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Food security conditions remain stable

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mozambique
  • September 2012
Food security conditions remain stable

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Food security conditions in Mozambique have remained generally stable from August to September. Overall, the majority of rural households throughout the country are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity conditions. Many of these households are still able to meet their basic food needs through food stocks from the 2011/12 production season, available food in local markets, and from the ongoing second cropping season production in limited areas.

    • The 2012/13 seasonal climate outlook for the first half of the season (October–December 2012) forecasts near-normal to above-normal rainfall for the northern part of the country, including the northern portion of the central region, and normal to below-normal rains for the rest of the country. For the second half of the season (January-March 2013), the southern region has an increased chance of receiving near-normal to below-normal rainfall, while the rest of the country has an increased chance of receiving near-normal to above-normal rainfall.

    • Maize prices in August generally remained above the five-year average. August food prices were generally the same or below last year’s prices, with the exception of Manica where current prices are 20 percent above the previous year. Prices are expected to keep following the seasonal pattern throughout the remaining consumption period. 


    Updated food security outlook through December 2012

    Food security conditions in Mozambique have remained generally stable through September. The majority of rural households throughout the country are experiencing favorable food security conditions and are still able to meet their basic food needs through food stocks from the 2011/12 cropping season, continued availability of food in markets, and through production from the ongoing second cropping season in some areas. In areas where production was affected by dryness earlier in the season, households experiencing early exhaustion of food stocks are beginning to make more purchases from markets. These food purchases are possible through cash obtained by building poles, along with the intensive sale of firewood, charcoal, livestock, traditionally brewed alcohol drinks, handcrafts, and other forest products. A number of households in the southern areas have also been receiving remittances from relatives working in South Africa and other major urban centers.

    Currently, very poor and poor households face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity conditions in parts of Chigubo, Chicualacuala, Funhalouro, Panda and Machanga districts in the Semi-Arid Interior-Sorghum and Millet Livelihood zone, Semi-Arid Interior-Maize zone, Upper Limpopo Riverine-Chicualacuala/Mabalane zone, Upper Limpopo Interior-Agriculture and Charcoal zone, and in the Semi-arid interior of Sofala. As water shortages persist, the provision of water should continue in these arid zones and also extend to other areas where water is unavailable for both human and animal needs. As anticipated, the lean season has already started for some of the poor and very poor households in the drought affected district of Chigubo. In this district most household are coping by extending their typical livelihood strategies, including reducing expenditures on non-food items in order to be able to purchase staple foods, intensification of non-farm income activities, and intensive sale of forest products discussed earlier. Currently, casual labor opportunities including land preparation are gradually increasing. In all other affected districts in the arid and semi-arid areas, the lean season is expected to start as normal in October. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity conditions found in the districts of concern will continue until December, likely expanding to Mutarara district in the Zambezi Valley livelihood zone. 

    The 2012/13 seasonal climate outlook for Mozambique during the first half of the season (October–December 2012) forecasts near-normal to above-normal rainfall for the northern part of the country, including the northern portion of the central region, and normal to below-normal rains for the rest of the country. For the second half of the season (January-March 2013), the southern region has an increased chance of receiving near-normal to below-normal rainfall, while the rest of the country has an increased chance of receiving near-normal to above-normal rainfall.

    The outlook for the 2012/13 rainfall season does not take into account potential excessive rainfall that may occur due to tropical disturbances including cyclone conditions and other locally driven weather systems which cannot be accurately predicted on a seasonal basis. 

    Based on the above forecast, the Early Warning Group for Food Security at the Ministry of Agriculture has developed projections for the water requirement satisfaction index for crops.  According to the projections from the Ministry of Agriculture, during the first half of the season (October-December 2012), much of the central and the southern zones of the country will meet 50 to 70 percent of their crop water requirements. For the northern zone, the first half of the season is irrelevant given that planting for the cropping season takes place starting in November/December. During the second half of the season, the whole country except the southern zone is expected to meet 70 to 100 percent of crop water requirements while the southern zone will meet only 50 to 70 percent of water requirements. In general a good agriculture season is expected based on the projected improved rainfall distribution during the second half of the season (January-March 2013), especially in the central and northern zones of the country, where planting generally starts in late November/December. 

    Maize prices from July to August have followed the typical seasonal pattern in most monitored markets. Maize prices in August generally remained above the five-year average. The prices of beans have generally continued to follow an uncharacteristic pattern, similar to the previous year. These price fluctuations occur according to changes in supply and demand levels in different locations. In Chokwe a drop of five percent occurred with the August price approaching the five-year average; bean prices in Manica have remained stable since June, while in Maxixe, a drop of ten percent occurred in August, allowing prices to fall closer to the five-year average. Gorongosa price fluctuations saw another drop from July to August following a previous rise, Tete also saw a 13 percent drop, while in Maputo and Nampula the prices were stable. The prices of rice from July to August were stable. Rice is the food commodity with the least price variation throughout the consumption year because it is imported, so country seasonal production has little impact on rice prices.  August food prices were generally the same or below those from the previous year, with the exception of Manica where prices are 20 percent above the previous year. Prices are expected to continue following the typical seasonal pattern and to remain above the five-year average throughout the remaining consumption period. As we approach the start of the lean season in October, normal seasonal variation of staple food prices will be crucial for food access among households that are transitioning from their own food stocks to local market purchases.

    Rapid Food Security Assessment, September 2-7, 2012

    From September 2-7, 2012, FEWS NET carried out a rapid qualitative food security assessment covering Chigubo district in Gaza Province and Funhalouro district in Inhambane Province (all in the southern zone). The purpose of the field trip was to assess the evolution of the food security conditions since the last assessment in the same districts in April 2012. The assessment consisted of key informant interviews with district administrative authorities, agriculture authorities, community leaders, farmers, district based NGOs, and household representatives as well as observations from community visits. 

    In general the food security situation has remained stable in both districts. However there were minor changes in Chigubo district where areas that had harvested millet and maize in April, specifically Zinhane and Nhanale Administrative Posts, have already exhausted their food reserves. In Chigubo district, households are currently relying on markets to access food. However, the poor and very poor with no or with limited income are  employing coping strategies including the intensive sale of wild foods, grass, and the consumption of wild foods including wild roots (xicutso and matiwo), wild fruits (n’kuacua, malambe and massala), and wild fruit juice (utchema) at levels well beyond what is consumed in normal years. These coping strategies are typical in the district during the lean season from October to March but this year their adoption has started earlier. The stabilization of food security conditions in Chigubo was made possible due to the involvement of communities in an extensive search for forest resources, particularly for the production and selling of charcoal and building poles. Although Chigubo is not a traditional charcoal producer, massive production and selling of charcoal was observed throughout the district with dozens of trucks loaded with charcoal purchased from local communities. Local authorities recognized that although this activity at the level in which is practiced is harmful for environment, it is one of a few viable options for income generation in this area. 

    In Funhalouro district the food security situation has remained stable and slightly better than in Chigubo district since April. The existence of more alternative means for coping has contributed positively to stabilize the food security conditions encountered earlier in April. Funhalouro district is an area where significant informal trade takes place, so households have the means to access food in markets at normal prices for this time of the year. Poor and very poor households are involved in cutting and selling construction poles, production and selling of charcoal, selling of livestock, traditionally brewed alcoholic drinks, craft objects, and horticulture (where there is access to water). A quick visit to the local market revealed normal ranges of food prices and the existence of food from neighboring districts within the Inhambane Province, including cassava flour, fresh cassava, coconuts, maize, peanuts and beans. 

    Most communities in Funhalouro district are able to easily access water from boreholes. Access to water is a much more serious problem in Chigubo district where households have moved their livestock to neighboring areas in order to access water and pasture. Water distribution is currently underway in Chigubo under the auspices of the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), including the establishment of new boreholes in selected areas. In both districts (Chigubo and Funhalouro), a relief program with support from the World Food Program (WFP), the National Institute for Social Action (INAS) in coordination with the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) is in the planning process.

    An estimated 100,000 targeted food insecure individuals in drought affected areas are expected to be covered by this joint program by October. WFP will support this effort under its cash or food for work program.

    The onset of rains is expected in November. This will provide a variety of wild and seasonal foods that will gradually improve food access for poor households until the green harvest becomes available in January/February 2013. Cashew nuts are among the most important seasonal foods that provide both food and income in December and January for poor households in the drought-affected areas in the south, especially Funhalouro district. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Source: FEWS NET

    Forecast for October-December 2012 (left) and January -March 2013 (right)

    Figure 2

    Forecast for October-December 2012 (left) and January -March 2013 (right)

    Source: National Institute of Meteorology (INAM)

    Districts (in orange) covered by the FEWS NET rapid assessment, September 2-7, 2012

    Figure 3

    Districts (in orange) covered by the FEWS NET rapid assessment, September 2-7, 2012

    Source: FEWS NET

    Accessing water in Tome Administrative Post in Funhalouro district, September 3, 2012

    Figure 4

    Accessing water in Tome Administrative Post in Funhalouro district, September 3, 2012

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.

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