MOZAMBIQUE (10 February)
Up to now Mozambique this season has experienced a mixed weather pattern with heavy rains in the centre, favourable in the north and spotty in the south. The Zambezi Regional Water Board (ARA - Zambeze) issued a maximum alert on 1 February on account of flooding along Zambezi and Pungue rivers due to heavy rains locally and in neighbouring Zambia affecting 7 districts in central Mozambique. However, according to a government communiqué of 4 February, the water levels in most risk prone areas were falling and had subsided below the critical marks. Damage to the main staple food crops, maize and sorghum planted in November-December 2004 and cash crop sugar cane is unknown at this stage. Floods notwithstanding, if the generally satisfactory crop growth trend were to continue, the prospects for 2004/05 season crops would be considered favourable.
Cereal production in 2004, estimated at about 2 million tonnes (some 17 percent above average and 11 percent above good harvest of the previous year), showed a continuation of steady recovery over the past several years. Despite the overall satisfactory national production, the country as a whole, however, faces a net deficit of about 610 000 tonnes of cereals particularly in the south and parts of the centre.
The overall food security situation in the country is satisfactory. As reported by SIMA/MADER, maize retail prices have stabilized in most markets in the country and are consistently lower currently compared to the same months in previous two years. Vulnerability analysis indicated in April 2004 that some 187 000 people are in need of 49 000 tonnes of relief food assistance in marketing year 2004/05 due to the impact of floods/droughts in the previous years and to cope with the HIV/AIDS problem. Since then, the food security situation has improved owing to a good agricultural performance during the second season.