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Extended lean season likely for poor households in southwestern Madagascar

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Madagascar
  • January 2015
Extended lean season likely for poor households in southwestern Madagascar

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Atypical rainfall distribution. In December, rainfall was below-average and poorly distributed in the South and Southwest parts of the country. Forecasts predict normal to above-normal rainfall in the coming months, but the late onset of rainfall suggests late planting may extend the lean season 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, the price of cassava is 114-200 percent above the two-year average, and the price of maize is 64-86 percent above the five-year average.

    • The FAO/GoM locust treatment campaign remains underfunded. A 14.7 million USD funding gap could halt 2014/2015 control operations by February, limiting the effectiveness of the three-year control program aiming to reduce the locust population to pre-outbreak levels. Increased locust populations could reduce local production and income-earning opportunities. 


    Current Anomalies

    Projected Anomalies

    South and Southwest

    A late start of seasonal rainfall has resulted in delayed cropping activities and crop development.

    A one-month delay of green harvest is likely to prolong the lean season by one month, depending on future seasonal performance.

    South and Southwest

    Cassava prices are 114-200 percent above the two-year average, and maize prices are 64-86 percent above the two-year average in the southern markets of Amboasary and Toliara.

    Cassava prices will likely increase, and well above the two-year average, before they decline following the May-June harvest.  

    South and West

    Locust populations may increase if funding gaps prevent control operations beyond February 2015.  

    Increased locust populations could cause localized damage to maize and rice crops.




    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    Most of Madagascar saw a late start and below-average (by 20 to 50 percent, depending on the areas) amounts of seasonal rainfall through January 10. Since mid-December, rainfall has increased in previously dry areas of northern and central Madagascar that now show rainfall surpluses, due in part to the effects of tropical depressions along the western coast. Forecasts for mostly normal to above-normal rainfall between January and March support prospects for average agricultural production and related activities for much of the country. With lower rice imports in 2014 than in 2013 (350,000 MT vs. 550,000) reflecting improved domestic production, and rice prices remaining stable countrywide, 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

    Due to the late start of the rainy season in the South and Southwest areas of Madagascar, planting of food crops started about 30 to 40 days late. Only with recent rainfall in January has cumulative rainfall reached its normal levels for this time of the year. As a result, harvests are likely to be delayed by as much as one month.

    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 and seasonal price increases. In the key southern markets of Amboasary and Toliara, cassava prices are 114-200 percent above the two-year average. In Ambovombe and Amboasary, maize prices are 64-86 percent above the two-year average, and 32-50 percent above the five-year average. 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.

    Southern and western Madagascar remain affected by locusts. Weather conditions previously unfavorable for locust reproduction have now improved with the late installation of the rainy season in mid-December. FAO and the Government of Madagascar are implementing a three-year locust control plan, with a budget of 42.9 million USD. The 14.7 million USD funding gap for 2015 may halt survey and control operations by February 2015. A halt in control operations could lead to increased locust populations and crop damage in localized areas.

    The outlook period (January to June 2015) coincides with harvests typically in March to June, as well as the agricultural labor peak, but 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.

    Cyclone and flood-affected areas

    Heavy rainfall and the passage of Cyclone Chedza (January 15-16) across central Madagascar have led to flooding in western, eastern, and northern Madagascar during the month of January. According to the National Bureau of Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC), approximately 131,000 people have been affected, including 45,000 who have been displaced. Most of those displaced (about 32,000) live in or near the capital, Antananarivo. Preliminary reports suggest at least some displacements are temporary and some people have already returned to their homes. Flood-affected areas also include the western region of Menabe, and eastern districts of Manakara, Mananjary, Nosy Varika (Vatovavy-Fitovinany) and Farafangana (Atsimo Atsinanana). BNGRC also reports that approximately 7,900 ha of crops have been damaged, and OCHA reports (as of January 29, 2015) that approximately 9,900 ha of rice fields have been flooded. While cyclone strikes are typical in some areas of Madagascar, and some crops (such as rice) can be particularly flood-tolerant, flooding during harvests and/or the inability to replant can reduce local production and income-earning opportunities. Moreover, multiple cyclone strikes or those that strike areas (such as southwestern Madagascar) where crops are less flood tolerant, may lead to worse outcomes. FEWS NET will continue to verify and monitor the situation to determine any major impacts on food security. 


    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year


    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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