Malawi

FEWS Malawi Food Security Report mid-Jan 2002 to mid-Feb 2002

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Summary

Most parts of the country received normal rainfall by the end of January. The rains have generally been well distributed throughout the season and, as a result, most crops are expected to do better than last year.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation released the first round crop production estimates on February 6, 2002. The figures show that all crops will register an increase in production with the exception of chilies. Maize production is expected to register a 16% increase this year.

The projected maize production level may be enough to feed the country. However, the crop is threatened by pre-mature harvesting as a result of the current food security situation.

Only 62,000 MT out of the 150,000 MT of the maize imported from South Africa had arrived in the country by the second week of February. The slow inflow has been attributed to a number of factors, including congestion in the transport routes.

The food security situation at the moment is approaching critical. Reports from the field indicate that in some of the ADMARC markets maize only lasts one to two days after delivery due to high demand for the commodity. There are long queues in ADMARC markets as people rush to ADMARC markets to buy maize at MK17.00/kg as opposed to the local markets where prices are much higher.

Local market maize prices continued to rise in January as the peak of the hunger season approaches when the market demand for maize is highest. Some markets reported prices of up to MK40/kg which is beyond the reach of the majority of the poor households.

Livestock prices continued to drop as households desperately sell their animals to obtain cash to buy food or exchange directly with food. In some cases the prices have gone down by less than half of their levels two months ago.

The Malawi Kwacha exchange rate has recently increased from about MK68/US$ by the end of January to MK73/US$ by the end of second week of February. Continued depreciation will be detrimental to food security as it may lead to increases in prices of commodities, especially those that are imported.

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