1. Food Availability
Although widespread dry spells experienced in December caused wilting of crops, rains returned in January and most of the crops have since recovered.
Crop input use this year is expected to decline due to high input prices and scaling down of the Starter Pack Program, now called the Targeted Input Program. Based on field reports, current indications are that although the country will have a good harvest this year, it is not expected to match last year’s record production. The first forecast of this year’s expected harvest will be released on February 1.
Most households still have food available from their own production. Maize also is readily available in both ADMARC and local markets.
Availability of water improved due to the rains. Apart from some isolated cases of African Swine Fever, there are no serious disease outbreaks.
2. Food Accessibility
Maize prices continue to rise at a slow rate (Figure 1) as most households still have food available from their own production from last year’s above-average harvest. However, prices remain low compared with past years. Maize prices in local markets in December ranged from MK4.35/kg to MK8.40/kg, compared with last year when prices soared as high as MK15/kg at the same point in the marketing season.
The country has adequate maize stocks considering that official maize stocks stood at 120,655 MT by the end of the third week of December, which at the current rate of sales (12 MT per month), would last for another 10 months.
ADMARC maize sales still remain low compared with last year due to the ready availability of maize at the household level resulting from last year’s above-average harvest.
3. Vulnerability Update
Flash floods were experienced in Chikwawa (Mitole EPA) and Rumphi/North Mzimba Rural Development Projects (RDPs). However the damage was not very extensive and the government is rushing in with some assistance.
4. Economic and Financial Indicators
After a long downward trend, the depreciation of the Malawi Kwacha began to slow toward the end of October and has remained relatively stable at about MK80/US$.
The national inflation rate has remained relatively stable since August, rising only 0.1% to 35% between October and November. Some financial analysts project, however, that the inflation rate will rise to 39.8% in December.
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