FEWS Mozambique Food Security Update: 6 Feb 2003



Insufficient and erratic rains over the last three months have resulted in extremely poor harvest prospects throughout southern Mozambique, and in parts of the central region, according to field assessments and detailed analyses of satellite data.

First season maize production, which accounts for the majority of the annual production of this staple crop, will be largely lost in the affected areas. Beans and groundnuts are severely affected as well. Even drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum and millet, as well as recently planted cassava, are showing signs of stress.

For a few parts of the central region, additional rainfall in February could lead to a slight improvement in crop prospects. In most of the southern region, the season is largely over and rainfall now will do little to improve the crop outlook.

This poor outlook for first season crops is likely to cause a dramatic increase in food insecurity in the affected zones. The situation is especially worrying for three reasons: this is the second consecutive year of drought in most of these areas; the food aid response to the 2001/02 drought has been significantly lower than assessed needs; and the next major harvest is more than one year away.

Conversely, heavy rains have resulted in localized flooding in Nampula, Cabo Delgado and northern Zambézia. Intensive and continuous rains have flooded rivers such as Nipiode and Licungo in Zambézia province, Ligonha (bordering Zambézia and Nampula) and Meluli in Nampula, causing some damage. Away from the flooded areas, crop prospects in the productive northern region are very good.

Maputo prices have been stable in January. A steady supply of maize from Sofala Province is the primary reason why the prices are not fluctuating. Small quantities of yellow maize appeared in some Maputo markets, priced significantly lower than white maize.

There is a large gap between assessed food aid needs and planned responses. On a national level, the WFP planned distributions for January will only meet 43% of the latest estimated needs -- covering only 283,202 people compared to the VAC assessed needs of 654,865. The number of people in need is certain to increase due to the current climate conditions.

First season crop prospects very poor in southern and part of central Mozambique

It had been hoped that the first season's harvest would bring relief for households who suffered from poor harvests in the 2001/02 production season, especially in the south and central areas of Mozambique. The opposite situation appears to have developed, as poor prospects for the first season harvest may lead to a dramatic increase in food insecurity over the coming 12 months. The harvest, expected in the next 1-3 months, is likely to be very poor, especially in those areas affected by drought last season. Although it is too early to make any quantitative production estimates, a qualitative assessment of the season to date is shown below. A report summarizing the analysis that contributed to this map has been prepared by MADER/DINA, FAO and FEWS NET and will be released soon.

Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo Provinces are most severely affected, with virtually all districts facing near crop failure. Parts of Sofala, Tete and Manica also face a severe reduction in first season production. Crop prospects remain good for the productive northern region. Flooding, brought about by excessive rainfall, has caused some infrastructure and crop damage in the north, but away from the flood areas, crop growth is excellent. While this northern production may improve the national food balance, production in the north normally does little to ameliorate shortages in the south due to transport constraints.

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