The 2020 harvest expected to temporarily improve food availability beginning April
The number of households experiencing food consumption gaps is at near-record levels across much of the region due to the impacts of last year’s severe drought. Ongoing humanitarian assistance distribution is preventing more severe outcomes and Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are present in areas of Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present in parts of Zimbabwe, DRC, Mozambique, Lesotho and Madagascar where households are reliant on markets with significantly below average purchasing power.
The green harvest typically starts in February/March across much of the region. Although, while January and February rainfall improve cropping conditions, the green harvest is delayed and largely unavailable due to permanent wilting of crops in southern parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Madagascar. In much of the region, the primary harvest is expected to improve food security outcomes; however, in the parts of DRC, southern Mozambique, and much of Zimbabwe Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected. Similar outcomes are expected in conflict affected areas of DRC and Mozambique. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in the rest of the region.
Despite the start of the green harvest in some areas, staple food prices continue to atypically increase in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. In Mozambique maize grain prices were 25 to 75 percent above last year’s prices and 25 to 55 percent above the five-year average. For Malawi, prices are double the five-year average. Prices in Zimbabwe continue to significantly increase due to the high inflation rate. In addition, the country is experiencing acute maize meal shortages, causing traders to increase prices. Across the region, maize prices are expected to remain well above average despite the harvest, although will most likely follow seasonal trends.