MALAWI* (10 February)
The cumulative rainfall since the beginning of the current agricultural season started in October 2004 has been above normal throughout most areas of the country. According to the country’s Department of Meteorological Services, no serious dry spells were reported. Crop growth in general is considered satisfactory. In some areas in the south, however, heavy rains resulted in localized seasonal flooding. Food supplies in the country are readily available due to unrestricted cross border trading with the neighbouring countries but limited access to food for low-income families with rising staple food prices is a problem. In most markets, 2004 prices were consistently higher than the ADMARC subsidized corresponding prices in 2003. However, current maize prices are lower than the corresponding prices during 2001. Maize prices have stabilized around 17-20 MK/kg as a steady stream of cross border imports flow from neighbouring Mozambique.
For the current marketing year 2004/05 (April/March) the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) estimated that about 1.3 million vulnerable people including those in areas that experienced crop failures and those seriously affected by HIV/AIDS would require emergency food assistance to the tune of 56 000 tonnes of cereals.