23 June 1998


  • 1998 cereal output is estimated at 1.69 million tonnes, some 10 percent higher than last year’s relatively good harvest. Significant increase in the production of cassava, beans and groundnuts is also forecast. 

  • Overall improvement in the food supply situation is expected for 1998/99 (April/March), but relief assistance will be needed by drought and flood-affected people. 

  • Cereal import requirement is estimated at 212 000 tonnes comprising 67 000 tonnes of rice and 145 000 tonnes of wheat. These deficits are expected to be met largely by commercial imports. 

  • A surplus of some 59 000 tonnes of maize is expected, mainly from the northern region. 

  • Some 185 150 flood-affected people will need emergency food relief, whereas 59 500 drought-affected people will be assisted through an integrated community-based activity. 

  • Lack of quality seeds and shortages of agricultural tools are persistent bottlenecks to agricultural growth in Mozambique and further donor assistance is required with the provision of these inputs. 


An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Mozambique from 25 April to 12 May 1998 to estimate the country’s 1997/98 production of food crops, forecast cereal import requirements for 1998/99 and determine the likely food aid needs. The Mission was joined by an observer from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and included a TCDC (Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries) expert from Tanzania. In carrying out its tasks, the Mission was divided into four teams to visit as many areas as possible, particularly flood and drought affected areas. The Mission received full co-operation from central government departments, provincial and district government officials, personnel of UN agencies, and donor and NGO representatives. During field trips, discussions were held with farmers, traders, and NGO field staff regarding crop conditions, area lost, harvest prospects, and problems faced by the farmers.

Relevant data supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, largely collected by the National Early Warning System for Food Security, were reviewed by the Mission in conjunction with data and information collected from other sources. The Mission inspected many farms and interviewed farmers in districts visited to cross-check official data and opinions. Data and information for the districts not visited was obtained from various government and NGO sources.

The total area planted to cereals and other food crops in 1997/98 is estimated by the Mission at 3 723 000 hectares, up 2.6 percent from last year. Cereals accounted for 2 million hectares, up 5.5 percent, the largest increases of 4 percent being for maize and rice. The total area lost due to floods and other causes is estimated at 60 600 hectares compared to last year’s 102 800 hectares, down by 41 percent.

The 1998 production of cereals is estimated at 1.69 million tonnes, up by about 10 percent on last year’s good crop of 1.53 million tonnes. The increase is attributable to both increased area planted and harvested and increased yields for all cereals, particularly in the northern and central provinces. Production of cassava, groundnuts and beans is also expected to increase significantly in 1998 compared to last year.

The overall food supply situation, which improved in the last marketing year, is expected to improve further in 1998/99, reflecting the increased food production. An exportable surplus of 59 000 tonnes of maize is forecast, but deficits of 67 000 tonnes and 145 000 tonnes have been projected for rice and wheat, respectively. These deficits are expected to be met largely by private sector imports.

In spite of a projected surplus of maize and the expected availability of rice and wheat through private sector imports, localized food shortages exist in several areas as a result of crop loss caused mainly by floods. Emergency food aid for the affected people is required until the second season harvest next September. Food deficits are also faced by some families in the south, mainly as a result of drought. The coping mechanisms for these people are few, given very limited employment opportunities outside agriculture. Poor infrastructure in these areas also limits marketing activities while causing food prices to increase rapidly after the harvest period. Donor assistance will be necessary to mobilize surplus food for people in these southern areas.

The Mission estimated that 185 000 flood-affected people will need emergency food assistance amounting to 9 000 tonnes of maize and 800 tonnes of pulses, mainly during May-August 1998, leading to the second harvest. This assistance is about the same level as that of the last year under the EMOP project. An estimated 59 500 drought-affected people will also be assisted within an integrated community-based development activity.


1/ The following documents have been consulted for this section:

"Mozambique : Political and Economic Overview, First Quarter 1998", Prepared by the Office of the Canadian High Commission, Mozambique, Maputo, April 1998; Republic of Mozambique, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries "National Programme for Agriculture Development (PROAGRI) 1999 -2003", Master Document, Final Draft February, 1998; and World Bank (Division: AFTAI, Region: Africa), "Mozambique : Agriculture Sector Memorandum, Vol.1 Executive Summary", 1996.

With a total area of 786 300 square kilometres, the country is richly endowed with natural resources, particularly arable land, forests, grasslands, inland water and marine fisheries. Its population density is only 20-25 persons per km2. While the economic prospects appear bright, the current Mozambican per caput GDP is among the lowest in the world and so are the country’s social indicators. A nation building process is now in progress, and there are clear signs of economic resurgence. However, there is a long way to go before a substantial realization of the country’s potential can occur.

The country’s infrastructure, devastated during the civil strife, is being rehabilitated and extended. A structural adjustment programme - Economic and Social Rehabilitation Programme (PRES) - supported by IMF’s Structural Adjustment Facility, was launched in 1987. But progress remained very limited until the peace accord was signed in October 1992.

The implementation of the structural adjustment programme is being supported by loans and technical assistance from the World Bank and the IMF. Bilateral donors are also providing similar assistance. In March 1997, the Government entered into a five year financial assistance agreement with the EU for support of programmes/projects for the improvement of rural infrastructure (roads, water supply, schools, health centres) as well as rural extension, rebuilding of the nation’s livestock herd, food security and environmental conservation. FAO has been providing technical assistance for agricultural rehabilitation and improvement while WFP has been assisting with emergency food aid, economic and social rehabilitation and construction of rural infrastructures.

Economic reforms implemented so far have brought about appreciable results. The annual inflation rate in 1997 was 5.6 percent, much lower than the forecast 14 percent, having declined from 50 percent or more in the previous years. Indications are that competition is increasing in the financial sector. The prime interest rate fell to 19 percent in January 1998 and to 16 percent in April 1998. The Central Bank reduced its rediscount rate to 12 percent in January and to 9 percent in April, reducing the spread with commercial rates to 7 percent from over 10 percent at the end of the third quarter of 1997. Tax revenues grew by 21 percent in 1997, both as a result of increased economic activity and improved collection.

Export growth in 1997, at 3.8 percent, was lower than anticipated due to a decline in cashew production and a delay in restarting electricity exports. Total export earnings in 1997 amounted to US$234 million against a target of US$276 million, but up from US$225 million in 1996. The national currency, Metical, was quite stable in 1997, depreciating by only 1.5 percent against the US dollar. Tight monetary policy of the Bank of Mozambique kept the spread between parallel and official market exchange rates for the Metical to less than 3 percent on average in 1997 compared to 12 percent in 1996. As a result of its economic reform performance, Mozambique qualified for debt relief under HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) debt relief initiative and was so approved by the World Bank in April 1998. Consequently, the country will have US$1.4 billion of debt stock written off, and the debt service ratio down to about 20 percent.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and the country has a great potential for growth in the sector. Currently, cultivated area is less than 4 million hectares, or about 9 percent of the total estimated arable area of some 44 million hectares [ See PROAGRI document, op.cit., Table 3. Another estimate puts the cultivable area at 36 million hectares (45 percent of the land area of the country) and the area exploited for cultivation (including land left fallow)at less than 5 million hectares. Even then, the area exploited is still only about 14%; See FAO, Rome, "Mozambique: Special Programme for Food Production in Support for Food Security", Report No.96/114 SP-MOZ, December 1996, P.3. ] . Agriculture directly supports about three-quarters of the population and is mostly for subsistence. Also, the agrarian sector contributes about 75-80 percent of the country’s total foreign exchange earnings, mostly through the export of fish (mainly shrimps and prawns), timber, cashew nuts, cotton, coconuts, tea and tobacco. However, agriculture, particularly crop production, is constrained by limited availability of good quality seeds, agricultural tools and implements, and irrigation facilities. Under the present market liberalization policy, agricultural input distribution is no longer a core function of the Government. It is not clear, however, as to how the private sector is going to address the issue, particularly making inputs available in remote areas with poor roads.



Given the continuing inadequacy of agricultural statistics, the Mission, as in the previous years, had to rely for its production estimates on a number of indicators. These included number of farming households, average farm size, area planted, yield forecasts based on water balance models, seeds and tools distributed, crop conditions, rainfall data, as well as observations made on farms during field visits and discussions with farmers, traders, local government officials and NGO representatives.

One crucial variable is the farming population with its district-wise distribution in terms of farm households. A stratified (province, district, household) random survey conducted in the ten provinces provided the average areas planted by a farm household to different crops in different provinces, which are then multiplied by the relevant number of farming households in the districts and aggregated for provinces and nationally. Relevant population variables have been projected over the years using parameters from the 1980 population census. On that basis, the projected total national population for 1998 is 18.3 million, of which the farming population converted into number of households, distributed over provinces/districts, provides the basis for estimating the area planted in 1997/98 by crop and province.

In 1997, a population census was conducted. The preliminary figures released put the national population as of August 1997 at 15.74 million (or 16.13 million for 1998 applying a 2.5 percent growth rate), significantly lower than the 18.6 million projected as of end September 1998. Not only are the census figures preliminary, but a substantial undercount has been recognized. Moreover, there may also be some data processing omissions. The final figures for all provinces will not be available until July 1999. It was, therefore, agreed following discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture, UNFPA, FAO and WFP local representations, and in the government/donor debriefing session that the projected population of 18.3 million should be used by the Mission until adequate and firm population figures become available from the 1997 census. When the final results of the 1997 census are made official, the foodcrop production and utilization figures could be revised accordingly.

3.1 Area planted and harvested

Rains began in due time in most areas and continued steadily until the last week of February 1998. In most areas, amounts and distribution were average to above-average. As a result, plantings progressed well in most areas. The estimated total area planted to different foodcrops in 1997/98 by province is shown in Table 1. The total area planted increased by 2.6 percent compared to 1996/97, the largest increase of 4 percent occurring for both maize and rice. However, localized floods in certain areas resulted in crop losses in a number of low lying farms. Fortunately, areas with complete loss of production due to floods were substantially lower in 1997/98 (60 600 hectares) than in 1996/97 (102 800 hectares). Hence, harvested areas increased by more than the planted areas for all major crops. Overall, the harvested area increased by 3.8 percent over the pervious year level.

Table 1: Mozambique - Area planted to major foodcrops - 1997/98 (‘000 hectares)

Province  Maize  Rice  Sorghum  Millet  Total Cereals  Beans  Groundnuts  Cassava  Total Foodcrops
Cabo Delgado  67  12  53  136  45  35  139  355
Niassa  132  36  174  60  24  262
Nampula  125  37  132  301  77  68  466  912
Zambezia  204  84  67  14  369  52  31  264  716
Tete  158  0.3  55  27  240  42  16  300
Manica  169  0.7  41  13  224  233
Sofala  82  30  52  11  175  17  12  211
Inhambane  122  28  14  168  60  83  73  384
Gaza  122  14  150  37  27  34  248
Maputo  66  72  14  11  102
Total area planted 1997/98  1 247  181  480  101  2 009  408  286  1 020  3 723
Total area lost 1997/98  35.4  5.4  4.2  1.3  46.3  5.6  3.9  4.8  60.6
Total area harvested 1997/98  1 212  176  476  100  1 964  402  282  1 015  3 663

3.2 Yields

Floods in parts of the central region and prolonged dry spells, particularly in parts of the drought-prone southern region, adversely affected yields somewhat. Overall, the country was spared the anticipated adverse El Niño impact on crops. Reflecting generally favourable weather conditions, yields were estimated to be higher in 1997/98 than in the previous year for all crops except rice, which remains the same as last year’s level. Some limited pest attacks have been reported from a few places. In Nampula, elephants and other animals caused some crop damage. Table 2 shows estimated crop yields for 1997/98 and 1996/97.

Table 2: Mozambique – Area planted and harvested, yield and production of crops, 1996/97 and 1997/98

Crop  Area planted 
(‘000 ha) 
Area harvested 
(‘000 ha) 
(‘000 tonnes) 
1996/97  1997/98  1996/97  1997/98  1996/97  1997/98  1996/97  1997/98
Maize  1 199  1 247  1 154  1 212  1 042  1 124  0.90  0.93
Rice  174  181  165  176  180  192  1.09  1.09
Sorghum  474  480  452  476  262  317  0.58  0.67
Millet  99  101  90  100  44  53  0.49  0.53
Total cereals  1 946  2 009  1 861  1 964  1 528  1 686  0.82  0.86
Beans  401  408  393  402  153  191  0.40  0.48
Groundnuts  281  286  278  282  127  143  0.46  0.51
Cassava  999  1 020  992  1 015  5 337  5 639  5.38  5.58

3.3 Input supplies

Two persistent problems faced by Mozambican farmers are non-availability of quality seeds and the use of only rather simple tools and implements. Since improved seeds are not being introduced, seed quality has been deteriorating from repeated use of seeds out of production year after year. Moreover, farmers affected by floods also at times had little access to any kind of seed. Land is prepared manually, using a hoe. The Mission, during its field visits, saw hoes half or less of their original size due to wear. The Government distributed only 2 030 tonnes of seeds and 760 000 hand tools in 1997/98 compared to 9 500 tonnes of seeds and 874 700 hand tools distributed the previous year. Most of the irrigation schemes in place need to be rehabilitated to be operational. At the same time, the Mission noticed water bodies or rivers/rivulets which could be tapped for irrigation purposes using simple devices. But, as was noted earlier, under the present economic policy, agricultural input supply is no longer a function of the Government. The private sector is expected to take care of agricultural input supplies, but the Mission did not find much private sector activity or enthusiasm in this regard.

PROAGRI includes some programmes for seeds and irrigation, but none for tools. It is important for the Government to keep watch on what is happening in the context of agricultural input supplies and mount appropriate programmes to improve farmers’ access to inputs. But farmers who face natural disasters such as floods will need to be provided with subsidised/free input supplies.

While farmers should be encouraged to buy their inputs, it should also be kept in mind that there are very poor farmers who may not be in a position to save money enough even for modest purchases of inputs. Moreover, farmers generally, particularly those in remote areas, have no access to credit for the purchase of inputs.

Fertilizers are not used in the foodcrop sector in Mozambique. But in certain parts of the country where the same land is repeatedly sown with the same crops, soil quality may deteriorate, necessitating fertilizer use. Fertilizer is, however, used on cash crops such as cotton, in which case the processors usually supply inputs on credit against the crop.

3.4 Crop production

Based on the above considerations relating to area planted and harvested and yields, production of food crops has been estimated as shown in Table 3. Total cereal production in 1998 is projected to increase by about 10 percent compared to the 1996/97 good crop. The steady growth of cereal production of the past few years is shown in Chart 1 below. Sorghum and millet registered the highest increase this year, with 21 percent, followed by maize (7.9 percent) and paddy (6.4 percent). Beans, cassava and groundnuts are also projected to increase substantially (about 25 percent, 14 percent and 6 percent, respectively).
Undisplayed Graphic

Table 3: Mozambique - Crop production forecast by Province, 1997/98 (‘000 tonnes)

Province  Maize  Paddy Rice  Sorghum  Millet  Total Cereals  Beans  Ground Nuts  Cassava
Northern Region  391  44  149  592  87  63  3 554
Cabo Delgado  97  14  34  147  26  16  761
Niassa  174  25  203  26  139
Nampula  120  27  90  242  35  45  2 654
Central Region  569  129  144  34  875  61  32  1 563
Zambezia  213  94  44  359  35  21  1 491
Tete  125  0.1  32  14  171  15  7
Manica  159  0.4  28  194  5
Sofala  72  34  40  151  60
Southern Region  164  19  24  11  218  43  48  522
Inhambane  60  15  84  20  33  341
Gaza  74  11  97  16  10  157
Maputo  30  37  24
Total 1997/98  1 124  192  317  53  1 685  191  143  5 639
Total 1996/97  1 042  180  262  44  1 528  153  126  5 337
% Change 1997/98 over 1996/97  +7.9  +6.4  +21.0  +20.5  +10.3  +24.8  +13.5  +5.7

3.5 Prices

As usual, prices of food crops, particularly maize, were found to be low in the wake of post-harvest sales by farmers in general because of their need for cash to meet various obligations. In Sofala district, the Mission found the price of maize to be very low at 700 Meticais per kg, which translates into US$57/ton. But in view of the anticipated strong demand for maize by the commercial sector, maize prices are likely to rise. However, the actual level of prices will largely depend on the import demand for maize in the neighbouring countries. Should maize prices increase significantly, there could be an increase in demand and prices of other food crops such as sorghum/millet, cassava, sweet potatoes etc. These commodities were not seen much in the district markets visited by Mission members.



The province has the most favourable agricultural conditions in the country. Precipitation follows two distinct patterns in the province. In the western districts, rain began in November and permitted the continuation of sowing that in fact started sporadically in October. Plantings continued throughout December. In the north-eastern districts, rain was scarce in the beginning of the season, but in December it rained heavily and continuously making weeding impossible and flooding many crop fields, particularly in the district of Mecula.

Some damage to maize was caused by rats while insects caused some damage to beans. In the district of Mecula, elephants and monkeys destroyed some crop fields and grain stores. However, the total area planted to cereals was about the same as last year and the total output of all cereals is also estimated at 203 000 tonnes, the same as last year. No increase in the production of other food crops is expected.

Cabo Delgado

The rains started in mid-November and most parts of the province continued to receive heavy downpours until February when the rains subsided. The excessive rains affected field operations including weeding and pesticide application on cash crops in some places. Floods affected cultivated areas in the lowlands in the river valleys where more land was planted to reduce risks of anticipated El Niño effects. The most affected areas were the northern districts of Mocimboa da Praia, Muedumbe, Mueda, Nangade, Palma and in the central district of Macomia. The premature tapering of rains in early March adversely affected crop performance. The second crop season has equally suffered from below normal rains and production prospects are not good.

Wild animals and rodents caused crop damage in some areas. A substantial amount of seeds, mostly groundnuts and sorghum, as well as some agricultural tools provided to farmers to address input shortages in the province, were helpful in improving agricultural performance. Overall, despite localised floods and erratic rains, cereal output in the province is projected to increase to 147 000 tonnes from last year’s low output of 102 000 tonnes, largely reflecting increases in yields. Some increase in the production of other crops is also foreseen.


The rainfall began in mid-November, initially performing rather poorly in parts of the province but picked up later throughout the province, favouring crop development. But an erratic change in weather from February onwards caused periods of water stress which affected yields of crops in certain areas, particularly those at advanced vegetative to flowering stages. By April, rains were much below normal and, in some districts, ended prematurely seriously affecting the second season crops.

Pest attacks were minimal except a reported locust outbreak early in the season in certain districts. The outbreak was later suppressed by heavy rains, but some damage had been caused to crops, including maize, cassava, sorghum and cotton.

Total output of all cereals is estimated at 242 000 tonnes, slightly more than last year’s output of 235 000 tonnes. No significant increase in the production of other food crops (beans, groundnuts and cassava) is expected.

The overall 1997/98 production of food crops is likely to be lower than earlier expected, but is still projected to be good. There is no indication of any need for emergency intervention. Alternative sources of income for accessing food include sale of firewood, charcoal and alcoholic beverages.


The heavy rainfall in January this year caused floods along the Licungo river and its tributaries that damaged crops, houses and infrastructures. A total of 9 000 hectares were affected in Marrumbala and Chinde, the major maize growing areas in the province. Floods have hit these areas for two consecutive seasons. Last season, a total of 20 000 hectares were flooded. Sorghum and cassava are mostly grown in the highlands and, hence, less affected by floods. The areas planted to various food crops and harvested in the province increased somewhat compared to last year, and the output of all cereals is estimated at 359 000 tonnes, an increase of 4.7 percent over last year. The production of cassava is also expected to increase by some 10 percent.

Tobacco and cotton are becoming important cash crops in the province with production intensified in the districts of Alto Molocue, Milange and Morrumbala. Fishing activity on the coastal strip, as well as along the rivers Zambezi, Licungo and Chiri, has been one of the major sources of income and protein supplement to the households.

Significant improvement has also been reported in the livestock sector, with steadily increasing population. With good rains and adequate drinking water this season, livestock conditions have improved.


Rain started in early October, but was erratic in most parts of the province except in the districts of Macanga, Moatize, Magoe and Maravia. Much improvement in terms of amount and distribution was recorded later in October and early November in the other nine districts. Across the province, heavy rains were experienced from the third dekad of December through January and February in the districts of Mutarara, Moatize, Magoe and Changara, causing widespread floods along the river valleys. Most plantings took place in October in Macanga, Moatize, Magoe and Maravia districts, while in the rest of the province plantings continued in November.

The total area planted to cereals is estimated at 240 000 hectare and to all food crops at 300 000 hectares compared to last year’s 218 000 hectares and 269 000 hectares, respectively. Some planted areas were lost due to floods. Yields of most crops increased in the north of the province following adequate and well distributed rainfall. No major outbreaks of pests and diseases were reported. However, below normal yields were expected in the south of the province due to floods. The production of all cereals in the province has been estimated at 171 000 tonnes, up by about 10 percent over last year. The production of other food crops is anticipated to remain about the same as last year.


The 1997/98 production year began with good rainfall in the first two dekads of November. A dry spell during that last dekad of November and the last dekad of December affected maize yields but sorghum performed well.

The northern part of the province (Tambara district) has suffered a succession of drought years and farmers tended to increase planting along the rivers. This year, rains were good but some areas were lost or damaged by flooding. The Mission estimates that 2 600 hectares were lost representing 1 percent of the total area planted. Maize was the main food crop affected, with 1 700 hectares lost. No damage by pests was reported during the season.

The total area planted to all food crops is estimated at 233 000 hectares, consisting of 224 000 hectares (96 percent) of cereals and 9 000 hectares of pulses, groundnuts and cassava. Maize yield is estimated to be down by 28 percent, from 1.3 tonnes/hectare in 1996/97 to 0.94 tonnes per hectare in 1997/98. On the other hand, sorghum yields increased from 0.67 tonnes per hectare last season to 0.70 tonnes per hectare in 1997/98. Total cereal production in 1997/98 is estimated at 194 400 tonnes, 3.8 percent more than in the previous season.


The 1997/98 crop season started normally in October with adequate rains for sowing and planting. From December to February, rains intensified causing floods in low lying areas along rivers. In general, rains were sufficient and well distributed in most districts, with the exception of the district of Chemba in the north.

The total area planted in the province is estimated at 227 000 hectares including 175 000 hectares with cereals and 36 000 hectares in pulses, groundnuts and cassava. The Mission estimates that 16 400 hectares of food crops, 7 percent of the area planted were lost due to floods. The most affected crop was maize with a total loss equal to about 14 percent of the area planted.

Yields are estimated to be higher than last year. The average maize yield is estimated to have increased from 0.85 tonne/hectare in 1996/97 to 1.0 tonne/hectare in 1997/98. The overall production of cereals for both first and second season is projected to reach 151 000 tonnes, some 22 percent higher than last year.


Near normal rainfall was received in the coastal districts and the prospects for food crop production are reported to be good. Late rains and significantly less precipitation were experienced in the inner districts mainly in Panda, Funhalouro and Mabote. The first planting occurred in mid-September in the southern coastal districts, with the majority of the cereal crop planted in October and November. A reduced crop yield is anticipated for the second crop season as rainfall levels were below normal in the whole province. Some damage to maize in particular caused by pests has been reported from some parts of the province.

Maize production in Inhambane is estimated at about 60 000 tonnes compared to 48 000 tonnes produced last season, an increase likely attributed to better rainfall performance this season. Rice production dropped from 2 000 tonnes recorded last season to 1 800 tonnes, while sorghum and maize maintained the same levels of production reached last crop season of 15 000 tonnes and 7 000 tonnes, respectively. The estimated total cereal production of 84 000 tonnes is about 17 percent higher than last year.


Good rains were received in the districts located along the coast (Bilene, Xai Xai, Mandlakazi) but significantly less precipitation was recorded in the interior districts of the province. Most crops were planted in October and November. Heavy rains in January caused some flooding in Chibuto and Chokwe districts. The second season crop, particularly in the interior districts, has rather poor outlook because of water stress due to poor rainfall received since February.

Grown mostly under irrigation, rice is one of the important cereal crops in the province, with relatively high yield of about 2.0 tonnes/hectare. The poor condition of the irrigation channels in Chokwe is a major bottleneck. Yield levels of other crops have remained low, ranging between 0.4 -0.6 tonnes/hectares for maize, sorghum, pulses and groundnuts. Seeds were available for the first season, including 12.5 tonnes of seeds distributed by PESU to farmers in Chokwe and Chibuto districts.

Pest attacks and diseases on crops were low this season, although quelea birds were seen to build-up in rice producing areas, particularly in Chokwe, threatening the crop which is now at maturity to harvesting stages. Birds are also harmful to sorghum and millet in other areas.

The area planted to cereals in the province is estimated at slightly higher levels compared to last year. The 1997/98 output of cereals is expected to be 97 000 tonnes compared to last year’s 92 000 tonnes. The production of other food crops is also expected to increase somewhat.

Farmers are making progress in their effort of rebuilding their livestock. In the districts visited, herds mainly of cattle and goats, have been slowly building up following the restoration of peace. Some pigs are also being reared despite the spread of swine fever epidemic in the area.


Significant rainfall for the 1997/98 agricultural year started early in the season between September and October and was well distributed in most of the districts. Heavy rains in January caused flash floods which affected cropped area in various parts of the province, particularly in Marracuane, Matutuine, Moamba and Manhica districts. Agriculture in general performed better this season compared to 1996/97. For the second crop season, however, less rainfall with poor spatial distribution was recorded in most parts of the province.

Crop yields in different areas of the province were adversely affected by poor quality seeds, inadequate rains or poor soils. While rice had an estimated average yield of 1 tonne/hectare, the rest of the crops had low yields ranging from 0.4 to 0.6 tonne/hectare. With the exception of the commercial farmers who have resources to acquire improved seeds, most farmers in the family sector use local seeds saved from previous harvests. Use of fertilisers is also largely confined to commercial farmers.

The area planted to cereals, estimated at 72 000 hectares, is slightly less than last year’s 77 000 hectares and so is the total area planted to all crops – 102 000 hectares against 109 000 hectares. The total cereal output for the 1997/98 is estimated to be lower than last year - 37 000 tonnes against 45 000 tonnes. The production of other food crops is expected to be about the same as last year.

Although disrupted during the war, the livestock sector still plays a significant role in food security in the province. The livestock population has been growing steadily since peace was restored in the country. This also has a positive impact on the increased use of oxen for ploughing.


5.1 Overall food supply situation and access to food

With the first season crop affected by floods in some districts in the central and northern regions and drought in certain parts of the southern region and the second season production constrained by lack of rains in many areas, the 1997/98 food crop production is less than was expected earlier in the season. The Mission estimates an increase of 10 percent in cereal output in 1997/98 over the previous season. Production of cassava, beans and groundnuts also increased significantly. The livestock sector, which suffered serious losses during the civil strife, is now slowly recovering in different parts of the country. There are also limited opportunities for the rural population, in various areas, for earning cash incomes from such activities as cash crops (cotton, cashew nuts, coconut), fishing, charcoal, fuel wood, animal rearing (e.g. goats, sheep etc.), poultry, off-farm employment, and petty trading

The northern region is the food basket of the country, generating significant surpluses of maize. The central region is more or less self-sufficient in maize, but the southern region usually has large cereal deficits. Some traders have begun moving maize from the north to the south but the poor transport facilities constitute a serious constraint. Exporting to neighbouring countries (e.g. Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia) is often more convenient and more profitable for traders, especially when these countries face tight food supplies and relatively high cereal prices, as anticipated this year. However, imports of wheat and rice are brought in mainly through Maputo and Beira ports. Maputo city, being the capital, is well served by traders; and people living there usually have better opportunities for earning incomes than those in other parts. But the deficit districts in Maputo and the other southern provinces at times face difficult food access problems, occasionally requiring food assistance. As a consequence, donor assistance may be necessary in the mobilization of surplus food from the north and the centre to deficit areas in the south.

Reflecting a good harvest, prices of cereals are currently low. In fact, only maize is sold in the market on a significant scale, while sorghum, millet, cassava and other roots and tubers are mostly consumed on farm or in few cases sold in the immediate vicinity. Even when they do not have enough marketable surplus, many farmers sell maize to meet their urgent needs for cash. Hence prices of maize in rural areas were found to be very low. Yet, poor farmers who lost their crops completely due to floods and drought have few coping mechanisms to fall back on, cannot buy the food they need and are therefore in need of food assistance.

5.2 Cereal supply/demand analysis

With several years of steady increase in food production and a good harvest this year, the overall food supply situation is expected to improve significantly in the current marketing year. As shown in Chart 2, the country has moved from importing an average of 600 000 tonnes of food aid per year in the 1991-94 period to almost no food aid imports anticipated in 1998-99.
Undisplayed Graphic

As the country now moves from a recent emergency situation to relief and development concerns, current initiatives to improve its statistical base, especially agricultural statistics, are encouraging. The Mission was informed of a 1997 Household Income and Expenditure Survey and a 1997 Population Census which are being analyzed and may be released in the near future. The Food Security Department of the Ministry of Industry Commerce and Tourism, with FAO technical assistance, has also been examining the methodology of preparing the national food balance, taking into account the liberalisation of agricultural markets, and the shift of many agricultural marketing functions from the public to the private sector.

Pending the finalization of ongoing studies and the release of new information, especially on household consumption patterns and population, the status quo assumption for food use is adopted for this report. Other assumptions include the following:

  • Food use is calculated based on a mid-marketing year population of 18.6 million and per caput consumption (kg/year) of maize: 50; rice: 9.2; wheat: 7.3; sorghum/millet: 13.9; giving a total cereal consumption of 80.4; and pulses 8.2.

  • Other uses/losses are as usual taken as follows: maize/sorghum/millet 12 percent of production, rice 8 percent, wheat 5 percent and pulses 10 percent of production. Part of the increased sorghum/millet output is expected to be used for beer production.

  • Data on stocks held by private traders particularly small and medium-scale traders are hard to come by and it is impossible to obtain realistic data on stocks held by farmers. However, based on whatever scanty information is available, particularly from major trading, milling and processing companies but also from other sources, the DNCI Research note 2 (op.cit.) has estimated stocks of various cereals carried over from 1997/98, which have been used in the present assessment.

  • Closing stocks have been assumed to be slightly higher than the opening stocks for all cereals except maize for which it is reduced to 60 000 tonnes from a high level of 94 000 tonnes of opening stocks.
  • The national cereal balance sheet for 1998/99, based on the above assumptions and estimates, is presented in Table 4. The balance sheet shows an exportable maize surplus of 59 000 tonnes. The import requirement for rice (67 000 tonnes) and wheat (145 000 tonnes) are expected to be largely met through commercial channels. Recent data on imports of rice and wheat through Maputo, Beira and Nacala ports destined for the domestic market during April 1997-March 1998 appear to indicate that larger quantities were recorded (230 000 tonnes and 270 000 tonnes respectively) than were projected from that year’s estimated balance sheet. However, these data need to be analyzed carefully, given the limited knowledge on formal and informal trade links with neighbouring countries.

    Notwithstanding an overall good harvest, there are pockets of food shortages, mainly as a result of crop loss due to flooding, and a number of people in different locations are in need of emergency food assistance. Depending on the actual outcome of the second season crop, some affected farmers may be in need of emergency seed supplies for the next crop season.

    Table 4: Mozambique - Cereal supply/demand balance 1998/99 (‘000 tonnes)

    Maize  Rice  Wheat  Sorghum/Millet  Total Cereals  Pulses
    Domestic availability  1 218  149  18  382  1 767  201
    Opening stocks  94  25  18  12  149  10
    Production  1 124  124  370  1 618  191
    Utilization  1 218  216  163  382  1 979  201
    Food use  930  171  136  259  1 496  153
    Other uses losses  135  15  73  230  19
    Closing stocks  94  30  20  50  194  29
    Exportable surplus  59  59  -
    Import requirement  67  145  212 

    5.3. Food assistance requirement

    The 1997/98 agricultural season was characterized by good rainfall throughout the country except that there was temporary flooding in some areas, particularly in the central region but also in northern and southern regions. In addition, surveys carried out in February (mid-season assessment made by the Government, FAO and WFP) recommended that food assistance be targeted in those vulnerable areas under the form of community-based development activities.

    As a result of rehabilitation and development projects on-going in the country following the 1996/97 agricultural season, emergency food assistance to the country has significantly decreased. However, despite the improvements noted in the national food supply and security, the population severely affected by the floods remains vulnerable because of the loss of crops and even houses and belongings.

    Excessive rains in the central region districts, such as Tambara in Manica province, Mutarara in Tete Province, Morrumbala in Zambezia Province, and Chamba in Sofala Province, resulted in a productivity decrease while in the coastal and river basin districts floods caused some damage. Some 45 000 hectares of crop lands were reported to have been lost to the floods.

    It has been found by the Mission that in many of the flood affected areas second crops have been planted, for which the outlook is variable from area to area.

    The Mission estimated that the total number of persons to be assisted is 185 150, of which 148 150 for four months and 37 000 for two months. The distribution will mainly concentrate in the four post-harvest months from May to August 1998 (the current EMOP covers actual needs up to July). Food aid needs will be reassessed at the end of the second season and at the beginning of the lean periods in August 1998 and January 1999.

    The Mission, in line with on-going practice, has adopted a ration of 450 g of maize and 40 g of pulses per day/person, and recommends increasing use of food-for-work schemes (20 percent of food allocated for the previous emergency food assistance 1997/1998) avoiding free food distribution as much as possible.

    In agreement with the Government and the NGO partners, the most vulnerable populations should be targeted for food assistance based on selection criteria as defined by the Vulnerability Assessment Group and the implementing partners, i.e. the Government, particularly DPCCN (Departamento Provincial de Combate as Calimadades Naturais) and NGOs, i.e. female-headed households, children, the disabled and farmers who have lost their agricultural crops. The current ration cards should be used and the registration exercise should be fine-tuned during the food distribution.

    The number of flood-affected people and their food aid needs during the four months (May-August 1998) before the second season harvest in different provinces are shown in Table 5 below.

    Table 5: Mozambique - Food aid allocation by Region and Province 1998/99

    Region/  Number of people needing help  Duration of assistance for  Food aid needs for flood-affected people 
    Province  Floods  Drought  flood-affected people (days)  Maize (tonnes)  Pulses (tonnes)
    Central  84 150  4 220  376
    Tete  56 000  120  3 024  269
    Sofala  16 150  120  872  78
    Manica  12 000  60  324  29
    Northern  38 000  1 377  122
    Zambezia  13 000  120  702  62
    Nampula  6 000  60  162  14
    Cabo Delgado  19 000  60  513  46
    Southern  63 000  59 000  3 402  302
    Gaza  38 000  50 000  120  2 052  182
    Maputo  25 000  9 500  120  1 350  120
    TOTAL  185 150  59 500  8 999  800

    However, prior to providing further food assistance to the same population during the lean period from January to April 1999, a food needs re-assessment should take place in August 1998 to review the situation. Drought-affected people in the southern region, as shown in the above table, would be assisted within an integrated community-based activity.

    As in the past, emergency food assistance is delivered by WFP, DPCCN and World Vision International (WVI). WFP is handling the transportation of 80 percent of the commodities to some 109 Extended Delivery Points (EDPs), the remaining 20 percent is mainly transported by DPCCN. The transportation from the EDPs to the Final Delivery Points (FDPs) and distribution to the recipients are the responsibility of the DPCCN and ten NGOs.

    This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required. 
    Abdur Rashid 
    Chief, GIEWS FAO 
    Telex 610181 FAO I 
    Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495 
    E-mail: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG 
    Mohamed Zejjari 
    Director, OSA, WFP 
    Telex: 626675 WFP 
    Fax: 0039-06-6513-2839 
    E-Mail: Mohamed.Zejjari@WFP.ORG
    The Special Alerts/Reports can also be received automatically by E-mail as soon as these are published, subscribing to the GIEWS/Alerts report ListServ. To do so, please send an E-mail to the FAO-Mail-Server at the following address:, leaving the subject blank, with the following message: 
      subscribe GIEWSAlerts-L 
    To be deleted from the list, send the message: 
      unsubscribe GIEWSAlerts-L
    ) -->
    TOCReturn to menu