Malawi Food Security Update, April 2007


This report covers the period from 3/28/2007 to 4/27/2007

Ongoing crop harvests have significantly improved household food security in Malawi, as households who had depleted reserves from last year now have fresh crops in store. Harvests are near complete in the south and are just underway in the north, following normal seasonal patterns. The rainfall season is essentially over, except for isolated cases of intermittent rainfall in some parts of the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security released the second round agricultural production estimates figures on 12 April 2007, indicative of another bumper harvest this season. This year’s maize production, estimated at 3.2 million MT, plus carryover stocks from last season’s bumper harvest, will result in yet another huge food surplus this season. However, just like the first round production estimate figures, the second round estimate figures are also preliminary and the final figures are not expected until around the end of June or early July.

While promoting food security, last season’s bumper harvest last season resulted in significant drops in maize prices and limited the marketing potential, much to the disadvantage of traders, including the governmental parastatal ADMARC, as well as farmers who had surplus for sale. This was made worse by the export ban which further limited marketing opportunities for the surplus maize in the country. The government in February allowed controlled exports of up to 80,000 MT of maize. This was later followed by further relaxation of the restrictions when, at the beginning of April, the government indicated that it had a tender to supply 400,000 MT of maize to Zimbabwe through the National Food Reserve Agency. Media reports indicated that by end of April, about 5,000 MT had been exported to Zimbabwe.

Seasonal timeline

Agro-meteorological situation

Rainfall declined during the month of April, which marks the end of the 2006/07 rainfall season. The dry conditions that persisted during the period facilitated the drying of the mature maize ready for harvest. Harvesting of maize is almost complete in the southern and parts of the central region while it has just started in the northern region where the rains are just beginning to decline. Some isolated areas in the south and central regions, however, have received some rainfall, which farmers fear could rot the already dry maize.