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Impact of Climate Change on Select Value Chains in Mozambique

This report details the likely impact of climate changes on three key crops (soy, pigeon pea and sesame) and analyzes opportunities to manage those risks across the value chain.
map of mozambique


Rural livelihoods in Mozambique are primarily agriculturally-based and climate dependent. Food insecurity increases during the rainy season while households await the next harvest. Climate shocks will likely increase poverty and malnutrition for rural households, which are not currently resilient enough to withstand the effects of a changing climate.

Current climate variability, extreme weather events and projected future changes in climate pose a threat to the future of agriculture in Mozambique. Detailed information on how these dynamics manifest at regional and local scales and what can be done to mitigate their impacts has been limited, despite the importance of this information in designing responses.

This report* seeks to address that knowledge gap by identifying specific regional climate risks to three value chain crops in Mozambique: soy, pigeon pea and sesame. These crops were selected based on economic importance as well as their priority in USAID’s Feed the Future (FtF) Program’s Zone of Influence (ZOI). This area includes the provinces of Tete, Manica, Nampula and Zambezia.

*Download the full report from the right-hand column. The text below summaries the key findings and messages from the report – see the full text for much more detail.

Key findings

The following summarises the main conclusions of the report:

1. Climate projections

  • Temperature: Mean annual temperatures are projected to rise by 1.5°C to 3°C by 2065, with increases more pronounced in the interior of the country.
  • Rainfall:
    • Projections showed an increase over most of Mozambique from December to April.
    • Showed an increased frequency of intense rainfall events across the entire Feed the Future (FtF) Program ‘Zone of Influence’ (ZOI), coupled with longer dry periods.
    • Show a continuation of the delayed start and earlier end of the rainy season, especially in northern Nampula Province.

2. Overall climate risks

Principal risks in the FtF-targeted region based on the projections above include:

  • Shifts in growing seasons: Increased temperatures could impact soil moisture availability and soil temperature at planting, disrupting typical planting dates. Delayed start and earlier cessation of the rainy season could shorten the typical November to April growing season, with the new start in January and end in March.
  • Reduced crop productivity: All crops are sensitive to extreme temperatures to some degree, particularly around the reproductive stage, called antithesis. Average temperatures already hover above critical thresholds for crop heat tolerance, and days above 35°C are starting to occur. They will continue to do so as average temperatures increase.
  • Loss/damage to crops: Extreme events such as extended dry period, intense rainfall events and cyclones pose a risk to production.

3. Climate sensitivities of key value chains

  • Soy: Overall threat to the soy value chain due to climate change is high. It is likely that the negative impacts of climate change due to increased temperature, droughts and floods will offset the potential gain in yield from increased CO2 in the atmosphere, resulting in an overall decrease in soy yields in Mozambique. Extreme weather is the largest risk factor. Drought could lead to a nationwide soy shortage but devastate northern and central Mozambique especially, where most soy is grown and where the market is the largest. Flooding has potential to decrease availability of soy on the domestic market, forcing some farmers to find alternative feed for livestock.

  • Pigeon Pea: Overall threat to the pigeon pea value chain due to climate change is low. Several varieties of pigeon pea are cultivated in Mozambique and are well-adapted to the current environment. Partially due to its drought tolerance, pigeon pea can be grown multiple times in a single year. Multiple growing seasons create an opportunity to export to India, where seasonal fluctuations in supply fall short of demand. The biggest threat climate change poses on pigeon pea production is due to floods, which will limit pigeon pea on the domestic market, put subsistence farmers at risk, and limit the ability of Mozambique to become competitive on the export market.

  • Sesame: Overall threat to the sesame value chain due to climate change is medium. Several varieties of sesame are native to East Africa and well-suited to Mozambique’s climate. In East Africa, local varieties have performed best historically. Nevertheless, non-native varieties resistant to pests and/or better-suited for extreme rain are under investigation in other countries and could be explored for Mozambique. Floods are the largest climate threat to sesame: they have potential to decrease stocks for export, severely limiting the sesame value chain in Mozambique.

Cross-cutting risks

  • ​Climate change poses risks during post-production through potential impacts on transportation and seed storage. Mozambique lacks quality roads, particularly in rural areas, limiting access to crops during floods. Improving infrastructure, particularly road quality, can help to build value chain resilience.
  • Temperature and humidity pose a risk to seed storage and quality. As temperatures increase, potentially in combination with increased humidity, seeds are more susceptible to fungi and pathogens. Promoting proper drying and storage techniques can mitigate these risks.


Information Gaps

  • The impacts of climate change on Mozambique and Sub-Saharan Africa generally, and with respect to agricultural value chains, specifically, is understudied.
  • A full value chain approach to research could help to identify and prioritize investments to build value chain resilience in light of climate risks. More research in the following areas will improve our understanding of how climate change impacts value chains in Mozambique (see page 26 of the full text for more information):
    • Impact of climate change on pests and pathogen outbreaks among specific crops, particularly during crop storage.
    • The impact of increased CO2in the atmosphere on plant growth and nutrition.

Climate service provision

  • Significant uncertainty not only exists around long-term changes in climate in Mozambique, but also around any given farming season.
  • To make decisions on what to plant, when to plant, what inputs to purchase, etc., farmers currently use a range of traditional and modern methodologies.
  • An approach that has shown signs of success in other regions of Africa is the provision of climate and weather information to farmers and other stakeholders within the value chain at decision-relevant time-scales.
  • The development and use of climate services in Mozambique are currently hindered by a number of factors, including the accuracy of weather and climate forecasts issued by the country’s National Meteorology Institute (INAM), which itself is constrained by the country’s limited network of observation stations and staff.
  • Mozambique also lacks an effective agriculture extension service, an institution that in other countries effectively communicates climate information to farmers.
  • Several donor and private companies such as Earth Networks, the World Bank, and the WMO through the Global Framework for Climate Services, are engaging with the Government of Mozambique on improving the observation network and developing a more effective climate services system.

Concluding remarks

  • This report demonstrates a strong likelihood of increased temperatures, extreme weather events and changes in rainfall patterns in Mozambique, together with evidence that some of these changes have already begun.
  • In response, the agricultural system must adapt and become more resilient to these changes.
  • The uncertainty associated with future climate is compounded by the fact that climate change is occurring on top of significant existing interannual variability in climate.
  • Therefore, it is impossible to plan for a single future scenario or single set of on-the-ground agricultural interventions that will be effective in all areas of Mozambique in all years.
  • It will be important to develop robust solutions that build national, community and individual resilience to respond to the entire suite of future climate scenarios.
  • One approach is to pair a package of locally relevant climate-smart agricultural practices with improved climate and weather information for decision-making – this way, farmers can decide what will be the most effective adaptive strategy in a specific year given their local context and constraints.

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