Delayed planting and poor crop conditions due to lack of access to inputs and severe dryness

Here is the latest price bulletin for Malawi by FEWS NET. Allow me to drive your attention to these important messages;

  • Across most of the country, the El Niño has resulted in a delayed start, poorly distributed rains, and prolonged dry conditions which have led to delayed planting and poor crop development. These poor cropping conditions have resulted in permanent wilting in districts in central and southern Malawi. As a result, this will substantially reduce household access to green crops for consumption and harvest prospects. The lean period will also extend into April instead of March.
  • Nearly 40 percent of farmers have not received access to subsidized seeds and fertilizer through this year’s Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) because of delays. Since it is mid-way into the cropping season, farmers without access to this program have planted recycled seeds with little to no access to fertilizer. Without these inputs, production prospects for the 2015/16 season are likely to be reduced.
  • Assistance programming in the form of cash and in-kind food transfers will end for 2.8 million food insecure people in February due to funding gaps and a pipeline break. Since a later than normal harvest is expected in May and a smaller than expected green harvest is expected in April, households will face livelihood protection deficits and food gaps for approximately two months, resulting in Stressed and Crisis acute food insecurity outcomes from March.
  • In December, food prices increased to as much as MWK 190/kg in monitored markets. FEWS NET assessments in mid-January found that maize prices have increased to levels above MWK 200/kg in some markets. These prices are well above the five-year average and 2-3 times higher than last year’s prices during the same December-January period.
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“Dryness due to El Niño may prolong lean season and deteriorate food security outcomes”-FEWSNET

Credit: http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/05/22/el-nino-forecast-noaa
Credit: http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/05/22/el-nino-forecast-noaa

Continuing with our series on El Nino and Agriculture, FEWSNET has just released the following report which discusses the issue and its impact in Mozambique.

Here are key messages from the report;

  • Mid-season dryness during the 2015 growing season in areas of the south led to reduced crop yields and crop failure, as well as significant water shortages for human and livestock use. The combination of these shocks and the current slow start of the season has worsened food security outcomes for poor households in parts of Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, and Niassa Provinces, who are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes at least until 2016 staple harvests.
  • The ongoing El Niño has led to a delayed onset of rains in much of central and southern Mozambique, by up to 40 days. Erratic rainfall has also affected planting, and has damaged crops planted with typical timing. The El Niño will likely suppress rainfall in southern and central Mozambique throughout the rain season ending in March/April 2016.
  • Although maize grain prices were 60 to 70 percent above the five-year average in most monitored markets in November, the prices of some marketed food substitutes such as cassava, maize meal, and rice remain closer to the five-year average and last year.

In a related development, the President of Malawi has requested Malawians to brace themselves for impacts of El Nino as livelihoods may be heavily affected.

A similar report for Malawi says that

Seasonal progress across most of the country [Malawi] is poor. Many parts of the country, especially the central region, are experiencing a delayed onset of rains and dryness. In some areas soil moisture is not conducive for planting, and this in turn will continue to limit agriculture labor opportunities and may delay the availability of green foods before the harvest in 2016. According to international forecasts, rainfall between January and March is likely to be below average in southern and central Malawi.

Happy new year!