Mozambique Food Security Update, May 2007


This report covers the period from 4/30/2007 to 5/23/2007

The main harvest continues in Mozambique. Production is expected to be average to above average in the north and central, but below average in south as a result of significant seasonal rainfall deficits. As a result, households in the south face a high risk of food insecurity in the coming months. Food prices are likely to increase due to low and decreasing food stocks. Food security has not yet become critical, though; most households still have access to food traded from surplus– producing areas in central and northern Mozambique, and there are no indications that households are employing unusual coping strategies.

The second production season is progressing well in southern and central regions. Above–average rains in late March and early April created good conditions for crop growth, and maize, beans and vegetables are developing well, especially in the lowlands where moisture content is adequate. A good second–season harvest in July and August would provide an important source of food and income for households at risk of food insecurity in the south. If rainfall is insufficient for continued crop growth in June, however, a below–average second–season harvest could exacerbate the production losses in the main season and cause household food security to deteriorate even further starting in July.

Seasonal timeline and critical events

Food security overview

As the main harvest nears completion, food availability has increased in central and northern Mozambique, and maize prices are decreasing seasonably. Households are able to access sufficient amounts of food to meet their requirements. Throughout the 2007/08 marketing year until the next harvest in April 2008, the majority of households in these areas will remain generally food secure, as average to above–average harvests will ensure adequate availability and prices will likely remain affordable.

Conversely, poor households in drought–affected areas of southern Mozambique will likely face food shortages in the next two to three months. The main maize harvest this year is below average in these areas, although cassava production will provide an alternate source of food to temporarily offset the maize production deficits. Prices of maize and other foods are high and tending to increase, although it is too early in the marketing season to tell whether this represents a short–term increase in prices or the beginning of a sustained price increase that could continue until supply increases significantly. The above–normal prices will limit household food access, especially as income–generating opportunities in these areas are generally limited to the sale of surplus crop production, which is below average this season. However, food is being imported from the surplus–producing central and northern regions, and households are still able to access sufficient food without resorting to unusual coping strategies.

Second–season production in the south may improve household food access starting in July, if rainfall in June is sufficient to support the final stages of crop growth. If conditions are drier than normal, the second–season harvest yields could be below average as well, extending the risk of food insecurity and possibly causing an early start to the hunger season that normally begins in October.

In 39 districts severely affected by drought, floods and cyclones in the past rainy season, vulnerability assessment teams have completed field work to assess levels of household food insecurity. The group is currently analyzing how the households are coping, and will project upcoming food security conditions. Results are expected by the end of June.