Malawi Food Security Outlook, June 2021 to January 2022

Situation Report
Originally published
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Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes projected for most of the country

Key Messages

  • Most rural households are currently consuming food from their own production following the April to June harvests, supporting improved access to food. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist in most rural areas throughout the outlook period. However, in the Lower Shire livelihood zone districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa where prolonged dry spells resulted in production shortfalls for many households, the emergence of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes is expected around September/October with further deterioration to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) expected around November/December. In Malawi’s main cities, improvement from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes is expected around July 2021 alongside improvements in economic activity in the post-harvest period.

  • Staple maize prices have continued to decline alongside the progression of harvesting. In May 2021, maize prices were 17 to 35 percent below prices at the same time last year and 7 to 20 percent below the five-year average across monitored markets. Below-average prices are projected to persist through July and then seasonally increase—trending near average levels—through the rest of the projection period. In May 2021, retail prices of maize averaged MWK 134 per kilogram at the national level and were lower than the government-set minimum farm-gate price of MWK 150 per kilogram in most markets, though above-average maize production is generally expected to compensate farmers for the lower selling prices. Production and income from tobacco and cotton—the main cash crops—are expected to be below normal.

  • Since mid-June 2021, the number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily has been increasing. As of June 30, the seven-day moving average of new daily cases had increased to 129, up from under 15 from May 1 to June 14. While this is still significantly lower than during the peak of the second wave in early 2021 when the seven-day average of new daily cases approached 1,000, more contagious variants have been confirmed in Malawi and the government has closed borders to the entry of foreigners as of mid-June. Though not the most likely scenario, renewed internal control measures would likely result in reduced income-earning for many poor urban households.