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Forage deficits lower livestock production in the north

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • February 2014
Forage deficits lower livestock production in the north

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated assumptions
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Goat-to-millet terms of trade were above average in February across the country, which provided pastoral households with food access via market purchase. However, a decline in terms of trade is expected in the coming months in pastoral areas due to a more severe deterioration in pastoral conditions compared to normal, caused by rainfall deficits during the last rainy season (May to September 2013).
    • Due to the residual effects of conflict on household incomes in northern Mali, a deterioration of terms of trade in the pastoral zone, and 2013/14 harvests that were below average in localized areas of the agropastoral zone, poor households in these areas are reducing their non-food expenditures and are employing atypical coping strategies. These areas will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity through at least June 2014.

    Current situation

    Southern Mali

    • This year’s cereal balance sheet puts cereal production approximately nine percent below the five-year average, translating into a surplus of over 650,000 MT. Nevertheless, all markets are still reporting normal cereal supply levels. Large carry-over stocks from the previous season at both the market and household level, along with an influx of over 80,000 metric tons of humanitarian assistance, have helped mitigate the price effects of this year’s crop production shortfall.
    • Food prices are relatively stable although millet prices in Sikasso and Ségou have declined by nine percent and three percent, respectively, compared to last month’s levels. Millet and sorghum prices are also generally near or below levels from the same time last year. In addition, prices for these two commodities are relatively similar to the five-year average in Kayes and Sikasso and are up by approximately six percent in Ségou, eight percent in Mopti, and 20 percent in Koulikoro. These price trends are enabling households to have average market access and are helping them meet food needs, in addition to their own crop production.
    • Harvests of market garden crops (potatoes, shallots, tomatoes, and onions) are currently underway. An increase in the price of shallots since last year by approximately 15 percent in Niono and by more than 50 percent in Bandiagara is generating above-average sales revenues and is helping to improve market access for affected households. The cultivation of off-season rice in irrigation schemes in the Office du Niger and in other areas of the country is also generating average levels of labor opportunities for poor households.
    • Rainfed cereal production for 2013/14 in the Western Sahel and on the Dogon Plateau was 30 to 50 percent below-average due to rainfall deficits during the last growing season. This has caused poor households to become market dependant earlier than usual in January, compared to March in a normal year. To cope, poor households in these areas are currently scaling up their coping strategies (self-employment, the gathering of wild plant foods, migration, etc.) to atypically high levels in order to meet food needs.

    Northern Mali

    • The economic recovery continues in these areas despite localized security incidents. This has helped improve household incomes from normal sources (wage labor, petty trade, and sales of wood and straw) compared with last year’s levels, though total income is still well below-average due to the post-crisis conditions in this part of the country. However, sales of market garden crops are generating above-average revenues in the river valley areas of Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal due to good selling prices and the distribution of agricultural input assistance this year.
    • Pasture deficits in emergent wetland areas of Gao and Timbuktu are triggering unusual herd movements in search of better pastoral conditions and earlier than normal seasonal migration to bourgou grassland areas. These movements are contributing to a reduction in animal production levels (milk, meat, and butter) at a rate that is faster than is seasonally normal. However, due to high demand from wholesale traders from the south and from neighboring countries (Niger, Algeria, and Mauritania), February prices for livestock were more than 25 percent above-average, which is helping to maintain good terms of trade for pastoralists. Even in the pasture deficit areas of Tilemsi (in Gao) and Haoussa (in Timbuktu) where livestock market supply levels are atypically high, this strong livestock demand is keeping, for the time being, prices at above-average levels.
    • Trade flows with regular source markets in the southern are normalizing. In addition, trade with neighboring countries (Mauritania, Algeria, and Niger) is steadily improving. Between January and February, millet prices were stable while rice prices rose by five percent in Timbuktu and seven percent in Gao.  In both of these areas, prices for millet and rice are near or slightly above-average (by less than five percent).
    • Emergency and resilience-building humanitarian assistance programs will limit the usage of negative coping strategies in the north. However, these operations will continue to be hampered by the volatile security situation, limiting the scope of activities, particularly in the far north. As of the end of January, there were ongoing distributions of food assistance to more than 600,000 recipients in the Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal areas.

    Updated assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for January to June 2014.

    Projected outlook through June 2014
    • With the availability of near-average food stocks, the normal pursuit of income-generating activities, and near-average food prices that are helping to ensure adequate market access, households in the south will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between February and June. Off-season harvests of market garden crops (ongoing) and of cereals (in May/June) will provide households with food and income through crop sales and wage labor.
    • The large cereal production shortfall will cause poor agropastoral households in certain riverine areas of Rharous, Timbuktu, Niafunké (Timbuktu), Bourem, Gao, Ansongo (Gao), the Dogon Plateau in Bandiagara, and the Western Sahel to resort to market purchasing earlier than usual. To meet food needs, they will scale up their coping strategies, such as cutting other purchases in favor of food expenditures, borrowing between February and April, migration, etc. While ongoing and scheduled humanitarian assistance programs in certain areas should help limit the extent of the deterioration in household food security outcomes, these households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between now and June 2014.
    • The premature start of the lean season in northern pastoral areas in February, compared to March in a normal year, will reduce milk production levels and incomes from livestock sales as livestock body conditions begin to deteriorate as early as March. This will prompt poor households to scale up coping strategies, such as cutting their milk consumption to avoid further weakening of their animals, migration, and increased borrowing at above-average levels, in order to meet needs. Moreover, below-average levels of income from other sources, due to the lingering effects of the conflict, and expected price increases to approximately 20 percent above-average between April and May will erode local households’ purchasing power and, thus, limit their food access. Poor pastoral households experiencing Minimal food insecurity in February will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during this year’s harsher than usual lean season in the Haoussa area of Gao and Timbuktu.
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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