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Preparation for the 2023/2024 cropping season begins amidst El Niño

  • Key Message Update
  • Southern Africa
  • October 2023
Preparation for the 2023/2024 cropping season begins amidst El Niño

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In Southern Africa, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present in weather-shocked areas of Mozambique, Malawi, and conflict-affected areas in eastern DRC and Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Across much of the region, the high cost of living drives Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes as harvested food stocks for households in typically low-producing areas decline. In Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, and the Grand South and Grand Southeast of Madagascar, humanitarian assistance supports Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes. From October 2023 to January 2024, the start of the 2023/24 rainy season is expected to be impacted by the strong El Nino. The start of the lean season and lower-than-normal access to agricultural labor opportunities will limit household access to income amid high food prices, driving the emergence of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in areas that recorded a poor 2023 harvest. 
    • Maize grain prices in most monitored regional markets are stable but higher than the five-year average. Maize prices will rise seasonally as demand increases through the lean season. In Malawi, stable food prices began to rise earlier than normal, especially in southern markets, which Tropical Cyclone Freddy heavily impacted. Maize grain prices in Lilongwe increased by 29  percent in August compared to July, significantly impacting household purchasing power. Inflation remains in double digits in several countries and above government targets in most countries. The acceleration in inflation rates is largely attributable to persistently high food prices, increases in global energy prices, weak exchange rates, and high international borrowing rates. Although annual inflation rates have trended downwards in Mozambique, rates are still above pre-pandemic levels in Malawi, DRC, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar. The disinflationary trend observed since the beginning of the year ended in Lesotho and South Africa with the lean season approaching. 
    • In Southern Africa, wheat harvesting continues under favorable conditions, and the season will conclude in November and December. Land preparation and planting of main-season cereals for the 2023/24 agricultural season are beginning in Angola, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho, and initial conditions are favorable. Rainfall onset is yet to start across most regions but typically occurs in November. The strong El Niño will likely result in an erratic start to the rainy season, negatively impacting planted areas and crop performance. Some governments are making plans to improve poor households’ access to inputs, boost production, and support farmers through subsidized fertilizer and seeds (Lesotho), the distribution of agricultural inputs (Angola), suspending import duties on nitrogenous fertilizer, and targeted input assistance programs tailored to specific agroclimatic regions (Zimbabwe). 
    • Continued conflict in eastern DRC and sporadic attacks in parts of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, are continuing to displace households and reduce participation in agricultural activities. According to OCHA, some 673,160 people have been displaced in South Kivu, DRC, over the past three months, and households are expected to be less involved in agricultural activities during the harvest season. In Mozambique, around 850,600 people remained displaced in Cabo Delgado. However, insurgent movements southwards from Macomia district into Quissanga district and the fear of attacks lead to displacements as households slowly return to their homes ahead of the 2023/24 agricultural season.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Southern Africa Key Message Update October 2023: Preparation for the 2023/2024 cropping season begins amidst El Niño, 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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