FEWS Mozambique Food Security Update: 25 Oct 2002


The rainy season should commence soon in the southern parts of Mozambique, and parts of Manica Province. Locally heavy rains in early October did not signify a start to the season, but resulted from an abnormal low-pressure zone in the Mozambique Channel.

The IRI has increased its expectation of the El Niño magnitude to moderate.

The NOAA/Climate Prediction Center released a statement on October 16, 2002 examining the likely impacts of the developing El Niño event. One of the expected global impacts is drier-than-average conditions over southeastern Africa during December 2002-February 2003.

The World Food Program expects to have sufficient food aid to provide a full basket of food to approximately 60% of the population in need, based on the recent Vulnerability Assessment Group report. This percentage is higher than the Southern Africa regional amount, where only 37% of the needed food aid has been resourced. WFP is beginning discussions with the Government about prioritization of available resources.

Retail maize prices in Maputo have risen sharply in recent weeks and are now significantly higher than normal. Bean prices are also moving higher in Maputo. When the effects of inflation are removed, Maputo prices are still higher than previous years. Real prices in Nampula have not reached last year’s very high levels.

Start of Rainy Season Monitoring Underway

The upcoming rainy season will be critical for food security, so FEWS NET will conduct close monitoring of the start and subsequent performance of the season using satellite imagery and ground station data from INAM. The rainy season normally begins in the extreme south and parts of Manica Province during the month of October (see Figure 1). As of the second dekad of October, satellite rainfall estimates do not show significant amounts of rainfall or a clear start of the rainy season in either region. Light rains were registered in Maputo in the first ten days of October (7.3 mm against the normal value of 14.5 mm, according to INAM data), but satellite imagery indicates no rain fell during the second dekade (see Figure 3). This situation is still considered normal since the start of rain is historically expected by the third dekad of October in the extreme southern portion of Mozambique and in southern Manica.

In early October, localized heavy rainfall concentrated in the central part of the country was due to an abnormal low-pressure zone in the Mozambique Channel (see Figure 2). The observed rainfall in Chimoio, the highland capital of Manica Province, was 21.6 mm against the normal value of 6.6 mm. In Beira, the observed rainfall was 31.0 mm against the normal of 4.4 mm and in Quelimane the observed rainfall was 33.4 against the normal rainfall of observed rainfall was 33.4 against the normal rainfall of 3.2 mm. This anomaly cannot be confused with the start of rains in the region which is expected to occur by mid-November. Although the northern part of country has registered scattered showers in the first 20 days of October, it is still too early for the commencement of the rains. Rains in the north normally begin in December.

100% probability of a Moderate El Niño event

Newly updated information from the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) indicates that there is a nearly 100% probability that El Niño conditions will continue for the remainder of 2002 and into early 2003. The magnitude of the event is now expected to be moderate rather than weak, but still significantly less strong than the 1997-98 event. Global impacts generally should be weaker than those observed during 1997-98. However, strong impacts are still possible in a few locations. Among the global locations identified as facing a potential impact is southeastern Africa. The NOAA/Climate Prediction Center predicts drierthan- average conditions over southeastern Africa during December 2002-February 2003. This will require close monitoring over the coming months, as that period is critical for plant growth throughout Mozambique.

MADER releases 2002/03 season production prognostic and planting recommendations

Given the rainfall forecast, population projections, agricultural indicators (average area per family, cropping patterns and input availability), MADER (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) is still planning for increases total cultivated area and total production as shown on the table above. However, these planning estimates do not explicitly incorporate the impact of HIV/AIDS in the calculation.

MADER Prognostic
Total Area (% increase)
Total Production (% increase)

In order to minimize the potential impact of adverse climate conditions in the Southern region, MADER is recommending that farmers engage in early planting; planting of drought resistant crops such as cassava, millet and sorghum; planting short cycle maize and cowpea especially for the districts of Magude, Chókwe and Chicualacuala, and maximizing the use of lowlands for rice production and vegetables. They also encourage the continuous monitoring of pest outbreaks that may occur during drought conditions.

For central region, MADER recommends late planting for the east of Moatize, South of Chiúta and North of Changara and Cahora Bassa districts in Tete province. For the remaining areas of central region the normal planting is recommended. It is also recommended potential red locust outbreaks particularly in Sofala Province be monitored closely.

In the Northern region, farmers are advised to plant drought resistant crops such as millet, cassava and sorghum, as well as short cycle maize and cowpea varieties particularly in the coastal areas of Cabo Delgado Province. In general, for the north, late planting is recommended to fully utilize the seasonal rainfall. In Nampula, MADER advises farmers to plant cassava varieties resistant to the brown streak virus.

These preseason recommendations to respond the drought, produced by the MADER National Directorate of Agriculture, (DINA) and National Directorate of Extension (DER), are disseminated through the Provincial Directorates of Agriculture to farmers.

WFP response to drought

The food aid pipeline of cereals for Mozambique is adequate through February based on the estimates of 440,000 people in need included in WFP’s EMOP. The resources presently allocated to Mozambique will provide a full food basket to about 60% of the total population in need of food aid based on update figures produced by Vulnerability Assessment Group the recent Vulnerability Assessment Group’s report on needs. This figures show that 587,000 people need food assistance between now to April 2003.

Although this percentage is low, WFP resources will meet a higher percentage of needs in Mozambique than in Southern Africa as a whole, where current resources will meet only 37% of assessed needs. Distribution of in-country supplies has been slower than expected because: i) the non-existence or low capacity of implementing partners; ii) the desired emphasis on Food for Work schemes; iii) level of available resources; iv) the need to considerably gear up field operations (recruitment of 37 district monitors and 5 provincial food aid coordinators, and their training). WFP is currently developing scenarios for prioritization of resources with the Government, and targeting "hotspots" where food insecurity is assessed to be highest; where the multi-sectoral assessment recommended supplementary feeding because of highest incidence of malnutrition; and where the HIV-prevalence is highest.

To date, 92% of food aid has been distributed through Food for Work programs as is the preference of the Government of Mozambique. However, Food for Work does not appear to be meeting sufficient needs, and WFP suspects that the most vulnerable are not being reached. This may be attributed to labor constraints among the poorest who need the family labor for preseason farming activities. Due to these factors and the start of new cropping season, vulnerable group feeding is envisaged to increase considerably in the coming months. The Ministry of Health has requested supplementary feeding for 208,000 people in 20 districts.

WFP has procured 18,000MT of maize in northern Mozambique for its relief operations in Mozambique and neighboring countries.

Food Security and Preparation of the new round of assessments

The SADC FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) is supporting a series of Emergency Food Security Assessments in six countries most affected by drought and production shortfalls. National, regional VAC, and key partners including FEWS NET, SC-UK, WFP-VAM, FAO, IFRC, UNICEF, CARE, and others met on 17-18th October 2002 in Victoria Falls to review the August assessment, identify areas of improvement, identify critical information needs and discuss plans for the next round of assessments, including strategies and responsibilities of each institution involved. In this regard, the Mozambique national VAC intends to carry out a food and nutrition assessment in November and December 2002.

Maize Prices and Quantities Review

Retail maize prices in Maputo market are very high at over 6000 Meticais per kg ($0.27 US/kg), although they have been stable for the last three weeks after rising sharply in September. Since the harvest concluded in April, prices moved gradually upward, but the rate of increase appears to have accelerated (Figure 5).

SIMA has reported that quantities of maize available in the markets in the north are decreasing, whereas the quantities of dried cassava for purchase and sales are increasing. Another trend has been observed in Zambézia, where maize grain from areas of surplus is being milled and transported to coastal districts such as Maganja da Costa, contrary to what is normally observed, where the maize is sold in the Quelimane market.

Consumers in Maputo and Beira are also facing high prices of for another staple, beans (feijão nhemba). As shown on Figure 6, current nominal prices of beans in Maputo are higher than they have been in the last two years except for the sharp price rise in the aftermath of the 2000 floods. In Beira, bean prices are slightly lower than Maputo although there has been a sharp increase in September (Figure 7).

To understand how the current prices compare to prices in recent years when the effects of inflation are removed, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was incorporated in the analysis of maize prices in two major consumer markets. Figure 8 shows the real maize price in the Maputo market in the last five commercial years, (from April of previous year to March of the following year). For all years illustrated in the figure, the prices tend to increase from September reaching their peak in December and January except in the commercial year 2000 to 2001, when the prices remained stable until the end of commercial year. The graph shows that currently the real maize price is higher than in previous years. At this time of the year, before the start of the consumption of green maize begins, the demand for cereal increases bringing a rise in the consumer prices. This may affect the access to food for poor households, threatening food security.

In Nampula, currently the real maize prices are still below the prices observed in previous years, although, the actual prices have been higher in April, June and July, Figure 9. In general the prices increase from September. The demand of cereal for both national and international consumers in northern markets has met producers have been receiving high prices for their produce, and may result in increased area planting during the coming season.

This monthly bulletin is produced by FEWS NET in collaboration with its partners, including the Early Warning Department (DAP) and the Agricultural Market Information System (SIMA) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER), the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM), and the World Food Program (WFP).

The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) is funded by USAID and managed by Chemonics International, Inc.

FEWS NET Mozambique
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
National Directorate of Agriculture
PO Box 1406
Maputo, Mozambique
Telephone: (258-1) 460588/494488
Facsimile: (258-1) 460588/499791