NEW YORK - The International Monetary Fund will assess the economic impact of a devastating drought on Zambia in a visit tentatively scheduled for mid-April, the fund said on Thursday.

Zambia is planning to start rationing electricity next week as a devastating drought that has been declared a national disaster affects hydropower generation, as well as food production.

A preliminary IMF assessment is that crop losses appear to be significant and the need to import energy will negatively affect the current account balance, though the drought would not have a significant economic effect over the medium term, said IMF spokesperson Julie Kozack in a scheduled press conference.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos and David Lawder, additional reporting by Chris Mfula in Lusaka)