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Poor harvest expected in the southern region and average to above average in the rest of the country

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • February - September 2019
Poor harvest expected in the southern region and average to above average in the rest of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes continue throughout most of the country due to combination of food stocks from the previous season and relatively near-average staple food prices. However, following an early start of the lean season, poor households in southern and central semiarid areas are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes exist in Chibuto, Chicualacuala, Chigubo, Guijá and Funhalouro districts. In areas affected by attacks by “malefactors” in Cabo Delgado, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist.

    • The 2018/19 season started late with below average rainfall in the southern region has negatively impacted the ongoing agriculture season. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are most likely with the harvest in areas of the southern region. Most other areas of the country are expected to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. Poor households will rely on own foods, including carryover stocks, green foods in March, the main harvest, and market purchases.

    • Maize grain prices on average are slightly above the five-year average and significantly above last year’s prices by 57 percent. In January 2019 prices were above average in Chókwe, Maputo, Nampula, and Pemba. However, prices remained below average in Beira and Gorongosa, and same as average in Chimoio and Mocuba. In Nampula and Pemba, where maize grain prices have been volatile during this marketing year due in part to sporadic increases in demand by the milling companies, prices are now above the five-year average by 8 percent in Nampula and by 60 percent in Pemba.


    Current Situation

    To date the 2018/19 rainfall and agricultural season has been progressing normally across most of the country. According to estimates using Water Requirements Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for maize grain (Figure 1), as of February 20, 2019, northern and central regions and coastal Inhambane province in the south, the WRSI for maize crop, range from average to very good. According to field reports, most crops in northern and central provinces are now ranging from vegetative to reproductive stages and in good condition. However, in parts of Manica, Sofala and parts of Zambézia (southeastern), the continuation of rainfall is needed during the remainder of February to ensure a healthy growth.

    In most of the southern region according to the WRSI and confirmed by field reports cropping conditions are mediocre to total crop failure. The start of the season in these areas was delayed by more than 40 days, characterized by multiple false starts, significantly below average rainfall and abnormally high temperatures. Most households in these areas planted multiple times, but subsequent dry spells coupled with abnormally high temperatures have caused successive crop failure, except for the late planted crops, particularly those planted in January. Rainfall in early and mid-January encouraged most households to plant all of their remaining seeds. However, due to previous multiple attempts, most of these households had less seeds than needed. More than 70 percent of crops currently in the field, in the southern region, were planted in January and are still at vegetative stages. These crops will require continued rainfall until at least the end of March 2019, however this is unlikely to decrease the soil moisture deficits.

    In mid-January a moderate tropical storm, “Desmond”, brought localized floods and strong winds in areas around Beira and Dondo cities of Sofala Province. According to the Crop and Early Warning Unit (DCAP) from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA), flooding from Desmond and other localized flooding has caused 1,285 cattle and other small animal deaths. MASA/DCAP estimates a total of 60,167 hectares of planted area was affected by both floods and dryness, corresponding to only 1 percent of total planted area. Through January 2019, the most affected areas due to seasonal shocks were in Maputo and Gaza provinces with 28 and 3 percent of cropping lands affected. These provinces were affected by dry conditions and above average temperatures.

    In the north and much of the central region, pest infestation has been partially suppressed by persistent rainfall, but is reported to be present, particularly in areas where rainfall is less frequent. In the south and parts of southern portion of the central region, where rainfall has been erratic, the occurrence of pests is above typical levels, including fall armyworm (FAW), elegant grasshopper, stalk borer, and tomato leafminer, and they are affecting mostly maize grain, rice, cowpea, cassava and legumes. According to the Crop and Early Warning Unit (DCAP) from the Ministry of agriculture and Food Security (MASA), a total of 1,296 hectares of planted crops have been affected by pests and diseases, which is a typical level of infestation, as of the the end of January.

    The majority of poor households continue to earn average incomes through typical means including the sustainable sale of own crops and livestock. However, in areas where lean season started atypically early, namely in the south and parts of the central semiarid areas, many poor households are expanding self-employment activities to earn incomes, although below average, for market food. More and more households are engaging in self-employment activities, including collecting and selling natural products, such as grass, building poles, cane/reeds, selling firewood, brewing and selling traditional drinks, and increasing the production and sale of charcoal. As a result, there is increased competition, leading to lower market prices, and suppressing income from these activities. In addition, as needed and as households have available livestock to sell, particularly poultry, livestock sales are occurring. As usual, some members of poor households, particularly young men from the southern region, are migrating to South Africa in search of job opportunities, often illegally. However, due to difficulties in finding stable work, most of these migrants are unable to send remittances to their relatives.

    As typical for this time of year, many households are currently relying on market purchases for basic foods as household food stocks are completely or nearly depleted. The national average price of maize grain, the primary staple food, is marginally above the five-year average by 7 percent and significantly above those from last year by 57 percent. Since the beginning of the current consumption year in April 2018 until November 2018, maize grain prices were at the same level as those from last year and remained below the five-year average. In January 2019 they were above average in Chókwe, Maputo, Nampula and Pemba. However, they still remained below average in Beira and Gorongosa, and same as average in Chimoio and Mocuba in the central region. In Nampula and Pemba (northern region), where maize grain prices have been volatile during this marketing year, due in part to sporadic increased demand by the milling companies, maize grain prices in January where above average in Nampula by 8 percent and significantly above average in Pemba by 60 percent. Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado, is currently with the highest maize grain and maize meal prices in the country at MZN 28.57/Kg and MZN 80/Kg respectively, which may reflect an increased demand of maize grain from local markets due to an influx of internally displaced households as localized attacks continue in remote districts.

    Other staple foods, such as maize meal (a preferred substitute for poor households) and rice, have generally been stable throughout much of the consumption period. On average, maize meal prices in January were four percent below last year’s prices but 21 percent above the five-year average, while rice prices were same as last year’s prices and 26 percent above the five-year average.

    Based on the last nutrition assessment conducted by SETSAN in March/April 2018, the overall prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in the assessed districts is Acceptable (GAM <5 %), with the exception of Namuno district in Cabo Delgado which has a 6.4 percent GAM prevalence as reported by weight-for-height Z-scores, which indicates an Alert situation (GAM 5-9.9%). Even though an overall deterioration of the wasting was expected during the September 2018 to February 2019 lean season due to reduced food access, level of acute malnutrition in most districts is expected to remain Acceptable.

    Apart from the humanitarian assistance provided by the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) and partners in response to the moderate tropical storm “Desmond” and heavy rains elsewhere in the country, in January 2019, the World Food Programme (WFP) and CHEMO Consortium (World Vision and Food for the Hungry) provided assistance to nearly 200,000 people in parts of Gaza, Inhambane, Tete; and Cabo Delgado provinces, corresponding to 67 percent of the total planned assistance. However, the planned number is still well below the nearly 800,000 people found to be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in parts of Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, Tete; and Cabo Delgado provinces. Additional humanitarian assistance is being provided by the government through the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), usually as complementary assistance in areas with greater needs and usually as response to requests by district government authorities.  

    Due to average food stocks from the 2017/18 agriculture season, relatively near-average staple food prices and variety of typical livelihood strategies, the majority of poor households, throughout the country, are able to meet their minimum food and non-food needs and are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1). However, following the early exhaustion of food stocks and early start to the lean season in most southern and central semiarid areas following the poor 2017/18 harvest, many households started to adopt coping strategies including reducing the frequency and quantity of meals, relying on less expensive foods, borrowing food from relatives or better off households, and consuming less preferred and non-recommended wild foods in excess. As a result, these poor households are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. However, humanitarian food assistance is mitigating these outcomes in areas of Gaza province and households are Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). 

    The continuation of the attacks by “malefactors” in localized rural areas of northeastern Cabo Delgado, is causing the disruption of livelihoods and the ongoing agriculture season. Based on available information, Macomia, Mocímboa da Praia, Quissanga, Palma and Nangade are still facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, as the majority of poor households can still be able to meet their minimum basic food needs and the conflict is localized.


    The Food Security Outlook for February through September 2019 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • According to FEWS NET estimates based on the Water Requirements Satisfaction Index (WRSI), preliminary estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food security (MASA) and based on prospects for average national crop production in 2018/19 season and international imports, maize grain availability is expected to be above average. It is important to note the overall national estimates mask the regional deficits in semiarid areas of Tete, Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala and Manica provinces.
    • According to NOAA/CPC, rainfall during the February to March 2019 period is forecast to be above average across southern and parts of central Mozambique, while below average rainfall is most likely across much of northern Mozambique.
    • Most of the major river basins of the country in the central and northern regions will remain at typical levels. However, some dams have reached their operational level, forcing the dam authorities to undertake controlled discharges, a trend expected to continue in February and March. This is the case of the Cahora Bassa dam which started and will continue with controlled discharges. On the contrary, most of the southern river basins will remain well below their average levels and will likely continue to decrease forcing dam authorities to continue with water restrictions for irrigation and water supply to major southern cities including Maputo, Matola and Boane. The predicted above average rainfall during the reminder of the season will not be sufficient significantly change the current trend.
    • As seasonally lower rainfall totals are forecast during the remainder of the rainfall season in the northern region, the risk of flooding will decrease, particularly for Messalo and Megaruma river basins which have already exceeded the alert level in January and early February. Low to moderate risk of flooding remain for the rest of the country.
    • The majority of farmers will be using own retained seeds and/or purchase from market as is typical for second season. Unconfirmed seed distribution may occur in areas affected by floods to boost post-flood planting.
    • Wild foods include, but are not limited to, Nhica, Massanica, Malambe (baobab fruit), Macucua, and Xicutsi availability, are anticipated to be available at average levels, providing a needed food source and some income as they are sold.
    • Green foods are expected to be available a month later than normal, in March in the southern region, due to erratic rains and delayed start of season. However, in central and northern regions, green foods are expected to be available, as typical, from late March and from April respectively.
    • Formal and informal trade is anticipated to increase through normal channels. However, cross border trade with Zimbabwe is anticipated to increase relative to average due to worsening economic situation in Zimbabwe.  The number of middle and better-off households from Zimbabwe anticipated to travel to Mozambique to purchase processed foods will likely increase. During the entire scenario period, the flow of food commodities within Mozambique will take place as normal for major staples, including maize grain which will move from producing to deficit areas.
    • Based on FEWS NETS integrated price projection of price in Gorongosa market (Figure 2), in March 2019, maize grain prices will likely reach their peak before decreasing seasonally with the harvest in April/May then follow typical season patterns with maize grain prices remaining at or below the 5-year average and above last year’s price.
    • Rangeland resources for livestock are expected to continue improving as rainfall continues and are anticipated to be average.
    • Overall, livestock prices will remain same as average due to the expected good body conditions of animals, with sales expected to be typical.
    • Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to be close to normal across most of the country with semiarid areas in South and central areas, likely to earn their wages during and after the harvest.
    • Through May, though the majority of households will most likely focusing on own agricultural production, in southern and central semiarid areas where poor households have below average or no income, in order to obtain income for market purchases, they will be balancing between the farming activities and self-employment. However, in these areas, the earned income will remain below average. From June to September, self-employment activities will be intensified as usual as a strategy to earn extra income.
    • Migration to urban centers and South Africa, particularly in the South, from February to April, will likely be minimal as typical, as most households will be focusing on their farming activities. As prospects of the season become evident, poor prospects may cause an increasing number of young people to migrate to major urban cities, and good prospects may keep migration at typical level.
    • Humanitarian food assistance is planned and likely to be delivered to an estimated 300,000 people, covering an estimated average of 25 percent of the population in need in the worst-affected areas, including Gaza, Tete, Inhambane, and Cabo Delgado provinces. The estimated ration size to beneficiary households is estimated to meet 70 percent of kilocalorie needs. The government through the INGC will continue to provide humanitarian assistance, including food, to those affected by this year’s shocks (floods, heavy rains, cyclone), and also, for drought and pest affected households as complementary to the assistance provided by partners.
    • Sporadic attacks are expected to continue at current levels in Cabo Delgado by “malefactors”. This will cause localized disruption of livelihoods and farming activities in remote villages of Palma, Mocímboa da Praia, Quissanga, Macomia and Nangade districts in Cabo Delgado.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From February to May, the majority of households throughout the country will most likely face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, as they will rely on own production for food, including carryover stocks, green foods in February and March, the main harvest in April and May and market purchases for food if needed. However, without humanitarian food assistance, most of the southern region where the ongoing 2018/2019 season has been severely affected by drought like conditions linked to the weak El Niño, a significantly below-average harvest is most likely. In the southern region, very poor and poor households will most likely not be able to meet their minimum food needs and are anticipated to face survival deficits. These poor households will continuing their reliance on crisis level coping strategies including reducing the frequency and quantity of meals, relying on less expensive foods, borrowing food from relatives or better off households and consuming less preferred and non-recommended wild foods in excess and will be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In the central semiarid zones, from February to March, poor households will gradually access green foods but the most vulnerable poor households will still be forced to employ some Stressed coping strategies, such as selling more animals than usual, switching expenditure away from non-essential items or even opting for less preferred foods. Consumption of wild foods is likely to continue during this period to compensate for deficits in own food, and therefore, most districts will still be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until the harvest in April, and from May most districts will start facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. Considering the impact of planned, funded and likely humanitarian food assistance, there will be a significant improvement including some districts where the IPC Phase classification will change from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), including Chicualacuala, Mapai, Chigubo, Chibuto, Guijá and Funhalouro in the southern region. In the central region, and based on the current level of humanitarian food assistance, it is unlikely that the projected humanitarian food assistance may be sufficient to change the IPC Phase classification. In areas affected by malefactors, in Cabo Delgado, poor households who may have lost opportunity to produce own food, will be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, with Macomia district likely with higher incidence of attacks, but overall all the five districts will likely continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, as the majority of poor households can still be able to meet their minimum basic food needs. The deterioration of nutrition outcomes is most likely to occur due to decreased food access during the lean season. However, from March 2019, the overall GAM prevalence in the country is expected to improve to Acceptable (GAM<5%) due to increased food access after main harvest season.

    In June, the majority of poor households throughout the country are anticipated to continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes as they will be accessing own food and benefit from the seasonally low prices during the months of June and July. In the southern region, most poor households will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes from June to August thanks to some harvest from the late planted crops, but will quickly exhaust their produce and from September will start facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Purchases of food from market will be constrained due to below average income and average staple food prices. In August and September, the harvest from second season production typically becomes available. However, it is expected that, due to the ongoing dryness, conditions for second season crop production will be poor, with very limited harvests. Competition for labor opportunities is expected to increase during this period, and poor and very poor households will have limited access to income for market purchases. In the semiarid areas of the central region, the majority of poor households will be accessing own food from the 2018/19 harvest and will be facing None (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, except for the very poor households who may have not completely recovered from the dryness and pests in 2018, will be facing livelihood protection constraints and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The situation in Cabo Delgado, will remain unchanged with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.


    For information on specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of this page for the full report.


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for maize grain, as of February 20, 2019

    Figure 2

    Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for maize grain, as of February 20, 2019

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Gorongosa maize grain prices and projections (MZN/kg)

    Figure 3

    Gorongosa maize grain prices and projections (MZN/kg)

    Source: FEWS NET Estimates based on MASA/SIMA data

    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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