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Generally favorable food security outcomes expected through May 2018

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mozambique
  • October 2017
Generally favorable food security outcomes expected through May 2018

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  • Key Messages
  • Assumptions
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
  • Key Messages
    • Across most of Mozambique, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to prevail through May 2018, following the above-average 2016/17 agricultural season. However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in parts of Sofala, Manica, and Tete provinces. As the lean season progresses, there is an expected deterioration to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in northwestern Sofala until the harvest in mid-April. Poor households in these areas are expected to require humanitarian assistance to cover their food gaps. 

    • Food access remains favorable across the country as the bumper crop production is directly reflected in lower staple food prices. Atypical, stable maize grain prices continued in August, September, and October at below five-year averages. According to FEWS NET price projections, this trend is likely to continue through at least May 2018. As poor households continue to restore previously depleted incomes throughout the 2017/18 agricultural season, these lower staple food prices are expected to ease livelihood recovery.

    • The rainfall forecast indicates a timely start and generally positive cropping conditions, which is likely to lead to near-average 2017/18 crop production. As a result, this is expected to lead to generally favorable food availability and access through May 2018, with a few exceptions. With expected La Niña conditions, there is a chance for increased cyclonic activity that could impact Mozambique, and there is also a moderate to high risk of flooding in some river basins during January to March 2018.


    Current Situation

    Current Food Security

    ·         Food availability and access is favorable across the country, following the bumper crop production from the 2016/17 agricultural season. Overall, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are prevailing for most areas of Mozambique. This includes the chronically deficit semiarid areas of the country, such as the interior of Gaza and Inhambane and much of southern Tete and parts of Manica Province. Exceptions include parts of northwestern Sofala Province (all of Chemba District, northwestern portions of Caia District, northern areas of Maríngue District) and in parts of nearby districts of Mutarara, Doa, and Moatize in Tete Province and Tambara in Manica Province where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present. These areas were affected by irregular distribution of rainfall characterized by long dry spells (in all districts listed above) during the main agricultural season and an unprecedented mice infestation, particularly in Chemba, Tambara, and Caia, during the second agricultural season. It is important to note that in other districts not classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2), there is the possibility for households to fall into that category or even Crisis (IPC Phase 3), but the total number is less than 20 percent of the total district population.

    ·         FEWS NET analysis using the Water Requirements Satisfaction Index (WRSI), indicates that 2016/17 was the best agricultural season during the last 16 years based on available data. The second best season was the 2003/04, and the three worst seasons were the 2004/05, 2014/15, and 2015/16. In its August crop assessment report for the 2016/17 agricultural season, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) estimates a nearly 800,000 MT maize grain surplus, one of the highest ever recorded. According to MASA, it did not identify any pockets of food insecurity throughout the country, including consumption of improper food by households. However, though food availability was adequate, MASA observed some isolated cases of acute malnutrition in some districts, which according to key sources, was mainly related to poor food diversity and low knowledge of nutritional valuable food.

    ·         With average to above-average food availability at the household level, most poor households are able to meet their basic food needs by selling and consuming their own produced food. However, given the past two consecutive years of poor production in southern and central regions, poor households’ 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 two consecutive years of drought, this year’s localized rainfall irregularity, and the mice infestation, had below-average crop production. Households, who are likely facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, need assistance to protect their livelihoods.

    ·         Currently, most households are focusing on land preparation and planting for the 2017/18 agricultural season, which officially starts in October of each year. Planting has already started in parts of the southern region, particularly in Maputo, Gaza, and Inhambane provinces. At this stage, availability of seeds, particularly certified seeds is crucial. However, as typical, the majority of households are using retained seeds, which in most cases are of low germination power. According to MASA, total national seed needs for the 2017/18 agricultural season for the most vulnerable households is estimated at 515 MT for maize grain, 880 MT for rice, 300 MT for groundnuts, 500 MT for cowpeas, 35,331 for cassava, and 123,600 for sweet potatoes.

    Market Supplies and Prices

    ·         Atypically stable maize grain prices continue in all monitored markets in the country, with some cases where maize grain prices are still decreasing. Usually, starting in August, maize grain prices start increasing, but this year, in August, September and October, prices have been atypically stable and remain below the five-year average (see Figure 1). This reflects the above-average maize grain production from the 2016/17 agricultural season. On average, current maize grain prices are 60 percent below last year’s prices and 20 percent below the five-year average.

    ·         The two major substitutes of maize grain, namely rice and maize meal, are also displaying atypical trends, characterized by decreasing tendencies during August, September, and October. These imported food commodities, including the grain for maize meal, are typically stable throughout the year. Maize meal prices decreased from August to September by five percent on average, and current prices are below last year’s prices by eight percent but above the five-year average by 56 percent. Rice prices have also decreased by five percent on average, during the same period, and current rice prices are 10 percent below last year’s prices but 43 percent above the five-year average. Current maize grain, maize meal, and rice prices are at their lowest levels since prices started increasing in early 2016.

    ·         Due to increased food availability, even the markets in the chronically deficit areas in the south and central areas (Moamba, Bilene, Chókwe, Inharrime, Funhalouro, Massinga, Vilanculos, Morrumbene, and Cahora Bassa) have been atypically receiving locally-produced maize grain. In general, the flows of maize grain are typical, though at low volumes, due to reduced demand from some destination centers. The increased supply and low demand is, from the producer perspective, pushing prices down to unsatisfactory levels. Large volumes of maize grain and other food commodities are available in the major producer centers with no market or being sold at relatively low prices. In an attempt to allay producer problems, the Government of Mozambique, through its Institute of Cereals (ICM), suggested an intention to buy part of the surplus, but it is unclear if this will occur. In November, FEWS NET will carry out a market assessment in major central and northern producer centers to verify the extent of available maize grain volumes in the country.

    SETSAN Food Security Qualitative Monitoring

    ·         The Technical Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) is currently carrying out a qualitative food security assessment to update the projections done in August 2017, in which a total of 360,000 people were projected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes from October 2017 to March 2018. Those projections incorporated household food security indicator data that was collected in July to reflect outcomes at the provincial level, including Food Consumption Score (FCS), Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS), Reduced Coping Strategies Index (rCSI), and Livelihood Change. According to the surveys, FCS was worst in Tete Province. For the current assessment, only the districts classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and any new districts that may be of concern to provincial authorities are being surveyed. The results from this assessment will be available in late November, following an IPC acute food security analysis. This IPC analysis will possibly integrate nutritional information from the Ministry of Health, which will carry out a national nutritional survey during a Health Week between late October and early November.


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

    Food availability

    • National maize grain surplus. Before incorporating exports and imports, according to MASA estimates, there is an initial surplus of around 800,000 MT of maize grain.
    • National rice deficit. After incorporating initial stock estimates (final numbers are still unavailable), according to MASA, the deficit is likely to be near typical levels of around 220,000 MT, which is expected to be covered by international rice imports.
    • Above-average households stocks from 2016/17 season. From October to December, above-average household food stocks are likely, even in some typically deficit areas. Average levels, due to partial sales, are then likely through March.

    Markets and Trade

    • International maize trade. Maize is expected to be imported largely from South Africa by the milling companies at average levels estimated at 175,000 MT. Exports will likely be above average through formal and informal trade.
    • Maize prices. From October 2017 to May 2018, maize grain prices are expected to remain at near average levels and will seasonally rise during the peak of the lean season and then gradually decrease with the harvest. Based on an analysis of current prices and drivers, FEWS NET’s integrated price projections show that prices will peak at about MZN 13.00/kg to MZN 15.00/Kg in January in Gorongosa in Sofala Province, a reference market of national trends.
    • Maize meal/rice prices. Based on FEWS NET price projections for Gorongosa market, maize meal and rice prices are likely to be stable through May 2018 but remain on average 36 and 42 percent above the five-year average, respectively.
    • Livestock prices. From October 2017 to February 2018 across much of the south and parts of the central region, livestock prices, particularly for goats and cattle, are expected to remain above average due to the low selling rate by poor households, who are working to recover their herd sizes, following distressed sales during the 2015/16 drought. However, it is expected that prices will likely slowly decrease from March through May 2018 to average levels, following improved body conditions and the gradual recovery of herd sizes.

    Seasonal Forecast and Cyclonic Activity

    • Normal onset and generally favorable rainy season. According to NOAA and USGS, the start of the 2017/18 rainy season is likely to be normal. Total cumulative seasonal rainfall during the October 2017 – March 2018 period is likely to be average tending to above average, particularly in northern areas, and average tending to below average in southern Mozambique.
    • Cyclonic activity. Between December 2017 and March 2018, there are increased chances of cyclonic activity for the southwest Indian Ocean, with increased likelihood of a cyclone impacting coastal Mozambique with the expected La Niña conditions and warm sea surface temperature anomalies off the coast of Madagascar.

    Hydrology/Flooding Risk

    • River and dam levels. These are expected to be at average levels through May. The Pequenos Libombos dam, a key water supply for Maputo, Matola, and Boane, which was only at 22 percent of its capacity in September, requires close monitoring.  
    • Localized moderate flooding expected. According to the National Directorate of Water Resources Management (DNGRH), from October to December 2017, there is a low risk (10 to 25 percent probability) for flooding in almost all river basins, except Maputo, Incomáti, Mutamba, Inhanombe, and Savane, which have a moderate risk (25-50 percent). For January to March 2018, there is a moderate to high risk (50-75 percent) of flooding for Incomáti, Save, Búzi, Pungoe, Licungo, Megaruma, and Messalo river basins.


    • For the 2017/18 season, FEWS NET assumes that as usual, a large proportion of farmers will use retained seed for planting, which are usually of poor quality and less resistant to pests and diseases. Certified seeds are expensive and are only likely to be used by rural households if they are received as free distributions. FEWS NET expects some seed distributions will likely take place by October, but amounts are unknown. If they are received past the onset of rains in November/December, this will affect yields.

    Fall Armyworm (FAW) Impacts

    • The presence of FAW, Spodoptera frugiperda, was confirmed in all provinces of Mozambique, except in Cabo Delgado during the 2016/17 season. A combination of various factors, including temperature, wind, and rainfall patterns influence the movement of FAW and affect the severity of an infestation. Depending on the extent of pest management strategies to control FAW, there is a possibility that the pest could have a more severe impact on the 2017/18 season.

    2017/18 Agricultural Prospects

    • Crop Production. Near-average crop production is likely for Mozambique, with a tendency toward above-average in the central region. Southern areas and parts of the north may have below-average production due to the forecast normal to below-normal rainfall during the second half of the season.

    Agricultural labor availability and wage rates

    • Agricultural labor opportunities are expected to be close to normal throughout the scenario period, but wage rates may vary. In the central areas, poor households are expected to earn near-average wages through both in-kind and other payment modalities, while in the southern and northern regions, wages may be slightly below the average due to the chances of normal to below-normal rainfall, which may limit some of the agricultural activities.

    Emergency humanitarian assistance

    • The World Food Programme (WFP) has confirmed resources to provide food assistance to a minimum of 150,000 people, out of the 360,000 people projected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by the SETSAN July food security assessment. Other humanitarian organizations, such as CHEMO and COSACA, two NGO consortiums, are planning to cover part of the remaining needs, but both are still working to consolidate their plans. Following the results from the November 2017 IPC, Mozambique’s Humanitarian Country Team may adjust the humanitarian assistance plans, accordingly. FEWS NET will continue to monitor the situation and incorporate future planned, funded, and likely assistance into its analysis if there is detailed information on coverage, beneficiaries, and timing.


    • Overall, the typical national prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) is estimated to be below ten percent. However, based on the March/April 2017 SETSAN assessment and IPC acute malnutrition analysis, geographical disparities exist with a higher (>10 percent) prevalence of GAM recorded in a few districts. The level of GAM in many districts in the country is Acceptable (GAM <5 percent) and is projected to remain at this level through May 2018. The exception is in Namuno and Chiure districts, where the IPC projects a sustained Critical (GAM by MUAC 11-16.9 percent) level of acute malnutrition through February 2018. In addition, the level of acute malnutrition in Morrumbala, Mopeia, Cahora Bassa, and Ancuabe districts will likely deteriorate from Acceptable to Alert/Serious (GAM by MUAC 6-10.9 percent) phase between October 2017 to February 2018 due to decreased food access during the lean season.  Chronic factors could also impact GAM prevalence in the country, including the likelihood of flooding, which could disrupt access to health services and treatment of acute malnutrition in targeted feeding programs; the increased incidence of seasonal diseases, such as diarrhea and malaria; and poor access to water and sanitation. From March 2018, an overall Acceptable level of acute malnutrition is anticipated with increased food access after the harvest. The nutrition rehabilitation programs in Mozambique, despite coverage challenges, will also partly contribute to stability.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From October 2017 to January 2018, the lean season is expected to gradually begin from October/November in southern and central areas, and December for northern areas, in which most households, especially the very poor and poor, will gradually exhaust their food stocks and will start employing their typical livelihood strategies to meet their minimum food needs. This year, due to above-average food availability during the 2017/18 consumption period, most poor households will still be accessing their own food through January. This period also coincides with the start of the new agricultural season, and therefore, countrywide, agricultural labor opportunities are expected to increase household 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 are expected to supplement food availability for poor households until the green food becomes available in February/March 2018. Typical livelihood strategies to be employed during this period will include, reducing expenditures on non-food items to save for food purchases, brewing and sale of traditional drinks for income, cutting and selling of poles and natural products, such as grass, firewood, and charcoal; and seeking casual labor. Due to favorable food access, much of the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. Exceptions include parts of northwestern Sofala Province (the entire Chemba district, northwest Caia district, and northern Maríngue district) where poor households are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, likely beginning in mid-November, due to an early exhaustion of household food stocks (see livelihood zone 17 area of concern below). Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist during this period, in parts of nearby Mutarara, Doa, and Moatize districts in Tete Province and Tambara District in Manica Province (see livelihood zone 15 area of concern below). In these areas, and others with households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3), humanitarian assistance that provides emergency food aid and/or protects livelihoods is expected to be required.

    From February to May 2018, there will be a gradual transition from the peak lean season (December-March) to generally improved food access in April and May. In the southern region, particularly in Maputo and the coastal areas of Gaza and Inhambane provinces, the green harvest is expected in February and the harvest will start in March. In the interior of Gaza and Inhambane, the green harvest is expected in mid-March and the harvest in April. In much of the central and northern zones, the harvest is expected to start in April and May, respectively. Apart from the green food, the majority of poor households in these areas will continue relying on a range of typical livelihood and coping strategies. As green food becomes available and the harvest starts, most poor households will gradually reduce their dependency on coping strategies and market purchases. Household income is expected to be close to typical levels given that most households will have managed to sell part of their own crops and earned some cash from casual labor and self-employment activities. It is estimated that from January until March 2018, the number of food insecure people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity will be well below the five-year average, including potential flood or cyclone-affected people, who may require emergency food assistance depending on the magnitude of the disaster. Generally, the households who are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will need targeted humanitarian assistance during only February and March 2018. 

    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.

    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


    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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