Food Security Outlook Update

Poor agricultural and pastoral conditions already affecting western areas of the Agropastoral Zone

September 2014
2014-Q3-1-2-MR-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The improvement in rainfall conditions in the first three weeks of August helped jump-start farming activities, though generally only in the rainfed agriculture zone. Any such improvements in other agricultural areas were short-lived and insufficient to cover rainfall deficits experienced earlier in the season. There is a risk of significantly below-average harvests of rainfed crops in agropastoral areas and the Senegal River Valley.

  • With the erratic rainfall limiting agropastoral activities and income, and the prospect for low household food stocks from upcoming harvests, poor households in northwestern areas of the agropastoral zone will continue to have difficulty maintaining regular food access and, thus, will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December. There will be further limitations on their food access beginning February of next year.

  • Farming activities in the central and western reaches of the Senegal River Valley are limited to the cultivation of irrigated rice, involving fewer than usual poor households. In the absence of other farming activities, there is a limited demand for labor from average and better-off households. The lack of September floods is disconcerting, which could preclude the cultivation of walo (flood recession) crops which generally meet over 60 percent of the cereal needs of poor households and provide 80 percent of their annual income.

Current Situation

Progress of the season: There has been a poor spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall in northwestern areas of the agropastoral zone, where recorded cumulative rainfall totals are significantly below-average at about 70 percent of monitored rainfall gauging stations. The string of repeatedly long dry spells has affected crop and pasture growth and development.

Rainfed crops: Though planted later than usual, rainfed crops in low-lying areas of the rainfed farming zone are experiencing normal growth progress since the improvement in rainfall activity in August. The distributions of free supplies of seeds by the government and a number of NGOs triggered a new round of crop planting activities in August. Crops in depression areas of Guidimakha, Gorgol, southern Assaba, and Hodh El Gharbi are in anywhere from the sprouting to the heading stage (maize and short-cycle sorghum) of the growing cycle. These crops are currently in satisfactory condition and, with the good level of soil water reserves, should mature normally, particularly if these areas get more heavy rains in September.

Irrigated crops in the Senegal River Valley and agropastoral zone: Crop planting rates in most rice-growing areas as of the beginning of September were within 60 to 70 percent of corresponding forecasts, where crops are in anywhere from the transplanting to their second stage. Farmers in many areas have resorted to planting short-cycle varieties of crops. The lack of September floods is disconcerting, which could preclude the growing of walo (flood recession) crops which generally meet over 60 percent of the cereal needs of poor households and provide 80 percent of their annual income.

Pastoral conditions: There has been a clear improvement in pastoral conditions with the increased rainfall activity in the first 10-day period of August. However, in the wake of the dry spell at the end of that month, most pastoral areas are experiencing very little new vegetative growth in general and new grass growth in particular. For the most part, both the quality and quantity of seasonal biomass production are down from the same time last year and well below-average. Pastoralists in both pastoral areas and in northwestern areas of the agropastoral zone are, once again, resorting to the use of animal feed, whose average price per 50 kg sack has jumped from 5,200 MRO in August to around 5,500 MRO.

Markets: Markets are well stocked with imported foodstuffs. Staple cereal supplies are still below-average and the growing flow of Malian imports in August has slowed in the wake of repeated dry spells. All markets still have adequate supplies of wheat and imported rice. Sorghum prices in the rainfed farming zone where the growing cycle of rainfed crops is getting off to a normal start have been moving steadily downwards since July. On the other hand, this downward trend in prices was cut short at the beginning of September in areas (of the agropastoral zone) with large rainfall deficits.

Prices for sheep (whose sale is important to agropastoralists) have been stable since July, except in the agropastoral zone, where they are down by six percent. This is most likely due to the larger supply of animals from livestock sales by pastoralists forced to purchase animal feed by the mediocre condition of seasonal pastures. Prices in all parts of the country are above the five-year average (by 55 percent in the Senegal River Valley, 96 percent in the rainfed farming zone, 76 percent in the mixed pastoral and oasis/wadi zone, and 26 percent in the agropastoral zone). However, these positive trends in terms of trade for sheep/cereals (for household consumption) are much more beneficial to traders than to pastoralists who, unlike traders, are not major livestock vendors.

Updated Assumptions

Trends in the food security situation in all livelihood zones are more or less consistent with the projected outlook for the period from July through December 2014. Assuming the rest of the season follows its normal course as predicted in the seasonal rainfall forecast, farming households in the southern part of the country should be able to recover from the dry spells at the beginning of the season, though they will have below-average harvests.

Projected Outlook through December 2014

Markets will continue to have regular, adequate supplies, but the growing sales of crops from the stocks of Malian farmers in border areas beginning in August will likely slow on account of the uncertainty with respect to future rainfall conditions and the growth and development of rainfed crops.

Livestock prices will continue to climb between now and the beginning of October, driven by demand for the celebration of Tabaski, but will move steadily downwards between November and March of next year. However, this will only affect sales by individual households. Traders will continue to command high prices for their animals on urban markets.

The severity of the acute food security situation of poor agropastoralists in northwestern areas of the agropastoral zone since June of this year had begun to decrease from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity with the new emergent pasture growth in the middle of August. Their status is expected to remain unchanged through December without a major improvement in pastoral conditions in September and a rise in water levels in lowland areas (which are currently at between 0 and 30 percent) thus not ensuring typical household incomes and food stocks. The food security situation of households in these areas should begin to deteriorate by February of next year.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

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