FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Cereal production declined sharply in 2019 due to extensive crop losses caused by two cyclones that struck key central crop producing areas
Import requirements for cereals estimated to rise in 2019/20 due to lower harvest
Prices of maize declined during harvest period, but remained at high levels in several markets
Food security conditions worsened significantly, with about 1.6 million people estimated to be food insecure
Significant crop losses caused by tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth result in reduced 2019 cereal harvest
Harvesting of the 2019 main summer season cereal crops was concluded in early July. Based on the results from an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Mission (CFSAM), conducted in cooperation with the Government in May, the 2019 cereal production is estimated at 2.85 million tonnes (rice in paddy terms), about 16 percent lower than the previous year’s bumper output, but still above the average of the previous five years.
The year on year production decrease is mainly due to the impact of two intense tropical cyclones (Idai and Kenneth), which made landfall in March and April, immediately before the main harvest period. These extreme climatic events caused extensive losses of standing crops in the highly productive central provinces with an estimated 460 000 hectares of crops destroyed in the central provinces of Sofala, Manica and Zambezia. In addition, production losses, but on a smaller scale, occurred in southern provinces due to severe rainfall deficits.
Maize was the most affected crop and accounted for the bulk of losses. Production of maize in 2019 decreased by about 0.4 million tonnes to an estimated 2.1 million tonnes, but it still exceeds the previous five-year average. Paddy production also declined to a below-average level of 350 000 tonnes. By contrast, outputs of sorghum and millet are estimated at above-average levels as both crops are normally planted in higher altitude areas that are less affected by floods and have a greater resilience to water deficits.
Cereal import requirements estimated to rise in 2019/20
The lower cereal output resulted in an increase of the national import requirements for maize and rice in the 2019/20 marketing year (April/March). However, national stocks, built up in 2017 and 2018 following two consecutive bumper outputs, are expected to be drawn down in order to compensate for the production decline in 2019 and to limit imports needs.
In total, national cereal import requirements are estimated at 1.48 million tonnes in 2019/20, mostly rice and wheat that is produced in negligible quantities in the country. Maize import requirements are estimated at about 200 000 tonnes in 2019/20, about 30-40 percent more than the previous year and the five-year average. Although in recent years national maize production has been more than sufficient to cover domestic utilization, imports of maize still averaged about 130 000 tonnes annually, mostly reflecting the prohibitive cost of transporting maize from the northern and central surplus producing areas to the structurally deficit southern provinces, which border South Africa, a more competitive market in terms of price.
Prices of maize spiked and remained higher on yearly basis
Prices of maize spiked immediately following the landfall of the cyclones in March and April, as the destruction of infrastructure and stocks disrupted normal trade patterns and resulted in supply shortages. Prices stabilized in May as newly harvested crops augmented market availabilities and eased supply pressure, which eventually resulted in sharp declines in June and July.
Maize prices, however, remained higher on a yearly basis as of July in the major markets of Chimoio, Chokwe, Pemba and Nampula, on account of the reduced 2019 output.
Cyclones worsened food insecurity
The effects of the cyclones and extreme rainfall deficits, which had a negative impact on agricultural and livelihood systems throughout the country, resulted in an increase in the prevalence and severity of food insecurity, especially for households affected by losses of food crops and livestock. These losses caused a reduction in food supplies from own production and income opportunities from crop sales. According to the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) food security analysis, an estimated 1.6 million people were assessed to be severely food insecure during the period between June and September 2019, nearly double the level of the previous year. The food insecure caseload is expected to increase further to 1.9 million people during the lean season, between October 2019 and February 2020.