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Crop prospects affected by excessive rainfall in the north and extended dryness in the south

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • April - September 2015
Crop prospects affected by excessive rainfall in the north and extended dryness in the south

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • The majority of rural households throughout the country are experiencing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1) thanks to access to a combination of various sources of food. The available food includes crops from ongoing harvests, carry-over stocks from last year, market purchases, seasonal foods, and humanitarian assistance. Households are also employing typical livelihood and coping strategies. Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1) are expected through September.

    • Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) is among the very poor and poor households in the flood-affected areas. The cessation of seasonal rains and notable decreases of all river levels will allow the affected households to resume to their typical livelihoods activities. However, a more targeted humanitarian assistance program is still supplying food, sanitation, water, health care services, and temporary shelter for those in need. 

    • Due to a delay in the harvest this season, the start of the seasonal price decrease for maize grain in a few markets is also delayed. In most monitored markets, the change of maize grain prices from February to March was typical and maize grain prices are stable or already decreasing.

    National Overview
    Current Situation
    • Throughout the country the majority of rural households are experiencing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1). A variety of food from the ongoing harvest is currently available and supplies are gradually becoming available. In most markets, supplies are increasing though at a slower pace than normal due to the late harvest. Currently, food availability and access is not a problem for most households, with the exception of localized areas in the flood-affected areas where targeted humanitarian assistance is still ongoing. In some of these areas, poor households are facing Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2) though the percentage of population under such conditions is less than 20 percent of the total district population. Due to the bumper production last year, most households still have carry-over food stocks that will help to maintain their food security in areas where this year’s harvest is delayed.
    • The flooding that has affected parts of the central and northern regions of the country is now over and post-flood recovery activities are still required. Currently, the recovery process is ongoing and plots of land for new construction are gradually being allocated. The required humanitarian assistance in the form of food, sanitation access, healthcare, and tents for temporary shelter are being provided by the government and partners.
    • According to the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM), the current weather conditions are typical for this time of the year when the seasonal rains cease and dry conditions and cooler temperatures begin. The risk of natural disasters occurring during this period is minimal. The National Directorate of Water (DNA) indicates that the river levels are currently stable or decreasing with all river levels below the alert level as result of ceasing of rains within the country and in the region. 
    • During the first half of the 2014/15 rainfall season (October to December 2014), the southern region and a large part of the central region received normal to above-normal rainfall, while the northern and parts of the central region received normal to below-normal rainfall. In the second half of the season (January to March 2015), this scenario was reversed. The southern region and a large part of the central region received well below-normal rainfall, while the northern region and parts of the central region received well above-normal rainfall that resulted in moderate to severe flooding in some parts.
    • Crop yields are likely to have reduced due to flooding, waterlogging, leaching, dryness, early cessation of rains, and persistent rainfall that prevented the normal cropping activities including weeding.
    • While production figures are still not available, the Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for maize suggests that the 2014/15 water requirement for maize was not met in some areas, while other areas received adequate moisture (Figure 1). Crops in much of the northern zone performed well above average, and performance in the central zone ranged from mediocre to good. In the south, the long periods of dryness that affected the region during the second half of the season has resulted in poor crop performance.
    • The WRSI for maize is consistent with field information and in the absence of official estimates it can be inferred to estimate average to above-average production in parts of central and northern regions of the country while below-average production is likely in the southern region (Figure 1).  
    • In the meantime, the Crop and Early Warning Unit (DCAP) from the National Directorate of Agrarian Services (DNSA) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) is preparing its regular countrywide crop assessment to determine the preliminary national production estimates for the 2014/15 main season and prospects for the second season.
    • The current number of food insecure people following the shocks (excessive rains, flooding, storms, and abnormal dryness) is yet to be determined. A countrywide food security assessment is currently being planned by the Vulnerability Analysis Group (GAV) of the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) and is planned to be carried out in May. This assessment will determine the number of people that are food insecure this consumption season, the type and level of humanitarian assistance needed, as well as the exact duration of the interventions.
    • Late harvests because of the late start or season are delaying the typical start of the seasonal maize grain price decreases in some markets. Between February and March, maize grain prices have increased by 21 percent in Pemba, 11 percent in Chimoio and Mocuba, and marginally (5 and 6 percent) in Gorongosa and Nampula, respectively. In all other monitored markets, maize grain price trends from February to March was typical, with prices remaining stable or already decreasing.

    The Food Security Outlook for April to September 2015 is based on the following national level assumptions:

    2014/15 Harvests

    • From April to September cereal supplies are expected to be average. A WRSI analysis and field observations suggests average production in the parts of central and northern regions of the country, while in the southern region there is likely to be below-average production.
    • Most likely this year’s harvest period will extend beyond the usual harvest period because planting occurred at various times during the season, resulting in crops that are in various stages of development. Hence, from April-September, successive and localized harvests will take place in various areas.
    • From April- July, the current and likely subsequent sporadic off-season rains, and cooler temperatures (averaging 12-25  ̊C), will favor second season planting which relies mainly on residual moisture and irrigation.

    Markets and Trade

    • In March, some maize grain prices already started decreasing in some markets, while in other markets maize grain prices remain stable and have not started to decrease due to the late harvest. Generally, from April to September prices will remain close to the five-year average and those of last year, except in Chókwe where the current situation suggests a continuation of prices that are higher during this outlook period than the five-year average and last year. The demand from the southern markets is expected to be slightly higher compared to average due to maize grain production deficits caused by the extended period of dryness since the beginning of the year. From May to September, possible additional flows of maize from the central region and into the Chókwe markets may minimize the high maize prices. During the scenario period, rice prices will remain stable, while cowpeas prices will tend to remain stable or could fluctuate due to erratic supply.
    • Throughout the scenario period, the flow of food commodities and trade will generally follow normal patterns; surplus supplies from the north and central regions will supply the southern deficit areas there were affected by dryness this year. However, some remote or inaccessible areas in the north that experienced a recent shock will be difficult to reach and trade will be limited in those areas.

    Agricultural Labor

    • Labor opportunities are expected to remain at normal levels throughout the outlook period. In an effort to recover from the shortfalls experienced during the main season, second season agriculture related activities will be more prolonged than usual.  

    Humanitarian Assistance

    • Targeted humanitarian assistance is ongoing in the northern areas affected by by flooding, particularly in Zambézia and Nampula Provinces. The humanitarian assistance being distributed includes food, health, and shelter for displaced households. This assistance will continue until affected households are able to partially or completely restore their basic livelihoods in July/August.
    • Distribution of seeds and other agriculture inputs is expected from April-May for the flood-affected households in areas where the residual moisture from the receded water, and the cooler temperatures have created favorable conditions for second season production.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Based on the above assumptions, from April through June, the majority of households throughout the country will be able to meet their basic food needs owing to the increased food availability from the 2014/15 cropping season. During the first half of the outlook period, there will be increased agricultural labor opportunities which will increase incomes for very poor and poor households. The off-season rains in April and thereafter may provide needed moisture, particularly in the south where the second season cropping is widely practiced. The poorest households will be working for wealthier households in either harvest or planting activities in exchange for food. It is also expected that markets will enable the flow of food from surplus to deficit areas, though with some constraints in the flood-affected areas where road access is still problematic. Food prices for the staple foods are expected to decline towards the lowest levels in June, allowing the majority of households to make market purchases to complement their food needs. During this period, acute food insecurity will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) since less than 20 percent of  the very poor out of the total district population will be facing Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2).

    From July to September, the food security outcomes for the majority of households are expected to remain stable due to continued food availability at the household level. Purchases from markets will also play a role in providing complementary food when needed, and food prices during this period are expected to be affordable in most places, though slightly higher than average in a few markets. In places where the second season is not practiced, typical livelihood strategies will be employed. The livelihood strategies may include selling forest products (including building poles/grass, mats, traditional sieves, etc.), firewood, charcoal, and traditionally distilled alcohol. During this period no distress strategies are expected to be used by households. Later in the outlook period households needing cash may opt to divert incomes used for essential non-food items in order to purchase food.

    In the zones affected by flooding and heavy rains, a combination of ongoing social safety-net programs and assistance will be part of the response strategy for affected households that are at risk of acute food security.

    Countrywide, the acute food insecurity will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for the majority of the rural poor households during the outlook period. Some poor and very poor households in the flood-affected and drought-affected areas will face Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2) from April-September, but the total number in each district is well below 20 percent of the total district population. Further deterioration of food security conditions are expected beyond the outlook period. 


    Figures Current acute food security outcomes, April 2015.

    Figure 1

    Current acute food security outcomes, April 2015.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for maize as of March 31, 2015..PNG

    Figure 3

    Figure 1.Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for maize as of March 31, 2015..PNG

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 1


    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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