Food Security Outlook

High prices in Southern Madagascar limit poor households’ food access

February 2019

February - May 2019

Map of Current food security outcomes, February 2019: Most of the country is in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) except for parts of Menabe and Atsimo Andrefana on the west coast and Atsimo Asinana on the east coast that are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and the far sou

June - September 2019

Map of Current food security outcomes, February 2019: Most of the country is in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) except for parts of Menabe and Atsimo Andrefana on the west coast and Atsimo Asinana on the east coast the far south that are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) a

IPC v3.0 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 v3.0 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 v3.0 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 v3.0 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 2019 cyclonic season is very active; Cyclone Gelena, the third cyclone of the year passed by northern Madagascar in early February, bringing the cumulative rainfall to more than 50 percent above normal in the north. Elsewhere, cumulative rainfall is near normal except in western Madagascar and localized areas of deficit throughout the country.

  • Western Madagascar received only 50 percent of its normal rainfall over the past three consecutive years, leading to a loss of 80 percent of rice production in that zone. This year, production is expected to be similarly poor as last year.

  • In total, Madagascar imported 668,000 MT of rice in the 2017/2018 marketing year, which was twice the amount of the previous year and of the 5-year average. For the first semester of 2018/2019, rice imports were lower than first semester 2017/2018 but were still above average despite improved national rice production in 2017/2018.

  • Prices of staple foods are largely stable but above normal, particularly in Southern Madagascar. In Tsihombe, a kilo of maize was in mid-January 2019, was a 78 percent more expensive than in December 2018 and almost triple the price from January 2018.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current situation

Seasonal progress

  • Ongoing rainy season: After the two tropical cyclones at the beginning of 2019, Desmond and Ekestang, a third cyclone, Cyclone Gelena, passed by North Madagascar in early February. As a result, Northern Madagascar received more than 150 percent of their normal rainfall since the beginning of rainy season in October 2018. Cumulative rainfall received elsewhere, included Southern Madagascar, is so far near normal. Some parts of western and eastern Madagascar received below normal rainfall; Particularly the district of Manja in Menabe Region, which received only 5 to 25 percent of its normal rainfall (Figure 2).
  • Agricultural campaign: The cropping season started with below normal rainfall in western Madagascar and a 3 to 4-dekad delay in the arrival of rains in October in the southwest, extreme southern and eastern parts of the country (SADC Agromet Bulletin 3). Rainfall deficits affected some rice producing areas in MG 09, MG 15 and parts of MG10 which normally produce around 10 percent of national rice production and. 20 percent of maize production. These rainfall delays may not have a significant impact on crop production since famers usually start planting and sowing in mid-November. Nevertheless, it has caused crop moisture stress on first harvest rice crops in MG 10 and led to a slightly reduced yield. In southern Madagascar, farmers expanded cropped areas after the heavy rains from mid-December through January. Unfortunately, only slightly more than half of agricultural land was cropped for poor farmers because they lacked the means to buy seeds and cuttings.
  • Export cash crops: Vanilla still accounts for a large share of Madagascar’s export value. The price of vanilla, for which Madagascar is the world’s leading producer, is currently 20 percent lower than last year. According to Eurovanille, 2000 tons are estimated to be available for export in the 2018-2019 season (1300 tons in Sava and 1300-1500 tons in Analanjirofo). In the other vanilla producing regions of Madagascar, such as Ambanja, output is estimated around 50-75 tons. This represents a slight decrease in production compared to last year. Other cash crops that bring income to small farmers, like litchis, were also harvested with normal production levels in December 2018 - 17,000 tons were exported to the European market this marketing year. Quantity increased compared to previous years, but the quality was poorer. Thus, the consumer price went from 3 euros per kilo in early December to 0.75 euros in late January 2019.

Markets and trade

  • Macroeconomic context: The exchange rate has stabilized compared to three months ago but continues deteriorating compared to last year. After the last increase in early December, local fuel prices have stabilized in recent months despite the continuous decrease in the price of Brent since October 2018. The National Office of Statistics reported that the increase in inflation (6 percent) is lower than previous years (9 percent). Cost of food in Madagascar increased by 6.1 percent in December 2018 compared to December 2017.
  • Rice imports: Madagascar imported 668,000 MT of rice in the 2017/2018 marketing year, which was the double of 2016/2017 (328,000 MT) and of the 5-year average (308,000 MT). Rice imports were the highest seen in 13 years due to the gap from the 2016/2017 below normal local rice production (Figure 3). First semester 2018/2019 rice imports were lower than first semester in 2017/2018 but were still above average despite the improved 2017/2018 national production, mostly due to imports in October and November to counter the severe 2017/2018 lean season in the south, and extra imports used for subsidized price sales or for free distribution during the 2018 presidential election campaign.
  • Prices of staple foods: Prices of imported rice are 10 to 30 percent above the five-year average in almost all markets. Compared to last year, prices remained stable or decreased, particularly in the southeast, due to regular supply. Increased were only noticed in Ambovombe Tsihombe and Morombe where food supply decreased after roads became impassable due to heavy rains. Local rice prices were stable compared to previous months in most of the markets. They were extremely above average in Ampanihy and Mahajanga I due to the scarcity of supply. Maize prices dramatically increased in Tsihombe compared to previous months (+78 percent) due to low supply. No maize was found in Beloha market in January. Prices also slightly increased in other districts of Extreme South like Amboarasy-Sud and Ambvovombe (+15 percent) and in Antananarivo (+38 percent) due to the depletion of stock from the last harvests. No dried cassava was sold in Ambovombe in January due to a temporary disruption of supply. In the rest of the southern districts, cassava prices increased compared to previous months, except in Betioky where prices were stable. Prices in Morondava also increased but remained below last year’s prices. Sweet potatoes are currently available in only a few markets where prices remained stable compared to previous months except in Ampanihy and in Antananarivo where they increased by 25 to 30 percent. It is also available in Ambovombe, with a prices three times those of last year, but still below average. High food prices in the South restrict access for poor household who then turn to wild foods to fill their food gaps.

Other factors

  • New Global State Policy: Andry Rajoelina won the presidential election in December 2018 and presented the new Global State Policy (GSP) in accordance with his "Initiative for the Emergence of Madagascar" Program at the end of January 2019. The 2019 GSP has 13 priority axes including “food self-sufficiency” which will be achieved with the extension of cultivable areas and a substantial increase in rice production. More than 100,000 ha have been identified for this crop, and action plans need to be developed for its valuations and development, and for the use of improved seeds. Incentives for investment in the rice sector in these areas will help filling the gap of 500,000 MT by 2024. The sale of imported rice at subsidized prices is also part of this initiative, the first wave of rice is expected to arrive at the port in March.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: Most humanitarian interventions are focused in southern Madagascar, particularly, in Beloha and Ampanihy, from the flash appeal launched by the Malagasy Government in December 2018. Targeted households generally receive cereals, split peas, enriched flour and cooking oil. The monthly rations contribute to 30-40 percent of very poor and poor households’ total food needs. A cash transfer program is also underway in communes where there is no food distribution and where markets are functional. Transfers are 70,000 ariary per household per month which contribute to 40-50 percent of their annual income. During this generous rainy season, humanitarian assistance has faced significant delivery challenges due to difficulty accessing remote communes and to temporarily road cut-offs in some chef -lieu of districts along the RN10 and RN13.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for the February to September 2019 period is based on the following national level assumptions:

  • Agroclimatology: The National Meteorological Department of Madagascar forecasts normal to below normal rainfall in central east (MG19) and central west (MG15) Madagascar between March and May 2019. Rainfall will continue to be above normal in the North (Figure 4). The SADC seasonal rainfall forecast released at the Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) in January also predicted that most parts of Southern Africa are likely to receive normal to below normal rainfall between January and March 2019 due in part to the interaction of Indian Ocean sea surface temperature patterns. Meanwhile, the NOAA NMME probabilistic forecast does not predict any severe rainfall deficits for the outlook period. Cyclonic activity will remain above average through the end of the cyclone season at the end of February.
  • Agricultural production: Rice production at national level is projected to be close to normal. First season rice was harvested in December/January on the eastern coast and middle west. The main harvest is typically expected for May and will likely be at last year’s level following the favorable rain. However, Western Madagascar will likely suffer from a below-than-normal production because of lack of maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure (reducing the farmed area) and irregular precipitations. Harvests of maize and pulses are expected through May. Production will likely increase compared to last year but remain below average because of insufficient seeds. Tubers will be harvested from June to September and will likely increase compared to last year leading to the near average production.
  • Macroeconomic context and imports: According to Trading Economics the inflation rate will likely stabilize at 6 percent within the outlook period, but food inflation will likely be 8 percent. Crude oil prices are expected to decrease in the next few months. As a result of the heavy rainy season and the rapid deterioration of roads, transportation costs will likely remain high during through May. Prices of imported products, including rice and fuel, will likely decrease within the outlook period due to the stability of the Ariary and the downward trends in international prices. The volume of imported rice will also likely decrease through May due to the expected local harvests. Imports will seasonally increase again at the end of the outlook period. Total rice imports within the rest of the marketing year (January to May 2019) will likely be normal and will be near the five-year average of 200,000 MT.
  • Prices of staple food: Imported rice prices will likely remain stable until August 2019 and some may be sold at subsidized prices if new government policies are implemented. With better but below normal maize harvests expected in March/April, prices will continue increasing in February, but will start decreasing in March through the end of the main harvest in June. Following normal seasonality, the first harvest of rice in some areas and the end of lean season will likely stabilize local rice prices in February 2019. Prices will begin to decrease in March with the early harvest in some areas and will continue to decrease until May 2019 but will likely remain above average. Sweet potato prices will likely remain stable.

Most likely Food Security Outcomes

Between February and May 2019, food consumption in Mahafaly Plain: Cassava, Goats and Cattle (MG 23) will improve as very poor households will have access to green maize and pulses from the new harvest. Sales of wild foods like wild tubers, prickly pear cactus fruit and watermelon will simultaneously reduce. Nevertheless, sales of wild foods will still likely contribute significantly to income for poor households. Local labor will also be intensified. Sales of staple foods will likely be lower than normal due to the below average production but since households could plant pulses, they may sell some of their pulse harvests to buy staple foods. Humanitarian assistance will continue to be distributed until May 2019 and coverage will likely increase in Ampanihy and Tulear II compared to February. Very poor and poor households in most of MG23 will experience a Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity between February and May 2019. From June onwards, staple consumption will improve with the harvests and the lower market prices. Food gaps will reduce but will persist due to the expected below average harvest and low incomes. For poor households, agricultural activities will be intensified during the harvest period. Sales of staple foods will slightly increase but will remain below normal. Very poor and poor households in MG23 will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between June and September 2019.

Androy Semi-Arid Cassava, Maize and Livestock (MG 24) Between March and May 2019, food consumption availability will improve thanks to maize and pulse harvests. Nevertheless, the production is still expected to be below normal as all fields will not be cropped. Prices will start decreasing but remain above normal. Some humanitarian assistance will pursue, and others will likely be extended. Therefore, most parts of the zone will likely be in Stress (IPC2!) acute food insecurity situation with the contribution of humanitarian assistance). From June onwards, food consumption availability will continue to improve with the tuber harvests. Prices will be low and near normal. Food gap will reduce but most households will continue to face a Stress (IPC2!) acute food insecurity situation with the contribution of humanitarian assistance). Within the outlook period, Beloha will remain in a worse situation.

In the Southeast: coffee, litchis, cassava (MG 19), and in Rice and lima bean - Tulear II (MG20), the situation will likely stable in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity unless a cyclone passes by there. For other households throughout Madagascar,  Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected.

For information on specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of this 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 28 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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