Madagascar flag

Presence Country
Food Security Outlook

Rainfall deficits in southwestern Madagascar and flooding in southeastern Madagascar disrupt agriculture

February 2018

February - May 2018

June - September 2018

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The northern half of Madagascar received above average rainfall during the 2017/2018 rainy season 2017/2018 but the southern half received below average rainfall. A deficit was particularly seen in the southwest, including the Tsiribihini Delta production area that is a major food supplier to southern Madagascar, which received only 55 percent of average rainfall between October 2017 and February 2018. 

  • The southwest was also the first area infested by Fall Army Worm (FAW) in November 2017. According to the Plant Protection Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, FAW is currently detected in 18 regions out of 22, and is infesting approximately 5 percent of maize fields in Madagascar. A joint assessment will be conducted by FAO and this Department to assess the extent of infested fields and damages to crops in late February 2018.

  • In the highlands, farmers were affected by floods caused by Cyclone Ava at the beginning of 2018 and are still in the recovery process after the loss of much of their main season crops. They are trying to transplant rice again, but availability of young plants is limited following the low production last year

  • In recent months, prices of rice stabilized at the highest level ever seen in Madagascar, due to low market supply despite the December-January harvest period and the continued depreciation of the Malagasy Ariary. In January 2018, prices of local rice were near 50 percent above the 5-year average which made access difficult for poor and middle-income households in Madagascar. Poor households switched to less preferred staple foods like dried cassava or imported rice, whereas middle income households reduced non-food expenditures to meet their food needs. 

  • The Southwest is experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes as below normal rainfall compromised poor farmers’ livelihoods and reduced their tuber production. The Southeast was hit by Cyclone Ava in January and is still recovering from last season’s unusual dryness and is currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In the Extreme South, although the eastern part of the zone received near normal rainfall, the western part received below normal rainfall and agricultural planting was affected; a situation worse than in 2017 but better than during the El-Nino episodes in previous years. Some households in this zone will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and others in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from February to May 2018. 

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current Situation

Seasonal progress

Progression of the rainy season:  The northern half of Madagascar received above average rainfall during the 2017/2018 rainy season. This was favorable for agriculture, but the occurrence of floods was also high. Even before Cyclone Ava, which hit the island in January 2018, the Southeast (Farafangana and Vangaindrano) was already experienced flooding. However, the southern half of the country received below average rainfall. The Southwest (Morondava and Morombe) received only 55 percent of normal rainfall between October 2017 and February 2018, even though flooding from heavy rainfall was also reported there in mid-February.

Cropped areas: Above average rainfall in recent months was favorable to the increase in cropped areas in the Highlands. Rice fields were increased compared to the previous year with the promotion of rainfed technics. According to Ministry of Agriculture figures, Vakinakaratra and Itasy Regions are now the main rice granaries of Madagascar, producing in total about 40 percent of the national production. Moreover, rainfed rice as well as cassava and maize fields were less affected by floods caused by Cyclone Ava in January 2018, which mainly damaged lowland crops. Farmers affected by this flooding are still recovering from the loss of their main season crops and are trying to transplant rice again, but the supply of young plants is limited following the bad production last year.

Export cash crops: Coffee and Vanilla production was reduced last year because of dryness in the southeast and eastern part of Madagascar and Cyclone ENAWO in the northeast. Coffee exports decreased, and domestic supply could not meet the external demand, which drove local prices four times above average. Vanilla prices also peaked last year reaching 700 US Dollars per kilogram in June/July 2017. This year, the cropping season for vanilla seems to be good: rainfall was favorable, and no cyclone has hit MG 02, where vanilla is mainly produced. Currently, one kilogram of vanilla costs around 340 US Dollars farmgate. Farmers sold their vanilla crops early this year because they were afraid of a price crash since many invested in this crop after the high prices in recent years. Some clove producing areas in eastern Madagascar were damaged by Cyclone Ava, however this will likely not have an impact on national production this year because the number of clove plants have increased in the past years and the new plants will begin bearing fruit this year.

Crop production: The harvest of first season rice took place from November 2017 until January 2018. Globally, production was better than last year and near normal in the Central Highlands and other main producing areas thanks to the good rain, land access, and the availability of seeds and labor. However, first season rice in Southeastern was compromised by the low availability of seeds after the dryness conditions experienced last year and the week of flooding caused by Cyclone Ava. According to the post-cyclone assessment undertaken by the Food Security and Livelihood in end-January, less than 20 percent of first production rice was damaged in affected areas.

Livestock herds and prices: Livestock herds are slightly reduced in Southern Madagascar because of increasing livestock sales since January. Prices decreased by 20 percent compared to the end of 2017.

Markets and trade

Rice imports: In 2017, rice production decreased by 700,000 MT compared to 2016 whereas rice imports increased by 320,000 MT. The 570,000 MT expected to be imported at the beginning of 2018 was reached as traders were able to find sufficient quantities in the global market as global production also increased in 2017 and global prices were stable. The weakness of the Ariary against the US Dollar drove local prices of imported rice to above average levels.

Market supply: Road washouts following Cyclone Ava along RN7, that connects Antananarivo to the South, and RN12, that links Fianarantsoa and the Southeast, as well as on smaller roads, disrupted market supply routes for about one week. As a result, fresh meat from the Ambalavao market in the south was missing from Antananarivo markets for two weeks. Additionally, imported rice, dried cassava, and other necessary products from Fianarantsoa could not reach the Southeast. Recently- harvested local rice from rural communes could not reach the main market in this district throughout this period. Therefore, markets in the southeast were functioning but food availability was strained. Once roads were repaired, supply levels returned to normal.

Prices: The average price of imported rice (OdR) in 15 markets in mid-January 2018, was similar to December 2017 prices. Prices increased 16 percent compared to last year and are 33 percent above the 5-year average. Price decreases were noted in January in the South, while in most of the country prices remained stable, except for Vangaindrano market where road washouts led to price increases.

Average prices of local rice have also stabilized throughout the country, though compared to last year they have increased by 38 percent and are 48 percent above the 5-year average.

Prices for maize are also stable but are still 19 percent higher than last year and 26 percent higher than the 5-year average particularly in deficit areas such as Antananarivo, Beloha, Tsihombe, Tulear II, Fianarantsoa, Farafangana and Mananjary.

Prices for dried cassava are 5 percent higher than in December 2017 in markets where it is still sold, and prices tend to be similar to last year and the 5-year average as production is near normal in most parts of Madagascar. The number of market selling dried cassava is the same as last month and supply is still stable even though supply is beginning to decrease. Dried cassava and cassava flour from Ambalavao and Ankaramena, are still well-supplied in markets of the Southeast (MG 19) where locally produced food was in deficit this year, but demand for cassava products is decreasing with the new harvest of rice becoming available.

Sweet potatoes are found in the same number of markets as in January. However, prices increased by 9 percent compared to December 2017 as stocks exhausted. Prices particularly increased in Tsihombe, Tulear I and the Southeast where Cyclone Ava damaged crops that were still in the field. Prices decreased in Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa where small harvests have taken place, but overall, prices are near the 5-year average and 6 percent higher than last year suggesting a near average supply currently in markets.

Other key factors

Humanitarian assistance: Food distribution is ongoing in communes declared to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) by the latest National IPC. CRS received 1,870 MT of sorghum in mid-February that will be distributed in Southern Madagascar via their Havelo program, targeting 6,812 Households in the district of Beloha (communes of Marolinta and Tranovaho); and Tsihombe (Communes of Antaritarika, Anjampaly and Marovato), which will cover about 41 percent of the households living in those communes.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for the February to September 2018 period is based on the following national level assumptions:

  • Remaining rainy season: According to NMME probabilistic forecasts the remaining rainy season is expected to be average to above-average in most of Madagascar with the exception of the west/southwest of the country that has experienced drought conditions so far in the 2017/2018 rainy season.  The risk of flooding remains high in northern Madagascar within the outlook period.
  • Agricultural Production: Rice transplantation for main season production will likely continue until March. The main harvest is expected to begin in May and will likely be better than last year with sufficient rains in main producing areas but still below average due to cyclone impact in central and eastern parts, and due to dryness in southwestern parts. Maize grain is expected to be available in March-April. National production will likely be higher than last year and near normal, particularly in the central highlands due to the expansion of cultivated areas, but still near zero in southern areas. Fresh cassava harvest will start in April in Southern highlands, Extreme South and Southeast and production will likely be better than last year, and near normal, thanks to better weather conditions.
  • Macroeconomic context and imports: A decrease of rice imports compared to last year is expected within the outlook period due to the depreciation of the Ariary/US Dollar exchange rate and the higher domestic rice production. Normal quantities of rice will likely be imported, about 150,000 MT of rice between January and May 2018, during the lean season in deficit areas such as the South, the Southeast and the main cities. Imports will decrease to around 53,000 MT between June and September 2018 with the coming main rice harvest.
  • Staple food prices: According to FEWS NET price projections, prices of maize in the Extreme South of Madagascar will be near normal due to the slight increase of production. It will likely decrease in March with the coming harvests to be around 640 Ariary/kilo in June. Prices of cassava will continue increasing until February and start decreasing in April when new harvests will start. Prices of imported rice will likely be stable between February and April even during the first harvest of rice and other staple cereals. It will decrease starting in May with the coming harvest of local rice but will remain above normal at 1,500 Ariary/kg. Overall, prices of local rice will likely remain above normal. In the Southeast, imported rice priceswill likely be stable at the above 1,850 Ariary/kg until May 2018 because of below normal and irregular supply in the area. In Antananarivo, the reference market of urban cities, the price of imported rice will likely decrease slowly starting February but will remain at above normal levels, over 2,250 Ariary/kg until June.
  • Wild Food consumption: Consumption of wild foods will likely increase during from February to May 2018 which coincides with the early beginning of the lean season (March instead of April) in the Southeast, and the middle/end of the lean season in the South. Consumption of cactus fruit and green watermelon will increase in the districts of Tsihombe and Beloha where maize and pulse harvests will be late and below normal. In the Southeast, poor households will likely eat more green breadfruit and green jackfruit to compensate for the food gap created by high prices and low availability of rice, particularly due to the loss of Hosy rice during Cyclone Ava, and low incomes restricting access to dried cassava, and cassava flour imported from other regions (Haute Matsiatra), which is an unusual food specific to the 2018 lean season. Wild food consumption will likely decrease from June to September 2018, after the main harvest.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: Humanitarian assistance in the South will be more concentrated in resilience activities. However, emergency assistance will available in the Southeast which suffered from dryness last year, followed by Cyclone Ava this year. In the Southeast, communes benefiting from humanitarian assistance will likely be those affected by the floods of recent months. Mid-term assistance will cover Mananjary and Nosy Varika, the most vulnerable districts in the zone. Around 600,000 persons are in need in those districts, which is less than 25 percent of the total population.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Households throughout Madagascar, despite high prices of local rice, households will continue to have relatively normal access to food but with preference for cheaper foods. As a result, most of the country will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity throughout the outlook period with some pocket of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in urban areas due to the high prices of rice and the lean season.

In the Southeast: coffee, litchis, cassava (MG 19), Many households are currently accessing staple food direct from their own harvests since they have recently harvested rice and sweet potatoes and some are still harvesting production not damaged by the floods. Nonetheless, some very poor households have depleted their stocks and are now relying on the markets. Prices of rice are also above normal this year. Cyclone Ava passed through the southeast in early January and aggravated the situation, provoking a second series of floods more severe than those at the end of 2017. The area is in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity in February 2018. Between March and May, food consumption will deteriorate as very poor will be depleting their remaining own stocks.  During the same period, some very poor will be already facing food consumption gaps. Consumption of wild foods will be intensified. Incomes will slowly deteriorate as after the rice transplanting and coffee weeding; labor opportunities will decrease and by May very poor households will have limited incomes. Very poor households will employ coping strategies like intensifying basketry or relying on borrowing food/remittances between March and May. Thus, people will likely not easily meet their food needs and will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between March and May 2018. From June onwards, very poor and poor households will begin to face fewer food consumption gaps with the coming harvests. Low staple prices and more income from rice, coffee and cassava harvesting and cassava planting in August will result in better purchasing power thereby tightening the food consumption gap. Coffee production, expected in June, will likely be near normal due to favorable rainfall, which in turn will provide near normal incomes to households. Therefore, most households in this livelihood zone will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes again between June and September 2018.

In the Mahafaly Plain: Cassava, Goats and Cattle (MG 23), the reduced consumption of own produced tubers supplemented by expensive purchased foods made it difficult for poor household to meet their food needs. They are coping by consuming more wild foods . Some migration was also noticed despite the rainy season normally keeping farmers at home to tend to agricultural activities. The prevalence of GAM was below emergency levels in the area with some pockets of severe undernutrition in Itampolo (Ampanihy Districts) and Andranomangatsiaka (District of Betioky), according to the UNICEF and MoH. Therefore, poor and very poor households in MG23 will likely experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity in February 2018. Between March and May, food consumption will improve as the very poor will be able to access green maize and pulses from the new harvest. Consumption of wild foods will reduce but will still provide an important food source for poor households. Sales of wild foods will also reduce but will still likely contribute significantly to income for poor households. But below average agricultural production is expected, which will also reduce cash income for poor households to meet non-food needs. GAM prevalence will likely remain between 7 and 8 percent according to past reference years so the zone may remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between March and May 2018. From June onwards, staple consumption will improve with the availability of stocks from harvests and the resulting lower market prices. Food gaps will be reduced but will remain present because of the expected below average harvests and lower than usual household income. For poor households, activities related to agricultural will be intensified. Most households in this livelihood zone will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes between June and September 2018.

In Androy Semi-Arid Cassava, Maize and Livestock  (MG 24), the eastern part of the zone received near normal rainfall and farmers there were able to plant maize and sweet potatoes. However, the western part of the zone received below normal rainfall and was not able to plant normally, leading to a situation worse than in 2017 but better than during the El-Nino episodes of previous years. Therefore, households in the western part of this zone will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and the eastern part in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity from February to May 2018, and then will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from June to September 2018 with the coming harvest.

For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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