FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
- Despite a dry spell and localised flooding, national cereal production increased by 5 percent in 2011
- Maize prices increased slightly, with the highest prices recorded in the south
- Overall food security is satisfactory, but areas affected by production losses and households susceptible to high prices remain a concern
Expansion in cereal production in 2011
Latest production estimates point to a larger cereal harvest for the 2010/11 agricultural campaign relative to the previous season’s output. Rainfall performance (October-May) was generally satisfactory, but a dry spell affected southern provinces and some central areas during February/March 2011. However, the impact was relatively limited, given the stage of the agricultural campaign, where most crops had reached maturity or were being harvested. In the months preceding the dry spell, flooding during the beginning of 2011 caused localised losses in riverine areas in southern and central river basins. Official estimates indicate that nearly 32 000 hectares were damaged while 22 610 hectares of cropped land was lost to floods. Although this had an impact at the local level, the losses represent less than one percent of the total cropped area of about 4.2 million hectares in 2010/11.
At an estimated 2.84 million tonnes, cereal production increased by some 5 percent compared to last season, with central provinces contributing approximately 50 percent to total national cereal production, a similar level to last year. Rice production registered the largest increase over last year’s output at 6 percent. The increase in aggregate production is also reflected in a rise in per capita production levels. Harvesting of the minor secondary season crops, predominantly vegetables, is currently underway, with indications pointing to generally favourable crop conditions. Although output is very limited compared to the main season’s harvest, secondary season supplies assist in buffering households’ stocks and serve as a source of additional income. Agricultural inputs, including seeds, were distributed through Government programmes to support production of the minor season.
Prices remain generally stable
In August 2011, maize prices increased slightly, albeit differentially. The lowest prices, at just over MZN 5 per kg, were observed in the northern province of Niassa and the central province of Tete, and the highest prices were recorded in Maputo.
In July, the government reduced its subsidy on wheat flour by 25 percent, equivalent to MZN 50 per 50 kg of flour. Between the introduction of the subsidy in September 2010 and August 2011, the national currency (Metical) has appreciated by about 25 percent against the USD, which has partly offset the impact of increasing international wheat price and could act to lessen the affect of the removal of the subsidy. Wheat is almost totally imported, except for a small quantity produced domestically. Import requirements for the 2011/12 marketing year are expected to remain at similar levels to last year, with the large urban centres in the south satisfying their cereal consumption requirements predominantly through imports from South Africa.
Generally stable food security conditions, but pockets of difficulties persist
Overall, food security conditions are stable following an improved 2011 harvest. However, production losses caused by climatic shocks, particularly in southern provinces, are expected to constrain households’ capacity to access adequate food supplies as the lean season approaches. In total, an estimated 118 528 people were adversely affected by flooding, with the large majority located in the southern Limpopo basin. Based on the results from the vulnerability assessment earlier in the year, food reserves from own production would have been exhausted by July 2011 in some central and southern areas. Such low levels of food stocks combined with seasonable rising prices in the coming months are expected to negatively affect the food security conditions of low income/resource poor households. Close monitoring of the situation is warranted.