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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 30-June-2017


  1. National cereal production in 2017 forecast at above-average levels, mainly as a result of generally favourable seasonal rains

  2. Maize prices declined on expectations of improved output in 2017, while strengthening of national currency also eased inflationary pressure

  3. Food insecurity peaked in early 2017 following impact of 2016 drought and situation was further compounded by passing of Cyclone Dineo in February 2017. Conditions expected to improve in 2017/18 given lower food prices and good prospects for 2017 cereal production

Cereal production expected to increase in 2017

Harvesting of the 2017 summer main cereal crops is expected to conclude soon, with the minor secondary season crops, including the wheat crop, to be harvested in the last quarter of the year. Official production estimates have not yet been released, but provisional forecasts indicate a year-on-year production gain, mostly stemming from a larger maize output. This year’s increase would largely be on account of improved seasonal rains, which are expected to boost yields compared to the dry weather-reduced levels in 2016. Although the overall national output is anticipated at a higher level in 2017, some production declines are expected in localized areas of the south and centre, due to floods caused by Cyclone Dineo in February with loss of nearly 30 000 hectares of crops in Inhambane Province. Drier weather conditions in some northern areas, in particular in parts of Nampula Province, retarded vegetation growth with likely negative effects on yields, dampening production levels.

The country was also affected by an outbreak of Fall armyworms, which reportedly spread to all provinces except Cabo Delgado in the north. Although the impact on production has not been quantified, the effect is expected to be limited, partly owing to the heavy rains that repressed the pest’s impact on crop production.

Imports expected to decline moderately in 2017/18

On account of the improved output this year, maize imports in the 2017/18 marketing year (April/March) are expected to decline moderately. However, the current lower prices of maize in South Africa, a key trading partner, and the recent strengthening of the national currency, might encourage increased levels of imports during the first half of the marketing year. Regarding other cereals, the country remains a net importer of rice and wheat, and imports of both commodities are expected to remain almost unchanged compared to the previous year’s levels.

Maize prices decline on expectations of improved domestic supplies

Prices of maize declined in recent months on harvest pressure and in May they were generally well below their year-earlier levels. The lower year-on-year prices are generally the result of improved supply prospects, while the strengthening of the national currency in 2017 also eased inflationary pressure.

Food security conditions expected to improve in 2017/18

Overall, food security conditions are expected to improve in 2017/18, on account of the larger agricultural output and lower cereal prices. A country-wide Government-led food security assessment will be conducted in July and the results are expected to be available in August providing estimates of the number of food insecure people.

During the start of the year, approximately 900 000 people were provided with food assistance, out of an estimated 2.1 million assessed to be food insecure in 2016/17 mainly due to the impact of the El Niño-induced drought on agricultural production. In addition, the passing of Cyclone Dineo earlier in the year affected about 0.55 million people and further aggravated the food security conditions in southern provinces.

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