Skip to main content

Crisis outcomes likely to persist until the next main harvest in March 2019

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • June 2018
Crisis outcomes likely to persist until the next main harvest in March 2019

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Following crop failure and significantly below-average main season production, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are already present in semiarid areas of Gaza and Inhambane, requiring urgent food assistance. Food security is projected to deteriorate and extend to other southern and central areas, primarily Tete, through January 2019. However, in the north and some central areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to prevail through the scenario period due to favorable food availability and access.

    • From June to September 2018, the majority of poor households are likely to consume food from their own production and market purchases. However, in areas facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, poor households are expected to employ coping strategies to try to cover their food gaps. From October 2018 to January 2019, during the typical lean season period, households are likely to employ even more unsustainable coping measures, including excessively consuming wild foods. The number of food insecure people is also likely to increase.

    • In southern and central areas, incomes are expected to remain below average, particularly given the most likely El Niño and impacts on the new agricultural season. However, through November, food access will be slightly facilitated by generally below-average maize prices in urban markets. Thereafter, prices are likely to continue rising, constraining purchasing power. In semiarid areas, below-average maize supplies, combined with increased demand, could push prices to above-average levels, particularly in remote markets.


    Current Situation

    Current Food Security

    Generally, most rural households are relatively food secure and consuming their recently harvested own food from the 2017/18 agricultural season, except in southern and central semiarid areas of Mozambique. These areas experienced crop failure or significantly below-average production due to erratic and poor rainfall and pest infestations. In these areas, without their own production to consume or sell, after enduring the previous lean period, and insufficient income for market food purchases, very poor and poor households are unable to meet their minimum food needs. Based on remote sensing information, crop failure was not as widespread in the central region compared to the south, but food gaps are emerging for poor households in both places, but more significantly in parts of southern Gaza and Inhambane. The most vulnerable households have employed all sustainable livelihood and coping strategies, forcing them to start engaging in unsustainable and crisis coping strategies, including reducing the frequency and quantity of meals, withdrawing children from school, and even consuming seeds and/or non-recommended wild foods. Consumption-based coping strategies are currently not as resilient, as many of the same affected households also lost most of their livelihood assets during the 2015/16 El Niño drought and were still recovering, earning below-average incomes during the 2017/18 agricultural season. In addition, due to the remoteness of most of these areas, as well as a poor marketing system, only a small percentage of poor households have the ability to earn extra cash through livestock sales or charcoal production.

    Currently, the highest levels of food insecurity are in the semiarid interior areas of Gaza and Inhambane, where poor households are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and requiring urgent food assistance. However, there are also currently large numbers of poor households in southern Tete experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes prevail over northern Mozambique and much of the central region, and portions of Inhambane and Maputo provinces, while Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in parts of Tete, northern and southern Sofala and Manica provinces, northern Maputo, and small areas in Gaza and Inhambane provinces.

    2017/18 Agricultural Season Progress

    While the main harvest has ended in the south, it is still ongoing in major producer areas in the central and northern regions. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA), due to the combination of inundations in the north, dryness in the south and central areas, and pests throughout the country, a total of 274,742 hectares of crops or 5.2 percent of total planted area was lost, which is overall quite minimal. The districts most impacted by dryness include Moatize, Chifunde, and Changara in Tete Province and Mapai, Chibuto, and Manjacaze in Gaza Province. MASA estimates 63,900 hectares were lost due to Fall Armyworm (FAW), with Gaza Province being the most affected.

    Preliminary estimates by MASA indicate total 2017/2018 production at 3.2 million MT of cereals (including maize, sorghum, millet, rice, and wheat), which is above the five-year average. Total production of maize alone is estimated at 2.45 million MT, representing an increase of 4.4 percent from last year’s production, which was already one of the best seasons in more than 10 years. The production of pulses (beans and groundnuts) at the national level is estimated at 832,000 MT, an increase of nearly 18 percent from last year’s total production. The total production of tubers and roots (cassava and sweet potatoes) is estimated at 14.9 million MT, an increase of 17 percent over the previous season. The national food balance sheet, which illustrates food availability and deficits, as well as projected imports/exports during the 2018/19 consumption period, is yet to be published.

    Since the start of the second season period in April, in areas that have residual moisture for planting, households are intensifying efforts to make up for shortfalls from the main season, which is a typical livelihood strategy. However, conditions continue to be much drier than normal. Also, this year’s average temperatures have been abnormally higher when compared to the historical average, exacerbating the dry conditions.

    Market Supplies and Prices

    Since the onset of the main harvest in April, the trend of maize grain prices, the primary staple food, have been decreasing seasonally as typical. However, current prices are decreasing at a much slower pace than usual. For example, in Tete market, the average decreasing rate is 50 percent, but currently is only declining at a rate of 19 percent. From April to May 2018, maize grain prices from the FEWS NET monitored markets decreased by 6.5 percent on average, with the largest recorded drop in Gorongosa, but there was also a 19 percent increase in Mocuba, also a central market. While the decreasing trend reflects the gradual increase of maize grain availability from the current season, the slowing rate of decline also reflects the delayed harvest in some places due to replanting. On average, May maize grain prices were 4.4 percent below last year’s prices and nine percent below the five-year average. Maize supplies remain adequate in the reference markets in the most accessible markets, but in remote markets in non-surplus-producing areas affected by this year’s shocks (dryness and pests), there is below-average availability. Prices of two maize substitutes, maize meal and rice, were relatively stable from April to May. On average, May maize meal prices were 21 percent below last year’s prices and 19 percent above five-year prices, while rice prices were seven percent below last year’s prices and 35 percent higher than the five-year average.

    Northern Unrest and Potential Food Insecurity

    According to various media reports, unidentified, armed rebel groups have caused unrest in parts of northern Cabo Delgado. Currently five districts, including Mocimboa da Praia, Palma, Nangade, Quissanga, and Macomia, have been affected, and some local, rural populations have been displaced, disrupting basic livelihoods, as they relocate to safer areas. This is the time when most households would be accessing food from their own crops, which according to the Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) as of mid-June, indicates a favorable harvest, but food access is likely to be affected in insecure areas as people are forced to leave their homes and fields. As of the end of June, the magnitude of displacement and potential food assistance needs of the affected populations are unknown. The Government of Mozambique is encouraging households to return to areas that have been secured by defense and security forces. FEWS NET estimates that the majority of households are able to meet their minimum food needs and are in None (IPC Phase 1), but there is a possibility that some households may face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or even Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes due to forced displacement, which would require urgent food assistance. FEWS NET continues to monitor the situation.

    SETSAN March to May 2018 Food Security Assessment Findings

    Based on its March to May 2018 food security assessment, the Technical Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) estimates through September there will be nearly 500,000 people in Mozambique facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, requiring urgent food assistance. The National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) through the Technical Council of Disaster Management (CTGC) is currently working with the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to mobilize the necessary resources for response. The plan is that humanitarian assistance would also cover other non-food needs, such as improving sanitation and providing needed inputs, like seeds, for the 2018/19 agricultural season.

    Humanitarian Assistance

    As of the end of June, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided food assistance to more than 150,000 people across the country, with the largest distributions in central areas of the county. WFP’s June target was over 210,000 people, and distributions, which are a combination of in-kind, commodity vouchers, and cash, were still ongoing at the time of publishing. Other humanitarian organizations are planning to initiate assistance, primarily focusing on needs outlined in the most recent SETSAN findings, but are still in the process of mobilizing resources. FEWS NET will provide further updates on planned, funded, and likely humanitarian assistance provisions in future reporting.


    The Food Security Outlook for June 2018 to January 2019 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    2017/18 Crop Production Estimates

    • Average main harvest prospects. Based on estimates from WRSI extended to June, which does not incorporate the effects of pests, maize grain production is expected to be good in the northern region, close to average in the central region, and well below average in the southern region. Overall, at a national level, the above-average production in the north will compensate for southern shortfalls.
    • Poor second season prospects. Residual moisture levels for second season production in southern and central areas is expected to be below average through September. As a result, the total level of production is expected to be less than 50 percent of the five-year average.

    Carry-over stocks and food availability/access

    • Carry-over stocks. With MASA estimates of nearly 800,000 MT in maize surpluses from the 2016/17 agricultural season, the carry-over stocks for the current consumption year were well above average even for poor households. Generally, for poor households though these were exhausted before April 2018.
    • National maize grain availability. Locally-produced maize grain will be sufficient for domestic needs due to the expected above-average maize grain production in the surplus areas, including much of the northern region, northeastern Tete, and central Manica and Sofala provinces despite large deficits in the semiarid southern and central areas. As a result, import and export levels will be close to typical levels at 175,000 MT and 110,000 MT, respectively.
    • Household stocks from 2017/18 season. Throughout the scenario period, food availability at the household level will be close to average for much of the country but well below average in semiarid southern and central regions.
    • Availability of wild foods. The quantity of wild foods are expected to be below average through the scenario period in semiarid areas of the south and central regions where they are an important source of food.

    Markets and Trade

    • Maize grain prices. Based on an analysis of current prices and drivers, FEWS NET’s integrated price projections for the national reference market of Gorongosa show that on average maize grain prices are expected to remain below the five-year average by 33 percent and below last year’s prices by 21 percent until November 2018. Thereafter, prices are likely to rise through January 2019 to levels about 10 percent higher than 2017 (see Figure 1).
    • Stable maize meal and rice prices. Throughout the scenario period, due to adequate and stable supplies, prices for maize meal and rice, both direct substitutes for maize grain, are anticipated to remain generally stable but above the five-year average.
    • Informal internal flows. Informal domestic trade flows are expected from both the north and producer areas of the central region to deficit areas. However, as typical, the flows from north to south, except for beans and groundnuts, are likely to be lower due to higher transaction costs.
    • Inflation. Through August 2018, the inflation rate is forecast to remain below three percent, at significantly lower levels than the five-year average of 8.4 percent, but then is expected to gradually rise until January 2019.

    Seasonal forecast

    • 2018/19 Rainy season. According to NOAA and USGS, given the most likely scenario is for El Niño conditions, below-average rainfall, which may also be delayed and erratic in terms of spatial and temporal distribution, particularly in southern areas of Mozambique, is likely between October 2018 to January 2019. There is some uncertainty in this forecast, particularly in regard to sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean.
    • Cyclones. Between December 2018 and January 2019, there is an increased likelihood of reduced cyclone strikes to affect Mozambique due to the elevated probability for El Niño and a negative Southern Indian Ocean Dipole (SIOD).

    Hydrology/Flooding Risk

    • Dam levels. Central and northern dams are at average to above-average levels, while the major dams in the south, while better than February 2018, are still under 56 percent of their full capacity. The levels in the southern Pequenos Libombos dam have significantly improved, increasing the water capacity for Maputo, Matola, and Boane cities, but rationing measures through the dry season are still likely. Given the El Niño forecast, recovery during the next rainy season is expected to be minor for the southern region and moderate for the central region.
    • Flooding in the north. With the increased probability of an El Niño during the 2018/19 season, based on historical events, there is a higher risk for flooding in the northern region in January 2019.

    Agricultural inputs

    • Second season. The majority of poor households are unable to afford short-cycle seeds needed for second season planting. Since seed distributions by partners are extremely low, FAO has not planned any input assistance, there will be inadequate supplies at the household level.
    • 2018/19 Main season. FEWS NET assumes that as usual, for main season planting, a large proportion of farmers will use retained seed, which are typically of poor quality and less resistant to pests and diseases, including FAW. Though not sufficient, 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.


    • Fall Armyworm (FAW), rodents, and other typical pests, including, elegant and spiny grasshopper, African Armyworm, and stalk borer, are likely to remain a threat to irrigated and rain-fed maize and other crops through January 2019.

    Agricultural Labor Demand and Wages

    • From June to August, agricultural labor activities for second season production in southern and central areas, where this is feasible, are expected to be below-average. From September to January 2019, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to improve; however, with the prospect of El Niño, they could be at average to below-average levels. Even though the wealthiest households from the southern and central regions managed to earn near-average income during the 2016/17 harvest, wages are expected to be below average due to 2017/18 shortfalls and the prospects of another poor season. In the north and central producing regions, the level of the agricultural labor will remain close to the five-year average.

    Alternate Labor Opportunities

    • Self-employment. Through the entire scenario period, with an increasing number of people engaging in self-employment activities to supplement their incomes, opportunities to sell services and/or goods and earn income will be reduced.
    • Migration. During the entire scenario period, it is anticipated there will be above-average migration to urban centers in Mozambique and South Africa, particularly by young people from the south, to earn income from petty trade.

    Livestock Body Conditions, Prices, and Movement

    • Average livestock body conditions, productivity, and trekking distances are expected to persist during the scenario period, except in semiarid southern and central regions where there is likely to be a deterioration in pasture and water availability from August to October, which may affect livestock body conditions. This may lead to some distressed sales, which combined with sales for income to purchase food, may lead to below-average prices due to a possible oversupply of livestock in markets.

    Northern Insecurity

    • Throughout the scenario period, there is the potential for localized displacement and livelihood disruptions in parts of Cabo Delgado, primarily Mocimboa da Praia, Palma, Nangade, Macomia, and Quissanga districts, that are experiencing insecurity, which may require humanitarian assistance.

    Emergency Humanitarian Assistance

    • WFP has planned and funded assistance through January 2019 to assist a varying number of beneficiaries (see Table 1). As previously mentioned there was June assistance to beneficiaries across the south, central, and northern regions. Per the below table, the number of beneficiaries decreases through August, there is no planned assistance in September, and then it will initially resume in October in the south. From November 2018 to January 2019, the current available resources will allow WFP in theory to assist the same 128,000 people in southern and central areas. Given SETSAN’s estimates of the number of people in need through September, before the peak of the lean season begins, these plans would cover only about 25 percent of the population. However, WFP intends to scale up its assistance plans to reach approximately 400,000 people if it is able to secure funding.

    Table 1. WFP Planned and Funded Food assistance (2018/19)


    Jun 2018

    Jul 2018

    Aug 2018

    Sep 2018

    Oct 2018

    Nov 2018

    Dec 2019

    Jan 2019


































    Source: WFP


    • Based on the March/April 2018 nutrition assessment conducted by SETSAN, the overall prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in the assessed districts is Acceptable (GAM <5 percent), with the exception of Namuno District in Cabo Delgado, which has a 6.4 percent GAM rate, which indicates an Alert situation (GAM by WHZ 5-10 percent). This prevalence of acute malnutrition is expected to be sustained through September, but then an overall deterioration is expected through January 2019. However, most of the analyzed districts are expected to remain at the same levels. However, geographical disparities exist (underlying non-food security factors are driving these higher rates), with a projected level of acute malnutrition expected to deteriorate from Acceptable to Alert/Serious (GAM by MUAC 6-10.9 percent) in Balama and Chiure in Cabo Delgado, Marara in Tete, and Macossa in Manica Province.


    From June to September, the majority of poor households in the north and much of the central region are expected to maintain good food availability and access; however, this will not be possible for poor households in semiarid southern and central areas. With below-average harvests or total crop losses and limited or no available livestock for sale, poor households are not expected to have enough income to meet their minimum food needs. In addition, staple food prices are expected to rise to above five-year averages in local markets in these areas, further constraining household purchasing power. In order to obtain money for market food purchases or to pay for key non-food expenditures, if still possible, households will be engaged in typical self-employment activities. In August and September, the second season harvest, which typically replenishes household food stocks, is likely to be minimal or nonexistent for those that experienced below average or no harvesting since residual moisture for planting was not available. (Poor households, who are unable to produce any of their own food stocks from second season production, are not likely to have any until the next main season.) Competition for labor opportunities, including self-employment, is expected to increase during this period, further limiting needed income-earning opportunities. Between June and July, some of the districts that had previously been in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), including the majority of districts in Gaza Province, excluding Chigubo in Gaza, which was already facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes; western Inhambane Province, and southern Tete Province, are expected to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3), as poor households in those districts will be unable to meet their minimum food needs. In response, they are likely to intensify typical livelihood and coping mechanisms that are usually employed during the height of the lean season, including forgoing expenditures on needed livelihood investments and selling more charcoal and firewood. However, even with these strategies, more poor households, as early as August, will be forced to start engaging in unsustainable and crisis coping strategies, including reducing the frequency and quantity of meals, withdrawing children from school, and even consuming seeds. Those with livestock will desperately sell in an unsustainable manner, while others without, will atypically consume wild foods even though excessive consumption for longer periods of time, particularly xicutsi, can lead to health problems, including malnutrition. Other nearby districts, with less semiarid characteristics and better access to markets, income-generating activities, and second season production possibilities, are expected to experience Stressed IPC (Phase 2) outcomes (far southern areas of Gaza, parts of Inhambane, northeastern and central Maputo, north-central Tete Province, and northern and southern areas of both Sofala and Manica provinces). The rest of the country is expected to remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    From October to January 2017, food security is still not projected to change for northern and some central areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes will still prevail; but the number of poor households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in the country’s semiarid areas is expected to increase. This is the period in which the country starts experiencing typical effects of the lean season, but this year the level of severity will be heightened. Poor households will further intensify crisis coping strategies that they had already been employing, further reducing the frequency and quantity of foods due to income shortages, and excessively consuming wild foods. Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase during this period as the next season begins, providing a slight income cushion, but overall they are expected to be slightly below average. With the forecast El Niño, farmers are likely to be slow to plant. In general, the onset of the November rains will provide a variety of wild and seasonal foods that will gradually help to fill some food gaps among poor households until the green food becomes available in February and March 2019. However, if there are delayed and erratic rains, this could limit the availability of seasonal wild foods. In the areas already in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and in additional areas, including most of Govuro in Inhambane Province, Machanga and Chemba in Sofala Province, and Chiuta and Chifunde in Tete, also affected by dry conditions and pests during the main 2017/18 season, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will persist and start emerging. A greater number of poor and very poor households are expected to have food consumption gaps, and for some of the most vulnerable, the gaps will increase even further. For many poor households, the seasonal wild foods will be their only major source of food, particularly in areas that have been in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) longer, and for those who have limited earning potential. It is possible there could also be smaller, worst-affected populations, particularly elderly, widows, and/or children living alone, with less capabilities to engage in any of the indicated alternative activities, especially in parts of Chigubo in Gaza Province. These people could experience larger gaps in their basic food needs and face more severe outcomes in the absence of assistance.

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


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

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

    Figure 2

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

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top