Climate & Agriculture
A tropical climate
Lying at around 11-27° South, Mozambique has a warm, tropical climate. Daytime temperatures are generally 20-30°C in the summer (October-February) and 15-25°C in the winter (June-August).
Highland areas in the north and west are cooler because of their elevations. Low-lying regions in the north are hotter, with daily temperatures over 30°C.
Humidity and rainfall vary across the country. Some regions in the south receive as little as 75mm annually during the wet season (November-February). Rainfall generally increases further up the country. In central and northern regions, some areas receive as much as 1,780mm.
Good news, bad news
The islands of Madagascar and the Comoros lie to the east of Mozambique. These act as a natural weather barrier, preventing southern Mozambique from feeling the full force of many tropical storms. However, the downside is that Mozambique lies in the rain shadow of Madagascar, meaning many parts of the country receive low annual rainfall.
Harvests are vulnerable to both droughts and flooding. In 2000, the Limpopo River burst its banks after heavy rain and flooded a huge area of southern Mozambique, ruining crops, killing livestock and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Family or smallholder farms account for nearly 90% of domestic food supplies in Mozambique. Farmers grow cassava and maize/corn as the main crops, with millet, rice and beans also common.
Cash-crops provide vital extra income. Cashew and mango trees can be found on many smallholdings. And cotton, tobacco, sugar and tea are grown in certain areas of the country.
In 2009, tobacco and sugar were Mozambique’s top agricultural exports, followed by sesame seeds, cotton and cashew nuts.
Northern provinces generally have higher rainfall and many regions grow plenty of food. However, farmers often report losing as much as 30-40% of crops such as maize. This is due to a lack of storage facilities and poor transport links, which mean harvests can rot before they reach markets further south.
Farming and fishing
Farming and fishing together make up around a quarter of the country’s domestic output (known as Gross Domestic Product or GDP).
Along with agriculture, fishing is an important economic activity. The coastal waters of the country are fished for lobster, tuna, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, crayfish and squid.
But Mozambique is best known for its shrimp. The country exports 6-7,000 tonnes of shrimp annually, worth nearly 100 million dollars.
Inland waters such as the Lake of the Cahora Bassa and Lake Niassa provide catches of fish such as chambo (tilapia). See Malawi – Food & Daily Life to find out about some of Lake Niassa’s other fish.