Two intense tropical cyclones struck central and northern provinces in March and April 2019, while extreme rainfall deficits affected southern provinces, causing extensive crop losses.
The 2019 cereal production is estimated at 2.8 million tonnes, about 16 percent lower than the bumper output gathered in 2018 but still above the previous five-year average. Most of the reduction concerns a sharp decline in maize production, estimated at 2.1 million tonnes, and a decrease in the paddy output, with the harvest estimated at 350 000 tonnes, due to the cyclone-induced crop losses.
Production of sorghum and millet is estimated at an above-average level in 2019, on account of the crops’ greater resilience to water stress and given that they are normally planted in higher altitude areas that are less affected by flooding.
Widespread Fall Armyworm (FAW) outbreaks adversely affected crop yields, particularly impacting the maize crops. Dry weather conditions in some southern and central areas, prior to the cyclones, facilitated the spread of the pest, increasing its damage and impact on crop productivity.
At the national level, a drawdown in cereal stocks and an increase in imports are expected in order to maintain adequate supplies to meet domestic consumption requirements in the 2019/20 marketing year (April/March). For households affected by the adverse weather events and consequent production declines, stocks are expected to be well below average, negatively affecting food availability.
Retail prices of maize grain spiked following Cyclone Idai, and despite declining seasonally during the harvest period, remained well above the two-year average in the major provincial markets.
Due to the combined impacts of the cyclones, extreme rainfall deficits and conflict in localized areas in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, an estimated 1.65 million people were assessed to be severely food insecure between the period of June and September 2019. This figure is projected to increase to 1.99 million people during the period October 2019 to February 2020, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.
According to district-level food security surveys conducted between April and June, in 14 districts, more than 1 in 5 households were already consuming a diet considered to be inadequate.
Considering the extensive crop losses and damage to agricultural livelihoods, it is expected that a substantial proportion of households will continue to depend on relief assistance (and negative coping strategies) to bridge the food deficit gap until the next harvest season in 2020.