Reference Date: 06-January-2015
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Delayed and subsequently below-average cumulative rains since October 2014 impeded planting of 2015 cereal crops
National maize supplies are favourable, following bumper 2014 harvest
National average maize price declines throughout 2014 in response to improved supply situation
Overall, food security conditions improved in 2014, but areas where production declines were recorded remain a concern
Below-average rains delayed planting and hindered early development of 2015 cereal crops
Delayed and overall below-average cumulative rains since the start of the rainy season in October have adversely affected the 2015 cereal crops, to be harvested by May. However, heavier rains in late December helped to partially replenish soil moisture levels, particularly in southern areas. Most areas have received less than half the average rainfall between October and December, and as a result vegetation conditions were below average as of late December. Reports indicate that planting was delayed by about one month, whilst in areas where farmers were able to plant, moisture deficits hindered early crop development. The delayed and poor start of the 2014/15 cropping season (October-June) is likely to shorten the season and could restrict yield potential of the 2015 maize crop. Good rains have been forecast for rest of January 2015.
Bumper maize output estimated in 2014
The 2014 crop was estimated at 3.9 million tonnes, about 8 percent up on the average 2013 harvest, on account of an expansion in the area planted and a small increase in yields. However, some districts in the north (Karonga) and south (Balaka, Dedza, Ntcheu, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Neno, Blantyre and Mulanje) experienced prolonged dry spells, resulting in reduced localized outputs. Total cereal production is estimated at about 4.2 million tonnes, nearly 300 000 tonnes (8 percent) above last year and the average of the previous five years. Given the bumper 2014 harvest, the country retained a large maize surplus.
Larger maize supplies push prices down
Reflecting the bumper 2014 cereal harvest, maize prices decreased throughout most of 2014 to levels well below the previous year. In November, at MWK 72 per kg, the national average price was about 40 percent down on its year earlier level. The stabilization and slight strengthening of the national currency (kwacha) since December 2014 is also expected to help ease inflationary pressure. However, the annual national inflation rate still remained at a high level, estimated at about 24 percent in November 2014.
Food security conditions improved in 2014
An estimated 640 009 persons were assessed to be food insecure in 19 districts by the 2014 Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC), a sharp decrease compared with the 1.46 million people estimated in the previous year. The lower number reflects improved food availability and access in 2014, following the larger maize harvest and sharply reduced prices. Food assistance to the affected population is being provided in-kind and through cash transfers.