Food Security Outlook

A later than usual lean season and continued Minimal food insecurity outcomes expected

October 2014 to March 2015
2014-Q4-1-2-ZW-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
National Parks/Reserves
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The food security situation across the country is stable with most households accessing staple food from their own 2013/14 production. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes are projected from October 2014 through March 2015 as households continue accessing staple food from their own production and through market purchases.

  • Typically the lean season starts in October, but this year it will likely begin in December because staple prices have remained largely stable due to low demand. Households continue to consume stocks from last season’s own production, which is expected to be sufficient through March.

  • Most households across the country are currently engaged in land preparation, however agriculture inputs remain scarce in the majority of local shops in rural areas.

National Overview

Current Situation

  •  The food security situation in the country remains stable and most households, including very poor households in the traditionally production deficit areas in the southwestern parts of the country, are still consuming cereals from their own 2013/14 production. Acute food insecurity is currently Minimal (IPC Phase 1) across all wealth groups in the country.
  • Market demand for cereals has remained relatively low due to consistent supplies at the household level.  This reduced demand has resulted in a 23 and 16 percent decrease in the national average maize grain price, when compared to the same time last year and two-year average, respectively. In comparison to the five-year average, prices for both maize meal and maize grain continue to be stable. Unlike in previous years when significant increases were reported during the month of October, maize meal prices this year are stable in comparison to the same time last year and two-year average.
  • In order to offset current budget deficits, The Zimbabwe Ministry of Finance introduced an increase in the excise duty on fuel, which will increase petrol from 30 cents per liter to 35 cents and diesel from 25 cents to 30 cents per liter. These slight petrol and diesel price increases are approximately 4 percent higher and are not expected to significantly impact cereal prices.
  • Households are currently earning income through typical self-employment and casual labor activities including construction, vegetable sales, and petty trading. Since most parts of the country received light showers during the first week of October, land preparation opportunities have also increased and payment for casual labor activities is mainly in-kind since households hiring labor have surplus cereals from the 2013/14 harvest.
  • Preparation for the 2014/15 agriculture season is in progress but agriculture inputs, especially seed and fertilizers, are mainly available in urban shops across the country with limited availability in rural areas.  Most rural farmers are relying on government distributions of agriculture inputs and supplies, though the exact quantities are not yet known.
  • Livestock conditions are reported to be good in most of the areas in the country including the south western dry areas due to improved pasture conditions and adequate water supplies. However there are reports of an outbreak in foot and mouth disease in the southern areas of the country including in Mwenezi, Chivi, Masvingo, Zaka, and Chiredzi districts. Discussions with communities in these areas indicates that the foot and mouth outbreak could potentially affect household income levels that are usually earned through livestock sales.
  • The Government is supporting approximately 10 – 20 percent of vulnerable and labor constrained households through the harmonized social cash transfer program by targeting 21 districts and providing households with USD $15 –25 per month.  Other safety-net programs are being implemented with support from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) through the Conditional Lean Season assistance program that is targeting only seven districts from the planned 20 due to serious funding shortfalls.
  • Contributions from the various available safety-net programs will cover most of the food requirements for the 564,500 people identified by the ZIMVAC as projected to be food insecure during peak lean season, January-March 2015.

Assumptions

The October to March food security outlook report is informed by the following national and sub-national assumptions:

  • Cereal availability:  Most households, including the very poor in the southern cereal deficit areas, are expected to access cereals from their own production from October-December. However, selected households in the southwestern areas will start to supplement these food stocks with market purchases. While most households in the northern and central parts of country will continue consuming cereals from own production, households in the southern areas will begin to increasingly rely on market purchases from January-March.
  • Staple food prices and market performance:  Markets including those in southern cereal deficit areas are expected to have adequate supplies of maize grain and maize meal with limited supplies of small grains. However from January-March, maize grain supplies in the southern areas will be mainly sourced from distant primary markets including Gokwe, Gutu, and Lusulu. Based on the FEWS-NET’s price projections using both fundamental and technical analysis, average national maize grain prices for the scenario period are projected to be 10 percent below last year’s prices and stable when compared to the two-year average.  The decrease and stability in maize grain prices is due to the increase in market supplies in the central and northern parts of the country and lower demand among most households currently consuming cereals. However, these prices are projected to be 18 percent above the five-year average prices.  Maize meal prices are likely to remain stable during the scenario period when compared to the two year and last year prices, mainly due to low demand as maize grain which the cheaper and most preferred product by rural households will be sufficiently available on the market.
  • Season rainfall forecast:  According to the National Climate Outlook Forum (NACOF), the country will receive normal to above normal rains from October-November and there are increased chances of normal to below normal rains in the south and western parts of the country from December-March.  The Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook released a similar forecast for the October-December period, but the SARCOF indicates that normal to above rains are expected during the January-March period. Based on the more accurate national outlook, the below normal rains from January-March will likely result in the early end of the 2014-15 agriculture season, particularly in the southwestern areas in the country.
  • Agriculture and other labor availability and rates: The likely availability of agriculture inputs through the government support scheme and the expected normal to above rains during the first half of the scenario period (October-December) will likely result in an increase in agriculture-based casual labor activities, particularly in the eastern and northern parts of the county where the area planted is expected to increase during the 2014-15 season. Incomes for the poor holds through agriculture labor are projected to increase by 10 – 20 percent during the October to December period and most of the casual activities are expected to be paid in-kind. From January through March, on-farm casual labor activities are likely to decrease in the southern and western parts of the country where the national forecast is calling for normal to below normal rainfall. Likely projected El Niño conditions increases the chances of low rainfall and an early end to the season, which could reduce agriculture labor opportunities and incomes.
  • Livestock:  Livestock conditions are expected to be good between October and March as the projected normal to above normal rains will likely result in improved pasture conditions and availability of water.  However the projected normal to below normal rains during the January-March period could result in a slight reduction in pasture and water sources in the southwestern areas but are not expected to significantly affect livestock conditions. Incomes from livestock sales are projected to increase during the outlook period as livestock prices are expected to remain above reference year prices.
  • Social-Safety Nets: The Government harmonized cash transfer support to labor constrained, food insecure and vulnerable households will continue targeting about 10-20 percent of the population in each of the 21 targeted districts. Selected households in Masvingo, Manicaland, and Matabeleland North, and South provinces will also benefit from the food components under the USAID funded Development Food Assistance Program implemented through the Amalima and ENSURE projects. The World Food Program will also support the vulnerable households through the Conditional Lean Season Assistance (LSA) that will offset food gaps in some of the affected areas, but coverage will be below the usual 250,000 beneficiaries. 
  • Vegetable production: Vegetable production and incomes from vegetable sales will likely decrease in November as households become fully engaged in on-farm activities.
  • Green Harvest: Despite the forecast for increased chances of normal to below normal rains in southwestern areas, most households across the country are expected to have a normal start of the green harvest from mid-February through March. This normal start of the green harvest is expected to improve poor household food consumption and reduce their reliance on market purchases.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Households are likely to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes from October-December as most households will consume cereals from own production. These conditions are expected to continue from January-March, although very poor households in the southern deficit areas will increase reliance on market purchases to supplement own production. Very poor households in the southwestern areas will access incomes for cereal purchases through casual labor activities. The normal start of the green consumption will provide an alternative source of food for households with early food gaps.

Most of the very poor households will likely access incomes for cereal purchases and other livelihood needs through typical casual labor activities that are comprised mainly of land preparation and planting during the beginning of the season in October and weeding from November-March. Most of the households that will experience food gaps will likely opt for in-kind payments for the both agriculture and non-agriculture casual labor activities. Availability of non-agriculture casual labor activities including construction work, will follow seasonal trends and will likely decrease in November when rains are expected to increase and households begin engaging in farming activities.

For more information on the analyses for the areas of concern please download the full report.

About Scenario Development

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.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics