Malawi Food Security Outlook Update, April 2020

Situation Report
Originally published
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Atypical food insecurity in urban areas expected with COVID-19 lockdown impending

Key Messages

  • Most households across the country are now consuming own-produced food, with harvests expected to peak between April and May. Households who were facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during the previous consumption year (ending March 2020) are now transitioning to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) as they access food from own production and income from crop sales. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected to persist through at least September 2020 across most of the country. However, some households in localized southern areas received poor harvests due to dry spells, while localized areas of the northern Karonga and Rumphi districts experienced crop losses due to flooding and waterlogging. An increasing number of these households are likely to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes as food stocks are depleted between July and September, with area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes expected in Nsanje and Chikwawa by September.

  • Overall normal to above-normal seasonal rainfall has led to above-average crop production prospects at the national level. According to the preliminary crop estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Malawi is expected to produce 3,691,866 metric tons of maize for the 2020/21 consumption year. This is about 25 percent higher than the five-year average and 9 percent higher than the previous year. Production of rice, millet, and pulses is expected to be between 8 to 11 percent above last year.

  • Prices for the maize staple decreased significantly between February and March in most monitored markets, though prices remained significantly higher than both the five-year average and last year’s prices. According to data from both the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and FEWS NET, maize prices in the southern Balaka and Nsanje markets decreased by 28 and 41 percent respectively between February and March.