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Extended dry spells in southern Mozambique result in water stress and localized crop loss

  • Key Message Update
  • Mozambique
  • January 2023
Extended dry spells in southern Mozambique result in water stress and localized crop loss

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  • Messages clé
  • Messages clé
    • As the lean season begins to peak, most poor households face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes and are consuming their food stocks or purchasing food at local markets, where the prices of maize and dried cassava are normal. In the conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist, and humanitarian needs remain high. However, IDPs are slowly returning to their areas of origin, particularly Palma and Mocímboa da Praia. According to the IOM, around 7,700 people were recorded on the move in December and early January with the intention of returning to their home zone. In Mozambique, households involved in agricultural production are likely to start harvesting in March in the southern zone, April in the central zone, and May in the northern zone.

    • In January 2023, FEWS NET conducted a field assessment in Nampula of areas affected by Tropical Cyclone Gombe in March 2022. Preliminary findings indicate that most poor households were supported by a good cassava harvest in October and November, along with income from the sale of cashew nuts and agricultural labor opportunities. Interviewed farmers and households reported that Cyclone Gombe did not severely affect the cassava as it was in its initial growth stage, which allowed it to recover. However, the maize crop, which was in its reproductive growth stage, was severely affected. Additionally, households reported that humanitarian assistance following the cyclone and a subsequent good harvest of sweet potatoes and vegetables during the post-flood and second season contributed to minimizing food consumption gaps. Conclusions to the FEWS NET field assessment are still being assessed.

    • In January, dry spells and high temperatures in southern Mozambique resulted in wilting and crop loss during the water-critical reproductive growth stages. As of January 20, the water requirement satisfaction index (WRSI) for maize indicates poor outcomes are likely in western Gaza and parts of Maputo province, with localized areas likely to have a failed harvest. Additionally, short-term NOAA GEFS forecasts for southern Africa indicate that limited rainfall is expected across southern Mozambique through the first week of February. The lack of rainfall will likely further stress crops and negatively impact the upcoming harvest, despite a promising start to the season. FEWS NET will continue to closely monitor the progress of the agricultural season as a poor harvest in southern Mozambique will mark a second consecutive below-average harvest and the seventh poor harvest in 10 years. 

    • Annual inflation eased for the fourth consecutive month to 10.9 percent in December, marking the lowest inflation rate recorded since July 2022. However, annual food inflation remains over 14 percent, with the high food, fuel, and commodity prices impacting the purchasing power of market-dependent households, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas. However, maize prices in Maputo, Chókwe, and Montepuez markets were stable from November to December 2022, with prices similar to 48 percent lower compared to last year and the five-year average. Similarly, maize flour prices were stable in Maputo and Chókwe markets but declined by 8 percent in the Montepuez market in December, while rice prices remained stable in Maputo and increased by 9 percent in Chókwe and Montepuez. Across the three markets, maize flour and rice had mixed trends compared to their respective prices in 2021 and the five-year average.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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