Above-average harvest supports food access in rural areas, while COVID-19 impacts urban livelihoods
• Across most of the country, rural households are consuming food from the recent harvest, with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes expected through January 2021. However, some areas in the southern and northern regions registered localized production shortfalls. In these areas, households who harvested less are expected to exhaust food stocks atypically early. In the worst affected areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected from September to December 2020, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes likely in January 2021.
• In urban areas, many poor households are currently facing food and income gaps due to impacts of COVID-19 on the economy. Households dependent on trading, casual labor, and employment in domestic labor, teaching, hospitality, and the tobacco sector have been worst affected by reduced income-earning. Due to lack of alternative livelihood options and limited savings, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through September 2020, with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes then expected through January 2021 alongside economic recovery and resumption of income-earning.
• According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Malawi has likely produced over 3.7 million tons of maize – about 11 percent above last year and 28 percent above the five-year average. Production of most other key food and cash crops is expected to be above average. However, production of tobacco is expected to be approximately 6 percent below last year and 10 percent below average. Production of cotton is also expected to be below average, given declines over the past six years. Reduced production of these crops will likely reduce income-earning for some households. Meanwhile, retail prices for the maize staple are expected to remain significantly above average through at least January 2021.