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Consumption of green harvest contributes to improving food security outcomes

  • Key Message Update
  • Malawi
  • March 2024
Consumption of green harvest contributes to improving food security outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Food access has improved due to the availability of green harvests, especially in the southern region, and continued humanitarian assistance, resulting in outcomes (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). Humanitarian food assistance will be ending in mid-April 2024. With the 2023/24 harvest expected in April and May 2024, food security outcomes are expected to seasonally improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between April and May 2024. However, some households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as they have already consumed their green maize in the field. Meanwhile, central and northern Malawi districts are experiencing localized Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes that are expected to continue until the harvest in August 2024. 
    • The maize grain prices in all the markets are following a seasonal trend registering a 10 percent decrease in January compared to December 2023. In the month of February 2024, maize grain prices averaged 826 MWK per kilogram, with a maximum price of 962 MWK per kilogram at Lunzu market and 693 MWK per kilogram at Karonga market. This represents a 40 percent increase on average over the previous year and a 180 percent increase compared to the five-year average. Reports indicate that some Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) markets in the country have maize stocks that are still selling at 600 MWK per kilogram. Currently, the National Food Reserve Agency has less than 20,000 MT in stock, which is 10 percent of the annual target and expected to be used for humanitarian assistance in the month of April 2024. 
    • The inflation rate for the month of February was 35 percent, which is similar to the January inflation rate, as reported by National Statistics Office. In addition, the Reserve Bank of Malawi has reported that foreign exchange reserves are sufficient to cover about half a month of imports, showing a decreasing trend compared to the previous month. Furthermore, following the Reserve Bank of Malawi’s foreign exchange auction held on March 18, 2024, the MWK has depreciated by 3 percent against the USD, moving from 1,700 MWK per USD to 1,751 MWK per USD. On a positive note, tobacco production is anticipated to increase this year by 15 percent compared to last year’s production, which is likely to improve foreign reserve levels. 
    • The 2023/24 agricultural season has been affected by the El Niño weather pattern, as predicted by the Malawi Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) and FEWS NET’s seasonal forecast. The southern and central regions experienced dry spells ranging from 20 to 30 days between January and February, which led to mild to severe crop damage. The dry spells affected crops mainly in the southern region and parts of central region, as the crops were at either tasseling or cobbing stages, which are critical stages in which plants require increased moisture. The northern region received normal rainfall, and the crop stand looks good. Crop harvesting is expected in the final weeks of April to May 2024, and maize production is likely to be below average in the southern and central regions. Heavy rainfall in Nkhotakota and Karonga (central Malawi) between the end of February and the first week of March 2024 caused flooding. According to UNICEF flood response report, the floods affected around 34,000 households and damaged homes, household food stocks, and crops.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Malawi Key Message Update March 2024: Consumption of green harvest contributes to improving food security outcomes, 2024.

    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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