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Average to above-average rainfall supports crop production across most of southern Africa

  • Key Message Update
  • Southern Africa
  • January 2023
Average to above-average rainfall supports crop production across most of southern Africa

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Following a timely start to the rainy season in November across much of southern Africa, localized dry spells in December likely impacted planting and delayed agricultural operations, particularly in southern Mozambique and southern Zimbabwe. Cumulatively below-average rainfall has also been recorded in southeastern Angola and northeastern areas of Madagascar. However, forecast average to above-average rainfall through the remainder of the agricultural season will likely support crop production for the upcoming harvest.

    • As the lean season progresses, household food stocks are dwindling, increasing market demand and resulting in seasonal increases to maize grain prices across monitored markets. In December 2022, maize grain prices were 30 to 122 percent higher than respective prices in 2021 due to regionally lower maize stocks than in 2021,  higher production costs, and weaker exchange rates in 2022. Maize grain prices are expected to rise seasonally, peaking in February. However, in April, prices will likely begin declining with the start of the main 2023 harvest season. Cereal prices in 2023 are expected to remain higher than prices in 2022 due to the high cost of fuel, energy, and fertilizer. 

    • In December, inflation levels slowly tapered downwards but remained elevated, with several countries continuing to register double-digit inflation rates, driven by high food, transportation, and utility prices. Additionally, domestic currency depreciations and foreign exchange shortages have exacerbated inflationary pressures in the region. In 2023, inflation rates will likely remain high enough to drive central banks to continue tightening monetary policies, which will likely further reduce household purchasing power. However, the upcoming 2023 harvest will likely improve food access for very poor and poor households. 

    • Demand for agricultural labor is improving as households are engaged in weeding and fertilizer application across most of the region. However, overall labor demand is below normal levels due to increased costs of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, and elevated inflation, eroding better-off households’ hiring power. Additionally, agricultural labor wage rates remain low due to lower-than-normal liquidity for better-off households. Below-normal labor opportunities and lower-than-normal wage rates are driving below-average incomes from agricultural labor, one of the major sources of income for poor households during the main agricultural season. 

    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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