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Ongoing harvests of food crops improve food security

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • November 2013
Ongoing harvests of food crops improve food security

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated assumptions
  • Projected outlook through March 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Average ongoing harvests are improving cereal availability across the country. In addition to this improvement, in-kind wage payments to poor households and declining cereal prices are strengthening household cereal access. This should ensure adequate food consumption for households in southern Mali and will keep them in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through March 2014.

    • Average ongoing harvests are improving cereal availability across the country. In addition to this improvement, in-kind wage payments to poor households and declining cereal prices are strengthening household cereal access. This should ensure adequate food consumption for households in southern Mali and will keep them in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through March 2014.


    Current situation
    • Ongoing harvests, which are expected to be average, are providing agropastoral households with both food and income. In addition to their own crop production, poor households are receiving average in-kind wage payments from agricultural work in the fields of better-off households. However, inadequate rainfall, flood damage, and damage from crop pests have created pockets of poor harvests (with crop losses running more than 30 percent above-average), particularly in rainfed farming areas of Timbuktu, Gao, northern Nara, Banamba, and the Dogon Plateau in the vicinity of Bandiagara. Planting activities for market garden crops have been ongoing since September and suggest that harvests will be average to good between October and March.  
    Situation in southern Mali
    • In general, the average to good condition of pastures and animal watering holes is helping to sustain average levels of animal production. However, earlier than usual transhumant herd movements from Mauritania down into the Western Sahel during the month of October, due to reported pasture shortages in Mauritania, has increased the risk of overgrazing in affected areas.
    • Market cereal supplies have slightly improved with the arrival of newly harvested crops on local markets and destocking activities by farmers and traders looking to replace their older inventories with newer crops. Demand is generally weak, which is normal during the harvest season, though retail markets in the north and in certain regional capitals (Bamako, Koulikoro, and Kayes) are still reporting relatively strong demand.
    • Prices for cereal crops, including rice, have generally been stable since October, except in Koulikoro where millet and sorghum prices are down approximately five percent. However, there are reports of atypical millet price increases between October and November at certain source markets, such as Monimpé (+7 percent) and San (+10 percent),  located in areas that experienced below-average harvests.
    Situation in northern Mali
    • Conditions in pastoral areas are generally average, although there are pockets of net pasture deficits in the Timbuktu and Gao regions compared to normal. However, with the ongoing and normal pattern of seasonal migration by transhumant herds to dry-season grazing areas, these pasture shortages should not have too much of an effect on livestock. The stabilization of livestock prices at levels that are more than 25 percent above-average, as well as the appreciation of terms of trade in favor of pastoralists, have significantly improved market food access for pastoral households.  
    • Trade flows of food products from Algeria and crops from southern Mali are improving as major importers gradually return to the region. Market prices for cereals and imported goods are stable compared to last month. However compared to average, millet prices are still 15 percent above-average in Timbuktu and 11 percent above-average in Gao. Meanwhile, rice prices are seven percent below-average in Timbuktu and three percent above-average in Gao. In general, cereal prices are currently at levels that remain accessible to poor households.
    • Ongoing humanitarian assistance programs that have served more than 580,000 beneficiaries between January and October 2013 are helping to ensure household food access and rebuild local livelihoods. In addition, the revival of economic activities with the return of refugees and IDPs and the reopening of government offices is producing incomes that, though still below-average, are an improvement over income levels during the past several months.

    Updated assumptions

    Recent events have not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for October 2013 to March 2014. A full discussion of this scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for October 2013 through March 2014.


    Projected outlook through March 2014

    Given an average harvests and the absence of any major obstacles to the pursuit of normal economic activities, households in southern Mali should continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity throughout the outlook period. The more limited market dependence of most households and incomes from the sale of cash crops and off-season market garden crops at average prices will help facilitate household access to food, as well as other basic goods and services such as health care, education, clothing, etc. However, the combined effects of a seasonal increase in prices  beginning in April and the depletion of food stocks starting in June will curtail food access for households affected by below-average cereal production on the Dogon Plateau (in Bandiagara) and in the Western Sahel (in Nara, Diéma, and Yélimané). In these areas, households will likely facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes between July and September 2013 or, in the specific case of the Bandiagara area, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes.

    Households in northern Mali will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through March 2014. The rice harvest at the end of November, average levels of animal production, and continuing food assistance and livelihood building programs by the humanitarian community are helping to strengthen food security for poor agropastoral and pastoral households. However, the deterioration in pastoral conditions beginning in March 2014, particularly in areas with pasture deficits, and the ensuing sharper than usual decline in milk production and income levels will negatively affect household food consumption. Fueled by these drivers, households will likely face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes starting in April 2014, and possibly escalating to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity if the rains do not get underway by June. Conditions will improve by July/August with the growth of fresh pasture, the replenishment of watering holes, and the boost in animal production.

    In agropastoral areas hard hit by poor harvests (affected municipalities in the Niafounké, Timbuktu, Bourem, and Gao areas), households are currently in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity due in part to ongoing humanitarian assistance programs. However, if humanitarian assistance programs are interrupted, households in these areas would resort to market purchases earlier than usual (in February/March instead of April as in a normal year) and would face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity between April and the end of the next lean season in September.

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Source:

    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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