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Southwestern Madagascar in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to below normal recent harvests

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Madagascar
  • April 2018
Southwestern Madagascar in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to below normal recent harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The lean season in the South which normally ranges from 3 to 6 months, between September and March, recently ended. Poor household struggled to meet their food needs in April and adopted coping strategies such as reducing their non-food expenditure, withdrawing children from school, eating immature crops, and selling livestock.

    • Nevertheless, the majority of households in the South were able to plant on all of their land. Small pockets could not because of non-favorable climate or lack of financial means to purchase seeds and hire agricultural labor. Fall armyworm also caused significant damage to maize crops in the extreme south where crops were infested at sowing or at flowering stage. This reduced even more the harvests which already had received insufficient rain.

    • The average price of local rice has stabilized but remains above normal. Maize prices decreased and are lower than last year and then 5-year average, particularly in the Extreme South. Average dried cassava prices are higher than in February, but similar to last year and the five-year average. Sweet potato prices decreased since February as availability has improved with the recent harvests in the Southern Madagascar. Prices are also lower than last year and below the 5-year average in the South, suggesting better production than recent years.

    • The Southeast (MG19) is still experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), except in Manakara, due to the depletion of household staple stocks, and increased dependence on markets. The Mahafaly Plain (MG 23) is also experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the below normal harvests, which also reduced cash income. The situation in Androy Semi-Arid zone (MG 24) has improved with new harvests, except in Beloha which remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and in Tsihombe where humanitarian assistance contributed to improved household food access resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). The Southwest (MG 20) is in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to below average production and limited sources of income.

    • Export cash crops:  Cash crops were less damaged by cyclones this year than in previous years. Cash crop exports increased in value in recent months, particularly for vanilla.
    • Crop production:  Despite the above normal and on time rainfall in the Central and Northern parts of Madagascar, which was favorable to maize development and increased cropped areas, a severe rainfall deficit occurred in the Southwestern part of the island, which in the past was the primary maize producing part of the country. Maize production reduced in that area in recent years and may reduce more this year because of the rainfall deficit and Fall Army warm (FAW). Damage caused by FAW in this area was significant (50 to 75 percent crop loss) due lack of treatment. In the highlands (such as in Vakinakaratra Region) maize crops were also infested by FAW but farmers could access treatment which mitigated the extent of the damage. 
    • Rice imports: According to the Madagascar Customs, 561,416 MT of rice was imported in 2017, which was three times the imported volume of the previous year and double the five-year average. This volume is equivalent to the deficit in national rice production which was estimated to be equivalent to 572,275 MT of white rice. Between January and March 2018, imported rice totals were near normal as the first national rice harvests were near normal. OdR data shows that the average price of imported rice is 5 percent lower than last month and the same as last year as of mid-March 2018. Despite this decrease, imported rice prices remain 24 percent above the 5-year average. High rice prices persist because of general inflation in Madagascar due to the depreciation of the local currency (Ariary) and the increase of fuel prices. Nevertheless, following the normal seasonality, prices are decreasing due to more availability of substitute cereals at markets with the harvest of maize and the early harvest of rice. However, the decrease in prices is relatively slow compared to previous years.
    • Prices for locally grown food products: The average price of local rice stabilized in February when the early rice harvest was ending, but prices are still 14 percent higher than last year and 42 percent above average. Prices are not likely to decrease in deficit and vulnerable areas like the Southeast and the South because of the ongoing lean season.

    Maize prices are 24 percent lower than in February thanks to the recent harvests. Prices decreased in all markets except in Mahajanga I and Antsirabe I where it remained stable. Prices are 34 percent lower than last year in the Extreme South which had better production compared to last year. Out of 9 markets where data was available last year, only maize prices in Mahajanga I market remain higher than last year. The national average price of maize in March was also 8 percent lower than 5-year average.

    The average price of dried cassava is 5 percent higher than in February, near last year’s level and near the 5-year average. Dried cassava from Ankaramena is also flooding the markets of the Southwest (MG 20) where people are eating it as a substitute for rice and maize because the maize harvest failed and the first production rice harvest was below average after the severe rainfall deficit of early 2018. Prices were lowest in Ambovombe with 120 Ariary the kilo because people over sold their stocks to fill other needs (such as water or other foods).

    Sweet potato prices decreased by 18 percent compared to February as availability has improved with the recent harvests in Southern Madagascar. Prices are also lower than last year and below the 5-year average in the South suggesting better production than in recent years. However, prices are higher than last year and the 5-year average in the Central Highlands (Haute Matsiatra Region) and in the Southeast because of decreased harvests in addition to the cyclones and flooding in recent months.

    • Humanitarian assistance: According to households, 20 percent of cereals and tubers, and half of oil consumed in Tsihombe came from food assistance from food for work, which improved their food consumption during the lean season. Post-cyclonic assistance was also important during recent months after two cyclones hit Madagascar in January and March. 10,050 households benefitted from Food for Work in 10 districts of the Southeast and East of Madagascar in February after cyclone AVA, covering around 5 percent of the total population in those areas.  Additionally, 12,900 other households in the same areas but different districts benefitted from agricultural support, which accounts for about 3 percent of the population.
    • Nutrition: According to SMART surveys conducted by the Nutrition Cluster in Southern Madagascar, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) decreased compared to last year in two districts (Beloha and Tsihombe), remained the same in one district (Amboasary) and increased in one (Ampanihy). Therefore, Beloha and Tsihombe are now classified as “poor” according to WHO classification, while Ampanihy and Amboasary are classified as “serious”. These situations are the result of low household food access, poor continuation of breastfeeding until the age of 2, and less access to safe water. Preliminary results of other nutrition assessments (conducted in January/February 2018 by the PROSPERER, a program of IFAD) show that the prevalence of acute malnutrition was acceptable in other regions, except in Vatovavy Fitovinany and Haute Matsiatra Regions which were classified as “critical” according to WHO following cyclone AVA that caused flooding and widespread unsafe drinking water.


    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of February to September 2018. However, the following assumptions have been updated:

    • Remaining rainy season: According to NMME probabilistic forecasts for Africa and the National forecast for Madagascar, the rainy season is still ongoing and will end May. Above normal rainfall levels of cumulative rainfall are expected in northern Madagascar, normal to above normal in east and southeastern regions, and normal rainfall in the central and the south of the country. Despite the ongoing active and positive dipole, the chance of cyclonic activity for Madagascar is currently low and the 2018 cyclonic season is likely to end in April.
    • Agricultural production and cropped areas: National maize production is likely to be near the 5-year average, about 338,000 MT, which is 20 percent higher than last year. Increased production will likely be observed in the central highlands due to the expansion of cultivated areas and less damage caused by the Fall Army Worm. However, in the South, production will remain below normal due to insufficient rainfall and more significant damage from the Fall Army Worm. Cassava production is expected to be near normal in most parts of Madagascar. Rice production may increase this year compared to last year thanks to favorable rainfall conditions in main producing areas which allowed farmers to increase their cropped areas in the central portion of the country. However, rice production may remain below average in areas that were affected by the two cyclones in January and March, and in areas such as the Bas Mangoky plains in the Southwest that experienced rainfall deficits
    • Household food stocks: Availability of food has improved with the recent harvests of maize, pulses and sweet potatoes. The availability of food in the South for the remaining outlook period will continue to improve with the continuing harvest of maize until June and of fresh cassava starting in April. Main harvests of rice are also expected to begin in May.
    • Cereal prices: Rice prices will decrease with the coming harvest but will continue to remain above average due to high fuel prices. Prices of other staple foods less affected by recent hazards will also decrease in the coming months following normal seasonality.
    • Nutrition in Southern Madagascar:  Following the results from 2015 to 2017, CRENAS admissions will likely be below 1,000 children during the outlook period in the 8 districts of Southern Madagascar after the peak observed in February/March. This year, the peak was not as high as the three previous years (1,250 in February/March 2018 compared to 2,400 to 3,400 children between 2015 and 2017 at the same period). The surveillance sites expect an under-control situation for the outlook period.


    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 and in the southwest (MG 20) due to the rainfall deficit and below normal cereal production.

    In the Southeast: coffee, litchis, cassava (MG 19), food consumption will deteriorate as the very poor will be depleting their remaining own stocks.  During the same period, some very poor will already be facing food consumption gaps. Consumption of wild foods will be intensified. Incomes will slowly deteriorate 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 April 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 harvests and cassava planting in August will result in better purchasing power, thereby tightening the food consumption gap. The coffee harvest expected in June will likely be near normal due to favorable rainfall that in turn will provide near normal incomes for 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), food consumption will improve compared to February 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 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 April 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 the 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 harvest some maize and sweet potatoes. Wild foods were also available. However, the western part received below normal rainfall and was not able to plant normally, and the situation in February 2018 was worse than in February 2017, but better than during the El-Nino impacted years. Nevertheless, some communes of Tsihombe received important humanitarian assistance. Therefore, households in the western part of this zone will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), except in Tsihombe which is in Phase 2! and the eastern part which is in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity from February to May 2018. From June to September 2018  the area will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with the coming main harvest.

    Figures 50-74% of average rainfall in the southwest/central west. 73-89% of normal rainfall in central south. 111-150% of normal in n

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Percentage of Average rainfall for 1 October 2017 to 28 February 2018

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    >25% price change in most of the country for local gasy rice

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Local rice prices (percent change of March 2018 compared to 5-year average)

    Source: Source: FEWS NET/OdR March 2018

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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