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Drastic decrease in food access for poor households in Mahafaly plateau

  • Key Message Update
  • Madagascar
  • May 2018
Drastic decrease in food access for poor households in Mahafaly plateau

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In Southwestern Madagascar, nearly all crops that are usually harvested between March and May (maize, groundnuts, cow pea, mung beans) failed, as was the case in parts of Betioky and Ampanihy, or produced well below average due to insufficient rains, in some cases only 25 percent of average. Usually short cycle off-season crops, like pulses and sweet potatoes, are planted after maize harvest. However, very few plots were planted and most of them were left uncultivated as sweet potato cuttings were unavailable. Cassava is planted but its height and foliage are less than normal. Demand for agricultural labor is below average as a result, but wages have not changed.

    • Livestock conditions are still good in the southwest despite only eating cactus leaves. Others have already migrated north to near Vatolatsaka where grass is more available. Milk production is halved to about half a liter per day. Livestock prices have dropped to approximately 45-55 percent of last year’s prices. Livestock sales are above normal as households sell more to afford food at markets. The very poor who do not have cattle to sell also supplement their incomes with increased charcoal and firewood sales.

    • Prices of staple foods throughout the country continued to decrease in May, thanks to recent cereal harvests, but remain above the 5-year average. Local rice prices decreased by 6 percent compared to April and are comparable to last year, except in Southwestern Madagascar where markets are poorly supplied because of the recent failed harvest. Prices are the double of last year because goods, particularly poor quality dried cassava from last year’s harvest in the district of Ambovombe, must travel farther to reach these markets.  Maize is available from northern Andranovory and Tulear, Antsirabe, and some from some communes of Ambovombe where harvests were better.

    • In a typical year in the south, households would still consume own-production of maize in May but this year they are mostly accessing cassava at markets, at higher than usual prices, as most poor households have already exhausted their own cassava stocks. Households also complement market purchases with cactus fruits or leaves. Due to high market prices and depleted own production, some poor households in Beloha have started to consume immature tubers from their fields. As a result, it is expected that food security conditions for many households will continue to deteriorate, particularly in the second half of 2018.

    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.

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