Malawi Food Security Update, July 2004


Household food deficits for segments of the population are predicted for this marketing year, due to a decline in crop production coupled with limited household incomes. Malawi will need to appeal for international food assistance to address some of these deficits. The government is purchasing 60,000 MT to replenish the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) and procuring an additional 70,000 MT for sale to the public. WFP intends to start food-for-work programs through which about 14,000 MT of maize will be distributed from August to December 2004. It is important to take advantage of the dry season because logistical problems increase with the rainy season.



- With final figures now released by the National Statistics Office, it is now clear that crop production was poor in many parts of the country, especially in the southern region.

- Staple prices are beginning to show signs of an upward turn after declining the last few months. This increase is occurring earlier than it would in a normal year and is a reflection of the poor crop production. The national rate of inflation continues to rise gradually.

- Livestock prices are normal at the moment but may begin to decline in the months ahead as the number of households running out of food increases and people begin to sell off their herds.

- Ganyu rates, an important indicator of food security, are normal at the moment. On farm ganyu activities normally start with the onset of the agricultural season in October.


Although the short-term household food situation has generally improved due to the current harvest, some households, especially in the southern region, have already started running out of food as was predicted in the recent Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) report. Media reports have included the recent testimony of local and political leaders who are claiming that their areas are already experiencing food shortages and that the government needs to act quickly.

The poor harvest this season has left a large number of poor households in certain areas with only enough production from their own harvest to last for about a month. These households subsequently have to depend on the market for food. However, ADMARC apparently has no maize in its markets, and prices are likely to rise as a result. Already this month has seen an increase in local prices. According to the VAC results, households in the worst affected areas (indicated by red on the map) will not be able to buy enough food to fill the production gap this year, and will be left with household deficits of up to 60%. This translates into a humanitarian food requirement of between 56,000 and 83,500 MT. The recently released FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment report is consistent with the VAC findings, recommending 56,000 MT of food aid which becomes 41,000 MT after deducting 15,000 MT of food aid already on hand. The VAC intends to conduct another round of assessments in August to monitor the food security situation and update the previous need estimates.

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