THE price of the staple maize is expected to stabislise following what has been the best agricultural season during the last 16 years in Mozambique.
In its August crop assessment report for the 2016/17 agricultural season, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) estimated a nearly 800 000 metric tonnes (MT) maize grain surplus, which is one of the highest ever recorded.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) this week reported that until May 2018, maize grain prices were expected to remain at near average levels and will seasonally rise during the peak of the lean season and then gradually decrease with the harvest.
Based on an analysis of current prices and drivers, FEWS NET’s integrated price projections show that prices will peak at about MZN 13 (92 cents)/kg to MZN 15/kg in January in Gorongosa, Sofala Province, a reference market of national trends.
Based on FEWS NET price projections for Gorongosa market, maize meal and rice prices are likely to be stable through May 2018 but remain on average 36 and 42 percent above the five-year average, respectively.
Until February 2018, across much of the south and parts of the central region, livestock prices, particularly for goats and cattle, are expected to remain above average due to the low selling rate by poor households, who are working to recover their herd sizes, following distressed sales during the 2015/16 drought.
However, it is expected that prices will likely slowly decrease from March through May 2018 to average levels, following improved body conditions and the gradual recovery of herd sizes.
Later in 2018 nonetheless, maize is expected to be imported largely from South Africa by the milling companies at average levels estimated at 175 000 MT.
“Exports will likely be above average through formal and informal trade,” FEWS NET stated.
This is because while food availability was adequate, MASA observed some isolated cases of acute malnutrition in some districts, which according to key sources, was mainly related to poor food diversity and low knowledge of nutritional valuable food.
However, food access remains favorable across the Southern African country as the bumper crop production is directly reflected in lower staple food prices.
Atypical, stable maize grain prices continued in August, September and October at below five-year averages.
According to FEWS NET price projections, this trend is likely to continue through at least May 2018.
As poor households continue to restore previously depleted incomes throughout the 2017/18 agricultural season, these lower staple food prices are expected to ease livelihood recovery.
The rainfall forecast indicates a timely start and generally positive cropping conditions, which is likely to lead to near-average 2017/18 crop production.
As a result, this is expected to lead to generally favorable food availability and access through May 2018, with a few exceptions.
With expected La Niña conditions, there is a chance for increased cyclonic activity that could impact Mozambique, and there is also a moderate to high risk of flooding in some river basins during January to March 2018.
Currently, most households are focusing on land preparation and planting for the 2017/18 agricultural season, which officially starts in October of each year.
Planting has already started in parts of the southern region, particularly in Maputo, Gaza, and Inhambane Provinces.
At this stage, availability of seeds, particularly certified seeds is crucial. However, as typical, the majority of households are using retained seeds, which in most cases are of low germination power.
The seeds are usually of poor quality and less resistant to pests and diseases. Certified seeds are expensive and are only likely to be used by rural households if they are received as free distributions.
Mozambique is prone to drought and floods. After the 2016/17 season, the second best agriculture era was the 2003/04 period. The three worst seasons were the 2004/05, 2014/15 and 2015/16. – CAJ News