Excess Rainfall, Pests Pose Food Security Challenge in Southern Africa

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A new Southern Africa regional alert from FEWS Net has forecast crop damage due to recent heavy rains and an outbreak of fall Armyworm.

December saw consistent severe rains in several parts of the region.  This heavy rainfall has leached nutrients from the soil and prevented households from working on their farms. FEWS Net reports that both of these factors may adversely affect crop yields.

Pests are also posing a problem for crop production in the region, with fall Armyworm outbreaks being reported in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia. Reaction from national authorities to control the outbreak has been slow, says FEWS Net, and continued damage from the pest could result in significant reductions in 2016-2017 production.

The report also states that many poor households in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Lesotho remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3)-level acute food insecurity as the lean season progresses. While Malawi and Madagascar have thus far maintained Stressed (IPC Phase 2)-level food insecurity, funding gaps could push these countries into Crisis levels in February and March.

Staple food prices remain high in the region, above the five-year average due to increased demand for market purchases as households deplete their own stores. However, prices have remained stable in Zimbabwe and Malawi; the start of the green harvest is expected to keep prices stable throughout the entire region in the coming months. 

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

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