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Increased humanitarian assistance coverage and improved informal trade has enhanced local maize supplies

  • Key Message Update
  • Malawi
  • January 2017
Increased humanitarian assistance coverage and improved informal trade has enhanced local maize supplies

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As we enter the peak of the lean season, market maize supplies have remarkably improved in Malawi as a result lower consumer demand due to increased humanitarian assistance coverage and atypical informal flows of maize. FEWS NET’s assessment in January found that most local markets and ADMARC posts have adequate maize stocks that are expected to last up to the next harvest in April. Trader interviews revealed that in recent months there has been above average levels of informal imports from Zambia, Tanzania, and northern parts of Mozambique that planted winter crops. This explains why national average prices for maize continue to be higher than last year and the five-year average, but stable and much lower than earlier projections. In the October 2016 outlook report, FEWS NET projected that maize prices would register steep increases in December, however current price data shows that prices have not risen as sharply as projected due to the ongoing humanitarian assistance and informal maize supplies.

    • Approximately 6.7 million people will receive assistance in January. Food insecure populations in central and southern Malawi will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity outcomes, in the presence of humanitarian assistance. These outcomes are expected to continue in February and March, during the peak lean season. Were the humanitarian response not present, these areas would experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Between April and May, outcomes should improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) for most areas as households begin to access their own production. 

    • According to the latest bulletin from the Department of Climate Change Meteorological Services (DCCMS), above-average rainfall performance is expected for the greater part of the country for the rest of the growing season. This differs slightly from international forecasts that are indicating a high likelihood of only average rainfall in the northern Malawi. The DCCMS reported between October and December that rainfall performance had been poor over the north and slightly better in the south. In addition to this, farming households across the country have continued experiencing bottlenecks in implementation of the Farm Input Subsidy Program that enables farmers to access seeds and fertilizers at subsidized prices. Delays in fertilizer supplies in the FISP program in many outlets are also disrupting the agricultural season with some crops missing critical deadlines for fertilizer application. These constraints may lead to poorer crop development and reduction in production.

    • FEWS NET assessments in January have shown that labor opportunities are limited due to below average disposable incomes for middle and better-off households. Very poor and poor households normally obtain about 20 to 40 percent of their incomes from agricultural labor in order to purchase food and basic non-food items during the consumption year, so if low labor demand continues it could result in reduced food access for households later in the 2017/18 consumption year. 

    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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