Southern Africa Food and Nutrition Security Working Group: Crop and Livestock Situation Update, Food Security Outlook and Nutrition Update (Bulletin, April 2018)
Cereal production during the upcoming harvest season in Southern Africa is expected to be below average, despite the heavy late rains, which benefitted the late planted crops. This is due to a late start of the rainy season, minimal to no rains during the critical planting season (December -January), high temperatures and the prevalence of Fall Armyworm (FAW).
Large carry-over supply from a bumper 2017 harvest should partly cushion the impact of the expected maize production decreases. South Africa is forecast to have maize opening stocks of over 4 million MT in the 2018/19 marketing year, more than triple the level of the previous year. The opening stocks in Zambia and Zimbabwe are enough to cover 40 and 70 per cent of the annual cereal requirements respectively. Prices of cereals in most countries are below last year and the 5-year average. Household purchasing power continues to remain stable due to prevailing low prices, which, in addition to the generally adequate supplies, also provides a conducive environment for cash-based interventions.
While regional food availability is likely to remain adequate, food insecurity is expected to rise amongst vulnerable households in several locations where production shortfalls are expected – including in Lesotho, southern and some central parts of Mozambique, northern and western Namibia, southern parts of Zambia and Malawi, southern and extreme north of Zimbabwe and southern Madagascar.
Localised flooding was recorded in Malawi, southern Tanzania, northern Mozambique and northeastern Madagascar. Madagascar, Mauritius and La Réunion were hit by cyclones and storms. The heavy rains and flooding increases the risk of vector-borne livestock diseases such as Rift Valley Fever (RVF). Major potential hotspots of RVF vector amplification are located in north-western Namibia, southeastern Botswana, south-western and northern Zimbabwe and wide areas in Mozambique. However, since the start of 2018, no country in the region has reported RVF outbreaks.
Grazing livestock conditions continue to improve in most areas in Southern Africa, reflecting the heavier rainfall since February. However, severe dryness is experienced in western and north-western parts of Namibia, particularly Omaheke region, as well as parts of southern Angola, in Namibe, Cunene,Huila and Benguela Provinces. There are reports of cattle deaths due to lack of water and pasture.
No major global acute malnutrition spikes have been observed during the peak lean season (January – March). However, pockets of high GAM (>10%) persist in specific areas, such as communities in southern Madagascar. The major nutrition challenge in the region continues to be chronic malnutrition, which is in the high to very high category in thirteen countries in the region.
Countries should take all appropriate measures to promote regional trade of maize, fostering predictability in markets, and hold back from taking ad-hoc actions that would restrict imports or exports of grains within the region.
There is a need to take advantage of the late rains to support off-season crop production.
Surveillance of the nutrition situation should continue, with specific attention paid to more vulnerable areas in the region.
Take early action to contain potential effects of mid-season dry-spell and scale-up resilience programming approach in existing activities.