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Ongoing harvests improve food security outcomes across most parts of the region

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Southern Africa
  • June 2013
Ongoing harvests improve food security outcomes across most parts of the region

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Minimal food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1) are expected to persist across the region through June as household food access improves from own production The exception is in some flood affected areas in southern Mozambique and areas in the southern districts in Zimbabwe where poor rainfall distribution and mid-season dry spells is expected to have reduced harvests. Stressed outcomes (IPC Phase 2) are expected among poor households in these localized areas in Mozambique and Zimbabwe in June, both in the presence and in the absence of assistance, respectively. 

    • While national food production estimates and vulnerability assessments are still being finalized, current indications are that poorer households in parts of the region that experienced poor crop production this season are likely to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes from July to September.

    • Overall regional grain supplies are likely to be tighter in the 2013/14 consumption season given reduced levels of production and carryover stocks from surplus producing South Africa and Zambia.  However, in the period through September, cereal prices are expected to remain stable, increasing seasonably in July/ August.  

    Current Situation

    Increased food supplies from ongoing crop harvests across the region have allowed many rural households to meet their food as well as livelihood protection needs. Food access for market dependent households has also improved as a result of the stabilization or decrease in local prices in response to increased supplies being off-loaded by traders and farmers.  While many households are currently experiencing Minimal or no food insecurity due to increasing supplies from the 2013 harvests, overall projections for the 2013/14 consumption period indicate that across the region poor rural households will begin depleting their own produced food stocks by the start of the lean season in October, which is normal.

    Although the region’s cereal supply position is yet to be fully established, indications are that supplies are likely to be much tighter this consumption period due to poor seasonal performance among the region’s main cereal producers. So far, indications are that of the main maize producing countries (Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia), Tanzania is the only one with harvests projected to surpass last year’s levels. This means that this year’s projected regional exportable surplus is lower than last year.  Last year, both South Africa and Zambia had significantly higher maize surpluses (1.03 million and 2.0 million MT respectively), while Malawi also indicated a surplus of about 570,000 MT. Current projections for the 2013/14 marketing year indicate a 454,000 MT surplus in Zambia, a 1.82  million MT surplus in South Africa, and a 330,000 MT surplus for Malawi.  Nonetheless, the region’s import requirements will still be fully covered from the available regional surplus. However those countries that require non GMO maize grain may have challenges accessing their import requirements from within the region given that a significant part of this surplus is South African GMO maize. 


    • Poor households in the central and northern regions, specifically in localized areas of the Southern Lakeshore (SLA), Kasungu Lilongwe Plains (KAS), Mzimba Self Sufficient (MZS) and Western Rumphi and Mzimba (WRM) livelihood zones are likely to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes from July to September. With maize prices currently at more than double last year’s levels, reduced cereal stocks in these areas of concern is likely to result in higher than normal price increases, potentially causing food access problems.


    • While Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected through September over most parts of the country, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, in the presence of humanitarian assistance, will continue in flood affected areas including Chókwe and parts of Guija and Chibuto districts. Prospects of a good second season production is likely to improve household food access.


    • Despite a slight decrease in the estimated national maize production, supplies are expected to meet domestic requirements. Acute food insecurity is expected to remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) across most of the country through to September.  However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are projected in the southern parts due to significantly reduced food harvests.


    • Most households in the surplus producing areas in northern Zimbabwe are expected to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes through July, however poor rural households in southern districts where poor rainfall distribution and mid-season dry spells have reduced harvests and are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2).


    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes, in the presence of humanitarian assistance, are projected through September as poorer households access food from own production and markets.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed the regional assumptions used in the May Food Security Outlook for the period of April – September 2013. A full discussion of the scenario is available in the Southern Africa May 2013 Food Security Outlook.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes are projected for most parts of the region through September. Most households will meet their food and livelihood protection needs from own production for most of the outlook period. For market dependent households, access to food will be improved by reduced food prices. Despite these general seasonal trends, maize prices are expected to remain above the five-year average and those recorded during this same period in 2012.  Persistently high food prices are expected to constrain food access for poorer market dependent households earlier than the normal start of the lean season (September/October), eroding purchasing power, especially given that labor opportunities are usually limited after harvesting. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.

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