Food security in parts of southern Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will move towards stressed and crisis levels between February and May 2018, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET).
This is expected to occur during the upcoming lean season when farmers and their families are forced to turn to food aid to survive.
Food security outcomes are favourable for the coming 2 months, while the lean season continues. However, due to dry spells and pests, stressed and crises outcomes are expected in Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mwanza, and Balaka districts during the outlook period.
Furthermore, maize price projections indicate that national average prices will remain significantly below the 5 year average.
Maize prices are likely to peak in February and March 2018, but could start declining as households access green harvests in March.
National and international forecast models indicate a La Niña weather occurrence by the end of 2017, while average rainfall is expected until the end of March. Normal production for rainfed crops is expected in 2018.
After the above average 2016/’17 agriculture season, minimal outcomes are expected to continue through May 2018. Parts of the Sofala, Manica and Tete provinces will continue to experience food security stress.
According to FEWSNET, a deterioration to crisis level is expetcted in northwestern Sofala until the harvest in mid-April. Favourable conditions across the country continue as the bumper crop is directly reflected in lower staple food prices.
Rainfall forecasts indicate positive crop conditions, which could result in near average crop production. This could lead to favourable food availability and access through May 2018.
However, expected La Niña conditions increase the probability of increased cyclonic activity, which could affect the country. Moderate to high risk of flooding is expected from January to March 2018.
Furthermore, unusual maize grain prices continued in August to October 2017 on below 5 year averages, which is likely to persist until May 2018.
In northern and high crop producing areas, minimally stressed conditions are expected to continue until 2018. However, marginal production areas in southern, western and extreme northern regions are stressed and in crisis.
Food accessibility for poor households were affected by an increase in commodities, says FEWSNET. As a result, the government now monitors the availability and prices of basic commodities, reducing import restrictions on some food and crop inputs.
These policy changes are expected to temporary alleviate shortages in commodities and stabilise prices.
During mid-November, Zimbabwe experienced widespread rainfall and preparation and planting for the 2017/’18 cropping season has occurred.
Read the full report here: Southern Africa Food Security Outlook – November 2017