Reference Date: 27-March-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Favourable production prospects for the 2014 maize crop; harvest expected to exceed the previous year’s above‑average level if good weather persists
Prices of maize remain high, but some decrease observed in February
Approximately 1.9 million people are estimated to be food insecure, but conditions anticipated to improve with the start of the 2014 harvest in April
Above average maize harvest expected in 2014
Harvesting of the 2014 cereal crops is expected to begin in April across most of the country. Despite a delayed start of seasonal rains in parts of the Southern Region, the overall 2014 production outlook is positive. Preliminary expectations point to a maize crop of between 3.7 and 3.9 million tonnes, if favourable weather persists until the end of the harvest period in May/June. If this level is achieved, the 2014 output will surpass 2013’s above average harvest and the short-term average. However, far northern areas of the country, as well as some southern districts experienced dry‑spells in March, resulting in crop wilting. This is expected to restrict yields and dampen production in the affected areas, though the impact at the national level may be limited.
Maize prices persist at high levels, but some declines recorded in February
Following sharp rises at the beginning of the year, the national average maize price decreased in February; however, increases were also recorded in some markets but at more subdued rate. The distribution of subsidised maize through the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC), which is retailed at MWK 80 per kg, nearly half the national average, and expectations of a good harvest in 2014 contributed to curbing significant increases. Prices however, still remain above their levels of 2013, with the national average price about 16 percent higher than its year earlier level. Higher fuel prices, coupled with localized production declines in 2013, as well as the effects of a depreciated currency, contributed to pushing prices up to their current high levels.
Food security conditions deteriorated, but improvements expected from April
Updated results from the 2013 Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s (MVAC) evaluation in November indicated deterioration in national food security conditions. Approximately 1.9 million persons were assessed to be food insecure, up 27 percent from the figure released earlier in July, until the end of March. The largest numbers of food insecure persons are located in the districts of Mzimba (Northern Region) and Mangochi (Southern Region). The revised figures were based on a continuing increase in the price of food (as well as the generally high cost of living), as approximately 54 percent of a household’s income is allocated to food purchases. Food security conditions are anticipated to improve in the coming months, with the start of the 2014 harvest from April.