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Household staple foods remain tight during the current harvest period

  • Key Message Update
  • Southern Africa
  • May 2016
Household staple foods remain tight during the current harvest period

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As the lean season comes to an end, the availability of regional maize supplies has improved slightly during the ongoing harvest period in several countries. At the national level, this improvement is more pronounced in Zambia and Tanzania; while in southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe maize supplies are well below average because of the poor national 2015/16 harvest.  In May, both Zambia and South Africa continued exporting to grain deficit countries, but volumes from Zambia have reduced in comparison to previous months. 

    • Usually food prices decrease during this time of the year. However, this year maize grain price trends are mixed across the region because of below-average production due to the El Niño-induced drought. Prices in Zambia, northern and central Mozambique, as well as parts of northern Malawi are decreasing. However, in southern Zimbabwe and Mozambique maize grain prices are either stable or atypically increasing. The prices in both Malawi and Mozambique are some of the highest in the region and remain substantially higher than the previous year and the five-year average levels.   

    • This year’s poor harvest is affecting household access to cash and in-kind payments that are usually earned through harvesting labor activities during this time. The widespread drought that affected crop production across the region has also significantly affected better-off households who normally provide labor opportunities for poor households in most countries in the region. This is currently depressing income earnings by poor households during a time of the year when households are atypically relying on market purchases for their staple foods. 

    • La Niña conditions are expected for the start of the 2016/17 agriculture season. Although initial model forecasts suggest that precipitation for the region will be near average for October-December, La Niña in southern Africa is usually associated with above-average rainfall for December-March.  The Subtropical Indian Ocean Dipole (SIOD) must be monitored closely as it can mitigate or amplify the impact of La Niña in the region. 

    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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