Skip to main content

The arrival of cereal harvests improves access to food in the Grand South

  • Key Message Update
  • Madagascar
  • April 2024
The arrival of cereal harvests improves access to food in the Grand South

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In the Grand South, many areas have successfully completed their cereal harvests, while the pulses, groundnuts, and peanuts harvests are ongoing. Production generally remained below average this year – with stocks expected to last for one to three months – due to limited access to seed, poor rainfall distribution during the growing season, and the early consumption of green harvests. Even so, poorer households’ access to food has improved as these crops became available for consumption and sale. Labor demand also increased during the harvest period and following the relaunch of rice-growing after the rehabilitation of irrigation systems in Amboasary Sud, improving poorer households’ income and reducing dependence on markets for food purchases until own production runs low. As a result, even with humanitarian assistance programs ending this month, widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected. However, a portion of poorer households whose stocks will be exhausted quickly may revert to the use of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) coping strategies until cassava and sweet potato harvests become available in late June and July. Although vegetable, root, and tuber production is expected to be near 2022/23 levels, is still likely to remain below average. Nevertheless, seasonal improvements associated with the secondary harvest in July and August are expected to be sufficient to close consumption gaps, diversify diets, reduce prices, and improve incomes and purchasing power. Therefore, in the June-September period, all areas of the Grand South are likely to sustain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 
    • In the Grand Southeast, most poorer households are market-dependent for most of their food needs at this time of year amid soaring prices for basic necessities and limited purchasing power; however, off-season rice, breadfruit, and wild foods will continue to close consumption gaps and sustain households in many districts until the main rice harvest in late April or early May. Most poorer households will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during this period; however, a portion of them are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) given the magnitude of shocks in recent years. Meanwhile, the most isolated areas, such as the western part of Nosy Varika, Ikongo, and Befotaka districts, where market supply and prices vary greatly depending on road access, are likely to continue experiencing elevated rates of malnutrition and will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) at area-level with slow, gradual improvements expected from May or June with the arrival of the rice harvest. With the production of rice and beans from April to June, followed by sweet potatoes and cassavas from July to September, food stocks in productive households can cover up to 5 months. Although wages in the Grand Southeast remain at typical levels – below 5,000 MGA per day – the start of the rice and green vanilla harvests will provide income for poor and very poor households, enabling them to purchase household needs or pay off debts. In some areas, wages are currently based on the total volume of work rather than a set daily wage. In addition, payment may be cash or in-kind. 
    • Tropical Cyclone Gamane made landfall in Sava on March 27 before crossing coastal northern Madagascar and exiting into the Indian Ocean towards the Masoala peninsula. It brought heavy rains that caused flooding and damage to infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and cropland. According to the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC), the regions of Analanjirofo, Sava, and Diana were the worst-hit with more than 22,000 households affected (including more than 18,000 flooded and 779 destroyed) and 19 deaths recorded. To date, there have been 75 emergency response sites that hosted more than 22,000 displaced people in the immediate aftermath, many of whom have already returned home. In addition, 4,968 ha of rice fields were flooded (60 percent of them recorded in Ambilobe district) and 665 ha were silted (605 ha in Vavatenina district and 60 ha in Maroantsetra district). Furthermore, localized landslides reportedly destroyed several bridges, and some roads were cut off, particularly National Road 5 which runs from Antsinanana to Analanjirofo Region, and National Road 5a which joins Diana to Sava Region. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the government rushed to install temporary bridges and emergency repairs, considering that this is the only land route linking the region with the rest of the country. However, poor road conditions persist, relief access to these affected areas remains difficult, and market supply and function in parts of the affected regions have been interrupted. Price increases on basic commodities are likely, mainly in the inland districts (as coastal districts can still benefit from sea routes), until road and bridge damages are repaired.
    • Preliminary assessments conducted by BNGRC and UNOCHA suggested around 33,600 households (168,000 people) should be targeted for emergency assistance. The Malagasy government has already mobilized a large part of its emergency stocks in areas affected by tropical storm Alvaro and heavy rains since the beginning of the year and is requesting external assistance. NGOs and UN agencies are currently positioning themselves to provide cash transfers and food distributions for around 24,000 households in the five most affected districts, namely Vohemar, Sambava, Antalaha, Maroantsetra, and Ambilobe. An in-depth post-disaster food security assessment is underway in these five districts to evaluate the losses and damage caused by the storm. 
    • In the north and northeast parts of the country, the cash crop harvests – especially vanilla, sugarcane, and cocoa – are set to begin in May. The flooding caused by tropical storm Gamane is expected to have a negative impact on this year's vanilla harvest, which was already expected to be below average due to an outbreak of fusarium wilt, which causes root and stem rot in vanilla. Exporters will be able to rely on leftover stocks from last year if their storage hasn't been affected by flooding, but the recent developments are anticipated to reduce the labor demand of large producers for the harvest. Sugarcane production, which is one of the main sources of income in certain northern districts such as Ambilobe and the entire Mahavavy zone, suffered losses this year from flooding and wind and income-generating opportunities around the harvest are likely to be below-average as a result. The cocoa harvest may also see a slight reduction in yields from excess rainfall, but, given that the most productive cocoa area of Sambirano was not directly hit by the cyclone, the impacts are not expected to be significant. Exact figures on losses and anticipated impacts to income are not yet available, however, pending the publication of the post-harvest assessment. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Madagascar Key Message Update April 2024: The arrival of cereal harvests improves access to food in the Grand South, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top