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Rainfed crops affected by poorly distributed rains in some areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mauritania
  • September 2013
Rainfed crops affected by poorly distributed rains in some areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • The two dekads of rain in September improved grazing conditions throughout the country. However, their impact on rainfed crops remained week, as those crops were already affected by a series of long dry periods. Despite these conditions, overall the season is expected to end close to average if flood recession cropping areas benefit from proper sowing in October.

    • Consumer markets are still well supplied with cereals and other imported foods. Food prices are generally stable, animal prices are up, and aid programs are continuing. All of these factors are helping poor households in all livelihood zones maintain more or less normal access to these products.​

    • The combined effects of improved grazing conditions, easier access to food products for purchase, lower prices than those on the formal market, and income from agricultural work at the beginning of the season are placing the country as a whole at a Minimal (IPC Phase 1) level of food insecurity from now until December.

    Current Situation

    Progression of the season

    At most rain gauging stations, cumulative rainfall totals recorded as of the end of the second dekad of September are near or even above average. However, in July and August, long dry periods occurred in all production areas, drying pastures and causing partial or total failure of rainfed crops despite multiple replantings. The areas most affected by this were the western part of the rainfed crops zone (Guidimakha) and the southwestern portion of the crop and livestock farming zone, which includes the M’Bout and Monguel departments in Gorgol, the southern part of the Magta Lahjar and Aleg departments, and northern areas of the M’Bagne, Bababé, and Boghé departments in Brakna. Grazing conditions in the rest of the country are relatively close to those of an average year. Farming conditions will depend on planting for flood recession crops. If farmers in flood recession, lowland, and dam areas have the appropriate seed to plant in October, a normal year with average production is anticipated.

    Rainfed crop growth: Wet planting of early and long-season crops, which in a normal year would begin in late June and early July, did not get underway until July and had to be repeated several times due to losses from recurring droughts. The result was a reduction (by more than 60 percent in the southeast) in area planted compared to a normal year, where these crops would account for about 20 to 30 percent of planted area. In contrast, in the agropastoral zone, households planted early crops, which increased to more than 40 percent of the farmed area (compared to 20 percent in a normal year). Even with their crop diversification, though, households can only hope for yields of about 50 percent of an average year’s production. Sorghum crops in mixed lowlands, which were planted in late August and early September, are developing appropriately for an average year. In the remaining zones, the most mature of the early crops (from south of Kankossa to the east of Amourj) are in the early heading stage, whereas during the same period in a normal year, farmers would already be eating the green harvest. If the rains were to end in September (as forecast by NOAA), very low yields would result. However, with what they produce, households will remain in a state of Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) from now until December.

    Flood recession conditions (walo, lowlands, dams): With the torrential rains of August and September it can be expected that more land can be farmed than in a normal year. In the river valley’s floodplain, the flood that arrived in August (instead of July as in a normal year) has already covered all the usable low-lying and mid-elevation land. The land is expected to remain submerged for only a short time (the water should recede in early September and work should begin in October) and the weak availability of seed to households will limit its use.

    Irrigated crops: The area planted in winter rice already exceeds that of September 2012, which exceeded the five-year average thanks to government aid. The reduction in the amount of land traditionally farmed by communities was augmented in part by opening new areas that benefit from government provided production inputs.

    Consumer markets are well stocked with imported food products and local cereals. Imported food prices have remained relatively stable compared to August. Prices for traditional cereals, increased by strong demand for seed at the beginning of the growing season, have now significantly decreased thanks to an increase in Malian exports. Animal prices are rising from their July levels in most of the country (by 9.76 percent at Aoujeft in the oasis zone and 31 percent in Adel Bagrou in the rainfed crops zone, for example). Improved grazing conditions are reassuring, and herders have limited their sales as demand rises due to the Tabaski holiday. However, in the western part of the agropastoral zone, herders nervous about the lack of pasture in July and August sold more animals, and prices on the Magta Lahjar market decreased by 7.5 percent in August after a 3.81 percent decline in July. More important is the Boghé market (a river valley market, supplied mainly by the agropastoral zone), where the absences of Senegalese brokers has translated to decreasing animal prices.

    Updated Assumptions

    The food situation in the livelihood zones remains as described in the Outlook for July to December 2013. In most of these areas, the resumption of the rains in September led to a clear improvement in herding conditions, which will help keep food insecurity at its current Minimal (IPC Phase 1) level until December.

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    From September to December, herding conditions and agricultural activities are expected to improve in all livelihood zones (thanks to harvest of rainfed and irrigated winter crops in October and higher-than-average income for work in flood recession areas). This will keep poor rural farming households at a Minimal level of food insecurity (IPC Phase 1). While food insecurity should be Minimal between October and December, households in northern Guidimakha and eastern Gorgol will move toward a Stressed phase (IPC Phase 2) beginning in January, as they await the March flood recession harvests that will determine how their food security classification will change through June 2014.

    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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