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Normal start of the 2012/13 agriculture season expected

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • October 2012 - March 2013
Normal start of the 2012/13 agriculture season expected

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • As the lean season (October to March) sets in the majority of rural households throughout the country are meeting their basic food needs. These favorable food security conditions are due largely to existing food stocks from the main harvest of the 2011/12 cropping season and the availability of diversified food crops from the second season, including horticultural crops.

    • Poor households in most of Funhalouro and Chigubo districts and parts of Chicualacuala, Panda and Machanga districts are currently facing food and livelihood deficits that are likely to continue until the main harvest in March 2013. In these areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity conditions will prevail throughout the outlook period.

    • Between October and December, the majority of rural poor households in parts of Mutarara, Moatize, and Chiuta and Changara districts will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity conditions, while from January to March 2013 poor households in Mutarara district will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity conditions.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    The lean season has begun in most parts of the rural south and central zones and is expected to begin in the northern zone in December. With most of the country in the lean season (October-February), the majority of rural households are able to meet their basic food needs. The overall Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity conditions are due largely to the availability of existing food stocks at the household level from the main harvest, and the production of various vegetable crops from the second season. The 2012/13 cropping season has officially started and land preparation is complete for most areas in the south and parts of the central region.

    Most of the main monitored markets are adequately supplied with staple food and commodities. Trade flows around the country are following the usual seasonal pattern and staple food prices are following seasonal trends.  However, different price trends have been observed in Milange district in the Zambézia province.  During a recent field visit in early October to this area bordering the southern zone of Malawi, FEWS NET quickly assessed the causes and implications of the abnormally high prices of maize in Milange, along with the likely impact of these prices in surrounding areas. Between April and July of this year maize prices abnormally spiked by 113 percent in Milange. Thereafter the prices stabilized and currently the maize in Milange is 38 percent higher than those of the same period of last year and 23 percent higher than the five-year average (2007-2011).

    According to district sources, the abnormally high maize prices are mainly due to reduced production during the 2011/12 main season that was caused by abnormally heavy rainfall of more than 600 millimeters over a period of less than 10 days in January. This heavy rain damaged maize crops that were in the flowering stage in most areas of Milange district. The long dry spell that followed in February prevented most of the damaged crops from recovering. By April and May the maize that was harvested was quickly absorbed by traders. Since then tons of maize was purchased by licensed traders and transported into Malawi where storage facilities are better than those existing in the Mozambican side. FEWS NET was informed that the bulk of this maize will be released by traders later during the peak of the lean season from December to February.

    Milange is normally a maize surplus district and a food basket of the Zambézia Province. The abnormally high prices and low availability of maize have reduced the level of exports to various destinations outside of Milange district. However, the impact of prices and availability is negligible given the variety of crop production in the district. For instance, this year’s production of pigeon pea was extraordinary high and this boom in pigeon pea production has increased household income for all wealth groups. Sesame and cotton had also performed well above expectation. Overall, current high maize prices in Milange are seen locally as a temporary abnormality that is expected to change during the next harvest.


    The October 2012 to March 2013 outlook is based on the following, national-level assumptions:


    • A good agricultural season is expected based on forecasts for improved rainfall distribution during the second half of the season (January-March), especially in the central and northern zones of the country where planting generally starts in late November/December.
    • According to the projections by the Ministry of Agriculture, between October and December, much of the central and the southern zones of the country will fulfill 50 to 70 percent of their crop water requirements. Between January and March, the southern zone will continue to meet only 50 to 70 percent of crop water requirements, while the rest of the country is expected to meet 70 to 100 percent of water requirements necessary for crop growth.
    • The 2012/13 seasonal climate outlook forecast expects near-normal to above-normal rainfall for the northern part of the country, including the northern portion of the central region, and normal to below-normal rains for the rest of the country between October and December.
    • 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.  
    • Forecasted weather conditions favor normal seasonal cropping activities during the entire Outlook period, however the influence of a weak El Niño could result in some spatially unevenly distributed rainfall patterns.  

    Markets and Trade

    • Maize prices across the country have been the same or slightly 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. Typical staple food price variation during the rest of the consumption period (October 2012-March 2013) will ensure food access to the majority of households that are beginning to make market purchases.

    Agricultural Labor

    • The expected normal start of season will enable normal cropping season activities and labor opportunities will be at normal levels from October to December.
    • With the possibility of mid-season dry spells in some regions of the country, these events could reduce opportunities for agriculture labor, particularly for harvest during the months of February and March

    Humanitarian Assistance

    • Due to a food pipeline break, humanitarian assistance levels throughout the outlook period will continue to be inadequate since only 100,000 out of 255,000 are currently covered by the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC), National Institute for Social Action (INAS), and the World Food Programme (WFP) joint effort.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Based on the national-level assumptions described above, food insecurity will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) during the outlook period. However, since most of the outlook period coincides with the lean season, some poor households will exhaust their food reserves and will begin to rely on a range of typical livelihood and coping strategies. These typical strategies include reduced spending on non-food items and seeking casual labor (i.e. land preparation, planting, hunting, and gathering wild foods from the forest). Another source of household income is through the sale of diversified forest and craft products including: grass, building poles, cane/reed and firewood. In addition to this, households will become involved in the production and sale of charcoal, selling of livestock/poultry, traditionally distilled alcohol, and other goods. Consumption of wild foods is expected to intensify during the lean season and following the initial rains, which usually provide a variety of wild foods. In some areas gifts, remittances, and hunting will play an important role in improving household food access. In recent years there has also been an increase in the production of cashew-nuts which has contributed to increased food availability and income at the household level.

    Areas of Concern

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

    Current Situation

    Most poor households in the Chicualacuala, Chigubo, northern Guijá, Funhalouro, Mabote, Panda and Chibuto districts have already exhausted their food reserves from the 2011/12 harvest. The main season earlier this year was adversely affected by mid-season dryness in January and February, which reduced crop yields and food availability for the current consumption year. The second season has contributed to some extent to minimizing the production shortfalls. In most parts of the Livelihood zone the food security has remained stable since April.

    In the Inhambane province portion of the zone, access to alterative livelihood strategies and intense informal trade have contributed to stable food security conditions since April. For instance, in Chigubo district households have moved their livestock to neighboring areas in order to access water and pasture. Water distribution is currently underway in Chigubo district new boreholes will be established in selected areas.

    The Semi-Arid Interior-Maize livelihood zone is a deficit area in terms of production and depends on surplus from the central and northern areas. Currently the markets are supplied with different products including manufacturing products. Trade flows are following the seasonal pattern. In Maxixe, another reference market in south, bean prices from July to August have decreased by ten percent, while maize prices went up by 8 percent following the seasonal trend.

    The rural poor households are currently facing food access constraints which are likely to continue in this zone until January. Households are making food purchases through cash obtained by making and selling poles, along with the intensive sale of firewood, charcoal, small animals, traditionally brewed alcohol drinks, handcrafts, and other forest products. A number of households in the area have also been receiving remittances from relatives working in South Africa and other major urban centers. Consumption of wild foods is also increasing now that the lean season has started.

    The onset of rains is expected in October and will provide a variety of wild and seasonal foods that will gradually improve food access for poor households until the green harvest becomes available in January/February 2013. Cashew nuts are among the most important seasonal foods that provide both food and income in December and January for poor households in the drought-affected areas in this zone. Currently, poor households in this area of concern are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity conditions.


    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 be normal and will continue to supply staple foods to local markets. Although staple food quantities will be lower during the October-December period, markets in this region are expected to receive surplus supplies from the central and northern region.
    • Since current staple food prices in this area are higher than the five-year average, they will likely continue to follow seasonal trends and will remain at least 30 percent above the five-year average throughout the outlook period.
    • Given the forecast for a weak El Niño this season, there is a 50 percent probability for the occurrence of prolonged dry spells during the January-March period, and this could affect crop maturation, yield, and possibly reduce labor opportunities during the harvest months (February-March).  
    • Overall household food access during the outlook period is expected to be moderately reduced. In this area market purchases will be the most important source of food and access to a variety of wild and seasonal foods will help to sustain households until the arrival of the green harvest in January/February.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    During the first half of the outlook period (October to December), poor households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions will respond by expanding their typical livelihood and coping strategies. In this area some of these strategies include participating in more agriculture labor in order to raise income for market purchases. It is likely that household engagement in on-farm activities will prevent members from migrating for labor. During the second half of the outlook period (January to March) as maize prices begin to increase, household purchasing power will likely decrease, further limiting poor household access to food through markets. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions are expected to persist in this Livelihood zone throughout the outlook period.

    Semi-Arid Northern Zambezi Valley Livelihood Zone

    Current Situation

    The majority of rural households Mutarara, Moatize, Chiuta and parts of Changara district continue to meet their basic food needs through existing food stocks from the main harvest of the 2011/12 cropping season, along with various food crops from the ongoing second season activities. Households in this area continue to maximize planting in the lowlands where residual moisture is present, along with planting on the many islands near the major rivers. This approach has minimized food deficits in various parts of the zone and has resulted in communities maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity conditions.

    Findings from the rapid assessment in Mutarara (southern part of the livelihood zone) revealed that from June, the production of pigeon peas was significantly higher than previously expected. This factor has contributed substantially to the improvement of area food consumption and income. Additionally, cash crop (sesame and cotton) production contributed to household incomes.

    Most poor households are engaged in fishing and the gathering of wild foods. Those with no access to fishing areas depend on other wild foods and utilize more root crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes. Livelihood strategies among the poor included seeking labor opportunities, construction, handicrafts, and timber and charcoal sales. The sale of livestock was generally limited to poultry sales. The collection and sale of rocks for construction and brick making is common in this area.

    Markets in this zone are adequately supplied, favoring food access for the majority of household. Food prices in this area are increasing and are currently above the five-year average, which is hindering food access for some poor households. It appears that the above average availability of pigeon peas and income from cash crops is buffering the effect of low maize production this year. Despite the higher than average maize prices, poor households are accessing enough cash to make adequate market purchases and meet their food needs.


    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 northern Zambézia province between December-March.
    • Food prices will remain at least 16 to 20 percent above the five-year average between December and February. Current staple maize prices are around 16 percent above the five-year average in Mutarara and are expected to remain at that level or above.
    • The total household income from casual labor will remain the same throughout the outlook period.
    • Households will be able to meet basic food needs through the expansion of the collection of wild foods.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    During the first half of the outlook period (October-December 2012), households will be able to meet their basic food requirements through their own food stocks, some market purchases, and from the second season production.  Households will also extend their typical livelihood strategies to meet their basic food needs by consuming flour made from massanica and water lily seeds, baobab pulp and other wild foods during this period. Seasonal fruits that will be available in late November/December.  The consumption of wild foods will likely increase as the peak of the lean season approaches in December/January. Households will also meet their food requirements through increased sales of natural products such as grass, building poles, and firewood, production and the sale of charcoal. Income through casual labor is also expected to play an important role during this period. Between October and December, the majority of rural poor and very poor households in this zone will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity conditions.

    During the second half of the scenario period (January-March 2013), some food gaps will emerge and will likely continue until the main harvest in April. Purchasing power is expected to be problematic for poor households as the staple food prices remain above the average and peak in December/January. Within this Livelihood zone, those households most at risk of food insecurity are the poor and very poor that do not have livestock to sell in order to cope.  Green harvests will stabilize and gradually increase food access during this period. Food insecurity conditions will likely worsen between January and March and poor households in this zone will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Cyclone Prone Areas in Nampula and Inhambane, Zamabézia 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 conditions. 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, and coconut, cashew-nut, cassava and rice production. Households are able to meet the basic food requirements without major changes in the food consumption, and maintaining the normal livelihood strategies. The majority of poor and very poor households in these areas are currently experiencing Minimal acute food insecurity conditions.


    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 between the months of November and March.
    • On average, one cyclone hits Mozambique per year and lesser-magnitude tropical disturbances hit three to four times per year. The most frequent destination of Mozambique-bound cyclones is the coastal areas between Nampula and Inhambane provinces. 
    • If a category 2 and above cyclone hit the coast, emergency responses would likely include the provision of shelter, food, water and sanitation services.
    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, food insecurity conditions among the majority of poor and very poor households are expected to be Minimal. acute food insecurity conditions (IPC Phase 1).

    Events that Might Change the Outlook



    Impact on food security outcomes

    All zones

    Late start of seasonal rainfall

    Will lengthen the lean season period by delaying the main season planting. This could exacerbate current food insecurity conditions.

    LHZ 17

    Occurrence of floods, given the forecasted above normal rainfall in the upstream and locally

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






    All zones


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

    Local market would be undersupplied, pushing food prices higher than current expectations. Food deficits, especially for poor households, would be larger, particularly late in the peak of the hunger season.

    Inadequate input supply

    Inadequate input availability will prevent households from benefiting from the expected favorable agro climatic conditions.

    No adequate response for humanitarian assistance -

    Failure to respond in a timely fashion will cause poorer households to begin employing negative and even extreme coping strategies, including consumption of improper food on a large scale such as wild foods that are highly toxic and stripping of assets.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, October 2012

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, October 2012

    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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