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Southern Malawi to face an early start to the lean season

  • Key Message Update
  • Malawi
  • August 2018
Southern Malawi to face an early start to the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Following below-average 2018 harvests, carry-over stocks from the previous season and cross-border maize imports will likely support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes across Malawi through September. Many very poor and poor households in southern and central areas have already consumed household food stocks, however, and are expanding normal livelihood strategies such as livestock sales to facilitate staple food purchases. With the lean season now expected to begin in September in southern Malawi, the worst-off households in the Lake Chilwa Phalombe Plain, Lower Shire, Middle Shire Valley, and Southern Lakeshore livelihood zones are expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by October.

    • According to the Ministry of Agriculture, estimated production for September-to-November irrigated maize is likely to be 10 to 32 percent and 60 to 90 percent below the five-year average in southern and central Malawi, respectively, due to dry spells that affected crop development. Irrigated crops typically provide five to 10 percent of annual household food needs, but this year’s yields will be insufficient to improve food security outcomes in areas of concern. With the limited harvest, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to remain below normal until the start of the 2018/2019 farming season.

    • In response to tightening supply, the national price of maize increased nine percent from June to July 2018 but remains six percent below the five-year average. Key reference markets in southern Malawi saw higher increases, including 28 and 29 percent price hikes in Phalombe and Nsanje, respectively. Informal cross-border maize imports increased 42 percent from June to July but remain 25 percent below the five-year average. Livestock-to-maize terms of trade currently remain favorable, with one goat equivalent to three 50 kg bags of maize, but will likely decline as maize prices continue to seasonally increase from August to October and households transition to distressed livestock sales.

    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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