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Extended lean season expected in southern provinces

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • January - July 2013
Extended lean season expected in southern provinces

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Other Areas of Concern
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The food security of most rural households across the country is relatively favorable. Food is generally available, markets are adequately supplied, and prices are generally affordable. Seasonal food is available and human and animal access to water has greatly improved.

    • Pockets of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity exist in parts of southern and central Mozambique affected by production shortfalls last season and recent floods. Poor households face limited access to food through market purchases. These areas include parts of Cahora Bassa, Mutarara, Macossa, Machanga districts in the central zone and Chigubo, Chokwe and Funhalouro in the south.

    • Crops planted in the southern zone in October were affected by long dry spells and extremely high temperatures in November and December, causing severe losses. With a second planting in late December, consistent rainfall will be required beyond February to ensure the success of the cropping season throughout the country.

    • Unusually heavy rainfall over southern Mozambique triggered flooding that displaced 150,000 people, damaged crops and infrastructure, and increased the risk of waterborne diseases.  While emergency assistance is needed for the next two to three months, long-term food security implications are still being determined.

    • Acute food insecurity will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for most rural households during the outlook period. Worsening conditions are likely since the peak of the rainy and cyclone seasons normally occurs between mid-February and late March. Poorer households in areas affected by adverse weather conditions will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until June. 


    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Food security conditions are favorable or improving throughout most of the country. As the lean season period continues, markets have adequate food supplies. Although prices are above the five-year average, they are generally affordable, allowing households that are mostly market-dependent during this time of the year access to food in local markets.

    • Pockets of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity exists in parts of southern and central Mozambique affected by production shortfalls last season and recent floods. These poor households face limited access to food through market purchases. These areas include parts of Cahora Bassa, Mutarara, Macossa, Machnaga districts in the central zone and Chigubo, Chokwe (in the presence of humanitarian assistance), and Funhalouro in the southern zone (Figure 1).
    • In the southern zone the first half of the 2012/13 rainfall season was adversely characterized by dry spells and a late start of effective rains. A false start motivated massive planting in October, but the long dry spell and extremely high temperatures that followed in November and December negatively affected crop development and diverse crops were lost. It is estimated that 37,000 hectares (ha) were lost due to poor rainfall.
    • The second planting attempt started in late December in the south. Consistent rainfall performance will be required beyond February in order to ensure the success of the cropping season in the region. As a result of replanting the green harvest is expected in March, extending the lean season in the south. Harvests from recent and ongoing planting are expected in late April in the southern zone.
    • In the central zone of the country rains started in early December and most crops, especially maize, were planted in mid-December. The rain-fed crops are currently at knee-high stage or flowering and are in good condition while in the northern zone, the cropping season started in mid-December and is going well with the harvest expected in late April and May.
    • Since early January unusually heavy seasonal rainfall over southern Mozambique and the tributaries leading into the Limpopo and Incomati rivers has triggered mild to moderate flooding along rivers and in flood plains.  The flooding has damaged households, infrastructure, and other assets, and increased the risk of waterborne diseases. Comprehensive information on the impacts of the current flood situation is still forthcoming.  As of January 30th, the Government is indicating that 150,000 persons have been potentially affected by floods in the Limpopo river basin areas. The food security cluster is recommending food assistance for the estimated 150,000 people that lost all of their belongings in the recent floods.
    • River levels in central Mozambique including the Zambezi River have been rising since mid-January, triggering localized mild flooding of adjacent areas. A number of secondary roads have been cut and bridges have been destroyed, impeding the movement of people and goods.
    • The Ministry of Agriculture has estimated that 110,000 ha or nearly three percent of the total national planted area was lost due to flooding in the south and central regions.  There is a high probability that the amount of planted area lost will increase given the fact that additional flooding could occur before the end of the current agriculture season.  The Government and partners are mobilizing inputs, especially seeds, for post-flood planting.
    • From November to December the maize prices continued rising according to the seasonal trend, although in some cases price oscillations were caused by changes in the supply levels. Significant price increases were observed in Manica (21 percent) and Chókwe (33 percent).  In Tete (central zone) maize prices are 11 percent above the five-year average while in Chokwe (southern zone) prices are 47 percent above average. If compared only to the previous year, maize prices in Maputo (southern zone) are five percent higher and prices in Nampula (northern zone) are 65 percent higher. Low levels of production during the 2011/12 agriculture season are the main causes behind the current food prices throughout the country. The expected late availability of the green harvest in the south, the prospects of a delayed main harvest and dwindling maize reserves continue to push maize prices upwards.
    Assumptions

    The January to June 2013 outlook is based on the following, national-level assumptions:

    Agroclimatology

    • According to the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM), between January and March, 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.
    • Based on INAM forecasts there is a high likelihood for near-normal rains during the January-March period in the most productive areas in the central and northern zones of the country. Crop prospects for the main season in these areas remain good.
    • With the peak of the rainy and cyclone season still to come in February, there is the possibility for the occurrence of heavy rains, strong winds and/or flooding. Cyclone events or heavy winds are possible along the coastal areas; mainly between Nampula and Inhambane Provinces.
    • While mild to moderate and localized flooding are already occurring there is the possibility of more flooding in the central and southern river basins. The central river basins including the Zambezi and Save and some southern rivers like the Nhanombe, have overflowed and inundated cropped lands, houses and roads.
    • The Ministry of Agriculture has indicated that although there has been flooding in some areas, current crop loss estimates are minimal and seasonal prospects are still good.  A qualitative assessment of the season to date suggests that in the country as whole expects average production this season.

    Markets and Trade

    • Late planted crops in the southern zone will delay the availability of the green harvest in the area and prolong market dependency for the majority of households.
    • With the anticipated delay of the green harvest in the south, food prices will tend to remain higher than normally expected between January and March. Therefore, the seasonal decrease of food prices is expected to be delayed this season. However, the massive flow of maize from the most productive areas in north and center can contribute to minimizing the rise of prices. In general maize prices are expected to remain above the five-year average in most markets of the southern and central zones of the country. 
    • Maize prices across the country have been above those of the previous year and generally above the five-year average. Maize prices are expected to continue on this trend throughout the outlook period.

    Agricultural Labor

    • Because of the current level of farming activities (including replanting and weeding) the agriculture labor opportunities are near normal levels for this time of the year and are expected to continue to behave this way between January and March. From April, agriculture labor opportunities will be more related to the harvest throughout the country.

    Humanitarian Assistance

    • Emergency food assistance needs are expected throughout the outlook period in some of the flooded affected districts of Limpopo, Maputo and the Zambezi basins areas. These needs will likely be covered by the Government of Mozambique and partners. Input and seeds distribution will also be provided to enable replanting.
    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. However, in Chigubo and Funhalouro districts in the south, the late planting will delay the main season harvest. This will make the green harvest available in March instead of February, likely prolonging the lean season by a month. For that reason, the poor and very poor households in these areas will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between January and March and will continue relying on a range of typical livelihood and coping strategies. In the flood affected Chokwe district, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, in the presence of humanitarian assistance, are expected throughout the outlook period. Parts of Cahora Bassa, Mutarara, Macossa, and Machnaga districts in the central zone were affected by production shortfalls last season and are expected to be Stressed between January and March. From April to June 2013, the food security outlook is expected to improve greatly since the harvest will begin in April throughout the country. 


    Areas of Concern

    Semi-Arid Interior-Maize Livelihood Zone in southern Gaza province and Inhambane province

    (Chigubo, and northern of Chibuto and Guija,  Funhalouro, Mabote, and Panda districts)

    Current Situation

    In Chigubo and Funhalouro more than 20 percent of the population is Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Poor and very poor households in these areas have already exhausted their food stocks from last year’s harvest, and are currently consuming seasonal wild foods complemented with market purchases. However, many of the poorest affected households have little cash income for food and this is being further constrained by the current above-average food prices. From last November to December, a sharp increase of maize prices was observed in Chókwe, the nearest major reference market, by 33 percent. To cope with food deficits, households in this area are currently selling products such as firewood, charcoal, traditionally distilled alcohol, other goods and crafts and consuming wild foods in the most remote, food deficit areas.

    So far the 2012/13 cropping season was characterized by successive crop failures due to prolonged dry spells in the first half of the season in the area that followed the first planting in October. In November, a long dry spell combined with extremely high temperatures negatively affected the early planted crops and forced households to replant in late December and early January. Most crops currently in the field are still at seeding stage. With the ongoing farming activities, the levels of labor demand related to agriculture activities are higher. Better-off households are offering causal labor for poor households through planting and weeding with payments usually done in-kind.

    Water availability has improved substantially thanks to the recent and ongoing rains in the area. This factor is extremely beneficial for households as it allows them to focus their time on activities such as farming and searching for forest products and food to sell. Currently, no humanitarian/emergency assistance programming is going on in this area. SETSAN/GAV recently reported that nearly 43,000 people in this focus area will require emergency food assistance between January and March.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national assumptions described earlier, the following assumptions have been made about the Semi-Arid Interior-Maize Livelihood Zone in southern Gaza province and Inhambane province:

    • Local informal and formal maize trade flows are expected to continue to supply staple foods to local markets. Although staple food quantities will be lower during the January to March period, markets in this region are expected to receive surplus supplies from the central and northern region.
    • The rainy season is expected near normal to below normal rainfall for January to March – according to the INAM forecast updated in December 2012.
    • Causal labor is expected to have a near-typical pattern during the January-February period with poor households seeking labor from better-off households in farming activities (planting and weeding). Causal labor opportunities will likely be available until March and April due to delayed harvest in the area.
    • Staple food prices are higher than the five-year average and will likely continue to remain approximately 30 percent above this average throughout the outlook period. Continued high food prices may reduce food access of the poor and very poor households especially following the exhaustion of household food reserves,  when most households rely on market purchases as a source of food.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Given the assumptions made about areas of concern in this livelihood zone, poor and very poor households will experience food deficits during this outlook period. To off-set the deficits, without having to resort in assets depletion, the households will expand the typical livelihood strategies to generate income and will rely on markets. Expansion of some of these strategies includes increasing agriculture labor in order to improve household income and therefore increase or stabilize access to food from markets. However, gaps will remain as the purchasing power will continue to be problematic as the staple food prices remain above the average. This will further undermine access to food through market purchases, especially for poorer households that depend on markets.

    Households with food deficits, will respond by expanding other typical coping strategies including intensive gathering and sale of wild foods, grass, and the consumption of wild foods including wild roots. They will also sell building poles, firewood, produce and sell charcoal, carry out informal labor (in exchange for food), hunting and households may direct expenditures from non-food items to staple food items. Remittances will likely increase for households  who have relatives working in urban areas and in South Africa.  Seasonal rains will increase the availability of wild and seasonal foods ( fruits, water lily seeds, baobab pulp and other wild foods)  that will stabilize food access for poor households until the green harvest becomes available in March.  Cashew nuts are among the most important seasonal foods in the area. It is expected that production of these nuts will provide both food and income to poor households between December and January.

    From January to March food insecurity outcomes will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in Chigubo and Funhalouro districts. From April to June, food insecurity outcomes are expected to be Minimal or none (IPC Phase 1) in the focus area. This will be possible thanks to the availability of food stocks from the green harvest that is expected to start in March, followed by the main harvest in April.

    Semi-Arid Northern Zambezi Valley Livelihood Zone

    (Changara, Chiuta, Moatize and Mutarara districts)

    Current Situation

    The area is now in the peak of the lean season and the majority of the rural households are facing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1), whereas low-income and resource-poor households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and are facing food access constraints that are likely to continue until the end of February.  Households in these semi-arid areas are consuming the remains of their own production and supplementing this food with market purchases. To cope with food deficits, households are currently expanding their typical livelihood strategies including the selling of forest and traditionally made products such as firewood, charcoal, traditionally distilled alcohol, and other goods and crafts. Very poor households with less capacity to cope are consuming wild foods.

    Fortunately, this area did not experience a delayed start of season and current rains are increasing the availability of wild foods and water, especially in the chronically arid and semi-arid areas where water availability and access are problematic. With ongoing rains, farming activities are progressing satisfactorily, except in the lowlands  where crops are being adversely affected  by heavy rainfall.

    The staple food prices for maize, rice, and beans in Tete and Mutarara markets are increasing according to the seasonal trend. From November to December, monthly maize prices have increased by 12 percent, rice prices increased by 21 percent and beans increased by 14 percent. In general, all staple food prices are above the five-year average. Maize prices are currently 11 percent above average, rice prices are currently 57 percent above average and the prices of beans are 30 percent above average. The flow of commodities is following the normal pattern for this time of the year. Since most poor and very poor households are currently supplementing their basic food needs through market purchases, above average food prices are limiting food access through purchases.

    Similarly to the area of concern in the south, no humanitarian/emergency assistance programming is currently being implemented. The November 2012 SETSAN/GAV assessment has indicated that nearly 117,300 people are in this livelihood zone are in need of emergency food assistance until March. The ongoing INGC, INAS and WFP assistance program is providing monthly assistance through a program combining community asset creation activities and relief to nearly 100,000 people nationwide including a portion of the 117,300 food insecure identified in the recent SETSAN/GAV assessment.  Based on the expansion of livelihood strategies, coping strategies, and the high food prices that households face in Mutarara and Changara, households are considered Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Additionally, poor households in Cahora Bassa, Macossa, and Machanga districts (outside of this area of concern) are also facing Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national assumptions described earlier, the following assumptions have been made for the Semi-Arid Northern Zambezi Valley Livelihood Zone:

    • Local informal and formal trade flows will continue and staple food will be imported from Tsangano, Angonia, Maravia and Chifunde districts.  Traders are expected to make up for some of the market supply shortfalls by bringing in additional foods from central Manica Province and central and the northern Zambézia Province between January-March.
    • Rainfall performance is expected to be normal to above-normal from January to March– based on the recently updated INAM forecast. Mild floods are likely during the February-March period.
    • The lean season is expected to last until the green harvest in February/March in these areas.
    • The main harvest will likely be normal and will start in April-May.
    • The total household income from casual labor is expected to remain the same throughout the outlook period and the availability of agricultural labor opportunities will be normal.
    • Food prices are expected to remain 20 to 30 percent above the five-year average. Currently staple maize prices are around 20 percent above the five-year average in the reference markets and prices are expected to remain at that level or above particularly during the peak of food prices in February.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Low-income and resource poor households in this zone will face food access constraints and will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes. These outcomes will likely continue from January until the availability of green food in March. During the January to March period households will be able to meet their basic food needs through sustainable options including expansion of the typical livelihood strategies (including selling natural/forest products such as grass, building poles, firewood, producing and selling charcoal, and resorting to informal labor for construction) and through the seasonal collection of wild foods. However, their reliance on markets during this period and the high food prices will limit their purchasing power. It is likely that poorer households will also direct expenditures away from non-essential food items even in the presence of ongoing social safety-net programs. From April to June, all poor households will start benefiting from the main season harvest. Food stocks at the household level will start to replenish. Food and water access will improve substantially and households will be able to meet their own basic food needs.


    Other Areas of Concern

    Flood affected areas: Lower Limpopo Valley, and localized areas of Maputo and Zambezia Provinces

    Current Situation

    Since the start of moderate to severe floods in the lower Limpopo valley and other localized areas throughout the country, dozens of people have lost their lives, families have lost homes and property, crops have been destroyed, and  communities have been displaced.  Temporary accommodation sites have been established. Relief operations are underway, and coordination between the Government and its partners is ongoing. However, additional resources are still needed for response efforts in the Limpopo basin. The food supply has also been affected by the floods, as some impassable roads are limiting the movements of goods. On-going efforts should be intensified, particularly in the areas of water supply and sanitation.

    While the full extent of the damage and needs are expected to be officially released soon, there is definitely an urgent need for the distribution of seeds. Despite the damage caused to crops and infrastructure, the floods brought relief in terms of water supply and improved soil moisture in many areas that had received minimal rainfall during the first half of the agriculture season (October-December 2012). A second cropping season is now possible. However, in many places households are devoting their resources to pay for housing repairs or to purchase food, and may not have enough resources to replant without assistance. There is an immediate need for seed provision, including maize, beans and vegetable seeds, to support the second-season planting. Despite the increase in short-term food insecurity, a good flood-recession harvest is possible in mid-2013, but affected households require seeds and tools to plant. Post-flood assessments are planned in order to evaluate both the extent of damage and the food security situation in the affected areas.

    Assumptions
    • The emergency period, with thousands of people at accommodation centers, may last for a month and the recovery phase will be underway by June. Priorities during the emergency and recovery phases will include: Immediate repair of hospitals, water systems and electricity supply, need building supplies for reconstruction, and seeds for the second-season planting in the affected crop areas.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The possibility of additional flooding is still possible as the peak of the rainy and cyclone season is mid-February through March. In the lower Limpopo areas the poorer households will face limited access to food and may need food assistance for about five months, until the new crops are planted and harvested after the water recedes.  In the flood plain  of the  Zambezi basin, floods may cause temporary food deficits, but it is expected that the majority of the households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. Access to food through emergency humanitarian assistance for the poor rural households that were facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes before the flooding will be possible through government and partners. From April to June 2013, the food security outlook is expected to improve greatly in view of the onset of widespread harvest throughout the country. However, due to extent of damage and number of people affected by the floods, the affected people in Chókwe district will remain at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity conditions throughout the scenario period.

    Cyclone Prone Areas in Nampula and Inhambane, Zambézia and Sofala Provinces

    Current Situation

    The current food security situation for the majority of rural households living along the southern and northern coastal areas is generally stable with Minimal or no acute food insecurity outcomes. Poor and very poor households living along the coastal areas are typically food secure throughout the year. Compared to the areas in the interior, these areas have more income earning opportunities, allowing for market purchases to supplement their basic food needs. Factors contributing to stable food security conditions throughout the year include access to fisheries, better access to markets, along with coconut, cashew-nut, cassava and rice production. Households are able to meet their basic food requirements during the peak of the lean season without major changes in their food consumption, and while maintaining the normal livelihood strategies.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national assumptions described earlier, the following assumptions have been made about these Cyclone Prone areas:

    • Although cyclone seasonal forecasts are unavailable for the Southwest Indian Ocean Basin, there is a chance for the occurrence of cyclones during the first half of the outlook period (January-March).
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    In the likelihood of a category 2 or above cyclone hitting this area, poor households will likely expand their livelihood strategies in order to earn income necessary to make market food purchases. It is expected that the majority of households will remain food secure during the outlook period. Poor households in particular could temporarily face acute food shortages, but the total number is not expected to exceed 20 percent of the total population of the affected area. Therefore, in the event of a cyclone hitting the coastal area, the majority of poor and very poor households are expected have Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes.


    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    LHZ 35

    Inadequate rainfall from January to March

    Low food availability during the 2013/2014 consumption season in the south could exacerbate the projected high food prices. Levels of food insecurity may worsen beyond anticipated projections.

    LHZ  17

    Occurrence of moderate to severe floods, given the forecasted above normal rainfall.

    Drastically reduced or destroyed production in the affected areas, especially near the river banks. General interruption of essential livelihood activities.

    Coastal Area

    Major cyclone (category 2 and above).

    Though considered unlikely, could result in severe livelihood destruction and food insecurity, prompting and external response needs.

     

     

     

     

     

    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 current 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.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, January 2013

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, January 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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