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Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) World Food Programme (WFP)

FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission to Mozambique

Special Report

World Food Programme (WFP) / Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

20 June 2005

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Following the reports of poor harvests in southern and central provinces due to drought, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) visited all the production areas in the country from 25 April to 13 May 2005. The Mission evaluated food crop production in the 2004/05 agricultural season, assessed the overall food supply situation, forecast cereal import requirements and possible exports in marketing year 2005/06 (April/March) and determined the eventual food aid needs.

As on previous occasions, the Mission received support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER), which provided preliminary production forecasts for this year's agricultural season and technical staff to accompany the Mission on its field visits. Staff from National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) and Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC), and observers from the European Union (EU), World Vision, SARNET (IITA), and the Italian NGO - CESVI, joined the Mission.

Prior to departure to the field the Mission was briefed by representatives of FAO and WFP and by government officials, who provided information on the current situation in the country. A meeting with donors and NGOs also provided valuable information, particularly on the situation in the districts where they work.

The Mission, divided into seven groups, travelled for about 10 days to all ten provinces covering 45 selected districts in the north, centre and the south. The districts to be visited were carefully selected using a range of criteria including agro-ecological, marketing and vulnerability considerations. In each province and district, the teams met with administrative authorities and with representatives of Agriculture, Health and Commerce Ministries, INGC, as well as NGOs working in the various areas. After these meetings, the sub-teams travelled to selected production areas to conduct interviews with farmers, carry out field inspections and make crop cuttings to estimate yields. The Mission also visited markets and interviewed a wide range of traders.

The preliminary assessment of the season provided by the Early Warning Unit of MADER, and pre-harvest data on area and yield for food crops gathered at MADER provincial and district levels, were analysed by the Mission and cross-checked against qualitative information from farmers, traders, NGOs and international agencies working in the agricultural sector. Information on growing conditions, pest and disease status, rainfall, prices and input supply obtained during the field visits were triangulated with remote sensing data and intelligence reports prepared by FAO. The work of the Mission was complemented with concurrently ongoing survey work of the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) aimed to determine food relief needs for the 2005/06 marketing year. The CFSAM and the VAC teams worked together to analyze data prior to and after the CFSAM field work in order to ensure the concordance of the two assessments.

National cereal production (maize, sorghum, millet and paddy rice) in 2005 estimated at 1.92 million tonnes, 3 percent below last year's level, is made up of 72 percent maize at an estimated 1.40 million tonnes. While production has increased in the northern provinces by 12 percent, much lower cereal output in the southern provinces and in the drier districts of the central provinces has reduced the overall national harvest this year. The paddy crop is estimated to be 2 percent less than last year from a slightly increased area at 174 000 tonnes. Sorghum/millet output fell by 13 percent to 343 000 tonnes due to falling area estimates in the central and southern provinces.

Last year's exceptional maize harvest in the southern provinces was not repeated this year as the continuous rains from January to April in 2004 that prompted widespread maize planting were not repeated. However, in the north, although the rains were not as well distributed as in 2004, they were heavier and more than adequate to support slightly improved maize production from a slightly increased area. In the central region, where cereal production varied from above to below last year according to location and crop, an earlier start to the rains finished early after a season characterised by heavy rains and dry spells.

The production forecast for cassava is 11.5 million tonnes (fresh weight), substantially higher than in last year's assessment because of the Mission's application of revised yield estimates, more compatible with recent technical study results1 and with neighbouring countries. During the past year an independent review of cassava production confirmed the 2004 CFSAM proposition that yields per hectare were much more in line with those in neighbouring countries than had been previously indicated. Consequently, cassava production estimates have been revisited and quantities theoretically available for use have been doubled. However, given the uncertainty of areas and yields, the mission recommends a comprehensive study of cassava availability and utilization, and promotion of marketing opportunities including local purchases in the form of dried cassava and cassava flour for food aid.

At the same time, industrial crops, mainly tobacco, cotton, cashew, coconuts, tea, paprika, soybeans, sesame, sunflower and citrus are undergoing an expansion that is contributing substantially to peasant household food security and boosting agricultural exports.

Given the universally low stocking rates, plenty of grazing and browse is available in the tse-tse free pastoral areas. Ruminants, are in good condition with no disease outbreaks noted, however, terms of trade are noted to be unfavourable to herders in the remote areas of Inhambane and Gaza where the maize harvests have been very poor and cattle prices are falling as more cattle are being sold to fewer buyers.

The marked regional differences in maize production and consumption, coupled with high cost of moving the crop from the surplus northern and central provinces to the deficit south, are reflected in the high price differentials among regions. At the time of the Mission, the price of maize in the southern Maputo market was twice as much as in the central provinces of Manica and Tete.

Maize prices were declining seasonably in central and northern regions since March 2005 owing to this year's satisfactory harvests there. However, in the South and other drought affected market areas of the centre, prices are rising as a result of poor harvest this year. Stronger demand from bordering southern provinces of Malawi, where harvests have been reduced, is expected to improve maize prices in the northern provinces of Mozambique. Already the Mission observed substantial flows of informal exports of maize into Malawi. Total informal maize exports between July 2004 to April 2005 from Mozambique to Malawi, monitored under the FEWS-NET/WFP study, were about 80 000 tonnes, and an additional 40 000 tonnes were exported through formal channels. Formal and informal exports of maize, mainly to Malawi but also to bordering areas of Zambia, and formal exports to other maize deficit countries in the region, are forecast at 190 000 tonnes in 2005/06.

As the country has a structural deficit in rice and wheat, imports of these commodities required to meet the commercial market demand are estimated at 336 000 and 352 000 tonnes, respectively, including small amounts to be received in the form of monetized food aid. Import requirements of maize for southern deficit provinces, owing to the high costs of moving the crop from the north to the south and the proximity of the southern provinces to the competitive South African market, are forecast at 175 000 tonnes. Of these about 130 000 tonnes are expected to be through commercial channels, leaving a deficit of about 45 000 tonnes to be imported with international assistance. In aggregate, total cereal import requirements in 2005/06 (April/March) including maize, rice and wheat, forecast at 863 000 tonnes, are 10 percent higher than the previous year as a result of the reduced production in the South and central provinces and increased utilization.

Food deficits are estimated in the semi-arid areas of the interior of Gaza and Inhambane provinces, semi-arid areas of Manica and Tete provinces, as well as remotely located areas across the southern (including Maputo) and central provinces. Lack of access to adequate food is a major concern, especially for communities and families who have not yet recovered from several years of poor crop production and have fully exhausted their assets and are now engaged in negative coping strategies for their survival. Approximately 587 500 people are most vulnerable and will require some 70 000 tonnes of emergency food assistance to meet the basic dietary intake between July 2005 and March 2006. This is in addition to the ongoing development programs and PRRO requiring 44 000 tonnes during the 2005/06 marketing year. Where it is possible food assistance procured locally or regionally should be used in order to avoid distortion in local markets and to encourage local production. Livelihood recovery for the next year will require immediate actions to ensure necessary seeds and other agricultural inputs for households that do not have the means to purchase them.

The negative impact of HIV/AIDS has led to "compounded vulnerability" in affected households. Although Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates have remained relatively low over the last year, there is a tendency towards deterioration in underweight in children under 5 years old from the mid-1990s onwards. Chronic malnutrition rates are estimated at 36 percent and are particularly high in the northern provinces. An integrated UN response should thus be developed to address the current food insecurity situation.

  1. "Study on cassava and sweet potato yields in Mozambique" IITA/SARNET, Maputo, Mozambique, 2004.

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