot help the rain, this year fertiliser will be delivered on time.
Al Jazeera's Tania Page reports from Pemba, Zambia.