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Above-average harvests likely to lead to largely Minimal food insecurity outcomes

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • June 2017
Above-average harvests likely to lead to largely Minimal food insecurity outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Assumptions
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
  • Key Messages
    • Due to above-average food availability from the 2016/17 season, most areas of Mozambique are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes as the majority of poor households are able to meet their basic food needs from their own production and access from markets, particularly due to relatively low prices. These outcomes are generally expected to continue until January 2018. Exceptions include the semiarid areas in the central region where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will persist given the slow recovery from the drought due to disrupted livelihoods caused by the recently ended armed conflict and irregular 2016/17 rainfall in these areas. Some vulnerable poor households are likely even facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    • The country is generally experiencing above-average (5-year average) crop production, including in the chronically deficit southern areas, such as the interior semiarid areas of Gaza and Inhambane provinces. In contrast, parts of the previously conflict-affected semiarid areas in the central region, including parts of Caia, Chemba, and Maringue districts in Sofala Province, parts of Tambara district in Manica Province, and southern parts of Mutarara and Doa districts in Tete Province, production levels are below average.

    • Most of the main monitored markets are adequately supplied with staple foods and other commodities. Maize grain prices have been decreasing significantly since January/February and are close to the five-year average. In the southern region, May maize grain prices decreased by 57 percent from February, while in the central and northern regions, they fell by 73 and 60 percent, respectively. Maize meal and rice prices have generally remained stable. 


    ​Curent Situation

    Curent Food Security

    ·         Currently, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are prevailing for the majority of poor households throughout the country due to the above-average total national crop production from the 2016/17 agricultural season. This includes the coastal areas in the north that initially were of concern due to the late start and below-average rainfall, and the areas that were affected by floods and the cyclone in the southern and central regions.

    ·         With average to above-average crop production at the household level, most poor households are able to meet their basic food needs through consumption of their own food and are restoring their incomes by selling their produce. However, given the two consecutive years of poor production in southern and central regions, poor household income remains below average. Some of the most vulnerable households, who were unable to recover due to various factors, including those who had disrupted livelihoods caused by the armed conflict in the affected areas and experienced localized rainfall irregularity, had below-average crop production. These households are in the process of rebuilding their livelihoods and are likely facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity and may still require some targeted humanitarian assistance.

    ·         While the main harvest has ended in the south, it is still ongoing in major producer areas in the central and northern regions. In the southern region, most households are now focusing on second season production, while consuming food stocks from the main season and also fresh legumes, which are already available, from the second season. Short cycle maize grains will largely begin being harvested in July. With this favorable availability of food, combined with increased food access from markets, the majority of poor households have restored their typical eating habits, which include eating preferred foods and no longer need to skip meals as a coping strategy. Second season activities are progressing well due to above-average residual moisture provided by the late rains during the main rainfall season. Also, in areas affected by floods, the cyclone, and heavy rains in the lower areas of the central and southern regions, the second season is progressing well above average levels and already providing food for those that lost their main season crops.

    SETSAN Assessment Information

    ·         According to the March/April Technical Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) assessment, for May through September, an estimated 300,000 people are projected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes in 20 of the most-affected districts (those with the highest levels of acute food insecurity in the August 2016 IPC), requiring emergency food assistance. (In June/July, SETSAN, along with FEWS NET and other partners, will conduct a countrywide food security assessment to provide post-harvest food security estimates and projections through March 2018. The final report is likely to be released in early August.) While that number represents 11 percent of the total population of the 20 districts, the majority of households are facing either None (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. For those facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, SETSAN suggests that non-food assistance to protect livelihoods is required, including improving post-harvest storage and access roads, distributing seeds and pesticides for the second season, improving pest and disease control, promoting better food practices and trade fairs, vaccinating chickens against the Newcastle disease, and supporting small-scale irrigation systems.

    ·         Based on nutrition surveys carried out by SETSAN in the same 20 selected districts in March/April, the proportion of children with acute malnutrition was “Critical” (IPC Phase 4, GAM by Mid-Upper Arm Circumference, MUAC, 11-16.9 percent) in two districts of Cabo Delgado, Chiure and Namuno; “Alert/Serious” (IPC Phases 2/3, GAM by MUAC 6-10.9 percent) in  Mutarara in Tete, Ancuabe in Cabo Delgado, and Macossa in Manica; and “Alert” (IPC Phase 2, GAM weight-for-height z-score, WHZ, 5-9.9 percent) in Morrumbala District in Zambézia. According to the IPC for acute malnutrition classification, in all other assessed districts, the prevalence of GAM was below five percent, indicating an “Acceptable” level. According to the SETSAN report, the high level of acute malnutrition in the northern districts (Chiure and Namuno) and in the central region districts is linked to inadequate diet (low quantity and quality of food), and prevalence of diseases, such as diarrhea and HIV, and some of this is likely partly attributed to chronic food insecurity. (Please note the IPC Phases correspond to acute malnutrition instead of acute food insecurity.)

    Market Supplies and Prices

    ·         This year, due to above-average maize production in the south, typical inflows from the central region are below average, while internal flows of surplus supplies within the southern region are supplying major southern destination markets. Typically deficit areas in the south, such as the interior semiarid areas of Gaza and Inhambane, have reached production levels well above average. In contrast, parts of the semiarid areas in the central region, including parts of Caia, Chemba, and Maringue districts in Sofala Province, parts of Tambara district in Manica Province, and southern parts of Mutarara and Doa districts in Tete Province, have not had the same exceptionally good production as the rest of the country and levels are expected to be below average.

    ·         With food stocks from the main harvest becoming increasingly available, informal and formal traders are playing an important role in the redistribution of food commodities from surplus areas to deficit areas through the marketing system. Most of the main monitored markets are adequately supplied with staple foods and commodities. Staple food prices, particularly for maize grain, have been decreasing sharply since the start of the year. Maize grain prices in the southern Chokwé market decreased 57 percent in May from the peak price in February. In the central region Gorongosa market, May maize grain prices decreased 73 percent from the peak price in December, while in northern Nampula market, maize grain prices fell 60 percent in May from the peak price in January. Maize meal and rice prices have generally remained stable, which is largely due to the fact that the prices of these two commodities depend more on import levels rather than seasonal variability. In Gorongosa market, which is a reference market for the entire country, May maize grain prices are at the same level as the five-year average and are 48 percent lower than May 2016 (see Figure 1). On the other hand, maize meal prices are 60 percent above the five-year average and seven percent below prices from last year at the same time, while rice prices are 78 percent above the five-year average and 25 percent above May 2016 prices.


    The Food Security Outlook for June 2017 through January 2018 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    Markets and Trade

    • 2016/2017 Carryover stocks. Due to two successive droughts that negatively impacted southern and central production, the quantity of carryover food stocks from 2016 was significantly below average. In the southern zone, there were almost no carryover stocks, while in the central zone a limited amount of carryover maize grain was available at the beginning of 2017, particularly from the northern part of Tete Province. On the other hand, the northern region of the country had a near-average quantity of carryover stocks.
    • Maize grain availability. Based on Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) crop production estimates, locally-produced maize grain is expected to be sufficient to cover domestic needs for the entire scenario period. Maize grain imports from South Africa and Mexico are expected to be limited to the milling companies that normally import maize grain for industrial processing.
    • Informal trade with Malawi. Following last year when Mozambique border district authorities restricted informal trade with Malawi, which virtually halted almost all flows, during the scenario period it is expected that trade will gradually resume to normal levels, involving typical large volumes.
    • Macroeconomic context. Since December 2016, the Metical (MZN) has stabilized, following a significant depreciation against the USD. In mid-January 2017, the USD was equivalent to MZN 69.73, and in mid-May 2017, the USD was equivalent to MZN 59.00, which is the most recent low compared to the all-time high of 78.45 in October 2016. The strengthening of the Metical may encourage traders to increase their level of imports, particularly for processed foods from South Africa. Following an aggressive rate hike by the Mozambique Central Bank in October 2016, the inflation rate is forecast to decline during the remainder of 2017.
    • Maize prices. From June to January 2018, maize grain prices are expected to follow seasonal upward trends, especially from September onwards, but remain at or marginally below the five-year average. This will be possible due to above-average maize grain availability for the 2017/18 consumption year.
    • Maize meal/rice prices. Prices for maize meal and rice, both substitutes for maize grain, are anticipated to remain stable throughout the entire consumption year as they both are expected to be adequately supplied.

    2016/17 Crop Production Estimates

    • Main season crop production estimates. Preliminary total crop production estimates by MASA indicate that cereal production is expected to be 45 percent higher than the five-year average (2012-2016). Estimates are for 2.8 million MT of cereals (maize, sorghum, millet, rice, and wheat), 707,000 MT of pulses (beans and groundnuts), 10.9 million MT of cassava, 2.2 million MT of horticulture crops, 127,000 MT of oleaginous products (soybean, sunflower, and sesame), and 295,000 MT of Irish potatoes. The satellite-derived Water Requirements Satisfaction Index (WRSI) corresponds with the MASA estimates as it reflects that maize grain crops have received 95 to 100 percent of their minimum water requirements for growth, and only a few areas where this was slightly less at 80 to 95 percent.
    • Second season prospects. The amount of residual moisture for the second season, typically practiced from April to September, is adequate across southern and central areas given the normal to above-normal rainfall, which continued through April in most parts of the country. As a result, prospects for second season crop production are expected to be average to above average, if there is adequate seed access, and most of the harvest is likely to come between July and September.

    Fall Armyworm

    • The fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugierda, was first detected in Mozambique in January 2017, initially confused with the ordinary maize stem borers, but later confirmed as FAW by MASA in coordination with Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM). It has been confirmed in all provinces of Mozambique, except in Cabo Delgado. While assessments are still needed to determine the severity of damage caused by the FAW, particularly the impact on crop production as well as the socio-economic impact, preliminary indications suggest that the impact for the 2016/17 season may be low in Mozambique due mainly to excessive rainfall, which helped to suppress the FAW activity, and the favorable climatic conditions that helped to promote high crop production potential. (The June/July SETSAN assessment will look further into the impacts of FAW, and MASA is planning a more specialized and focused assessment.) Depending on climatic conditions for the 2017/18 agricultural season and the extent of adopted pest management strategies to control the FAW, there is a possibility that the pest could have a more severe impact on the 2017/18 season.

    Food Availability/Access

    • June to September. Food availability at the market level is expected to be sufficient given above-average total national crop production from the 2016/17 season during this period. At the household level, food availability is expected to be close to average for most households. However, in localized parts of the central region’s semiarid zone (northern Sofala and Manica and southeastern Tete Province, see Figure 2) it is likely that most poor households were not able to fully participate in the agricultural season since the armed conflict ceasefire was only signed at the end of December 2016 and their livelihoods had been impacted by this conflict. Poor households will harvest less than average and be forced to start employing coping strategies earlier than usual, starting in September/October, to meet their minimum food needs.
    • October 2017 to January 2018. At both the household and market level, food availability is expected to remain close to average during this period. In the central region’s semiarid zone, most of the poor household food stocks will likely have been exhausted, and these households are expected to start employing typical coping strategies to obtain cash for market purchases, complemented by the collection and consumption of seasonal wild foods.

    Seasonal Forecast

    • ENSO Forecast. Most model forecasts favor ENSO-neutral conditions through early 2018 as there are decreasing probabilities of an El Niño developing.
    • 2017/2018 Rainy season. The October 2017 to January 2018 rainy season is expected to start on time and near-average rainfall is forecast. However, FEWS NET will continue to closely monitor ENSO conditions and update the forecast as necessary.

    Hydrology/Flooding Risk

    • Hydrology. According to the National Directorate of Water Resources Management (DNGRH), most dams in the southern and central regions, with the exception of Pequenos Libombos in the south, have been restored to adequate levels, following the severe drought. They are expected to remain at typical levels through the end of the scenario period given the rainfall forecast. However, the Pequenos Libombos dam will need close monitoring through January 2018 since at the end of the rainy season in April it was only at 28 percent of its full capacity, and it is particularly important as it is the main water supply for three major, southern cities, Maputo, Matola, and Boane, and provides water for irrigation systems along the Umbeluzi River. According to a May 2017 update by the DNGRH, the Pequenos Libombos dam has reduced its water volume to 26.87 percent, corresponding to 80 percent of needs to supply water until the next rainfall season, which will require the continuation of rationing measures through the current dry season.
    • Flooding risk. Due to ENSO-neutral conditions, flooding risks are expected to be typical during December 2017 to January 2018. However, since there are still moderate chances for an El Niño, it is important to note that during El Niño years, there is a reduced probability of floods in the southern and central region river basins, while in the north, there is an increased chance for occurrence of heavy rains that may result in localized flash floods in some river basins, including the Messalo and Megaruma.

    Agricultural labor opportunities/wages

    • June to September. Given the favorable agroclimatic conditions for the 2016/17 agricultural season, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to remain close to normal across the country for the entire scenario period. During this period, agricultural labor will basically include second season-related activities, including land preparation, weeding, planting, watering, and harvesting. Given the restored income levels for the middle and better-off households, wage rates paid to poor households are expected to be close to average.
    • October 2017 to January 2018. During this period, which will mark the onset of the new rainfall and agricultural season, the current forecast indicates average to below-average rainfall, and consequently, near-average agricultural labor opportunities are expected, which will include land preparation, planting, and weeding. The related wage rates are expected to be close to average.

    Input access for ongoing second season and 2017/2018 main season

    • In order to maximize ongoing second season crop production, humanitarian partners have distributed seeds and are expected to continue with more distributions in late June. With the exception of Gaza where seed distribution for the second season is reportedly adequate, in all other provinces, the demand for seeds is expected to remain high regardless of these efforts. In April and May, Save the Children and OXFAM, part of the COSACA consortium of NGOs, distributed a varied assortment of seeds to nearly 11,100 beneficiaries in Gaza, Inhambane, and Tete. In addition, Save the Children provided additional seeds to 24 farmer associations in Gaza. FAO, in coordination with MASA, is expected to start seed distributions in late June for a total of 25,904 households across six provinces, including Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Tete, Manica, and Sofala provinces. Each household is expected to receive a fairly similar assortment of seeds. In the central region (Manica, Sofala, and Tete), part of the beneficiaries (1,656) will receive seeds as part of a strategy and training on agricultural conservation techniques.
    • For the coming 2017/18 season, FEWS NET assumes that as usual, a large proportion of farmers will use retained seed for planting. Retained seeds are usually of poor quality and less resistant to pests and diseases, particularly the new fall armyworm (FAW) that could pose a serious threat to 2017/18 crops, depending on the conditions and preventative measures mentioned above. Since late 2016, there have been challenges in accessing certified seeds, which are not typically used in Mozambique, due to lower household incomes, supplier issues, and delayed distributions by the Government of Mozambique and its partners. FEWS NET expects seed distributions will likely take place in August and September, key times, but if they are received past the onset of rains in November/December, this will affect yields. COSACA has started working with potential partners, such as DFID and others, to mobilize needed funds for these seed distributions.

    Self-employment opportunities/migration and income

    • June to September. Self-employment activities are expected to be at average levels during this period as poor households will primarily produce and sell charcoal and firewood, particularly in the semiarid areas despite the environmental costs. Other self-employment activities will include handcrafts, brew-making, and construction.
    • October 2017 to January 2018. Self-employment activities, including the sale of forest and traditionally-made products, such as firewood, charcoal, and construction poles are expected to continue at average levels. Poor households are also expected to typically sell small domestic animals as needed during this period in order to generate income to meet other discretionary needs.
    • Migration. Throughout the entire scenario period, migration to urban centers in Mozambique and South Africa, particularly for people from the south, will decrease from 2016 levels and return to near-normal levels given the improved agroclimatic conditions and demand for household labor due to the expected continued improvement of local livelihoods. Migration is likely to be mainly by younger people to principally engage in petty trade along the major informal trading centers.

    Livestock Body Conditions, Prices, and Movement

    • The significant improvement in the availability of pasture and water since December 2016 has contributed to a rapid restoration of livestock body conditions, and poor households no longer need to move their livestock in search of better conditions. Average livestock body conditions, productivity, and trekking distances are expected to persist during the scenario period.


    • The SETSAN IPC projection of acute malnutrition for the May to September period indicates an increased likelihood for improvements, in which Chiure District in Cabo Delgado is expected to improve from “Critical” (GAM 15-30 percent) to “Serious” (GAM 10-15 percent), while Morrumbala District in Zambézia is expected to improve from “Alert” to “Acceptable.” For Ancuabe and Namuno in Cabo Delgado and Macossa in Manica, although the situation is expected to generally improve, there will likely not be a change in the IPC levels of acute malnutrition. The expectation for the improvement of the nutritional situation will mostly be due to likely enhanced food availability and access (own production), a drop in staple food prices, and a decrease in childhood illnesses (diarrhea and malaria).
    • The SETSAN IPC analysis projection for the lean season, October 2017 to January 2018, anticipates an increased likelihood for deterioration in acute malnutrition, particularly for Namuno and Chiure districts, which are expected to move back to “Critical” levels. Morrumbala and Mopeia in Zambézia and Cahora Bassa in Tete may move from “Acceptable” to “Alert” or “Serious” situation. The reasons for this deterioration will be caused by an expected increase in childhood diseases, decreased attention to child care (caregivers will be more concerned with field preparations and access road conditions may deteriorate), and expected increases in food insecurity.

    Emergency Humanitarian Assistance

    • Food assistance through in-kind and cash vouchers by many humanitarian organizations, including COSACA, a consortium of NGOs, in the seven drought-affected provinces, largely concluded at the end of March 2017. While the World Food Programme (WFP) has drastically reduced the amount of its assistance due to the ongoing harvest, it is expected to continue to provide some assistance to localized pockets of poor households still facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), which will then be phased out gradually. Based on the March/April SETSAN assessment results (see above), some organizations are now adjusting their action plans accordingly. These estimates will then be replaced by the results from the June/July SETSAN assessment and help the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to appropriately address the humanitarian assistance needs during the remainder of the consumption period.
    • Humanitarian assistance levels are expected to be below the five-year average in the country, and the food assistance pipeline is expected to meet the immediate needs of those currently receiving targeted support for the June to January 2018 period.

    Political-military tensions

    • The ongoing ceasefire agreement between RENAMO and the Government of Mozambique, which has been in place since December 2016, has allowed for the suspension of government-escorted convoys, which has reduced transportation times and allowed for faster supply flows from northern surplus-producing areas. The majority of displaced people have returned to their homes and are working to reestablish their livelihoods. This process may require some sort of assistance, particularly for the most vulnerable households, who have partly or totally lost their livelihood assets.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    June to September 2017: During this period, all areas, including those that were affected by this year’s shocks (cyclone, floods, and delayed and below-average rainfall), are expected to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes. During this period, food availability and access is expected to remain stable and adequate, and income-earning opportunities from agricultural labor and self-employment are likely to remain average, supporting needed market purchases. Poor households will continue to meet their food requirements through stocks from their main season harvest, along with harvests from post-flood/cyclone planting and the second season (July to September). However in central semiarid areas, where most poor households are still in the process of reestablishing their typical livelihoods, the most vulnerable among these poor households will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes and are expected to meet their basic food needs but will likely forgo the purchase of essential non-food items due to their below-average and limited incomes. A smaller proportion of households in these areas are projected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes, and they will likely only be able to meet their basic food needs through severe coping strategies, including skipping meals, reducing the quantity of meals or resorting to less preferred foods, including excessive consumption of wild foods and migration to areas with better labor opportunities or higher availability of wild foods. The poor households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), in particular, may require targeted food assistance during this period. There is a potential for people to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outside of the central semiarid region, but the majority are expected to be in parts of Caia, Chemba, and Maringue districts in Sofala Province, parts of Tambara district in Manica Province, and southern parts of Mutarara and Doa districts in Tete Province. For FEWS NET mapping, these areas are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) given that the number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes is projected to be less than 20 percent of the total population from each district.


    October 2017 to January 2018: Gradually, the lean season is expected to begin in October/November in southern and central areas, and December for northern areas, in which most households, especially the very poor and poor, will have exhausted their food stocks and will start expanding their livelihood strategies to meet their food needs. The typical livelihood strategies that households will start employing during this period include, reducing expenditures on non-food items in order to be able to purchase staple foods, intensifying brewing and the sale of traditional drinks for income, cutting and selling of poles and natural products, such as grass, firewood, and charcoal; and seeking casual labor. However, given the above-average food availability from the 2016/17 season, including the expected contribution from the second season, across most of the country, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes are expected to persist during this period. Exceptions include the central region semiarid areas where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to continue between October 2017 and January 2018. The lean season is expected to start a month to two months earlier in September/October, while it typically does not begin until November/December. In these areas, besides Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, the most vulnerable households are expected to continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and will continue to employ the same coping strategies mentioned above and resort to internal or external migration due to growing food gaps, unless targeted humanitarian assistance is timely provided. In addition, it is likely that there could be larger numbers of poor households experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during this period since it corresponds with the traditional lean season, but they are unlikely to represent more than 20 percent of a particular district’s population. This is also the period when the next agricultural season starts, and therefore, countrywide, the agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase households’ income to typical levels and facilitate market purchases following the exhaustion of household food stocks. Agricultural labor is expected to include land clearing, cultivation, planting, and weeding. It is expected that the onset of rainfall between October to December will also provide a variety of wild and seasonal foods that gradually is expected to supplement food availability for poor households until the green food becomes available in February/March2018. 


    Table 1. Possible events in the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    ·         Inadequate input supplies for the 2017/18 main season planting

    • Would limit crop production activities and agricultural labor with the onset of seasonal rains.

    ·         Significantly delayed onset and below-average 2017/18 rainfall

    • This would restrict agricultural labor opportunities, beginning in October 2017, and would negatively impact 2017/18 crop production prospects.

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

    • Local markets would be undersupplied, pushing food prices higher than currently observed and expected.

    ·         Slow recovery of conflict- affected households

    • A slow recovery of households’ livelihoods may aggravate the projected households’ acute food insecurity outcomes.
    Figures Figure 1: Gorongosa maize grain prices and projections (MZN/kg)

    Figure 1

    Figure 1: Gorongosa maize grain prices and projections (MZN/kg)

    Source: FEWS NET Estimates based on MASA/SIMA data

    Figure 2. Semiarid areas in the central region that require close monitoring

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Semiarid areas in the central region that require close monitoring

    Source: FEWS NET


    Figure 3


    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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