from ARIMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – A THIRD consecutive year of drought in some regions and armed conflict north of the country, as well as control measures against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, are marring prospects of the increased agricultural output in Mozambique.
Furthermore, restrictions on informal trade with neighboring countries, particularly South Africa, are also causing some food price volatility and lower remittances to rural households.
Preliminary estimates by the Crop and Early Warning Unit (DCAP) from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER) anticipate above-average 2019/2020 cereal production.
According to MADER/DCAP, the Southern African country will produce 2,8 million tonnes of cereals, comprising the staple maize grain, rice, sorghum and millet.
This represents a 7,8 percent increase compared to last year.
Statistics indicate that an estimated 2,1 million tonnes of maize was produced followed by rice, sorghum, and millet with 376 000 tonnes, 287 000 tonnes and 38 000 tonnes.
MADER/DCAP estimates that pulses and tubers are expected to yield 883000 tonnes and 19 million tonnesrespectively. This represents 7 percent and 13 percent increases compared to last year.
Nonetheless, despite the overall production increasing, it is anticipated that cereal imports, particularly maize, will be lower than last year.
However, almost all national wheat and nearly 50 percent of national rice needs will likely be imported, according to experts.
According to the Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS NET), the ongoing harvest has stabilized or improved food security, with much of the country facing minimal stressed outcomes.
The agency stated however, due to a third consecutive year of drought in the south and armed conflict in the northern Cabo Delgado, many poor households are expected to continue facing crisis (outcomes through September.
FEWS NET stated that due to government control measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, income-earning opportunities for many poor urban households had been negatively impacted.
“Furthermore, restrictions on informal trade with neighboring countries, particularly South Africa, are causing some food price
volatility and lower remittances to rural households,” the organisation added.
As of this week, Mozambique had 254 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including two deaths.About 100 people had recovered.
The government of President Filipe Nyusi recently announced the continuation of Level 3 state of emergency until June 30.
Coincidentally, neighbouring South Africa, with effect from June 1, moved to Level 3 of the lockdown with some restrictions eased to reopen the economy.
However, its borders, including those with Mozambique, remain closed except for the movement of goods.
South Africa is the epicentre of the virus in the continent, with over 35 800 cases and 755 deaths as of the time of publishing.
The border closures have resulted in reduced remittances to Mozambique, where scores of nationals are employed in the neighbouring country. Others engage in cross-border trade.
Mozambique is also enduring the rising threat of terror attacks in the north.
Muslim extremists are perpetrating the conflict in the resources-rich region where hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands displaced.
This has rendered the farming industry unfeasible and exposing locals to food deficits.
The country of more than 25,9 million people is also emerging from a sequence of deadly cyclones- Idai and Kenneth- that also impacted negatively on agriculture and eventually, the economy.
– CAJ News