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Faster than usual rise in prices during the lean season

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Madagascar
  • August 2013
Faster than usual rise in prices during the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Harvests for the main 2013 growing season are expected to be below-average, particularly harvests of rice and maize crops in the central and southern reaches of the country due to the locust presence and the cassava harvest in the south due to the poor distribution of rainfall in that area.

    • Staple food prices (prices for rice, cassava, and maize), which have been relatively close to the national average for the past few years, are expected to rise earlier and faster than usual in 2013/14 as a result of production shocks. 

    • The sharper than usual decline in food access during the lean season in September/October will heighten food insecurity, creating Stressed food security conditions (IPC 2.0 Phase 2). 




    Nationwide, particularly central-western and southern areas

    • Invasion of grain crops by locust swarms between March and June
    • Poorer than usual harvests of rice and maize crops for the main growing season (April through June) in surplus crop-producing areas due to the locust infestation
    • Faster than usual rise in prices for locally grown rice and maize crops between now and February/March
    • Increase in the price of substitute foods (imported rice and tubers) due to the substitution effect


    • Large locust presence
    • Intensive locust control efforts (contained brush fires and systematic chemical treatment) in southern areas of the country in September
    • More extensive damage than usual to rice and maize crops from locust infestations early in the main growing season (October through December)

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    There are growing demonstrations in Antananarivo and other cities over the political situation and the upcoming elections. A steady deterioration in the civil security situation is likely, regardless of whether or not the scheduled elections are held at the end of this year. The ensuing insecurity will gradually increase the cost of doing business.

    There will be below-average rice availability in 2013/14. In addition to the obvious shock to rice and maize production for 2013 from the locust infestations in the central and western reaches of the country, there are also certain pockets of low rainfall in the Lake Alaotra area, creating vegetation anomalies in this leading rice-producing area during the main harvesting season (Figure 2). There were record levels of imports in the first five months of this year to make up for the expected shortfall in nationwide crop production. At this rate, the volume of imports for 2013 will be as much as 50 percent above figures for that of the past two years. This projected volume of imports would meet 10 to 15 percent of estimated annual consumption needs.

    Based on the national average, August 2013 prices for rice were approximately 15 percent above last year’s level and approximately 25 percent above the five-year (2008-2012) average. The rise in the price of rice outstrips the annual inflation rate of approximately five to six percent. However, there are much steeper rises in prices in certain areas, particularly in the southern and central reaches of the country, which are a source of concern.

    In general, medium-term outlooks (by the ECMWF and IRI) call for average rainfall activity between September and February. Even if envisaged locust control measures (brush fires and chemical treatments) are fairly effective, locust numbers are likely to be above average during the 2013/14 season due to the large scale of the locust invasion early this year.

    The lean season for agricultural populations, beginning in October, is fast approaching. In spite of signs of major anomalies in grain availability and staple food prices, there is still no indication of widespread use of harmful coping strategies in central or southern areas of the country, translating into Minimal food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0). With the approaching lean season, large numbers of poor households in those parts of the country hardest hit by locust infestations are expected to start prioritizing basic livelihood protection needs to help bolster their food consumption, creating Stressed food security conditions (IPC 2.0 Phase 2). 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    eMODIS NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) data for Ambatondrazaka

    Figure 2

    eMODIS NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) data for Ambatondrazaka

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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