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Reference Date: 13-February-2024


  1. Dryness affecting crops in localized areas, following slow start of seasonal rains

  2. Food prices increased moderately in late 2023 and remain at high levels

  3. Conflict drives acute food insecurity in north

Dryness affecting crops in localized areas, following slow start of seasonal rains

Planting of the 2024 cereal crops concluded in January 2024. A delayed start of seasonal rains across the country has potentially shortened the growing season, raising concerns regarding crop yield potentials. In parts of key cereal producing central provinces of Sofala and Zambezia, the onset of plantings was delayed by up to three weeks. Despite an increase in rainfall amounts from late December 2023 to January 2024, cumulative rainfall deficits persisted, notably in Zambezia, where cropped areas received about 70 percent of the long‑term average rainfall amounts between October 2023 and January 2024. Unusually high temperatures, driven by the prevailing El Niño event, have further aggravated the situation. These weather patterns have led to deteriorating vegetation conditions and crop wilting in parts of central provinces.

In northern provinces, also significant cereal‑producing regions, weather conditions have been more favourable for crop development. However, in Cabo Delgado Province, already grappling with several years of insecurity, recent attacks by non‑state armed groups (NSAG) in January 2024 and localized flooding events at the start of the year have adversely affected households' access to land and agriculture inputs.

Crop conditions in the three southern provinces remain relatively good, although these provinces contribute less than 10 percent to the national maize production.

Looking ahead to February and March 2024, weather forecasts indicate a high probability of below‑average rainfall across most of the country, consistent with El Niño trends. If these conditions materialize, crop production in 2024 could fall to a below‑average level, with reductions likely to be mostly concentrated in central provinces.

Food prices increased moderately in late 2023 and remain at high levels

The annual inflation rate remained stable in the last quarter of 2023 and was estimated at 5 percent in December 2023, about half the rate of a year earlier. Food inflation was estimated at 9 percent at the end of 2023. Prices of maize, a key food staple, were comparatively stable during the last three months of 2023 across most of the country, but were up to 50 percent higher on a yearly basis in December 2023.

A managed exchange rate system has helped to temper imported inflationary pressure in 2023, limiting large pass‑through costs from high international commodity prices. However, a consequence of this system is the high interest rates, which can limit access to and raise the cost of credit for farmers. The recent disinflation prompted a small cut in the lending rate in January 2024 which, at 16.5 percent, is still among the highest in sub‑Saharan Africa.

Conflict drives acute food insecurity in north

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, about 3.3 million people are estimated to face acute food insecurity (Phase 3 [Crisis] and above), including 220 000 people experiencing Phase 4 (Emergency) levels, between October 2023 and March 2024. This represents 20 percent of the analysed population, double the prevalence of the corresponding period in 2022/23.

The majority of the population facing the highest levels of acute food insecurity is situated in the northern conflicted‑affected Cabo Delgado Province. Although there was a decrease in the number of incidents by NSAGs in the second half of 2023, prompting a rise in returnees, sporadic attacks have continued, most recently in January 2024, displacing about 9 000 people. In total, more than 800 000 people remain internally displaced due to the insecurity in Cabo Delgado, which has also disrupted livelihoods, interrupted humanitarian deliveries as well as supplies of goods and basic services, combining to underpin the high levels of acute food insecurity.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

This brief was prepared using the following data/tools:
FAO/GIEWS Country Cereal Balance Sheet (CCBS)

FAO/GIEWS Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Tool .

FAO/GIEWS Earth Observation for Crop Monitoring .

Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) .