Southern Africa Food and Nutrition Security Update, March 2017 (Issue no. 1)
Good performance of the current growing season (Oct 2016 – April 2017) is critical for Southern Africa, after suffering from two consecutive droughts induced by a long lasting El Niño event which led to unprecedented levels of food insecurity.
Humanitarian assistance has played an instrumental role in stabilizing the food security situation in the region, particularly for the most vulnerable. Good coverage was realized with intense response from government and humanitarian community. However, the peak of the lean season compromises household food security, combined with the rains which are associated with higher disease instances (Malaria and Diarrhea).
Countries in Southern Africa are battling several hazards with potentially detrimental effects on food security. Madagascar experienced a cyclone, which was also partly responsible for flooding in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and the effects are still to be determined. Concurrently, a fall armyworm outbreak is causing considerable crop damage in seven countries.
While the nutrition situation remains volatile in the region, most recent surveys still characterise acute malnutrition levels below emergency thresholds. However, pockets with higher malnutrition remain, e.g. in southern Madagascar and some parts of Zimbabwe. A number of countries including Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are currently undertaking or planning SMART nutrition surveys to determine the nutrition status of people affected by the El Niño during the current peak of the lean season.
An improved harvest is expected in the South African Development Community (SADC) region, due to the good rains received during the current production season. The only exceptions are mainly in Tanzania and parts of Madagascar and northern Mozambique. Regional maize prices are also forecast to be low because the price observed in December 2016 was 24 percent lower than the high reached in February 2016 when it was ZAR 5,000/MT (USD 320) (SAFEX Prices).
The expected improved harvest and low prices will create post-harvest management challenges at household and national level which could result in high levels of post-harvest losses.
The revised area planted estimate and first production forecast for summer crops for 2017, in South Africa, was released by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) on 28 February 2017. The expected commercial maize crop for 2017 is 13,918 million tons, which is 78, 9% more than the 7,778 million tons of the previous season (2016), which was a drought year.