- Although the first estimates of this season's harvests indicate a national production increase, outputs are uneven. Mozambique's government reports of expected surpluses in the north and "serious deficits" in the more densely populated south.
The Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's first harvest estimate for the current season indicates a national production increase of 2 percent for cereals, 1 percent for pulses and 4 percent for cassava compared to last year.
- These national figures mask severe regional disparities, with surpluses in the north and serious deficits in the south, reports the US agency Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS). Due to the poor rainfall, crop yields in the southern region have been drastically reduced, and total production is expected to be even lower than last year, which was also a poor year.
The regional harvest disparities are a product of the great differences in rainfall earlier this year. In northern areas where rainfall was normal to above normal, good production is expected, and in the south, where below normal rains fell, a poor to failed harvest is forecast. The central zones show mixed conditions.
The differences in production already can be somewhat noted in food market prices, FEWS reports from Mozambique. Prices in most northern and central markets have stabilised or are declining. However, southern markets are showing significantly higher prices this season than last due to the poor production.
FEWS also warns that the large surpluses in the north are not flowing to meet the deficits in the south due to several constraints. Therefore, the regional food deficit could lead to hunger in the south.
These constraints included poor infrastructure, arbitrary taxation and a lack of purchasing power among drought-affected households. The cost of transportation and the bad state of secondary and feeder roads was impeding the flow of production from the north to the south.
The US agency reports on "arbitrary taxes charged in various places by local authorities on informal and formal traders, which result in lower prices at the producer level and higher prices for the consumer." Many traders therefore were discouraged by the situation and were evaluating whether it was worthwhile to continue trading.
Another constraint was the lack of infrastructure to store agricultural produce, which often resulted in high post harvest losses. It was noted that as much as 30 percent of the harvested crops were lost during the storage period due to inadequate storage facilities and the lack of necessary chemicals to prevent losses, FEWS says.
Finally, there was the negative impact of HIV/AIDS, which is affecting the general socio-economic life of communities - for example, an increased number of orphans and a decrease in the work force.
Although the agency warns about the constraints for food supply to southern Mozambique, it is emphasised that the current harvest forecast is only the first draft. A thorough analysis of the food security outlook has not been made yet and it therefore remains unsure whether Southern Mozambique will need foreign food aid in the upcoming months.
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