Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Malawi Food Security Outlook January-June 2010
26 January 2010

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges ReliefWeb as the source of this document

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Current food security conditions in Chikwawa, Nsanje, and Balaka have improved slightly due to increased irrigation and belated food aid and cotton sales. While dry spells caused production failures and low cotton prices reduced incomes in the 2009 season, intensified irrigated crop production, the food aid program which started in December (and will last until March 2010), and improved cotton prices have improved household food access. The provision of funds for ADMARC to purchase the remaining 28 percent of last year's cotton harvest at MK 60/kg and consumption of irrigated and green crops later in the season will improve food security in Chikwawa, Nsanje, Balaka, and Zomba districts. The harvest will take place between April and June. Government needs to scale up food aid to cover all 275,168 hungry households identified by the MVAC in its October 2009 update, especially now that the hunger season is underway. Chingale EPA in Zomba, which was identified as food insecure in the update, but which has not yet been included in the current food aid program, needs special attention.

Rains have started in all three regions of Malawi, and the majority of farmers have planted. However, the rains have been sporadic, with dry conditions persisting, especially in the South. This will likely lead to local food deficits. By the end of December 2009, the suppressed rainfall was reported to be hindering basal dressing and causing crop wilting. Short–term rainfall forecasts show persistent dry spells continuing in the south. The government has so far identified more than 121,000 households whose crops have either wilted or not germinated, and will have to replant. This is a preliminary count, and the figure is expected to rise significantly, because some districts have not yet been assessed. No program to support these households with inputs has been announced.

Continuous earthquakes from December 6–20, 2009, have caused displacement and disruption of farming activities in Karonga district in the north. This may cause local production failures. The situation requires close monitoring.

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