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Agricultural Production Outlook Positive throughout the Country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • September 2012
Agricultural Production Outlook Positive throughout the Country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Conditions
  • Outlook Update through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Food security is improving overall compared to last month, due to the availability of lean-season foods and humanitarian aid underway in crisis areas. The Sahelian zones will transition to IPC Phase 1: Minimal food insecurity by December, while northern areas will remain at the Stress level (IPC Phase 2).

    • Significant support in the form of agricultural inputs from the government and partners has enabled better than expected development of irrigated and floodplain rice-growing areas. These operations are close to, and in some places even exceed, rice production levels in a normal year.

    • Decreases in staple food prices are  increasingly frequent on producer markets and even some consumer markets. Prices remain 40 to 80% above average with a slowdown of sales on northern markets due to the significant humanitarian efforts now in progress.

    • Heavy rains in August and September caused significant housing and crop damage, especially in San, Tominian, Djenné, Mopti, Kayes, Yélimané, and Nara Circles. Damage estimates are underway; in Djenné over 50% of the rice-growing land may be affected.

    Current Conditions

    The political situation, in terms of stability and national security remains generally unchanged. Increasing numbers of displaced people from the north are returning to their homes, driven by the desire to avoid additional difficulties (lodging, food) in hosting areas, to engage in the farming activities that received significant support, and also by the semblance of calm in areas where tension has been high. These returns, in combination with the availability of various production inputs from the government and international agencies, have made it possible to effectively develop irrigated lands. The provision of food and non-food aid for displaced persons and hosting households in the southern part of the country is continuing.

    Continuation of site surveys in the Tamesna area (Kidal region) revealed 1750 hectares infested by immature and mature solitary winged locusts dispersed for mating, with densities ranging from 150 to 400 insects per hectare. No treatment was conducted for these locusts due to the insecurity of the area.  The National Center for Locust Control’s lack of financial and material resources reinforces concerns that the locusts may invade farming areas in the southern part of the country. However, the high availability of plant biomass in their usual breeding areas has so far limited their movement to the south. According to the FAO, the ITF’s shift out of the Sahel at the end of the rainy season will encourage locusts to move toward southern Algeria and Libya beginning in November.

    The rate of achievement for planting  crops in the southern part of the country is satisfactory, exceeding 2011 figures by 15% for dryland crops (millet, sorghum, maize, fonio), by 9% for cotton, and by more than 16% for rice, which is still being planted. Crop development is generally judged to be good throughout the country. Harvest is underway for maize, cowpeas, groundnuts, and flood-recession rice in both the north and south of the country. However, the stage of plant development is such that the rains will need to continue until the first dekad of October if millet and sorghum are to adequately complete their growth cycle in some southern regions, such as Kayes, Ségou, Koulikoro, and Sikasso.

    The government and its development partners provided significant support in the form of agricultural inputs (fertilizer, seed, fuel, lubricants) and motorized pumps in northern regions, the Niger River delta, and the western Sahel. This aid resulted in better-than-expected cultivation, with the probable result being good crop prospects in these localities. The rice harvest anticipated in December will improve food availability and income through the seasonal crop sales, with a probable increase close to the 10% increase in the area usually cultivated.

    Heavy rains in August and September caused significant damage to the environment and resulted in crop damage, especially in San, Tominian, Djenné, Mopti, Kayes, Yélimané, and Nara Circles. Losses of up to 40% and even more than 50% of planted fields were observed in the lowlands and floodplains in Djenné, Nara, San, and Tominian Circles, inundated by upland runoff. Losses included rice, millet, sorghum, and pulses, which are important sources of income for households in these areas. The flooding affects both short- and medium-term food security among the poor by depriving them of harvests during the lean season and by reducing the amount of food available during the rest of the year. According to the protection cluster, as of August 24 more than 25,000 flooding victims had been counted throughout the country. The government and partners have provided food aid, tents, and hygiene kits to help prevent epidemics, and those left homeless were sheltered in schools and town halls.

    Markets are adequately supplied with staple foods, and prices are stable or declining. Decreases of 10% to 20% have been seen in producing areas due to stock reduction, at incremental levels by farmers and traders. More significant price decreases  were observed for millet in Bankass (16%) and maize in Sikasso (12%), while the highest prices were seen in Kayes and on the Gao and Timbuktu markets.

    Pastoral conditions are judged to be good throughout the country. Plant biomass is markedly better than in 2011 and better than in an average year in most of the livelihood zones. After a slight delay due to insecurity, herds have returned to their usual winter pastures as in a normal year. Livestock body conditions and milk production are as good as usual for a normal year, and the price of milk is similar to a normal year, with prices between 200 and 300 CFA in Mopti and 400 to 500 CFA elsewhere. Prices for animals are improving over previous months, especially those for small ruminants, driven by the upcoming Tabaski holiday. Terms of trade for goats/millet have improved over last month by 14% in Timbuktu and 20% in Nara.

    Outlook Update through December 2012

    Northern Mali (Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal regions)

    Food and nutrition conditions are improving in northern areas thanks to increased humanitarian aid, regular supply of the markets with staple foods, resumption of livestock migration with the arrival of wholesalers, good availability of milk in herding areas, and especially transfers of money and food from nationals abroad to their households back home, despite a higher-than-normal increase in the cost of such transfers. The provision of nutritional support continues at various therapeutic centers set up by humanitarian agencies. On-site food distributions scheduled through December, in combination with resources sent through transport networks by friends and relatives, are allowing households to obtain a relatively normal supply of food. Income received or generated locally by small businesses is used first for food, before any other expenses, which indicates that economic systems in the north have been revitalized to some degree. Diets are shifting somewhat toward noodles, which are less expensive.

    The rice crops expected in December will substantially improve the household food situation in zones 2 (nomadic and transhumant pastoralism) and 3 (fluvial rice and transhumant livestock rearing), currently in IPC Phase 2:  Stress. The same is true of zone 1 (nomadism and trans-Saharan trade) which is benefitting from good milk production and improved livestock income, which is still 6% below average in Gao and 16% below average in Kidal. The market revival is providing employment opportunities for the poor through brokerage and driving animals to market. Residents of northern areas who were in IPC Phase 3: Crisis in September, will move to IPC Phase 2: Stress levels of food insecurity due to efforts made to secure their livelihood.

    Reduction of cereal stocks by some farmers and merchants in San, who supply the northern areas and are in a hurry to sell off their stock before prices collapse, will contribute to further improving the market supply at prices that are stable or falling compared to previous months. Millet fell by 15% on the Gourma Rharous market (Timbuktu).

    Southern Mali

    The good harvest prospects confirm the July scenario, which predicted minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1: Minimal) for most populations in the south beginning in September. This hypothesis is strengthened by  availability of the first harvests of maize, millet, and pulses and the declines of staple food prices. Seasonal jobs such as tending crops, weeding, transplanting, and spreading fertilizer for rice and cotton continue to provide income and food for poor households. Seed supply constraints reported in the July outlook has been removed by significant donations of seeds for dryland crops and rice by the government and its partners. However, flood damage to crops, especially in Tominian, Djenné, San, and Kayes Circles, will lead to localized reductions in cereal production. Humanitarian food aid, which should continue through December, continues to assist poor households in the Niger River delta (LZ6) and the strip of the western Sahel near Koulikoro and Kayes. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar

    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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