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Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity strengthened by average harvests

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mauritania
  • December 2016
Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity strengthened by average harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Average harvests of rainfed crops and levels of milk production are giving most rural households average seasonal food access. At present, flood recession crops are making normal progress and ongoing efforts to restore firebreaks should help preserve adequate pasture resources through the month of July.

    • Adequate cereal availability from average harvests of rainfed crops, regular food imports, efficient cross-border trade flows, and normal supplies in government-subsidized boutiques de solidarité selling foodstuffs at prices 30 to 40 percent below formal market prices will keep food insecurity in most parts of the country at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels through at least March 2017.

    • However, the pasture deficits and shortfalls in rainfed crop production in the agropastoral zone have heightened pressure on the livelihoods of poor households (mainly livestock). Poor households in Moudjéria are still facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions and could be joined by other households in Monguel, M’Bout, Magta Lahjar, Kankossa, Timbédra, and Nema departments by the month of March.


    Seasonal Progress: The summer rainy season is over, but the cold season rains that generally begin in early December are slowly settling in. This rainfall activity in December and January is extremely beneficial for lowland crops and pastures in northern areas of the country.

    Crops: The harvest of long-cycle crops has been over since November, but late-season crops grown mainly in the southern reaches of Hodh Chargui, Hodh ec Gharbi, and Assaba will be harvested in late December and January. Production figures are in line with the average, except in a few pockets located mainly in the western and central reaches of the agropastoral zone. The harvest of irrigated winter rice crops is underway in the Senegal River Valley and yields should be on par with the average.

    Crops in flood recession farming areas are currently making good progress, but the late start of the cold season is a source of concern for farmers. The market gardening season has started up in oasis areas, where the harvest outlook is marred by the low rates of runoff from wadis feeding the water table in most farming areas in the northern part of the country.

    Pastoral conditions: Pastoral conditions around the country are still satisfactory. Internal herd movements by transhumant livestock will offset localized pasture deficits and the restoration of firebreaks will help secure the carrying capacity of existing pastures. Pastoralists are apparently so confident that, unlike the case in previous years, there is very little demand for rice straw (currently available from the harvesting of rice crops).

    Plant health conditions: The continuing pressure from bird populations in the Senegal River Valley and agropastoral zone has reduced yields from cereal crops (sorghum and rice) in these areas. According to the National Locust Control Center (CNLA), in spite of the growing locust populations in the northern and central reaches of the country, the locust situation is still under control. 

    Income: While farm income from the rice-growing season in irrigated rice-farming areas is still in line with the norm, income levels in all other farming areas are down sharply (50 to 75 percent below-average) with the downsizing of cropped areas reducing demand for farm labor, though daily wage rates are unchanged (at between 1500 and 2000 MR). Likewise, the good pastoral conditions are limiting demand for pastoral labor and, thus, reducing incomes from this source.

    The erratic rainfall activity has affected yields from wild trees, sharply reducing the supply of wild plant products and resulting revenues. Income levels from this source in the western part of the agropastoral zone are well below-average (at between 80,000 and 120,000 MRO). This year, supplies are so limited that earnings are expected to fall short of 80,000 MRO. According to gatherers, these activities which, on average, span a three-month period (from December through February) are not expected to extend beyond the end of December in this first phase. Moreover, there is still some doubt as to whether there will even be a second production phase in April.

    Markets: Markets in all parts of the country are well-stocked with imported foods (rice, wheat, oil, sugar and tea). With harvests of rainfed crops providing households with small food reserves and limiting their purchasing of wheat, wheat prices across the country are down from October 2016 and the same month of 2015 and below the five-year average. Only in receiving areas for wheat-consuming Malian refugees are prices up slightly. The below-average volume of sorghum production has triggered an atypical seasonal rise in its price. Though small (5 to 10 MRO) compared with the same time in 2015, it marks the beginning of an upward trend in sorghum prices that will reverse itself only with an average volume of flood recession sorghum production.

    As usual, there are limited supplies of animals on livestock markets. Ongoing harvests (of sorghum and locally grown rice) have reduced demand for commercially marketed cereal crops (rice and wheat) from households whose access to these crops hinges mainly on the sale of livestock. As a result, livestock prices around the country are up from 2015 and the month of October and above-average. The reported periodic drops in the prices of small ruminants (sheep and goats) on certain markets in the rainfed farming zone or the Senegal River Valley are the result of one-off events (i.e. the declining Senegalese demand fixated more on cattle with the widespread beef consumption during the religious holiday season in December, the need for seeds for flood recession crops, the arrival of migrant pastoralists from Mali, etc.), and reverse themselves upon their conclusion. 



    The assumptions used by FEWS NET as basis for establishing the most likely scenario for the period from October 2016 through May 2017 have not changed.



    The current progress of flood recession crops and the prices of livestock will strengthen food security conditions, keeping food insecurity in most parts of the country at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels through March 2017. The shortfalls in rainfed crop production and much smaller areas planted in flood recession crops, the poor pastoral conditions, and the sharp drop in incomes in certain pockets in the agropastoral zone are expected to heighten the impact of the pressure on livestock for the past three if not four consecutive years and create livelihood protection deficits propelling certain poor households into the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity as of March.


    Figure 1


    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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