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Poor harvest in the South results in an early start to the lean season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Madagascar
  • June 2016 - January 2017
Poor harvest in the South results in an early start to the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • As a result of an El Niño driven drought that affected the 2015/2016 agricultural season, main and off-season harvests were well below-average or failed, depending on the crop and zone, in parts of southern Madagascar including Tsihombe, Ambovombe, the southern part of Amboasary, Beloha, Bekily, Ampanihy coastal, and Betioky Atsimo. 

    • In worst-affected pockets of Androy region, particularly in the municipalities of Anjampaly, Betanty, Antaritarika, and Marovato in Tsihombe and Tranovaho and Beabobo in Beloha, households are expected to face large food consumption gaps, in line with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes between October and January. Humanitarian assistance will be needed to fill these food deficits, protect livelihoods, and prevent acute malnutrition. Other drought-affected areas of the south will face Stressed (IPc Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity. 

    • In central and northern areas of the country, a near-average or above-average rice harvest (depending on the zone), favorable cash crop prices, and normal livelihood strategies will enable seasonally normal food access. Consequently, these areas will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity throughout the scenario period. 


    National Overview
    Current Situation
    Crop production
    • Rice surplus producing zones, in particular the districts of Amparafaravola, Ambatondrazaka, Miarinarivo, Betafo, Antanifotsy, Befandriana Avaratra, and Bealanana received average to above-average cumulative rainfall during the 2015/16 season, which provided favorable conditions for crop production. Although national crop production estimates are not yet available, key informants report that the main season rice harvest in mid-April was above average in the areas mentioned above while it was near average in central areas.
    • In the South and West, however, El Nino-related drought conditions and poorly distributed rainfall were observed during the rainy season. This resulted in below-average to failed crop production, primarily for maize and cowpeas, in all districts of Androy region. Additionally, rice producing areas of Betroka, Morombe, Manja, Morondava and Mahabo also experienced a below-average rice harvest in June.  
    • Off-season crop production has begun across the country with some areas currently harvesting cash crops. For example, in Analanjirofo, SAVA, Atsinanana, Vatovavy Fito Vinany, Atsimo Atsinanana and SOFIA, the coffee harvest is ongoing. Additionally in northern parts, sugar cane production is also occurring and is estimated to be near average. Meanwhile in Tsihombe, Ambovombe, Beloha, Amboasary Atsimo, and to a lesser extent Ampanihy, the area planted in cassava and sweet potato has been reduced due to the drought conditions and in the case of cassava, households are harvesting earlier than usual as a coping strategy due to a lack of food stocks from the earlier main season harvest. Despite reports of locusts in the peneplain of Bekily and Fotadrevo (MG 24), according to FAO’s May 10 Situation Update, locust-related crop damages in the outbreak area have been minimal. 
    Livelihoods
    • Prices of vanilla and black eyed peas, two key cash crops, are higher than last year’s levels and will provide sufficient cash incomes for some households to carry them through until the next main rice harvest, according to traders in various areas across the country. For instance, in the northern part of Analanjirofo and SAVA, vanilla prices per kg are at least 128 percent above last year’s prices due to better treatment methods and increasing international demand. Additionally, in the case of the Boeny region, black-eyed peas are often exported to India, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius and current prices are 2,500 Ar per kg, compared to 1,500 to 1,700 Ar last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. These high prices are benefiting households that produce and sell black-eyed peas, providing cash incomes to cover various expenditures.
    • Poor households are engaging in off-farm activities across the country. In central areas, handcrafts and brick molding activities are occurring at normal levels and with average wages. Meanwhile, in drought-affected areas of the Deep South, households typically rely on incomes from agricultural product sales at this time of the year but due to the crop failures, they are currently relying on atypically high levels of remittances from migrants who have moved to nearby towns, as well as increased sales of poultry, charcoal, and firewood. In these areas, livestock herd sizes have been drastically decreased, or in the case of many poor households have been completely exhausted, due to the effects of three consecutive years of below-average harvests in these areas. 
    Markets
    • The April prices of paddy and white rice in different parts of the country were either stable or had declined compared to February 2016 levels[1], according to data from the Observatory of Rice (OdR), due to increased supply from the recent rice harvests.  For example, declines in local paddy rice prices varied from 0 and -34 percent, except for at the southern markets of Tsihombe (+1 percent) and Sakaraha (+8 percent). Imported rice prices were also generally stable or had declined slightly, although an 8 percent and 13 percent increase was observed in Fenoarivo-Atsinana and Ambovombe-Androy, respectively. 
    Food sources
    • Humanitarian assistance programming has been focused on southern areas. More specifically, WFP, CRS, ADRA, and FID provided unconditional and conditional food assistance between April and June 2016, targeting approximately 400,000 people in Amboasary Atsimo, Bekily, Beloha, Tsihombe, Ambovombe and Atsimo Andrefana, particularly in Ampanihy and Betioky Atsimo.
    • Given the recently failed harvests, food consumption amongst poor households in southern areas is currently atypical and is primarily based around wild foods (ex. cactus fruit), market purchases, and humanitarian assistance despite it being the typical post-harvest period. Meal frequency has also been reduced to two or fewer meals per day with reduced portion sizes. Meanwhile, outside of the south, most poor households are relying on own production from the recent main season harvests as their main food source, similar to a normal year.
     

    [1] Price data from March to June 2016 is unavailable. 

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario for June 2016 to January 2017 is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • Rainfall: During the October 2016 to January 2017 period, FEWS NET assumes average rainfall levels with a normal start of season, ranging from late October to December depending on the zone. During the rainy season, normal levels of flooding may cause damages to infrastructure and housing, particularly in low-lying areas. Temperatures will increase seasonally through December/January.
    • Locusts: Given relatively low levels of locust activities this year and response efforts, locusts activities are anticipated to be low during the scenario period, though they will likely increase seasonally starting in November due to the typically wet weather and increasing temperatures during the rainy season. 
    • Crop production: The start of the agricultural season will likely be on time as a result of anticipated average rainfall levels from October to January 2017, and crop production is expected to be at normal levels. In drought-affected areas of MG9 (Soalala, Besalampy, Maintirano) and MG15 (Mahabo, Manja, Morondava ), the upcoming harvests of cassava (November), beans (July), and groundnuts (August/September) will be near average although the groundnut harvest is expected to be postponed by 1.5 months due to households’ inability to prepare lands in February as a result of drought.
    • Household food and income sources: Due to a near-average 2015/16 harvest in most areas, household food stocks will likely to be at normal levels. Consequently, households will be able to rely on their own production until the beginning of November in central and northern parts of the country. From November to January 2017, most poor households will then rely on market purchases after their own food stocks have depleted, similar to a normal year. During this period, access to income or in-kind food will become increasingly important, especially for the very poor and poor households given average levels of agriculture-related labor opportunities during the next growing season. This will likely provide a slight relief to very poor and poor households who usually rely on labor as a source of food and income.Income from off-farm labor, will be seasonally average, except for in the south where off-farm labor will likely be above average as households intensify labor migration due to their failed crop production.
    • Imported rice prices: The Malagasy Ariary is expected to depreciate slightly (approximately 5 percent) during the outlook period against major international currencies, which will cause imported rice prices to rise slightly.
    • Local rice prices: FEWS NET anticipates that the price of local rice will follow normal seasonal trends. More specifically, prices will be stable until September and will then progressively increase until they reach their peak in February.
    • Humanitarian assistance: In total, approximately 159,000 people will be targeted for food assistance between June and October 2016 in the Androy and Atsimo Andrefana regions. This includes WFP assistance, particularly in Tsihombe, Beloha, Amboasary and Ambovombe, through multisectoral CERF funding and assistance by CRS and ADRA in Tsihombe, Beloha, and Bekily through USAID/FFP funding. Additionally, through 8 million USD provided to WFP by USAID/FFP, 250,000 people in the same seven districts will be targeted for 50 days for unconditional and conditional food assistance between September and December 2016. Sixty thousand children under the age of five will also be provided supplementary feeding in order to treat acute malnutrition and 20,000 households that have at least one child under the age of five will receive family protection rations.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    In central Madagascar from Analamanga to Ihosy regions, a near-average rice harvest will enable poor households to meet their food and nonfood needs through normal livelihood strategies (ex. consumption of own production and market purchases using incomes from agricultural product sales and off-farm labor). In northern and eastern areas, households will also have above-average incomes from the sale of cash crops (ex. vanilla and coffee) due to atypically high prices this year, which will provide households with favorable food access through market purchases. As a result, central and northern areas will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity throughout the scenario period. 

    In western parts of the country, including livelihood zones MG9 (Antsalova, Besalampy, Morafenobe and Maintirano), MG10 (Miandrivazo, Ambatomainty) and MG15 (Belon'I Tsiribilhina, Mahabo, Manja and Morondava), a below-average harvest of rice and maize was recorded in June.  Rice and maize losses represent about one to two months of food stocks, on average, which means that stocks will deplete earlier than normal. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity is expected from June to September due to the resulting livelihoods stress though food security outcomes will then improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October and January due to normal food access through the sale of cash crops during the second half of the outlook period.

    Poor households in southern areas where drought conditions have led to a poor to failed maize harvest and expectations of a below-average sweet potato and cassava harvests, food access is expected to be poor during the outlook period. To cope with the effects of below-average household food stocks and increasing food prices, households will increase wild food consumption, migration, off-farm labor activities, as well as the sale of handicrafts, and forest products (charcoal, reed mats, etc.) However these efforts are not expected to fully meet needs and as a result, households will switched to cheaper, less preferred foods (ex. imported rice instead of maize), as well as reduce the frequency and quantity of their meals. During the second half of the scenario period, agricultural labor activities will generate additional income starting in October, although it will still not be sufficient to cover households’ food and non-food needs. As a result, more than 20 percent of households in the districts of Ambovombe, Ampanihy, Betioky Atsimo, Beloha, will be in at least Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity between June and January 2017.

    Food security outcomes are expected to be most severe in the Deep South, particularly in Tsihombe and parts of Beloha, where households typically rely more on maize and black-eyed pea production than on cassava, and where this year’s main season harvest completely failed. Additionally, poor households in this zone were hit particularly hard by the effects of the below-average crop production during the past two years on their livelihoods (ex. increased livestock sales, etc.). In this zone, households are already facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity, and given a lack of significant food or income sources between June 2016 and January 2017, food security and nutritional outcomes are expected to deteriorate with the approach of the 2017 lean season. In some pockets of the Androy region, particularly in the municipalities of Anjampaly, Betanty, Antaritarika, and Marovato in Tsihombe and Tranovaho and Beabobo in Beloha, large food consumption gaps are likely, in line with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes between October and January.

     

    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.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes for June 2016

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes for June 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. December 2015 to February 2016 CHIRPS rainfall anomaly compared to normal (mm)

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. December 2015 to February 2016 CHIRPS rainfall anomaly compared to normal (mm)

    Source: USGS

    Figure 2. NDVI anomalies as of March 31, 2016

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. NDVI anomalies as of March 31, 2016

    Source: USGS

    Figure 3. Cumulative Eta Anomaly: January to March 2016

    Figure 5

    Figure 3. Cumulative Eta Anomaly: January to March 2016

    Source: USGS

    Figure 4. Percentage change in imported rice prices between April 2014 and April 2016

    Figure 6

    Figure 4. Percentage change in imported rice prices between April 2014 and April 2016

    Source: OdR

    Figure 5. Percentage change in local rice prices between April 2014 and April 2016

    Figure 7

    Figure 5. Percentage change in local rice prices between April 2014 and April 2016

    Source: OdR

    Figure 6. Percentage change in maize prices between April 2014 and April 2016

    Figure 8

    Figure 6. Percentage change in maize prices between April 2014 and April 2016

    Source: OdR

    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.

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