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Prolonged dry spells, conflict, and high input prices impact agricultural production in southern Africa

  • Key Message Update
  • Southern Africa
  • February 2023
Prolonged dry spells, conflict, and high input prices impact agricultural production in southern Africa

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the lean season peaks across the region, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present across typically deficit-producing areas of Zimbabwe and Lesotho, southern parts of Malawi, southwestern Angola, conflict-affected areas of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, and in Kasai, Maniema, Tanganyika, Ituri, and North and South Kivu in the DRC. However, some households in Rutshuru and Djugu, DRC, are experiencing significant food consumption gaps and are likely in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) due to the impact of the conflict. In surplus-producing areas of Zimbabwe, Malawi's central and northern regions, and much of DRC and Mozambique, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected. The start of the harvest season in March and April is expected to improve access to staple food crops for poor households across southern Africa. 

    • In January, main-season cereals are in vegetative to reproductive stages, but crop conditions are mixed due to variations in rainfall across the region. Throughout January, dry and hot conditions negatively impacted crops in southern Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and northern and eastern Madagascar. In western areas of southern Africa, delayed planting may negatively impact the 2023 harvest due to the limited growing window. The dry spells also affected agricultural activities like weeding and fertilizer application, reducing labor and income opportunities for poor households. Additionally, labor demand and wage rates for labor remain below normal across many parts of the region due to lower-than-normal liquidity for better-off households.

    • In the DRC, clashes continue between M23 and local militias in Rutshuru and Masisi despite the recently signed Luanda accords, which recommend that the M23 rebels, among others, withdraw from conquered territories. The ongoing conflict is continuing to displace households. In early January 2023, nearly 1,000 newly displaced households were received in the Kanyarutshinya camp in Nyiragongo. According to OCHA, 554,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the M23 crisis, with little likelihood of participating in the next agricultural season. 

    • Maize prices in January continued to rise seasonally, with prices remaining above last year's levels due to rising fuel and fertilizer costs and depreciating domestic currencies. Price increases are expected to continue through February but are likely to ease with the start of the green harvest in March. Although most economies are probably past peak inflation levels, the deceleration is expected to be slow. Operational challenges related to power cuts and energy price adjustments in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, and Malawi are also impacting domestic prices of food and non-food needs.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Southern Africa Key Message Update January 2023: Prolonged dry spells, conflict, and high input prices impact agricultural production in southern Africa, 2023.

    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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