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FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning Systems (GIEWS) has released several new country briefs for Africa south of the Sahara. This series of briefs provides an overview of the food security situation in monitored countries, focusing on the current agricultural season, harvests prospects for staple food crops and livestock, estimates and forecasts of cereal production, and food price and food policy trends.
According to a recent FEWS.net alert, Mozambique is currently facing severe drought and food insecurity through much of the country as a result of El Niño-driven weather patterns.Weather forecasts predict that El Niño conditions will continue to cause below average rainfall in southern and parts of central Mozambique for the remainder of the season; the northern part of the country will likely see average to above average precipitation.
In 1961, annual milled rice production in Africa south of the Sahara was 2.8 million tons; this number reached an estimated 16.6 million tons in 2011.  Despite this increase, however, demand for rice in the region has outpaced local production, leading SSA to import more rice; according to a journal article in Agriculture and Food Security , the share of imports in SSA’s overall rice consumption reached 43 percent in 2009. This trend has caused policymakers and experts throughout the region to attempt to strengthen the domestic rice sector.
As drought continues throughout southern Africa, the latest FEWS.net alert estimates that 2.5 million people are currently in Crisis food insecurity levels and in need of urgent humanitarian aid across Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Lesotho. The organization is also anticipating that the region’s food-insecure population in 2016-2017 will be at least two times higher than current levels.
Africa’s fertilizer markets face significant constraints on both the supply and the demand side, including a lack of infrastructure, high costs to both produce and use, and low public-private investment. However, the challenges of climate change and population growth are now encouraging many governments to tackle much-needed market reforms.
These were some of the takeaway messages from last week’s virtual dialogue on fertilizer use in Africa, held on December 10.
The dialogue addressed four questions: