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As harvests continue, food security is expected to remain stable in the coming months

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • April - September 2013
As harvests continue, food security is expected to remain stable in the coming months

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Other Areas of Concern
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Throughout the country, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected for most rural households and will continue during the outlook period. The exceptions are localized areas in the Limpopo Basin where households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), in the presence of assistance, due to crop damage and disrupted livelihoods due to the flooding in January.

    • As the seasonal harvests progress, diverse food supplies are becoming increasingly available and these are adequately supplying markets. Food prices have started decreasing according to the seasonal trend and these declining staple food prices will improve food access for market dependent households.

    • From April to June, the majority of poor households in Chókwe district and surrounding areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the presence of the ongoing assistance. From July to September, poor households in these areas are expected to continue to be Stressed even as they extend their livelihood strategies, and begin to benefit from second season harvests in areas where residual moisture is available. 

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    With the exception of localized areas affected by long dry spells and floods, throughout the country the majority of rural households are experiencing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1) and are able to meet their basic food requirements. A variety of food from the ongoing harvests is currently available and supplies are increasing in most markets. Staple food prices are currently stable or on the decline according to the seasonal trend, however food prices this year are declining gradually at this time of the year due to the nearly month delay in the start of the rains for the main season.

    • Although the harvest has already started, when compared to normal it was delayed due to the later than normal onset of the rainfall season. Prospects for this season’s harvest are still good, especially for the central and northern zones of the country. After crop failure due to flooding in the southern zone in January, households were able to replant and in most places the harvest prospects are positive.
    • Chókwe district and the surrounding southern areas of Guijá and Chibuto districts were most severely affected by flooding in January. These floods disrupted livelihoods, destroyed crops and infrastructure, and resulted in several deaths. In the presence of assistance, affected households in these districts are currently facing Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2). The recovery process is underway in parts of Zambezia Province where households were also affected by flooding.
    • Households in Chicualacuala district are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes as a result of recently harvested crops, the expansion of their typical livelihood strategies, and targeted assistance. The district was severely hit by high temperatures and prolonged dry spells both early on and later in the season. Rains resumed in January after most planted crops had wilted.  Since February, households have replanted in an attempt to recover from earlier losses during the main season.
    • Although the second cropping season only contributes to 10-15 percent of the total national production and is typically limited to irrigated fields and lowland areas with adequate residual moisture, this year agriculture authorities and partners are engaged in maximizing second season production in areas affected by flooding. As part of this support, the Ministry of Agriculture and partners are providing seeds and other agriculture inputs to affected households.
    • The Early Warning Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG/DNSA/DCAP) is planning to conduct a countrywide crop assessment to carryout preliminary national production estimates for the 2012/13 main season and prospects for the second season.  A recent qualitative assessment from the MINAG/DNSA/DCAP indicates that the central and the northern zones of the country are expecting average to above average production while areas in the southern zone that were severely affected by floods and dry spells are expected to have below average production. Overall, this qualitative assessment indicates that this year’s national production will be higher than 2011/12 production.
    • In March staple food prices have reached their peak in some markets, while in other markets prices have started decreasing according to the seasonal trend. Typically February and March marks the turning point where prices start decreasing as result of the gradual availability of seasonal food from the main harvest. Although maize prices are generally remaining above the five-year average, the decreasing staple food prices in some markets will improve food access to the majority of households who are market dependent. For instance, in Tete (central zone) maize prices in March were 45 percent above the average, while in Nampula (northern zone) and Maputo (southern zone) prices were 12 and 6 percent above the average, respectively. When compared to the previous year, with the exception of Maputo, this year’s maize prices are generally higher.

    The Food Security Outlook for April to September 2013 is based on the following national-level assumptions:


    • The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Climate Services Center rainfall forecast for April-June indicates a high likelihood of normal to below-normal rainfall in the western part of the country and normal to above-normal rainfall in the eastern part of the country. Any occurrence of rains during this second cropping season period could supplement available residual moisture and boost second season production.
    • The Ministry of Agriculture has indicated that crop losses from the floods and dry spells are minimal and seasonal prospects for national production are good. A qualitative assessment of the season to date suggests average to above average production. Overall national production for the 2012/13 main season is expected to be above last year’s production levels.

    Markets and Trade

    • A gradual increase in the flow of food from high production areas to the deficit areas will increase food availability in the markets and push prices down between April and June, before prices begin to rise in July. Food prices are expected to start increasing and following the seasonal trend in July. Although food prices are expected to remain above average throughout the outlook period, price decreases between April and June will improve food access for market dependent households.

    Agricultural Labor

    • From April to June the main season harvest will provide normal levels of agriculture labor opportunities throughout the country, especially in high production areas in the central and northern zones. In the southern zone second season planting will provide agriculture labor opportunities.

    Humanitarian Assistance

    • Adequate distribution of emergency food assistance is expected throughout the outlook period in some of the flooded affected districts in Gaza and Zambezia Provinces. Government and partners will continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance until households can recover their basic livelihoods. Further multisectoral assessments will determine the level and type of humanitarian assistance that should be provided after June.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Countrywide, the levels of acute food insecurity will be generally Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for the majority of the rural poor households during the outlook period. At the national level food security is expected to improve during the outlook period due to the onset of harvests in April. 

    Although limited, second season production is also expected to improve or stabilize food access in the areas where crops were impacted by flooding and dry spells earlier during the main season. In the presence of humanitarian assistance, poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April to September due to the total or partial disruption of household livelihoods in Chókwe district and the southern areas of Guijá and Chibuto districts where households were most severely affected by  flooding in January. In Chicualacuala district, poor households whose crops were adversely affected by high temperatures and dry spells will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes from April to September due to the ongoing and programmed humanitarian assistance. 

    Areas of Concern

    Lower Limpopo Baixa Non Irrigation Scheme livelihood zone in Gaza Province

    (Covering parts of Chokwe, Guija, Chibuto, Bilene and Xai-Xai districts)

    Current Situation

    Currently, Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2) exist among the majority of poor households in most of the Lower Limpopo Baixa Non Irrigation Scheme livelihood zone as a result of flooding earlier in the season. Households in this livelihood zone were hardest hit by the flooding in January, which resulted in the displacement of more than 150,000 people. Flood affected households were relocated to a temporary accommodation center where they have been receiving food assistance, water, shelter, and agriculture inputs.  Following the lifting of the red alert and closing of the temporary accommodation centers, thousands of displaced people have returned to their place of origin or moved to the new resettlement sites provided by government authorities. Emergency food assistance is ongoing in the area and will continue to be provided until households reestablish their livelihoods. Starting in June, food assistance will be provided in the form of food for work. The number of beneficiaries expected to participate in food for work is still being determined.

    Since the January flooding there has been no significant rainfall in these areas, with the exception of a period in early March when some parts of the area received weak to moderate rains. These end‐of‐season rains were appreciated in the areas where second season cropping is necessary to cover the losses from the first season.

     A number of households in Chibuto, Chókwe market, Guija, and Xai-Xai districts, are currently engaged in the second season planting wherever moisture is available. The harvest for the ongoing planting of various crops including maize and vegetables is expected in July/August, a period when current humanitarian assistance will be downscaled. Using remote sensing data, the Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) in early March suggests that maize crop conditions are below average in the area, however the recently planted crops are growing satisfactory thanks to the ongoing intermittent rains and residual moisture from the heavy rains and flooding in January. Government and partners also provided seeds and inputs to maximize the second cropping season as much as possible.

    Due to January floods in southern Gaza Province, Chókwe, the main reference market in the zone was temporarily closed for a few months, but has since reopened in March. The current cost of the staple maize in Chókwe market is nearly 45 percent above the five‐year average. These current high food prices in Chókwe will likely limit the purchasing power of the very poor and poor households, especially those that could not harvest their seasonal food because they were affected by earlier flooding.


    In line with the national level assumptions described earlier, the following assumptions have been made about the Lower Limpopo Baixa Non Irrigation Scheme livelihood zone (LHZ 39) in the Gaza Province:

    • Informal and formal trade of maize will flow normally throughout the scenario period. These flows will continuously supply goods to local markets. Following typically patterns, markets in this area will be supplied by from the central and northern zones. Some flows will come from neighboring production areas in Guijá, Chibuto and Chókwe.
    • The seasonal decrease of food prices and the flow of commodities from the most productive areas in northern and central areas are expected to occur normally in this area during the scenario period. In general maize prices are expected to remain above the five‐year average in most markets in the area of concern.
    • The second cropping season is expected to behave normally, with planting starting in April and the harvest expected in July/August. However it should be noted that second season is only limited to lowland areas with residual moisture. Any additional rain during the second season is complementary and could help to boost production levels.
    • Casual labor during the scenario period is expected to be typical for this period of the year.
    • Humanitarian assistance for the flood affected population will continue during the scenario period in order to promote a sustainable recovery of household productive assets and livelihoods. From June until September, about 60,000 persons will receive assistance in form of food for work, though this number is yet to be confirmed.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Based on the current food security situation and the above assumptions, from April to June the low‐income and resource‐poor households will face food deficits and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), in the presence of humanitarian assistance.  To compensate the existing food deficits, poor households in the area will obtain food in part through market purchases, humanitarian assistance, and the gathering of wild foods. These food purchases are possible through cash obtained by intensive sale of cutting reeds and grass, brewing, and casual labor. A number of households in the area will likely receive remittances from relatives working in South Africa and other major urban centers in the country, especially in Maputo. From July to September, food from the second cropping season will gradually become available and will help minimize food access constraints. The crops from the second season will include maize and vegetables. This food will improve food access and income for poor households who have lost their main season food crops due to the floods. During this period, market purchasing and remittances/gifts will continue playing an important role in contributing to food access. Sale of own crops including vegetables and self employment will provide the needed cash for market purchases. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes will prevail.

    The livelihood strategies and assets of the poor households will be stretched during this period and households will be unable to invest sustainably in their livelihoods. Despite this, no asset depletion is expected during the scenario period. Other livelihood strategies will continue to be intensified such as selling charcoal and firewood. Demand for seeds for both the second season and the next main season will remain higher as compared to a normal year.

    In this area, emergency food assistance will be a key factor during the scenario period given the number of households that loss their crops. The assistance will be provided as needed according to regular monitoring from the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) in coordination with the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) comprised by UN agencies and NGOs.

    Other Areas of Concern

    Upper Limpopo Riverine and Upper Limpopo Interior livelihood zones

    (covering parts of Chicualacuala district)

    Current Situation

    Although the recent harvests are nearly half of average due to high temperatures and prolonged dry spells both early on and later in the season, current household acute food insecurity outcomes are Minimal (IPC Phase 1). In October, the whole district, including the highlands and lowlands near the Limpopo and Nuanetzi rivers received moderate to heavy rains that led to massive planting of maize, beans (especially cowpeas), sorghum and millet crops—most of which failed due to high temperatures and dryness.

    Rains resumed in January when most crops planted in the rain fed areas were already lost due to prolonged and severe dry spell in the previous months. However, the January rains were abnormally heavy and intense and that adversely impacted any surviving crops in the lowlands. According to the district agriculture authorities, preliminary estimates for the first cropping season indicate that nearly 68 percent of the total planted area was harvested, and of these crop yields were below average. Cowpeas and maize were the most affected crops with only 19 and 43 percent of the total planted area being harvested, respectively. Since February, after the heavy rains and flooding, households replanted in an attempt to recover from their losses during the main season. The planting took place mainly in the areas where residual moisture was available, particularly following the receding water from the floods and whenever rains occurred. However, prospects for a good harvest are only limited to the lowlands along the Limpopo and Nuanetzi rivers. In the highlands, chances for second season are quite limited.

    Maize prices are currently 50 percent above average due to limited local availability this season. Prices of processed and imported food like maize meal, oil, sugar, rice, groundnuts and beans are stable, but are moving toward the five-year average.

    Currently acute food insecurity outcomes are Minimal (IPC Phase 1) thanks to the recently harvested crops, market food purchases, and the expansion of typical livelihood strategies including the consumption of wild foods, hunting, along with current emergency food assistance. For the month of April emergency assistance will be provided to about 6,000 people. From July onwards, the National Institute for Social Action in collaboration with WFP is planning to provide assistance for a total of 32,920 beneficiaries through cash and food for work activities in several districts of Gaza Province including Chicualacuala district. Households are able to access cash through typical activities like the sale of animals and charcoal.

    • The Government led rehabilitative assistance will continue in the district to avoid further deterioration of the food security outcomes. The assistance will continue until the recovery of the basic livelihoods of the affected households.
    • Poor and very poor households will intensify their livelihood and coping strategies in order to access adequate food to meet their basic food needs.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From April to June, in the presence of the ongoing assistance, households will expand their typical livelihood strategies and will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes. A second season harvest is expected from existing crops in the lowlands in July/August, though the yields may be below average and the number of people with access to these areas is quite low. In the presence of ongoing and programmed assistance, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will persist from July to September.  Poorer households will rely heavily on typical coping strategies like looking for local casual work on farms of the better-off households and reducing their spending on non-food items, but their main cash income will come from self-employment activities (including making and selling charcoal, brewing, and selling diversified forest and craft products such as grass, building poles, cane/reed, and firewood). A good number of people will go to South Africa in search of casual work on the farm. 

    Events that Might Change the Outlook



    Impact on food security outcomes

    LHZ 39

    Off-season rainfall

    Occurrence of any substantial rainfall during the scenario period will enhance second season production.


    All zones


    Traders do not respond as anticipated and no additional food stocks flow to the deficit areas

    Local markets would be undersupplied, pushing food prices higher than currently projected. Food deficits could increase, especially for poor households.

    Inadequate input supply for replanting and second season.

    Will prevent households from benefiting from the expected favorable agro climatic conditions for replanting and during the second season.

    Inadequate humanitarian assistance response.  

    Failure to respond in a timely fashion will cause poorer households to begin employing negative coping strategies and depletion of assets.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, April 2013

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, April 2013

    Source: FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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