FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 2/01 - Mozambique

High water levels in the Zambezi and other rivers, due to torrential rains in neighbouring countries, as well as continuing heavy rains in central provinces since the last dekad of January, have resulted in floods in the central provinces of Zambezia, Sofala, Manica and Tete. About 200 000 people are displaced and up to 563 000 are affected by the disaster. Severe damage to transport infrastructure is also reported. Preliminary assessments of the agricultural damage carried out by the Government indicate that 42 000 hectares of cash crops and foodcrops have been lost to the floods, affecting 55 000 farming families. Last year, 48 000 hectares of foodcrops were lost to floods in these central provinces, while the area lost at national level reached 167 000 hectares, mainly in southern provinces.
More floods are threatening central parts as the level of the Chaora Bassa dam, the country's largest along the Zambezi River, is rising and it is likely that floodgates will be opened. There is also concern over more floods due to the still high levels of the Pungue and Zambezi rivers. The Government has appealed for US$30 million to cope with the emergency in central areas. Emergency food assistance is currently being provided to 180 000 affected people. However, distributions are hampered by the destruction of several bridges and roads. Agricultural tools and seeds required to allow affected farmers to plant a second season crop are valued at US$2.3 million.

In southern provinces, the worst affected by the severe floods of last year, the outlook for this year's cereal harvest has deteriorated as a result of well below average precipitation in January. Rains resumed from the second dekad of February, but arrived too late to prevent serious yield reductions. In the main cereal growing areas of the north, good rains since the beginning of the season have favoured crop development.

Despite serious localized damage caused by the floods, the overall outlook for this year's cereal crop is still satisfactory, as the crop losses to floods are not significant at national level. Early forecast point to a maize crop around or higher than last year's good level, reflecting also increased plantings.

The food supply situation remains satisfactory at national level. Maize prices are below their level of a year ago. Nevertheless, a total of 165 000 food insecure people in 37 districts are estimated to be in need of food assistance until the next harvest.