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Above-average 2013/14 harvests will ensure Minimal food insecurity through December

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • July - December 2014
Above-average 2013/14 harvests will ensure Minimal food insecurity through December

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Events That Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The majority of rural households in the country are currently facing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1). Households are meeting their basic food needs through continued food availability in markets, access to a variety of own produced foods, and from the ongoing second cropping season in limited areas.

    • Most of the main monitored markets are adequately supplied with staple food and commodities. Generally the food prices are expected to remain close to the five-year average. Maize prices in particular are expected to remain slightly above or below the five-year average in all monitored markets thanks to current production levels. However, prices for beans will remain the same or higher than the previous year.

    • From July to September, food insecurity outcomes will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) among poorer rural households. Households in the central and southern areas affected by mild flooding earlier this year will be able to meet their basic food needs through consumption of food harvested from the 2013/14 cropping season and market purchases. Between October and December, food insecurity outcomes will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) for the majority of poor households. As the lean season begins during this period, households will expand their typical livelihood strategies in order to meet their food requirements.

    National Overview
    Current Situation
    • Food supplies from the main harvest continue to be widely available in markets. Second season cropping is ongoing in some areas where agroclimatic conditions permit it. Households in localized areas impacted by the February/March mild floods have managed to recover and now have adequate access to food of their own. Exceptions include displaced people in localized areas in Gorongosa district due to ongoing conflict. The government has been providing food assistance to those affected by conflict. However, similarly to the country as a whole, the bulk of the district is experiencing an above-average harvest and the majority of households are able to meet their basic food needs through their own produce.

    • In areas in the Limpopo Basin affected by mild floods (lowland and riverine areas near Chibuto, Chokwe, and Guija districts) food security has improved tremendously thanks to successful post-flood planting. Poor households in the lower Limpopo districts of Chókwe, Guija, and Chibuto, have managed to recover and reestablish their livelihoods. Most affected households are now able to access food from their own production.

    • Exceptions include localized areas in the Chigubo district, namely in the Bambacane, Cubo and Kenneth Kaunda villages in the Nhanale Administrative Post that were affected by prolonged dry spells earlier this season (see the comprehensive description in the area of focus section below). In other places affected by floods earlier this year,  including Maganja da

    • Costa in Zambézia Province, households are accessing food from their own production and experiencing typical post-harvest conditions. Levels of food acute insecurity are currently at their lowest.

    • With the main harvest coming to an end, informal and formal traders are playing an important role in the redistribution of food commodities from surplus areas in the central and north to southern deficit areas through the marketing system.

    • Most of the main monitored markets are adequately supplied with staple food and commodities. However, this year, due to above-average maize production in the south, typical inflows from the central region have reduced significantly while internal flows of surplus supplies within the southern region are supplying major destination markets like Maputo city.

    • Elsewhere in the country, trade flows are following the typical seasonal pattern and staple food prices are generally following seasonal trends. Staple food prices are at their lowest and about to start rising according to the seasonal trend. Maize prices are generally close to or below the five-year average. In some southern markets such as Chókwe, maize prices have reached historical lows due to above-average maize availability and the carryover stocks from post-flooding production last season.

    • In much of the country the harvest has ended, though in some places where households had to replant the harvest is still ongoing. According to the preliminary estimates for the 2013/14 agriculture season released by the National Directorate of Agrarian Services (DNSA) from the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG), at national level, the total cereal production is about 2,530,050 MT. Other food estimates from MINAG/DNSA include a total production of 717,519 MT of pulses, 110,325 MT of oilseeds, and 9,710,004 MT of tubers.

    • The production estimates need to be integrated with other food balance inputs, including consumption needs, imports, and exports to show if the national food requirement for the 2014/15 consumption year will be met by this year’s harvest.  While the food balance sheet for this consumption year is yet to be completed, historically the national food balance figures usually indicate a total cereal deficit during the March to April period, at the end of the marketing year. This cereal deficit is usually covered by commercial imports and food assistance.


    The Food Security Outlook for July to December 2014 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • According to forecasts provided by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC)-International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), there is an elevated chance for an El Niño event to develop between August and October 2014 and to continue through early 2015. Historically, the main impact of El Niño in Mozambique is felt during the second half of the cropping season (January to March). However, there is 50 percent likelihood of having below-average October to December rainfall during El Niño years in parts of southern and central Mozambique, which means that the start of season can be delayed along with planting for the main agricultural season. On the other hand during October-December period northern Mozambique tends to experience above-normal rainfall during this time which can reach greater than 125 percent of average in some El Niño events. However, it is important to note that other local and regional climatic factors other than El Niño can also affect climate and change the expected impacts.
    • From July to September, agroclimatic conditions are expected to be normal for this period of the year. During this period conditions will be typically dry with low temperatures and evapotranspiration. Under these conditions, households with access to residual moisture in the lowlands will continue practicing agriculture activities for the second season and this will mainly include vegetables, some maize, and beans. Starting in September most households, especially in the south and the central region, will be engaged in land preparation for the upcoming agriculture season. Based on climatology, seasonal rains are expected to start initially in the south, moving towards the north between October and December.
    Markets and Trade
    • Given the above-average 2013/14 harvest in the country and significant carryover stocks, cereal availability is expected to be 14 percent above the previous year.  This availability is expected to reduce dependence on the markets during the period July to September as households will be consuming mostly from own production. 

    • As per historical trend, in July most food prices are expected to start rising in most markets due to the gradual dwindling of household food stocks from own production. With the exception of rice, it is assumed that food prices will follow a normal seasonal trend during the outlook period, remaining above the five-year average. Since rice is imported, these prices are not influenced by seasonality and normally remain stable throughout the year.

    • Between July and December, the flow of food commodities will continue following normal patterns and no disruption is anticipated throughout the outlook period.

    Agricultural Labor
    • Throughout the outlook period the agriculture labor opportunities are expected to remain at normal levels. From July to September, agriculture labor will basically include second season related activities including cleaning, planting, watering and harvesting. From October to December, labor opportunities are expected to start increasing with the start of the main agricultural season and will include land preparation and planting.
    Humanitarian Assistance
    • Humanitarian assistance levels are expected to be well below the five-year average in the country. During the July-December period, the immediate needs of those affected by conflict and insecurity, along with households identified as at risk of acute food insecurity during the current consumption period will be met through targeted support. 
    • Delivery of seeds and other agriculture inputs will take place in August and September. Distribution of these inputs is important for assisting households for the upcoming main cropping season, especially those affected by flooding back in January.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    For the majority of the rural households during the outlook period, acute food insecurity outcomes will generally be Minimal (IPC Phase 1). During the July to September period, food availability and access is expected to remain stable and adequate. Households will continue to meet their food requirements through stocks from their main season harvest, along with harvests from post-flood planting and the second season. Households in localized areas affected by earlier flooding or dry spells will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes as they continue to rely on typical livelihood strategies including increased search of casual labor activities and market purchases for access to food. 

    Between October and December, the country will enter the lean season where most households, especially the very poor and poor, will then have exhausted their food stocks and will start expanding their livelihood strategies to meet their food needs. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue during this period. Some of these strategies
    that poor households will start to use during this period include reducing expenditures on non-food items in order to be able to purchase staple foods, intensification of brewing and the sale of traditional drinks for income, cutting and selling of poles and natural products such as grass, firewood, charcoal, and seeking casual labor.

    Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase as the next start of the agricultural season approaches. It is expected that the typical onset of rains in October-November will provide a variety of wild and seasonal food that gradually improve food access among poor households until the green food becomes available in January or February 2015.

    Areas of Concern
    Southern Semiarid Cereals and Cattle (MZ22) and Limpopo and Elephant Rivers Mixed Cropping (MZ24) livelihood zones
    Current Situation

    In order to verify the prevailing food security conditions in areas that were affected by floods in a second consecutive year and areas affected by dry spells during the main 2013/14 agriculture season, FEWS NET carried out a rapid qualitative food security assessment from July 7-11, 2014. The assessment covered parts of Gaza Provinces (Figure 1) and consisted of key informant interviews with district administrative and agriculture authorities, community leaders, farmers, district based NGOs, and household representatives; as well as observations from community visits.

    General Overview

    The onset of the season was delayed by one to two months and planting occurred in November/December 2013. By March 2014 most crops were at the maturing stage and the harvest occurred in March/April 2014. Mild floods occurred in some lowlands along the riverine areas affecting negatively planted crops but a successful replanting effort was carried out thanks to timely seed distribution by agriculture authorities. Targeted assistance was delivered for immediate relief and the recovery process was quick thanks to rapid availability of food from replanted crops and the availability of last year’s food reserves from the good post-flooding harvest. Most households in the area are still holding carryover food from last year.

    The semi-arid areas that normally face erratic rains have benefited from the extraordinary heavy rains during last year’s cropping season which allowed for above-average production levels particularly maize. In general, this year’s main production season met or exceeded the planned target figures by agriculture authorities thanks to favorable agroclimatic conditions. A relatively small area, with less than 7 percent of Chigubo district total population, comprised by Kenneth Kaunda, Bambacane and Cubo villages in the Nhanale Administrative Post in Chigubo district had experienced erratic rains that affected the crop yields and production. However, due to good production in the surrounding areas, the food insecurity scenario in the area is somehow repressed. These three villages deserve close monitoring throughout the remainder of the consumption period.

    Overall, food availability and access is adequate in the visited area thanks to above-average maize production from the 2013/14 season, carryover food stocks from last year’s post-flood production and the upcoming harvest of the second cropping season. Staple food prices are currently below the five-year average and the previous year’s prices.

    The current acute food insecurity outcomes are Minimal or IPC Phase 1 as the majority of poor households is able to meet their basic food requirements without having to resort to atypical livelihood strategies. With additional harvest still expected from the second season production, Minimal levels of acute food insecurity are expected to remain throughout the consumption period.

    District by district findings

    Guija District
    • Rains were delayed by approximately a month and planting occurred in November/December. During the second half of the main cropping season the lowlands were inundated by heavy rains in February and March which affected 498 hectares of planted crops. However, since most planted cops were ready for harvest, many households managed to harvest their crops.

    • Those who were affected by the inundations and lost their crops were immediately provided by emergency assistance which included food and seeds. Substantial replanting occurred following the floods and the harvest took place from June with some places continuing to harvest. Generally all the affected areas managed to recover from the shock and currently food availability is adequate to above-average.

    • Many households in the district still have carryover food stocks from the last year which exceeded the planned planted area by 12,000 hectares. In general this year’s crop production is better than last year’s production. Food availability and access is adequate as most poor households are able to meet their food basic needs without resorting to atypical livelihood strategies. Food prices in local markets are below the five-year’s average and below last year’s prices. Second season prospects are within normal production levels. Second harvests are generally produced in the lowlands with enough residual moisture allowing crops to withstand without rainfall and is also done in places with irrigation facilities. Acute food insecurity in Guijá district is Minimal or IPC Phase 1.

    Chibuto District
    • The first or main 2013/14 cropping season in Chibuto was a success. The planned targets were met and exceeded thanks to adequate rains that started in December 2013 along with successful recovery from the mild flooding that occurred in February/March 2014. The availability of food reserves from last year’s post-flooding crop production is an important contributing factor for food security stability in the district.

    • Last year’s floods extended to the most remote and semiarid areas (where rains are normally scarce). This phenomenon allowed for exceptionally levels of crop production and created artificial lakes that still exist. Overall, the event became an important source of fish and water for humans and animals especially during the current dry season. Cassava is notably abundant in the district, providing supplementary food in the area.

    • There is still a relative reduction in the number of animals at household level because many have sold or lost their animals during the difficult period following the severe floods last year. Food availability and access is adequate and expected to be stable throughout the consumption period. Acute food insecurity in Chibuto district is Minimal or IPC Phase 1.

    Chigubo District
    • The general food security situation in the district is adequate and the majority of poor households able to meet their basic food requirements without resorting to atypical livelihood strategies. Food reserves from last year’s post-flood production are still available at the household level. The 2013/14 production was above-average thanks to overall good rains. However, rains were erratic in Kenneth Kaunda, Bambacane and Cubo villages in the Nhanale Administrative Post.

    • Households in these three villages did not harvested enough to cover their typical production levels though they are still employing typical livelihood strategies that include seeking agriculture labor. This is possible due to above average production in the surrounding areas which is minimizing the effects of low production in the three villages.

    • In most of the surrounding areas, the harvest is still ongoing and most household members from the affected areas are hired for post-harvest activities and usually paid in-kind with a bag or two of maize. Agriculture authorities are promoting some income generating activities such as gathering and selling of amarula nuts which is producing good results. So far there are no indication of households being forced to employ livelihood strategies that are not normally employed during the peak of the lean season.

    • According to the administrative authorities, discussions are ongoing with the Social Assistance National Institute (INAS) to extend their safety-net programs to the most vulnerable households in the three most affected villages (especially during the lean period from October to February). The estimated total number of inhabitants in the three villages is approximately seven percent of the total population of the district. Acute food insecurity in Chigubo district is Minimal or IPC Phase 1.

    Chókwe District
    • Overall the main 2013/14 cropping season performed well and the main harvest occurred successfully in February and March. Few areas were negatively affected by mild floods along the lowlands, affecting the planted crops. Chokwe city and Macarretane Administration Post were affected by this year’s floods, which were milder than floods during the previous 2012/13 season. The affected households were assisted immediately and supplied with maize, bean, and horticulture crop seeds in order to recover from the shock.

    • Most replanted crops, particularly horticulture crops, are currently being harvested while the replanted maize and beans are now maturing. Food availability, particularly of maize, is exceptionally well-above average and surpluses are currently supplying Maputo city. Maize prices have reached historical minimum levels for the last seven years. The current maize prices are 47 percent below the five-year average and 60 percent below those of last year. Given that more maize is still to be harvested, prospects suggest continuing below average maize prices throughout the consumption period. All affected households have successfully recovered and currently the food insecurity is of a chronic nature. Food availability and access for the majority of poor households is adequate and the acute food insecurity outcomes are Minimal or IPC Phase 1.

    Massingir District
    • The season was delayed by one to two months and during the latter half of the season the lowlands were affected by mild floods that damaged planted crops. The recovery was immediate and successful. Overall production levels have exceeded the planned target figures. According to agriculture authorities the main problem now is commercialization and post-harvest storage. The substantial maize production has filled up household granaries which are not adequate to store maize for extended periods of time.

    • Also, due to competing maize from neighboring districts traded at much lower prices, the Massingir households are having difficulty trading their maize at fair prices. Local authorities estimate that produce from the main harvest alone is enough to cover the food needs of the district throughout the consumption period. However, additional maize is expected from the ongoing second season. Available food crops in the district include maize, beans, groundnuts and fruits such as pawpaw. Food availability and access for the majority of poor households is adequate and the acute food insecurity outcomes are Minimal or IPC Phase 1.


    In line with the national-level assumptions described earlier, the following assumptions have been made about the Southern Semiarid Cereals and Cattle (MZ22) and Limpopo and Elephant Rivers Mixed Cropping (MZ24) livelihood zones:

    • The second season harvest that normally begins in July can contribute up to 15 percent  of a household’s access to food and income sources during a consumption year. Residual moisture levels in this zone will generally contribute to normal levels of food production during the second season.

    • The upcoming onset of rains in October/November will occur normally, ensuring normal levels of agricultural labor activities among the poorer households.

    • Food supplies from the southern surplus areas of the Lower Limpopo (Massingir, Guija, Chokwe districts) will keep flowing into the southern markets particularly in Maputo city.

    • Maize prices will start increasing in July/August when food stocks are expected to start dwindling. This year, due to above normal food supply, prices will remain below or close to the five-year average and below those of last year though the seasonal trend will generally be the same as typical where an ascending trend is expected throughout the scenario period. The second season harvest in August and September will minimize the increasing prices due to the availability of additional food stocks.

    • Overall context combined with the technical analysis suggests that this year’s maize prices are expected to remain lower or same as the projected and average prices. The relatively low prices will favor food access to the poor and very poor households who are expected to turn to markets for food as their food stocks start dwindling and exhausting.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From July to September the majority of rural households throughout the districts visited will be able to meet their basic food requirements through consumption of the food from the 2014/15 main cropping season, available foods for purchase in local markets, and from the recent second season harvests in some areas. The availability of food surpluses and food supplies from the second season will enable households to sell part of the harvest to earn extra cash as income for the lean season ahead. During this period, households will be supplementing their own food stocks with favorably priced market supplies. Typically, water availability for both humans and animals during this period will likely be reduced at this point in the season. It is expected that poor and very poor households will likely respond by intensifying their livelihood strategies, specifically by selling grass, reeds, firewood, charcoal, and small livestock.

    From October to December, the lean season will begin and by this time some poor households will have exhausted their food stocks and will continue to expand their livelihood strategies. The expected onset of rains in October/November will provide a variety of seasonal wild foods and increase agriculture labor opportunities. Overall livelihood strategies will be maintained and households will not trade their productive assets or resorting to irreversible coping strategies. Households will ensure that income generated by expanding their livelihood strategies will be adequate to cover the food and other discretionary expenses.

    Although some very poor households (<20 percent) specifically in localized areas of Chigubo District may be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the peak of the lean season period (October to December), the majority of poor and very poor households in these two livelihood zones will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes throughout the entire scenario period (July-December).

    Events That Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1. Possible events over the next six months that could change the most-likely scenario.

    AreaEventImpact of Food Security Outcomes
    Entire CountryLate start of rainsThe late start of rains will delay the start of the main cropping season and availability of seasonal wild foods that typically minimize the severity of likely the acute food insecurity levels during the lean season (October to December).
    Entire CountryInadequate input supplies for main season plantingWill limit crop production with the on-set of seasonal rains.
    Entire CountryTraders do not respond as anticipated and no additional food stocks flow to the deficit areasLocal markets would be undersupplied, pushing food prices higher than currently observed and expected.
    Gorongosa and Sofala ProvinceEscalating politico/military conflictThe intensification and expansion of conflict will force more people to leave their villages and therefore increase the number of acute food insecure people leading to higher IPC phase classifications (Phase 2) in some areas.


    To project food security outcomes over a six-month period, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes those assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to develop scenarios estimating food security outcomes. Typically, FEWS NET reports the most likely scenario. Click here for more information.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar

    Source: Fews Net

    Current food security outcomes, July 2014.

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, July 2014.

    Source: Fews Net

    Figure 1. Districts (in orange) covered by the FEWS NET rapid assessment, July 7-11, 2014

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Districts (in orange) covered by the FEWS NET rapid assessment, July 7-11, 2014

    Source: Fews Net

    Figure 4


    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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