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Expected rains in Southern Madagascar will be favorable for maize and pulse planting

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Madagascar
  • October 2017
Expected rains in Southern Madagascar will be favorable for maize and pulse planting

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Both national rice and maize production are below the 5-year average and less than last year. This year the country’s main rice producing region had the lowest production ever recorded. National cassava production is also below the 5-year average and less than last year, but the harvest period is ongoing in the south, in addition to the ongoing off-season sweet potato harvest. 

    • The price of imported rice is currently 22 percent above the 2012-2016 average. Prices of local cereals are above the five-year average while prices of local rice are 21 percent higher than last year, and those of maize decreased by 9 percent. Prices for tubers are 7 to 22 percent lower than last year, cassava are similar to the five-year average and potatoes are 27 percent lower.

    • Many households are still consuming their own production from recent harvests, but some very poor households have depleted their stocks and are consuming purchased foods. Consumption of imported rice, which is the main substitute for locally grown products for poor households during the lean season, has started to increase in urban centers and northern Madagascar due to high prices of other foods, and in Southern Madagascar where the shift comes when cassava/sweet potatoes stocks are depleted.

    • Areas of the extreme South area expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from October 2017 to January 2018, except the urban districts of Manakara and Vohipeno in the southeast. The situation in the region will likely improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from February to May 2018 with the expected maize and pulse harvests. 


    Current Situation

    Seasonal progress

    • Ongoing rainy season and cropped areas: In central Madagascar, rice planting season has started. Ricefield for the main season have been prepared and farmers are currently transplanting rice. Prepared superficies are near normal. Around Antananarivo, second season rice is growing. Rain already fell in October in Analamanga, Vakinakaratra and Boeny Regions which was favorable to agriculture. In the south, cassava harvest is still pursuing. Cassava planting also started as soon as the previous crops were harvested. .
    • Export cash crops: Vanilla and cloves have the largest share of Madagascar’s export value and are currently selling at high prices on international markets. However, production this year is below average because of damages caused by Cyclone Enawo in the Northeast, and by flooding and uncommon tornadoes in the Southeast. Production of coffee has decreased in the Southeast due to these events, and the domestic price of coffee is currently higher than the international price and has doubled since last year. Prices of cloves also dramatically increased. Litchi harvests will start in November.
    • Crop production: Expectedly, national rice production is officially estimated at 3.1 million MT in 2017. It is 21 percent lower than 5-year average and 19 percent lower than last year. Unexpectedly, maize production is at around 281,000 MT which is 11 percent lower than last year but still below the 5-year average of 368,000 MT. As for cassava, national production is at 2.6 million MT which is 15 percent below 5-year and 3 percent lower than last year. Cassava harvests is still pursuing in Southern Madagascar as well as harvest of off-season sweet potatoes.
    • Livestock: Livestock herd sizes have started to improve in Southern Madagascar. Decapitalization has reduced. Overall, the cattle population is estimated at 6.5 million in 2017 but the Ministry of Agriculture is currently undertaking a census of Livestock in the South. Livestock prices also improved, which is favorable to pastoralists. Intensive sales are expected again during the peak of the lean season.

    Markets and trade

    • Rice imports: Rice imports have intensified the second semester of 2017. Current estimates from Madagascar Customs give a total volume of 400,000 MT of rice imports during the first ten months of 2017. This already exceeds the expected imports this year and is equal to 13 percent of national production. This is also 78 percent above the five-year average and about almost triple last year’s rice imports within the same period. The increase in rice imports has been driven by the expected lower domestic production and the stability of the Malagasy Ariary in recent months. According to the Observatoire de Riz (OdR) Horizon, the retail price of imported rice particularly in urban cities has been higher than the parity price (IPP) during the first quarter of 2017, and this was favorable to imports. Meanwhile, domestic demand for imported rice has risen as prices of other local staples such as maize and cassava also increased. The price of imported rice is currently 22 percent above the 2012-2016 average at all markets particularly in Vangaindrano (MG29) with an increase of 42 percent. Compared to last year, prices of imported rice in Antananarivo and Toamasina I increased by 14 percent due to higher demand as poor households cannot afford the expensive local rice and those in Amboasary and Ambovombe decreased by 14 percent because households still are consuming tubers.
    • Prices for locally grown food products: Globally, prices of local food remained stable between September and October 2017. However, prices of cereals are above the five-year average in October 2017 (+ 33 percent) this is due to lower production than normal both for maize and for rice. Nevertheless, while prices of local rice are 21 percent higher than last year, those of maize decreased by 9 percent. As for tubers, prices are 7 to 22 percent lower than last year. However, current prices of cassava are fairly equal to the five-year average, while those of potatoes are 27 lower.

    Prices of local rice in October 2017 are particularly high exceeding 2,000 Ariary per kilo in 6 cities out of 21 markets. The highest changes comparted to five-year average (above 50 percent) are recorded at 5 markets: Antananarivo, Toamasina I, Mahajanga I, Vangaindrano and Vondrozo. This is the effect of lowest production ever recorder in the main area of rice producing. Nevertheless, prices of local rice in Southern Madagascar (Tulear II, Ambovombe and Amboasary) are still below last year level.

    The FEWSNET field Assessment mission in October in the South revealed a sufficient supply of sweet potatoes in MG 24 and of cassava in MG 23. However, cereals are scarce in these markets.

    Other key factors

    • Humanitarian assistance: The emergency plan ended in May 2017 for El-Nino affected regions. The same for areas affected by cyclone Enawo. A new plan is being developed with the completion of the National IPC Analysis in June 2017 targeting 262,800 persons in emergency of which 142,064 in the South and 120,736 in the Southeast; and 804,600 in crisis of which 440,528 in the South and 364,072 in the Southeast. This plan mainly includes early recovery activities in short term.


    The most likely scenario for the October 2017 to March 2018 period is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • Rainy season: According to NMME probabilistic forecasts for Africa and the National forecast for Madagascar, the rainy season is expected to be normal in most part of Madagascar within the outlook period. Based on 20 mm rainfall received in 2 days with no more than 10 consecutive dry days, the national department of meteorology forecasted that favorable rain for agriculture already fell this month in Vakinakaratra Region. With expected La Nina conditions and potentially positive SIOD, there is an increased chance of cyclonic activity for Madagascar from December 2017 to March 2018 which will cause damages and loss in the eastern or northern coast of Madagascar depending on where it will land-in. But cyclones are generally beneficial to the south because it brings water for planting.
    • Agricultural Production and cropped areas: The second season rice growing around Antananarivo is expected to be harvested between December 2017 and March 2018. Cropping of first season rice started on time. and cropped areas are expected to be normal. As for maize and pulses, planting will be delayed and will likely start in November. Production expected to be harvested in March 2018 is expected to be better than last year and near normal. 
    • Cash crops: Harvest of cloves is ongoing in the Southeastern and Eastern part of Madagascar. Production is estimated to be below normal after the dryness at the beginning of the season. Other cash crops such as litchi will be harvested in November and December and production is expected to be below normal too. Therefore, prices of cash crop particularly coconut, coffee, banana and litchi will remain higher than normal throughout Madagascar but this will not compensate for the loss of quantity that poor farmers will experience from October 2017 to January 2018.
    • Livestock: With the coming hot season although the expected normal rainfall from October 2017 to January 2018, available pastureland will likely reduce. Some transhumance and temporary migrations to higher lands will be noticed in the Southern and Western parts of Madagascar by the end of December. Then, pastoralists should come back to their origin places by the start of rains.
    • Labor income and availability: Agricultural labor will be near average with the favorable weather for agriculture particularly in main rice producing areas. Nonagricultural labor will be below average particularly labor in export manufacturing due to reduction in cash crop production. Agricultural labor wages will remain stable. Fishing will be above normal particularly in the South because households will intensify it as a livelihood strategy instead of planting.
    • Macroeconomic context and imports: An increase of rice imports is expected; promoted by the stability of the Ariary/US Dollar exchange rate and the low domestic rice production. More than 500,000 MT of rice is expected to be imported in 2017, the highest within the last 10 years. This will stabilize the prices of both local and imported rice on the market from November 2017 to March 2018, particularly in deficit areas.
    • Household Food stock availability: Poor household will begin running out of their stocks of tubers starting in October. The availability of food during the first part of the outlook period (October to February) will be reduced, both at the household level and in the markets. Then it will improve with the little season of rice harvested in December and the maize and pulse harvest expected in March-April.
    • Cereal prices: Globally, the price of local rice is expected to increase until February. Prices may remain above 2,000 Ariary per kilo, according to the price projections in the southeast and in some urban areas such as Mahajanga and Toamasina. Prices of maize and cassava will continue increasing in the South until February as well.
    • Food consumption trends: Staple foods for poor households will likely shift from local products (rice, cassava or sweet potatoes) to imported rice due to the higher prices of local products which poor people cannot afford.
    • Wild Food consumption: Wild food consumption will likely increase, particularly in the South. The consumption of cactus will be very important during the lean season but at normal levels.
    • Livestock prices: Livestock sales will increase from October 2017 to January 2018 and will be intensified from February to May as the South enters the lean season. However, with the limited herds after many years of depletion, prices of both cattle and small ruminants will be likely above normal during the outlook period. Buyers will come from other districts such as from Tulear, Fianarantsoa or Fort-Dapuhin.
    • Humanitarian Assistance: Humanitarian assistance from WFP and FAO through implementation partners will probably be less than last year, as assistance will be more concentrated on resilience activities.
    • Nutrition: Following normal seasonality, GAM will increase in the Southeast and the South with the lean season during the outlook period but the prevalence will be lower than last year in MG19 and MG24 due to improvement of food availability and food access. However, it may be worse than last year in MG23 because of lower food availability and access of households.

    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 of cheaper food. As a result, the majority 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) situation in urban areas.

    In the Extreme south: cassava, maize, and livestock rearing livelihood zone (MG 24), in October households were still harvesting some tubers which mitigated worse outcomes. From November households will be depleting their stocks from own harvest of tubers and become more and more dependent on market purchases. With the reduced crop selling, limited livestock selling and strained sources of income (fishing, charcoal and firewood etc.), household income remain low. Cereal prices already increased and are higher than 5-year average while those of tubers remain stable and are still below 5-year average. Therefore, MG24 will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity situation in October 2017. With higher food prices and more dependence to market, although intensification of livestock selling whose size already reduced following consecutive year of drought, people will likely cannot meet their food needs during ML1 and households may face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation between October and February 2018. Maize availability and income from pulse crops is expected to improve starting from March to help households filling some gaps of their food consumption. Thus, most households in this livelihood zone will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes again between March and May 2018.

    In the Southwest: cassava and small ruminants (MG 23), Food insecurity is expected to increase with the coming lean season and may be higher than last year with the below-average production of food and low incomes sources. Because of this, and with the limited food assistance distribution since June 2017, with the end of emergency plan, households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in MG23. Food security outcomes are expected to remain the same in ML1. However, the expected maize and pulse harvest may improve the situation between March and May 2018. Thus, most households in this livelihood zone will still experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes between November 2017 and January 2018 and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between February and May 2018.

    In the Southeast: coffee, litchis, cassava (MG 19), The impact of dryness at the beginning of this year 2017 is still felt MG19 although the situation seems to have improved since the recent harvest of maize and cassava. Rice production totally failed. With the high inflation of staple food, low production of cash crops but higher prices of coffee and cloves and expectations of good production of litchis in November, Food insecurity there, particularly with the early exhaustion of household food stocks, the reduced livestock herds, and high prices of rice and maize on local markets. Therefore, households in the south part of this zone will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and the upper part is Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity from October 2017 to February 2018, and then will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from March to May 2018.


    Figures Figure 1. Value of the Malagasy Ariary compared to the US dollar (MGA/USD) over time

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Value of the Malagasy Ariary compared to the US dollar (MGA/USD) over time

    Source: Central Bank of Madagascar

    Figure 2. Evolution of rice imports from 2006 to 2017 (MT)

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Evolution of rice imports from 2006 to 2017 (MT)

    Source: OdR Horizon Bulletin

    Figure 3. NMME  Probabalistic Forecast Nov 2017 –Dec 2018

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. NMME Probabalistic Forecast Nov 2017 –Dec 2018

    Source: NOAA

    Figure 4. NMME Probabalistic Forecast Jan – March 2018

    Figure 4

    Figure 4. NMME Probabalistic Forecast Jan – March 2018

    Source: NOAA

    Figure 5. Local rice prices (% change of October 2017 compared to 5-year average)

    Figure 5

    Figure 5. Local rice prices (% change of October 2017 compared to 5-year average)

    Source: OdR, FEWSNET and SISAV data


    Figure 6


    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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