FEWS Malawi Food Security Update: Mar 2001

Originally published


1. Food Availability: Agro-climatic Conditions

Incessant and heavy rains fell in March, worsening the flood and waterlogging conditions in some parts of the country. These rains delayed drying of the standing matured crops that needed dry conditions and thus delayed harvesting.

Most parts of the country experienced above-normal cumulative rainfall for the season, as shown in Figure 1 that compares the actual total rainfall received with the normal or expected rainfall for representative meteorological stations in the three regions of the country. Rainfall activity has greatly reduced since the beginning of April and floodwaters are now receding.

2. Vulnerability Update

A number of areas were affected by floods and waterlogging early this year (Figure 2), causing extensive damage to houses, crops and other property, more so than in recent years. Various types of assistance continue to trickle down to the flood victims. However, the pace of assistance has been slow and inadequate for a number of reasons.

WFP will embark on a US$3.2 million Emergency Operation (EMOP) to help flood victims in 7 of the 13 flood-affected districts. This EMOP will target 208,000 people.

3. Crop Production

Second-round crop production estimates were released on April 12. Crop production is expected to be lower than previously indicated during the first-round estimates due to the incessant rains that fell across the country after the first-round estimates were released in January. These rains caused water logging and floods that washed away and submerged some crops, negatively affecting crop yields, especially for maize and tobacco.

The weather conditions that were not favorable for certain crops, such as maize and tobacco, were generally good for other crops, such as groundnuts and rice. The second-round crop estimates show that maize production has dropped by 24 percent from 2,501,311 MT last year (1999/2000) to 1,899,185 MT this year (2000/01).

Household food security continues to improve as harvesting of various crops continues and households are increasingly able to consume food from their own production.

4. Food Accessibility: Market Conditions

Local market maize prices began to drop in some of the markets as harvesting of various crops got under way. However, prices still remain higher than the ADMARC maize price of MK5.00/kg. Prices range from about MK3.50/kg in Chitipa District to MK9.00/kg in Nkhatabay and Dedza Districts.

Some of the ADMARC markets in the south reportedly do not have enough maize stocks. ADMARC is relocating some of its maize stocks to augment supplies.

ADMARC weekly maize sales have dropped from a peak of about 4,000 MT in January to less than 2,000 MT in March as households begin to consume more and more food from their own production.

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