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Extension of lean season likely due to expected delay of harvests

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Madagascar
  • February 2015
Extension of lean season likely due to expected delay of harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Crop production prospects for the current season are mixed, due to cyclone damage and poor rainfall distribution in the south, where a delayed cropping season will extend the lean period of poor households by as much as one month. 

    • Rice markets are stable, but cassava and maize prices remain high in some areas. The price of rice in the South varied little compared to 2014. Following increases in 2014, recent prices of cassava have been 114-200 percent above the two-year average in some southern markets, while the price of maize was 64-86 percent above the two-year average. 

    • Southwestern areas of concern are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity and the expected late harvests will extend those outcomes through April. However, even below average crop production would likely lead to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, starting with the onset of harvests in April/May. 


    Current Anomalies

    Projected Anomalies

    South and South-West

    Rainfall has been overall below average in the south/south west up until January.


    Normal to below normal rainfall is expected for February, and above-normal rainfall in March.

    South and South-West

    Well above-average prices for staple foods (cassava and maize) on the southern markets of Toliara, Amboasary, and Ambovombe.

    Maize and cassava prices are likely to remain well above-average until maize harvests in April/May, and cassava harvests in September/October.  

    Centre-East and Centre-West

    Tropical storm Chedza made landfall on January 15-16 in Menabe Region and caused flooding on both the western and eastern coasts of Madagascar.

    Crops have been reported flooded in parts of Menabé,  Vatovavy-Fitovinany and Atsimo-Atsinanana, which may result in below-average harvests and associated labor income for some crops.

    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    The passage of Cyclone Chedza in mid-January and, to a lesser extent, Tropical Storm Fundi in February brought well above-average rainfall to some areas, which has caused flooding and some crop damage. Heavy downpours are expected to continue in February and March. Cumulative rainfall in southern Madagascar has been normal to above-normal, but in parts of the districts of Ampanihy, Betioky Atsimo and Bekily the distribution of rainfall (both in time and space) has been erratic.

    Prices for local and imported rice have been increasing in line with seasonal trends since July 2014, but are near or below average on most markets countrywide, reflecting both the improved 2014 rice output and adequate volumes of imported rice. With prices for staple foods remaining near average on most markets and normal income-earning opportunities poor households, most households are likely to meet their basic food and non-food livelihoods protection needs through the end of the lean season and subsequent harvest. As a result, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute insecurity is likely for most of Madagascar through June 2015.

    Southwestern districts of concern in Atsimo Andrefana and Androy Regions

    Household access to cassava and maize are likely to remain limited during the lean season, particularly due to continued high prices following the multiple shocks (Cyclone Haruna, locust infestations, and poor rainfall) of 2013, seasonal price increases, and the repayment of higher-than-average loans incurred during the December-March 2014 lean season. In the key southern markets of Amboasary, Ambovombe, and Toliara, maize and cassava prices remain well above average and above last year’s levels. Cassava prices will likely increase during the outlook period, and will remain well above the two-year average. Maize prices will likely decrease after the harvest. Due to high staple food prices and the late planting of pulses in the South due to late rains, the lean season for the poorest households will likely extend to April. Field reports also suggest that area planted by poor households was below average due to a lack of seeds and cassava boutures.

    Central and southern Madagascar are also the site of locust infestations. With the first significant rains, an extension of the area favorable for breeding in the South and Centre-South of the country is likely. In the East, North Sofia, North Betsiboka and the Centre, the heavy rains of the last half of January make the conditions less favorable for locust reproduction, but movements towards the Southwest may take place as early as March, especially considering the funding gap faced by the FAO-Government locust control plan.

    The outlook period (January to June 2015) coincides with harvests typically in March to June, as well as the agricultural labor peak, though late planting and poorly distributed rains may reduce production levels and reduce/delay agricultural income activities. The harvest of pulses that typically marks the end of the lean season becomes particularly important and is projected to take place in April. Together, the high market prices of cassava and maize and expected one-month delay in harvests will likely contribute to an extension of the lean season and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through April 2015. With the onset of harvests, household food access is expected to improve and households will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in May and June 2015.

    Flood-affected areas

    Rains continue to fall over most of Madagascar, not only exacerbating the impact of Tropical Storm Chedza, but also causing flood conditions over the north of the country. Crop damage may result in production losses in the western regions of Menabe and Boeny, and the eastern regions of Atsimo Atsinanana and Vatovavy-Fitovinany. The rice is currently being harvested and damages to cash crops may result in less casual labor available. However, the current harvest is off-season short-cycle rice and, if affected, farmers could recover from the next (usually more productive) season. Further assessments are still underway but preliminary estimates indicate approximately 24,000 hectares of flooded paddy fields nationwide, which is less than two percent of the national paddy area. Therefore, although local production gap are evident, a significant impact at national level is unlikely. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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