Significant improvements in food security expected across the region
Following a severe drought in 2016, household food security continues to improve across the region with the much-awaited harvesting of the 2016/17 crops. Humanitarian assistance has concluded in most countries and areas are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in May as household food availability improves with harvests. For the second half of the outlook period (June-September), most of the region will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, except for eastern parts of the DRC, where Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcome are expected because of conflict.
Harvesting activities are expected to extend to June and July in most countries. During this period, harvesting labor opportunities for very poor and poor households will increase as labor demand from middle and better-off households increases. This is expected to contribute to improved food availability from in-kind payment and to improve food access through cash payment.
The trading of maize and other crops is slowly increasing as well and market activities related to cash crops and food. Tobacco auctioning in countries is at its peak and is increasing household income levels. As supplies of cereals on the market are increasing, the competition amongst farmers and traders in several countries is also increasing. Given the harvest prospects of average to above average production, staple prices are expected to continue to decline across the region.
As the main 2016/17 cropping season comes to an end, preparations for a second season or winter production is already underway in countries including Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Malawi. With the exception drought-affected Tanzania, there is adequate soil moisture to support good crop conditions and immediate land preparation for winter crops without pre-irrigation. However, there is still the threat of fall armyworm (FAW) infestations within the region since the pest is known to migrate from one generation of green crops to another. Given that there will be fewer cropped areas during the second season, the winter crops are more vulnerable to FAW infestation.