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Food security likely to deteriorate and result in an earlier lean season in southern districts

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Madagascar
  • August 2015
Food security likely to deteriorate and result in an earlier lean season in southern districts

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2015
  • Key Messages
    • In Androy, Atsimo Andrefana and parts of Anosy Regions, an early exhaustion of food stocks, reduced coping capacity from the previous lean season, and unusually high staple food prices will likely result in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes starting in August 2015. Where maize production was extremely low (Tsihombe and Ambovombe Districts), poor households will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between September and December 2015. 

    • Information from local agricultural services suggest prices of staple foods such as maize remains significantly above average in the southern markets of Amboasary and Ambovombe. Higher than normal prices for cassava as food stocks are exhausted and households become market dependent as the lean season approaches.

    • Forecasts for a continued El Nino through the start of the 2015/16 rainy season suggest seasonal rainfall may be below average in southern Madagascar, which may result in below-average labor opportunities as the peak of the lean season approaches. 

    Zone

    Current Anomalies

    Projected Anomalies

    South and South-West

    Maize production is estimated to be well below average in southern areas of concern for the third year in a row.

    An early exhaustion of stocks, earlier and higher than normal increases in staple food prices, and an early start to the lean season are likely.

    Cassava is being harvested earlier than usual, as a coping strategy

    Tubers will not arrive at their potential production, with negative effects in quality and volume


    Projected Outlook through December 2015

    According to the Observatoire du Riz (OdR), rice prices continue to remain stable on most markets, with FAO estimating 2015 rice production at slightly below average, and rice import requirements slightly above average. For maize, anecdotal price information suggests maize prices in extreme south are about 40 to 90 percent above the recent two-year average on the markets of Ambovombe and Betroka, following significantly below-average crop production that has led to an early exhaustion of maize stocks and earlier than usual reliance on cassava production in Atsimo Andrefana, Androy, and small parts of Anosy Region, the areas of greatest concern. Although most areas of the country is expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through December 2015, the lean season that usually starts in December is expected to be several months early in the areas of concern, and in some districts will start as early as the end of August and last through the outlook period.

    Southern districts of concern in Atsimo Andrefana and Androy Regions (Livelihood Zones 23, 24, and parts of 22)

    Production of maize was well below average this year in many southern districts, and own production is already being exhausted several months earlier than usual, particularly in Androy Region, most of which is in the MG24: Extreme South: Cassava, Maize, and Livestock Rearing Livelihood Zone. Own production of cassava is being consumed earlier than usual as a coping mechanism, which will likely reduce the quality and volume of tubers harvested. Production is estimated to be above normal only in the northern part of MG 24, but well below normal in southern parts of the zone. This is also consistent with reports of very high prices for cassava reaching up to twice what local sources indicate as normal for this season. Off-season production of onions, sweet potatoes, beans and green vegetables typically provide some food and income in September and October. However, very poor households are usually less engaged in cash cropping, which are produced in a limited area, and are not usually able to benefit from the small amount of agricultural labor they require. The southern part of MG24, whose main livelihood activity is maize and cassava farming, are, comparatively, worse off, in terms of households’ availability and access to food. Field reports suggest some seasonal migration for labor has begun up to two months earlier than usual in the districts of Tsihombe and the southern part of Bekily.

    Households normally reconstitute their livestock assets at this time, but this will likely be unusually low in MG24, following a harsher than usual last lean period, forcing distress sales of livestock. This is also consistent with a below-normal price for small ruminants in Tsihombe and Beloha. Price information collected locally by the Centres de Services Agricoles, as well as OdR data, show that the decline in grain price after the harvests has stopped and the current price of maize is about 40 percent above the two-year average in Amboasary and Ambovombe, although the price of rice close to five-year average in those districts. On the markets of the area of concern, it is likely that prices will remain above average and will continue to increase before peaking in January/February 2016.

    Given the early exhaustion of food stocks and higher than normal food prices, households in the areas of concern will face difficulties to meet their livelihoods protection needs. It is likely that at least 20 percent of households in Tsihombe and Ambovombe will enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as soon as early September. In other parts of livelihood zones 22, 23, 24, poor households are currently in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and are expected to start facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in August, but likely to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) starting from November through the outlook period, due to the combination of lack of income opportunities, of own-produced food stocks, and a reduced ability to engage in coping strategies. Recent SARCOF forecasts and the high likelihood of a continued El Nino during the start of the 2015/16 rainy season suggest rainfall will likely be average to below average, which could reduce agricultural labor opportunities as the peak of the lean season approaches. 

    Figures Calendrier saisonnier pour une année typique

    Figure 1

    Calendrier saisonnier pour une année typique

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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