1. Food Availability
1.1. Agroclimatic Conditions
Continuous rains are causing leaching of soils in some parts of the country, adversely affecting crop yields, particularly for maize.
Crop production in Balaka Rural Development Project (RDP) appears to be adversely affected by dry spells and below-normal rainfall in general (Figure 1).
1.2. Crop Production
The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation’s first-round crop estimates indicate that maize production this season will generally be good but lower than last year, mainly due to low farm inputs usage and continuous rains that have caused leaching and water logging in some areas. Maize production is expected to drop by 15 percent from last season’s levels (Figure 2).
Mpilisi Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Balaka RDP is reportedly the worst affected by dry spells and below-normal rainfall. As a result, crop yields may drop by as much as 40 percent compared with last year. A similar situation is expected for Manjawira EPA of Ntcheu RDP, where the dry spell lasted for more than 4 weeks.
Although the number of households running out of food from their own reserves is increasing, the situation is still much better than expected at this time of the year and there is no cause for concern.
1.3. Pasture and Livestock Conditions
Drinking water for animals continues to be readily available due to the steadily falling rains across the country.
Cases of African Swine Fever in pigs continue to exist in some of the RDPs. There have also been isolated cases of Lumpy Skin and Black Quarter Diseases in cattle and Newcastle disease in chickens.
2. Food Accessibility
2.1. Market Conditions
Local market maize prices continue to rise due to increasing demand as more households run out of food from their own production. In most markets the prices have risen above the MK5/kg offered by ADMARC but still remain lower than at the same time last year.
Maize is readily available in both ADMARC and local markets for people to buy.
2.2. Food Stocks
Malawi has adequate food stocks, with official maize stocks (those owned by ADMARC and the Government) standing at 85,640 MT as of the end of the first week of February. At the current rate of ADMARC maize sales of about 3,500 MT per week, official stocks would last for about six months, until August/September.
3. Vulnerability Update
The government has reiterated its warning to people living in flood-prone areas that there is a possibility of flooding any time due to the heavy rains falling in some parts of the country. People in these areas are being advised to take precautions to ensure their safety in the event of heavy rainfall and flooding. Floods have already occurred in a number of districts, most recently in Nsanje and Chikwawa Districts. Media reports show that this is the worst so far and the extent of damage is yet to be assessed.
With assistance from its partners, including government, the WFP is developing its country program for the period 2002-06.
4. Macro-Economic Indicators
The value of the Malawi Kwacha has remained stable, trading at about MK80/US$ for the third month in a row. This is good news for the general public and the business community, who have been adversely affected by the continuous loss in value of the Kwacha during the June-October period.
Petroleum importers have reduced the price of fuel by between 3.3 percent and 13.8 percent in response to the drop in oil prices on the international market and the stability of the Malawi Kwacha.
Readers are invited to visit www.fews.net to read the full (PDF) version of these country and regional Food Security Updates