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An early start of the rainy season in the extreme south is favorable for early crop development

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Madagascar
  • October 2019 - May 2020
An early start of the rainy season in the extreme south is favorable for early crop development

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Rainfall in the 2019/2020 rainy season is forecast to be below average in southern Madagascar, but average to above average in the central highlands, and above average in the north. This is favorable for national crop production but may be challenging for agriculture in the south.

    • Food prices are currently stable throughout the country due to stable market supply and the availability of households’ stocks, particularly in the South.

    • Pest infestations may be a determinant of this season’s agricultural production in the south as fall armyworm is now endemic, and Malagasy migratory locusts were reported in the southwest in September.

    • In October 2019, poor and very poor households in the most southwest and extreme south districts of Madagascar are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with the impact of humanitarian food assistance in Beloha are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!), and households in Ampanihy are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) because of below average staple production and the persistence of high rates of malnutrition.

    National Overview

    Current situation

    Rainy season progress: Rain continued to fall in the Southern and Central Highlands in early October, allowing farmers to transplant young rice crops. In the South, favorable rainfall conditions in July and August improved the maturation of off-season maize and tubers. Rain that continued into early September provided important water for new cassava plants.

    Agriculture activities: The new rice campaign has started and in anticipation of the coming rains farmers in rice producing areas are transplanting rice. Cropped areas are expected to be expanded in the Central and Eastern Highlands with the timely arrival of rains, unlike in Western parts where it may be limited. In the South farmers planted peanuts, a new crop for the region, in place of many food crops for three reasons: peanut crops are less infested by pests compared to maize or pulses; its seeds are more accessible and available, demands are higher with the arrival of Chinese collectors in the area.

    Staple food availability: Domestically, rice production was estimated at 3.9 million MT in 2018/2019. Although it was 18 percent higher than last year and 9 percent above the 5-year average, rice imports remained high at the time of harvests between June and August 2019 according to OdR. In total, about 120,000 MT of rice were imported – about three times last year’s volume in the same period but 25 percent below the 5-year average. Maize production also slightly increased compared to last year in main producing areas. Nevertheless, an outbreak fall armyworm (Spodoptera Frugiperda, FAW) in Southern and Southwestern Madagascar led to harvest failures in these areas. Consequently, national maize production remained 30 percent below the 5-year average and near last year’s level of 219,000 MT. Cassava production increased in the South, where it is primarily grown, bringing the national production to 2.9 million MT, which is 16 percent higher than last year and 5 percent above the 5-year average. Production of sorghum and millet is increasing, particularly in Androy and Itasy regions, but is still only grown in small areas.

    Export cash crops: Black dried vanilla is currently ready to be exported. National revenue from vanilla exports are half of previous year due to the slowing down of international price spike. Even though, vanilla from Northeast is the most demanded with its good quality, Southeastern zones also start to increase its production, particularly the districts of Nosy Varika, Manakara and Mananjary. According to SISAV bulletins, collection activities of cash crops like cloves, coffee, and vanilla improved household incomes and stabilized food security levels in recent months in the Southeast. Farmgate prices of vanilla varied from MGA 300,000 to MG 700,000 in those districts in August 2019.

     Macroeconomic context: Current fuel prices are 7 percent lower than last year at the same period. The exchange rate between the Malagasy ariary and the US dollar also stabilized between April and October 2019, but lost 8 percent compared to October 2018, and 33 percent compared to October 2014. Despite the decrease of fuel prices and the stability of exchange rate, food prices have increased in recent months. According to INSTAT, the Consumer Price Index in Madagascar increased by 0.4 percent on average per month during the first semester of 2019. The national Inflation rate was 6 percent between June 2018 and June 2019, and food price inflation was 5 percent but was lower than other inflation like that of electricity and petroleum that both increased by 11 percent. Prices overall in Madagascar have increased by 33 percent in the last 3 years.

    Prices of staple foods:  Prices for both local and imported rice were 10 percent above the 5-year average despite supply being average because of the persistence of general inflation induced by the ongoing depreciation of the Malagasy Ariary. Nevertheless, rice prices are slightly below last year reflecting the improvement in supply. Compared to previous months prices remained stable showing that after a few months from the harvest supply still covers national needs. Maize prices are approximately 20 percent above the 5-year average because of the drop in production in main producing areas like the South. Prices increased by 9 percent compared to the previous year particularly in main cities and in the Southeast where demand is increasing both for manufacturers’ and livestock needs. Nevertheless, prices remained stable compared to the previous month. Tuber prices are near the 5-year average but 15 percent below last year due to improvement in production. Compared to the previous month dried cassava prices continues to decrease while that of sweet potatoes stabilized.

    New state policies: As part of the "Initiative for the Emergence of Madagascar" Program, the government of Madagascar expects to undertake construction projects in the surroundings of the capital by backfilling 100 ha of suburban rice fields, which normally produce between 3,000 and 4,000 MT of rice. Farmers are encouraged to migrate away from the capital region, and their current landholdings, to pursue their agriculture. Many farmers are resistant to this move.

    Humanitarian Assistance: Most humanitarian assistance in the South ended in June. Only the FIAVOTA safety net program from FID/WOLRD BANK/UNICEF that consists of strengthening education, nutrition and livelihood by transferring conditional cash to beneficiaries is continuing into 2020. The program covers 25 to 45 percent of the total population in Ambovombe, Beloha and Tsihombe. Very poor and poor households received around MGA 50,000 every other month, between April 2018 and August 2019, contributing to more than 50 percent of their food needs. CSR also will continue to support fishing activities in Tsihombe and Beloha through their LOVA project through the end of March 2020. Their FIAROVA project under USAID/OFDA funds is extended until September 2020 and includes general food distribution, food for assets and community-based management of acute malnutrition.


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

    • Rainy season: According to National Department of Meteorology, southwestern Madagascar will receive below average rainfall between October and December. This will delay the cropping season in the area. Meanwhile, the center of the country will receive average to above average rainfall during the same period which will allow farmers to start planting cereals on time. The north of the country will receive average to above average rainfall during that period, which will be favorable to the development of cash crops for export, like vanilla and litchis. SARCOF and NMME forecasts both expect average to below average rainfall in the South, the West and the Center-South, with an increased chance of below average rainfall in the far south.
    • Rice imports: Following normal seasonality, imports of rice are expected to increase from October to January because households will start buying rice at markets to substitute for locally grown rice. Imports will slightly decrease after the first harvest of rice in December and January and will increase again between March and April during the lean season in Southeastern Madagascar when demand will increase. Between 20,000 and 40,000 MT are expected to be imported per month to stabilize the rice supply in deficit areas. In total, approximately 390,000 MT of rice will be imported during the 2019/2020 marketing year. This will be similar to last year and about 8 percent above the 5-year average.
    • Staple prices: Prices of locally produced cereals will continue to increase during the first part of the outlook projection and then will decrease during the harvests that are expected to begin in March. Prices will be similar to last year but will remain above the 5-year average due to the persistence of general inflation and the below average maize production. Imported rice prices will remain stable and near average throughout the outlook period.
    • Labor demand and income: Local labor opportunities will decrease from October 2019 to January 2020 due to the delayed cereal sowing and then will increase from February to May 2020 during the peanut cropping period. Generally, labor wages will likely follow the normal seasonality and stay low as near normal but will likely increase in ML2 in the South because of the opportunity offered by peanut plantations.
    • Wild food availability: Tamarind trees have not produced this year and yellow cactus is expected to be less available than usual from October 2019 to January 2020 because most cactus leaves are currently being fed to cattle. Mangoes are expected to be more available than usual and will be highly consumed. Yams and other wild tubers will be less available. Wild food will continue to contribute to an important part of very poor and poor households’ food in Southern Madagascar through the outlook period.
    • Livestock prices in Southern Madagascar: Sales will likely increase from October 2019 to January 2020 because households will rely more on markets as their own production stock will be depleted. Prices will decrease for cattle and small ruminants compared to the current period because of the lean season. However, prices will be higher than last year and the 5-year average. This will improve household income compared to previous years but still limit food access in the due to the above average food prices.
    • Nutrition in Southern Madagascar: Based on the regular exhaustive screenings done by the Nutrition Cluster, acute malnutrition will likely increase between October 2019 and January 2020, due to the decrease in food availability and water shortages. Nevertheless, the situation is expected to be better than the 2018/2019 season.

    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 previous months with the main tuber harvests. Despite the 20 percent above average rainfall during the 2018-19 campaign, agricultural production was below normal. Maize almost completely failed, due to fall armyworm (Spodoptera Frugiperda) infestations. Cassava and sweet potatoes also produced less than normal due to pest outbreaks. Food is mostly accessed through the market, but prices are 30-50 percent lower than this period last year. Markets are well supplied with cassava and sweet potatoes from better-off households’ production or other southern areas (including maize and rice from Betroka). However, cropping patterns during the last season were not typical, as households in the northern part of MG 24, which is usually more fertile, allocated more than the usual area to peanut farming. This crop is mostly farmed by better-off families, and farmgate prices are well below the levels of the previous two years. Livestock holdings increased compared to last year, due to income from above average remittances, cash programs, and cash crop sales, despite livestock market prices that are about twice those of last year. As a result of this in addition to humanitarian assistance, there are minimal gaps in food consumption. Poor households’ dependence on markets is however still high and prices remain above average. Therefore, households in the zone are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity from October 2019 to January 2020. As the harvest period begins in February and March, household food access will improve, and poor and very poor households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from February to May 2020.

    In the Southwest: cassava and small ruminants (MG 23), food insecurity also improved compared to previous months due to the harvest period. Moreover, pulses and cereal production was better in Betioky and surrounding communes allowing for better food availability among households and at markets. Nevertheless, the situation remains more severe in Ampanihy. Therefore, the very poor and poor households in the area are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity in October 2019 and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Ampanihy. Between October 2019 and January 2020, households will depend more on markets while market prices will likely start to increase. Livestock sales will increase while their prices decrease. Food gaps will likely appear but be less than last year at the same period. The alarming nutritional situation in Ampanihy will likely persist mainly due to food gaps and lack of water access. Humanitarian assistance will likely resume but with low coverage. Therefore, poor and very poor households will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in most of the zone and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity will persist in Ampanihy between October 2019 and January 2020. From February onwards, food consumption will improve in the zone as some maize harvests are expected in March although harvests will likely be below-average. Fresh cassava and sweet potatoes will also start to be eaten in April. Humanitarian assistance will likely be little to none during this period, and poor and very poor households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between February and May 2020.

    Local stresses have been identified in Southeastern Madagascar due to above average food prices, but with no major impacts on food security. Therefore, households throughout Madagascar will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity from October 2019 through May 2020 outside the areas of concerns.


    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.


    EventImpact on food security
    NationalCyclonesThe 2019/2020 cyclone season in Madagascar promises to be active and near average. It is expected that 2 to 4 disturbances may occur near Madagascar during the season and 1 to 2 could make landfall on the Malagasy coast between January and March 2020. The evolution of large-scale conditions that modulate cyclone activity in Madagascar suggests that potentially powerful cyclones will likely come from the northwest, which could improve rainfall projections along the western and southwestern parts of the country like MG 09, MG15, MG20 and MG23; but could be harmful in the northeast where rice fields and cash crops could be severely damaged. 


    Figures 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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