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Good food availability across the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • November 2012
Good food availability across the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outcomes through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Current harvest activities, continuing assistance programs, good milk availability, ongoing farming and fishing, favorable pastoral conditions, and downward shifts in cereal prices since September are improving food availability. At least 80 percent of the population will meet their food needs between now and the end of December during the post-harvest period.

    • While the majority of the population should meet their food needs, pockets of food insecurity  remain (rice-growing areas along the Senegal River in Timbuktu and Gao and along the Bani River in Djenné), where up to 20 percent of the population faces production and income deficits, requiring the continuation of well-targeted assistance programs for poor households and IDPs.

    • While official crop production figures for the 2012-2013 growing season have not yet been released, in general, the harvest is looking good and is likely to exceed the five-year average.

    • Cereal prices in general and particularly for corn and sorghum are decreasing. Staple cereal prices on most markets tracked by FEWS NET are above the five-year average by five to 10 percent (corn and sorghum) and by more than 50 percent in the case of millet. 

    Current Situation

    Early in the consumption year, food security across the country is generally stable, except in rice-growing areas. Food security is currently characterized by the following factors:   

    • The seasonal harvest, which began in October and is still actively in progress, is promising, as reflected by the overall performance of cereal crops, cash crops, and pulses in both southern and northern farming areas, having benefitted from distributions of farm inputs during the course of the growing season.
    • Rice production in village-level irrigation schemes in the northern part of the country is up from the five-year average by more than 25 percent due, mainly, to assistance furnished to these irrigation areas. Off-season wheat-growing activities are underway in irrigation schemes in Diré and Goundam (Timbuktu).
    • Losses of large tracts of cropland have been reported in rice-growing areas along the Senegal River in Timbuktu and Gao and along the Bani River in the municipality of Djenné, affecting an estimated population of over 500,000 people. Therefore, the river rice harvest between November and January in these areas will be more than 40 percent less than usual, reducing the normal duration of rice reserves by one to three months.
    • Prices of all major staple cereal crops are decreasing, particularly on production markets, where prices are down by 35 percent from last month. The sharpest decreases are in corn and sorghum prices, particularly in Sikasso and Ségou. However, staple cereal prices in all parts of the country are still more than 50 percent above the five-year average, with the exception of corn prices in Sikasso and millet prices in Ségou and Gao, where prices are lower due to good cereal availability in these areas. This downward trend in prices is taking longer to reach retail markets in urban areas with traders choosing to stop selling their old inventories purchased at high prices.
    • The political situation is more or less stable. Regional and international consultations are in progress to address the political and security crisis in the northern part of the country. Plans to deploy 3,300 troops under the control of ECOWAS are taking shape with the approval of all interested heads of state.
    • Continuing distributions of food and non-food aid by humanitarian organizations like the FAO, the WFP, and other stakeholders since June of this year are strengthening food availability and food access, particularly for poor households in the northern reaches of the country and the municipality of Djenné, hard hit by large losses of crops.
    • According to the OCHA, an estimated 203,843 displaced persons residing mainly in the municipality of Mopti and Bamako district are not fully integrating into the local socioeconomic fabric and are facing difficulty in meeting their basic needs. IDPs in the north as well as in other parts of the country are still receiving humanitarian food and non-food aid. In addition, there are reports of students flocking to the southern part of the country for the beginning of the new school year in order to be able to attend classes. Additionally, the usual large flow of migration at this time of year to farming areas is underway in this part of the country for ongoing harvests and of seasonal migration to destinations within the country and abroad.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed any of the assumptions used by FEWS NET in the development of the most likely food security scenario for the period from October 2012 through March 2013. 

    Projected Outcomes through March 2013
    • The good harvests underway in the south should improve the food access of poor households between October and next March. Thus, these households should be food-secure (IPC Phase 1) between November and March of next year.
    • Assistance in the form of inputs and equipment for off-season market gardening activities and the growing of cereal crops should help improve food availability and ensure continuing employment opportunities for poor households.
    • Improving  terms of trade in pastoral areas which, up until this point, had been down from the five-year average should help keep food insecurity at minimal levels throughout the outlook period, particularly given good conditions in pastoral areas, helping to keep animals well fattened and to bolster production.
    • The depletion of household food reserves, seasonal rise in market prices, and the fragility of livelihoods that have been severely taxed by this past lean season will put poor households in northern rice-growing areas in the municipalities of Djenné, Bourem, and Gao (livelihood zone 3) and agropastoral areas (livelihood zone 6) hard hit by large losses of cropland in Phase 2 (stressed) of the IPC acute food insecurity scale by March. 
    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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