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Near normal tuber production in Southern Madagascar is expected to improve food security outcomes

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Madagascar
  • June 2019 - January 2020
Near normal tuber production in Southern Madagascar is expected to improve food security outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • The 2018/19 rainy season concluded with cumulative above normal rainfall in northern and southwestern parts of Madagascar, below normal along the central-west and the central-east coasts and normal to slightly below normal throughout the rest of the country.

    • Overall national rice production will likely be 3.3 million MT, maize production will likely be around 215,000 MT, and cassava production around 2.6 million MT. Each of these similar to last year. Production of sorghum and millet is also increasing, particularly in Androy and Itasy regions.

    • Most food security programs and projects like ASOTRY and FARANO of FFP, CRS’s HAVELO, ADRA’s ZINA and HOPE, and WFP’s emergency projects are at their end-line evaluations and closure. Other projects are expected starting in October 2019, but with lower coverage.

    • In June 2019, poor and very poor households in the southwest and far south of Madagascar are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) except in Ampanihy district, Beloha district and the four most vulnerable communes of Fort-Dauphin which are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    National Overview

    Current situation

    2018/2019 rainy season

    The 2018/19 rainy season concluded with cumulative above normal rainfall in northern and southwestern parts of Madagascar, below normal along the central-west and the central-east coasts and normal to slightly below normal throughout the rest of the country.  This was favorable for crop growth, particularly maize and rice, in main agricultural producing areas such as Vakinakaratra, Boeny and Haute Matsiatra.

    Agricultural campaign

    The main rice harvest is ongoing throughout the country through the end of June. Production in the Highlands is better than last year due to better rainfall conditions. However, Western Madagascar and some localities in the east were affected by rainfall deficits which had an impact on rice and maize production. Farmers in Central regions who harvest earlier are preparing their land for off-season crops like beans and vegetables.

    Export cash crops

    Vanilla still accounts for a large share of Madagascar’s export value. The new campaign started in May 2019 in SAVA region. Production from the last season slightly increased, and quality increased as well compared to last year, thanks to favorable rainfall in Northern Madagascar. Green vanilla was sold at above the normal price of MGA 150,000 to 210,000 per kilo in early June. Other cash crops, like coffee, are currently being harvested in southeastern Madagascar which brings income to smallholder farmers. Production is estimated to be near normal and prices are 10 percent above the 5-year average.

    Livestock in Southern Madagascar

    Herd sizes are currently increasing with the availability of food and good pasture conditions. Livestock prices decreased 20 percent during the peak of the lean season (January to February 2019) in the southwest compared to the beginning of the lean season (November to December), then increased by 60 percent at the beginning of harvests (March to April). Current prices are 15 to 40 percent higher than usual because of good cattle body conditions.

    Nutrition in Southern Madagascar

    The results of exhaustive screenings by the Nutrition Cluster show a deterioration of the nutritional situation in southern districts during the first quarter of 2019 compared to the last quarter of 2018 and compared to the first quarter of 2018. In the districts of Betioky, Ambovombe and Bekily GAM by MUAC levels were above 15 percent (in line with Phase 4 or 5 according to IPC Acute Malnutrition protocols). In the districts of Beloha and Tsihombe GAM by MUAC levels were between 10 and 15 percent (in line with Phase 3 or 4 according to IPC Acute Malnutrition protocols). In Amboasary and Fort-Dauphin GAM by MUAC levels were below 10 percent (in line with Phase 1 or 2 according to IPC Acute Malnutrition protocols). Globally, the reason of the deterioration is the severity of the lean season due to below average agricultural production and less availability of water. In addition, the number of admissions to CRENAS in some districts increased in March 2019 due to the measles epidemic.

    Markets and trade

    Macroeconomic context

    The exchange rate of the Malagasy Ariary to the US Dollar continues to decline and the Malagasy Ariary has lost 10 percent of its value against the US Dollar compared to the same period last year. This has serious consequences on the prices of local and imported items and negatively affects household purchasing power, particularly in urban areas. Nevertheless, fuel prices have stabilized since December as international prices are still lower than before the last increase. Inflation also seems to be contained with a rate of 5.9 percent in February 2019 compared to 10.3 percent in February 2018.

    Rice imports

    According to OdR, 125,000 MT of rice were imported between January and May 2019. This is half of last year’s quantities in the same period; and 25 percent below the 5-year average. Compared to previous months, rice imports slightly increased in March when the government ordered more than 16,000 MT of rice from Pakistan to be sold at subsidized prices to poor households, particularly in vulnerable areas like those in Southern Madagascar.

    Prices of staple foods

    2019 national rice production is expected to be better than 2018 thanks to favorable rain conditions in main producing areas, except in western areas. First harvests were completed in March. Prices are lower than last year but have started to decrease compared to recent months. Following normal seasonality, the beginning of the main harvest led to greater price decreases reaching a minimum of 1,720 Ariary in May 2019.

    Other factors

    New Global State Policy

    As part of the "Initiative for the Emergence of Madagascar" Program, the new government of Madagascar sold around 16,000 MT of imported rice at subsidized prices in the most vulnerable areas of the country, such as in Southern Madagascar, and the main cities. The program took place in April/May 2019. This price is 40 percent lower than the market price. Each household could purchase up to 3 kilos, which contributed to approximately 2-5 percent of the food needs of very poor and poor households.

    Humanitarian Assistance

    Most humanitarian assistance ends this month. ASOTRY and FARANO programs of FFP are at their end-line evaluations and closure. ADRA’s food security projects in Ampanihy and Betioky like ZINA, HOPE and “Sakafo Manavotra” with FFP also end in June 2019. Only the FIAVOTA safety net program of FID/WOLRD BANK/UNICEF is continuing beyond 2020. This consists of strengthening education, nutrition and livelihood by transferring conditional cash to beneficiaries. CSR also continue to support fishing activities in Tsihombe and Beloha through their LOVA project by end March 2020. They have a new project indeed named FIAROVA under USAID/OFDA fund which goes through May 2019 to September 2020 and which includes general food distribution, food for assets, and community-based management of acute malnutrition.


    The most likely scenario for the June 2019 to January 2020 period is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • 2019/2020 rainy season: The National Meteorological Department of Madagascar forecasts normal to below normal rainfall in the southwest, central, east and northern Madagascar between June and August 2019. Rainfall will likely be normal to above normal in the Southeast and Western areas of the country. Meanwhile, the NOAA NMME probabilistic forecast does not predict any severe rainfall deficits for the outlook period.
    • Agricultural production: Overall national rice production will likely be 3.3 Million MT which is similar to last year but 10 percent below the 5-year average. On the other hand, maize cropped areas increased compared to last year particularly in zones where rainfall was abundant like in South, Central and Northern Madagascar. However, most maize crops in Southern and Southwestern Madagascar were infested by Fall Army Worm (Spodoptera Frigiperda, FAW) leading to crop failure. Therefore, overall national maize production will likely be around 215,000 MT like last year which is 30 percent below the 5-year average. Cassava production increased in the South, where it is primarily grown, bringing the national production to 2.6 Million MT which is 6 percent higher than last year but still 4 percent below the 5-year average. Production of sorghum and millet is also increasing, particularly in Androy and Itasy regions.
    • Livestock prices: In South Madagascar livestock prices will likely continue to increase, with the arrival of the tuber harvests, to near normal, around 500,000 MGA for a cow, 120,000 MGA for a goat, and 150,000 MGA for a sheep in August. Prices will start to decrease again at the beginning of the lean season in November but will remain higher than last year between 300,000 and 400,000 MGA for a cow, around 90,000 MGA for a goat and 110,000 MGA for a sheep.
    • Labor demand and income: Labor demand will increase with the cassava and sweet potato harvests from June to September 2019 in Southern Madagascar. Elsewhere, rice harvest will continue until the end of June and followed by legumes and pulses planting that will also require labor. From October 2019 to January 2020 land preparation will take place and labor demand will likely increase because of the expectations of favorable rainfall for agriculture. Farmers will likely have access to enough seeds and cuttings to increase planted areas.
    • Rice imports: Imports of rice are expected to decrease in the next few months because of local harvests. Less than 20,0000 MT will be likely imported per month until October 2019. Then, the quantity will increase above 30,000 MT per month between November 2019 and January 2020 because of the lean season. In total, rice imports in 2018/2019 will likely be around 380,000 MT which are half of last marketing year and near the 5-year average.
    • Macroeconomic context: According to trading economics, inflation will likely stabilize around 6 percent until January 2020, which will help to avoid sudden food price increases within the outlook period. However, the exchange rate will likely continue to decline by 4 percent through the outlook period which will continue to hamper household purchasing power.
    • Staple prices: Prices of staple goods will likely start to increase again in mid-June with preparations for Independence Day and will stabilize at around 1,850 Ariary until October 2019. Throughout the projection period prices of local rice in Antananarivo will likely remain above the 5-year average due to the persistence of general inflation. In Tulear, with the ongoing harvest of cereals and the expected arrival of the imported rice to be sold at subsidized prices in southern Madagascar in May 2019, prices will likely decrease in May and June and will slowly increase again in July. It will likely remain above average within the outlook period. For the next few months prices will likely decrease to be around 800 Ariary per kilo in July with the arrival of products from main harvests in other districts where production is likely higher such as Betroka, Tsivory, Andranovory, Bekily, Betioky. Prices will likely slowly increase between August and November and will sharply increase until January 2020. Maize prices in Ambovombe will be below last year’s level and near 5-year average within the projection period.
    • Livestock herd sizes and livestock health: Since the rainy season has ended pasture will likely be dry and will be insufficient for cattle. Therefore, animals will start to be fed with sweet potato and cassava leaves from June to September and with cactus (O. Ficusindica) and sugarcane leaves from October 2019 to January 2020. Livestock health could degrade in the worst areas, but in general herds will remain stable within the outlook period.
    • Nutrition in Southern Madagascar: Between June and September, acute malnutrition will likely reduce due to increased food availability following the main harvests, improved water access particularly in Beloha, and the improved vaccination and other campaign coverages particularly in Ampanihy. Nevertheless, GAM levels will remain serious (GAM between 10 to 14.9 percent) in most of the districts except Ampanihy where GAM levels will likely stay critical (above or equal to 15 percent). GAM levels in Tsihombe, Amboasary and Fort-Dauphin will likely be acceptable or alert (GAM below 10 percent). The number of admissions in CRENAS will also decrease but remain above average, which is between 200 and 300 per district, in Ambovombe and Ampanihy, and below average in Amboasary and Fort-Dauphin. Starting from October through the end of the outlook period, the prevalence of acute malnutrition will likely increase because of the lean season. Nevertheless, the situation will be better than during the last season and will be near normal.
    • Humanitarian Assistance: From June to September 2019 humanitarian food assistance will likely decrease and will transition to more cash interventions and resilience activities to create assets. October 2019 to January 2020 food distribution will resume but with less coverage. Some long-term program like CRS’s LOVA will continue through the year until mid-2020. Humanitarian assistance addressing nutrition will likely increase throughout the outlook period due to the announcement the deteriorating nutritional situation in many districts of the south. Through recent EU funding, UNICEF will likely increase the current coverage of prevention and treatment of severe acute malnutrition by 10 percent by targeting 3,500 more children living in remote area at high risk of death to be detected and treated. They will also each receive a hygiene kit that will allow them to recover more quickly and avoid relapses. 40,000 parents will also likely be trained in malnutrition screening techniques.

    Most likely Food Security Outcomes

    In the Extreme south: cassava, maize, and livestock rearing livelihood zone (MG 24), food insecurity is expected to be less severe than in previous months  due to the main tuber harvest. However, food gaps will persist because of less diverse food consumption patterns and coping strategies like eating non-mature crops or reducing the number and quantity of meals. Moreover, poor households’ dependence on markets is still high and prices remain above normal. Acute malnutrition prevalence is above 10 percent in the zone despite large humanitarian food assistance coverage. Therefore, households in the zone are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity in June 2019. Between July and September 2019, households will likely not have very diverse diets, mostly consisting of starches. Unlike the current situation, fewer households will adopt food consumption based coping strategies and will eat an adequate number and quantity of meals. Livelihood strategies will likely remain the same as current ones but with lower proportions. As the nutritional situation will likely remain in an Alert situation and humanitarian assistance will likely be very limited during the harvest period, very poor and poor households in the zone will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between July and September 2019. From October onwards, the situation will be like the June to September period except in Beloha where the effect of last year’s drought and near zero maize production will likely lead households to using coping strategies earlier than usual. Poor and very poor households will likely face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity in most of the zone and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Beloha between October 2019 and January 2020.

    In the Southwest: cassava and small ruminants (MG 23), food insecurity improved compared to previous months due to the harvest period. Moreover, pulses and cereal production improved in Betioky and surrounding communes allowing a better food availability among households and at markets. Nevertheless, the situation remains more severe in Ampanihy because of the high prevalence of acute malnutrition. Households adopted more severee coping strategies like reducing adult meals to allow children eat or over-selling productive and non-productive livestock. Therefore, the very poor and poor households in the area are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity in June 2019 with a higher contribution of humanitarian food assistance in Ampanihy, leading households in that area to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). Between July and September 2019, food consumption will improve as the very poor will be able to access fresh cassava and sweet potatoes from the main harvest. Humanitarian assistance will likely be little to none during this period so poor and very poor households will likely be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between July and September 2019. From October onwards, staple consumption will reduce with the end of harvests and market prices will likely start to increase. Food gaps will increase given the limited food stocks and low incomes. Humanitarian assistance will likely resume but with low coverage in Ampanihy. Poor and very poor households will likely face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the zone and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity in Ampanihy between October 2019 and January 2020.

    Local stresses have been identified in western and eastern parts of Madagascar due to the localized rainfall deficits, but the impacts are not sufficient enough to classify zones in these areas as food insecure. Therefore, households throughout Madagascar will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outside the areas of concerns throughout the outlook period.

    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 Map of Current food security outcomes, June 2019: Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most of the country, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and St

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, June 2019

    Source: FEWS NET

    Titre : Madagascar calendrier saisonnier Description : La saison des pluies va de janvier à mai et de mi-juillet à mi-août. L

    Figure 2


    Source: FEWS NET

    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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