Reference Date: 11-February-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Heavy rains and floods cause damage to crops in southern regions
Maize prices rise steeply following lower 2012 cereal production
Recent floods have aggravated food insecurity conditions in southern areas, while increasing maize prices limit food access
Heavy rains in January 2013 cause flood damage in southern regions
Abundant rains received in January 2013 caused flooding in southern parts of the country, inundating cropped fields in riverine areas, particularly in Gaza Province. Preliminary estimates indicate that approximately 153 000 hectares of crops, including maize, rice, beans and other vegetables, have been lost due to the floods and an earlier dry spell. Although at the national level this area represents approximately 3 percent of the total planted area, localised production short-falls will have negative consequences for household food security. The rains have subsided since late January in southern provinces, although significant precipitation was recorded in early February in central and northern regions, increasing the risk of flooding in these parts, with potential adverse impacts on the agriculture sector.
Prior to the floods in January, rainfall conditions varied across the country during the first three months (October to December) of the 2012/13 cropping season (October-June).Dry conditions were observed in southern areas where delayed planting activities necessitated replanting in several locations. In central and northern provinces, which constitute the main cereal producing areas of the country, the onset of seasonal rains and cumulative rainfall levels were comparable with the average. If favourable weather conditions continue and the flood damage remains limited, an improved national harvest relative to the poor output in 2012 is expected. However, in southern and central areas that suffered moisture deficits and flood damage, particularly in the Zambezi and Limpopo river basins, reduced yields are anticipated.
Cereal output declines in 2012
Erratic weather during the previous 2011/12 cropping season and a smaller area harvested had resulted in an overall decline in the 2012 cereal output; the national harvest was estimated at approximately 2.4 million tonnes, well below the previous year’s record output of 2.9 million tonnes. Rice production however, put at 280 000 tonnes (milled terms), was up on 2011 harvest.
Maize prices rise reflecting low availabilities
Prices of maize in January 2013 were well above those of a year earlier and remained close to their record levels of December 2012, despite declines in some markets. The increase in prices mainly reflect tighter market supplies following reduced production in 2012. However, in Maputo, where maize is mainly consumed by the low-income households, prices remained stable and at MZN 12.6 per kg are at similar levels to a year earlier. Given the increasing trends elsewhere, prices across the country are converging with Maputo’s levels, which historically have been nearly double the level of northern markets. In addition, the recent heavy rains and localized floods in January disrupted access to some markets, with reports indicating reduced food supplies in the wholesale markets of Maputo, Gherkin, Beira and Nampula. In the most-affected Gaza Province, the closure of the main market warehouse in Chokwe triggered market shortages in other areas of the province, instigating sharp price rises. By contrast prices of rice, which is mainly consumed in southern markets, have been stable for much of 2012 and remain relatively unchanged compared to levels one year earlier.
Higher maize imports for current 2012/13 marketing year
Given the reduced maize output in 2012, imports are estimated to exceed 100 000 tonnes in the 2012/13 marketing year (April/March), compared to the estimated 87 000 tonnes imported in 2011/12. Between April 2012 and January 2013, approximately 60 000 tonnes of maize had been imported from South Africa, while about 30 000 tonnes have been imported from Zambia. With only two months remaining of the current marketing year, the national import requirement is expected to be satisfied, as the pace of imports from South Africa tend to pick up towards the end of the marketing year.
Emergency supplies required for flood affected population
The January floods have affected an estimated 213 000 persons, with approximately 140 000 persons displaced in the most-affected Gaza Province. As well as destruction to homesteads and infrastructure, the floods resulted in crop losses, which is likely to result in reduced availabilities for affected households in 2013. Emergency supplies are being provided to the affected population in Gaza Province, including distribution of food by air in isolated areas.