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Security conditions continue to affect trade

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • February 2013
Security conditions continue to affect trade

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Limited trade volumes between the north and regular supply markets in the south, and to/from neighboring countries, is preventing a proper flow of food supplies to local populations. Shortages of imported foods from Algeria continue to be observed on markets in affected zones. The slump in livestock sales has put pastoral populations in food security Stress (IPC Phase 2).

    • Millet prices in the north jumped by 20 to 40 percent from mid-January and early February. Institutional procurements by neighboring countries for the rebuilding of national food security reserves and intervention stocks continue on major supply markets in the southern part of the country. This added demand could put pressure on cereal prices.  

    • The re-opening of access routes into northern areas of the country is helping to slowly revive business and trade. However, continued insecurity in these areas could pose food access constraints among local populations at risk of food insecurity and propel pastoral populations into IPC Phase 3 (crisis) by the beginning of April.

    Current Situation

    In general, the nationwide food security situation is stable, but conditions in the north are a continuing source of concern.

    In the south:

    • Cereal availability is good on most markets. Some areas, particularly in “cercles” of San, Tominian, and Sikasso and the Office du Niger irrigation district, have experienced some flooding problems which should not affect the food security of local populations, with the exception of Pondori municipality in Djenné department, which is facing its third poor crop year, and where conditions should be more closely monitored to protect local livelihoods.
    • Planting activities for off-season crops are underway and the harvest outlook is favorable due to the availability of water and input assistance. Harvests of market garden crops are in progress all across the country.
    • Prices on production markets are consistent with normal seasonal trends, particularly in Ségou and Mopti where they are unchanged or down slightly from last month. Cereal prices (millet, sorghum, and corn prices) are anywhere from 10 to more than 25 percent lower than they were at the same time last year, although, in general, current price levels are above the five-year average by 10 to 20 percent (millet) and sorghum and by seven to 10 percent for rice.
    • Households in crop-producing areas have replenished their food reserves and traders have restocked their inventories in anticipation of procurements by different Sahelian countries for the rebuilding of their national food security reserves. Procurements by traders in anticipation of calls for tenders by the governments of Burkina Faso and Niger are reportedly already underway on the San, Koutiala, Ségou, and Mopti markets. Cereal traders are also reporting large procurements by humanitarian organizations. With the consent of the Malian government, WFP is planning to purchase 50,000 MT of cereal for its country program and regional procurements (for Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso). These larger than usual added demands could put upward pressure on cereal prices to meet associated quality requirements. 

    In the north:

    • The slowdown in trade between northern markets and production zones in the south and with neighboring countries, particularly with the closing of the Algerian border, is curtailing food availability and contributing to the slump in livestock sales for lack of demand. Millet prices have risen by as much as 20 to 25 percent since December. Price levels are above the five-year average by approximately 55 to 60 percent in Timbuktu and Ansongo and by more than 80 percent in Gao. Poor access to severely disrupted livestock markets and the reported slump in sales have driven livestock prices down by 20 to 25 percent in Timbuktu and Gao and by more than 30 percent in Kidal.
    • The availability of freshly harvested rice crops in the riverbelt area is limiting market purchase of staple cereals by households in agropastoral areas of Timbuktu and Gao. The available supplies of market garden crops in riverbelt areas of Timbuktu and Gao at this time of year are a source of food and income for local growers. With slightly better planting rates than last year, seasonal progress for off-season cereal crops is fairly good, though impaired by localized input shortages.
    • The dependence of pastoral populations on market purchase makes them more vulnerable to current market disruptions affecting food supplies and the sale of livestock. The normal pattern of herd movements in the far north has been disrupted by ongoing military operations, which are interfering with the typical wide-ranging mobility of nomadic pastoralist populations. Delays in herd movements southwards to the river belt area of Gao have been reported.
    • Humanitarian programs suspended in January have been slowly starting back up. There are also reports of shipments of food supplies to the Timbuktu and Gao regions for school meal programs. Displaced populations are still receiving humanitarian aid. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed any of the assumptions used by FEWS NET in developing the most likely food security scenario for the period from January through June 2013. 

    Projected Outlook through June 2013
    • Good food availability and near-average prices are promoting more or less average food access and will keep household food insecurity in southern Mali at minimal levels (IPC Phase 1) between February and June. Ongoing harvests of off-season vegetable crops and upcoming cereal harvests in May/June will improve food availability and household income in the south and in the riverbelt area of Gao and Timbuktu.
    • With approaching lean season, the gradual reopening of markets in pastoral areas will help give certain pastoralists in Gao and Timbuktu a chance to sell their animals at slightly better prices compared with February. However, pastoralists in Kidal will continue to suffer the effects of the border closure with Algeria, the main buyer of livestock from this region. The combination of the sharp drop in household income and the steep rise in food prices as a result of continuing physical access problems will propel pastoralists currently in Stress (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis levels (IPC Phase between March/April and June if the status quo continues.
    • Increased flows of humanitarian aid are expected in the next few months due to the funding provided by development partners. However, relief efforts will likely be disrupted by the renewed conflict and/or the continuing insecurity, except in the riverbelt area of Timbuktu and Gao where river transportation service will sustain the inflow of aid until the level of river begins to fall in April. 
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.

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