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Presence Country
Food Security Outlook

Prolonged dry spells to reduce 2018 maize production prospects

February 2018

February - May 2018

June - September 2018

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Across the country, area acute food insecurity outcomes are Minimal (IPC Phase 1), and a few areas in the extreme south are also Minimal (IPC Phase 1!), in the presence of humanitarian assistance. Incomes from agricultural labor, livestock sales, and self-employment are average to above average because there was less competition among poorer households this cropping season. Most households are still consuming food from their own production because of last year’s above-average harvest.

  • Maize prices in local markets increased during the last week of January after remaining stable and at times below-average since June 2017. The increase may be attributed to an artificial supply decrease as some farmers and traders started hoarding their stocks in anticipation of a below-average 2017/18 harvest.

  • Based on field observations during a recent assessment, FEWS NET expects that the 2017/18 harvest will be negatively impacted by dry spells and pest attacks, which could lead to production that is 10 percent below last season’s production or 5 percent less than the five-year average and national cereal requirements. Production of main cash crops such as tobacco, cotton, and legumes are also likely to register reductions.

  • During the outlook period most areas will be experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes between February and May. Between June and September, areas in Nsanje, Balaka, Blantyre, Mangochi, Neno, and Salima district are projected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes due to the impacts of prolonged dry spells and pest infestations.

National Overview

Current Situation
 
National food stocks are above average and food availability for very poor and poor households is average to above average. In local markets maize stocks are above average. National stocks in the Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) and the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) are over 200,000 MT just a few months before the next harvest. A combination of Ministry of Agriculture reports and community interviews conducted by FEWS NET in January 2018, indicates that most households are participating in normal livelihoods activities. Incomes from agricultural labor, livestock sales, and self-employment are average to above average because there was less competition among poorer households this cropping season. Most households are still consuming food from their own production because of last year’s above-average harvest.
 
According to Ministry of Agriculture reports, an average of 10 percent of the rural households had run out of their own produced food stocks by January 2018. During a field assessment, FEWS NET found that poorer households which had run out of own produced food were easily accessing food through incomes obtained by agricultural labor. The labor is readily available in and there is less competition for labor, so wages have remained high. Below-average staple prices had improved the purchasing power for those household relying on market purchases. Households were mainly consuming the maize meal (nsima) with vegetables, pulses, and small fish as gravy.
 
Current prices for maize staple in local markets are low and averaging about MWK 105/kg with a range of MWK 70 to 140/kg in January 2018. Maize prices in ADMARC markets remained at a higher fixed price of MWK 250/kg, but prices in local markets are still less than half of ADMARC prices. Sales at ADMARC are low and untapped stocks are around 100 MT. However, maize prices in local markets increased during the last week of January 2018 after remaining stable and at times below-average since June 2017. The increase may be attributed to an artificial supply decrease as some farmers and traders started hoarding their stocks because of the poor 2017/18 rainy season and Fall armyworm infestations in anticipation of below-average 2017/18 crop harvest.
 
According to the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), as well as Ministry of Agriculture and media reports in early December, the country received below-normal rainfall in December, that was poorly distributed over time and space. This pattern continued into January and has led to rainfall deficits. Dryness has resulted in the poor germination of crops, poor crop management, and poor crop development. The moisture stress has led to wilting of crops (especially maize) and in some areas the wilting is so bad that it is not irreversible, so crop loss is expected and overall reductions in yields and production are very likely.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

 February-May: area food security outcomes across the country will be mostly Minimal (IPC Phase 1). Acutely food insecure households in areas identified as in need of humanitarian assistance (Nsanje, Balaka, Chikwawa, and Mwanza district) will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes in the presence of assistance for February and March. Other households will be consuming food from their own production and supplementing their consumption with food purchases. From mid-to-late February, households in the central and southern regions will begin supplementing their consumption with green foods from the 2017/18 harvest and start accessing food from main harvests by early April. Households in the north will start accessing green foods by mid-March and food from main harvests in early May.

June-September: Most households across the country will be consuming food from their own production and will have access to income from crop sales. Most areas will be experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes. Very poor and poor households in Nsanje, Balaka, Blantyre, Mangochi, Neno, and Salima district are projected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) area outcomes due to the impacts of prolonged dry spells and pest infestations.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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