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Below-average harvests and high food prices limit access to food for poor households

  • Key Message Update
  • Mauritania
  • November 2021
Below-average harvests and high food prices limit access to food for poor households

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The agricultural season saw very little rainfall compared to normal, with poor spatial-temporal distribution throughout the area. As of September 30, 78 percent of rainfall stations recorded deficits across the country compared to normal (1991-2020) and about 81 percent compared to last year (GTS, November 2021). However, the sporadic rains at the end of the season in October made it possible to increase water reserves in dams, reservoirs and low-lying areas, reaching 40 to 100 percent of capacity, except in Assaba and Tagant (around 20 percent). As a result of the low rainfall accumulation, the 2021/22 Joint Crop Assessment estimates cereal production at 339,174 tons, down 16 percent from last year and down 7 percent from the average. This drop in production compared to average is most notable in Guidimakha (54%), Hodh Ech Chargui (48%), Adrar and Assaba (39%), Hodh Ech Garbi (33%) and Gorgol (30%).

    • Across the country, low water levels have a significant impact on agricultural yields. In the areas of Walo (recession), sowing (from October-November) is minimal in Brakna and Gorgol (except in Maghama) and almost non-existent in Trarza due to the less-than-average filling rates of dams and water basins. Therefore, the expected harvests will be below average. Although the cold (market gardening) and hot (rice growing) off-season crops are at varied phonological stages (from tillering to the start of ripening), producers remain faced with poor access to quality seeds, which risks compromising production. The current below average level of the Senegal River will considerably reduce the areas that will be cultivated in the hot season (March to June).

    • Water deficits have also impacted the development of pastureland, which has led to early departures in transhumance in most areas of the country. This is most notable at the level of the two Hodhs, in Assaba, in Tagant, east of Brakna, at the level of Moughataa from Boutilimit and Oued Naga to Trarza, as well as in the wilayas of the north of the country (Adrar, Dakhlet Nouadhibou, Tiris Zemour and Inchiri) (Specialized Technical Group (GTS) in charge of monitoring the agropastoral season, November 2021 report). Poor pastoral conditions force breeders to make atypical offers for the sale of livestock in local markets, in order to obtain staple foods from producers and carry out preventive destocking as the early upcoming pastoral lean season approaches. This allows pastoralists to have a bit more purchasing power to meet their basic food and non-food needs, while avoiding the associated costs of having more livestock.

    • Internal and external flows of staple foods are regular with a good level of supply to the markets. However, due to inflation, the high prices for basic necessities compared to average persist at the market level, with a more than 50 percent price increase of some imported staples. There is a significant increase in the prices of wheat and oils compared to last year, even exceeding 50 percent in places. As for local rice and sugar, the increase is less, closer to 20 percent. In addition, the end of cash distributions by humanitarian organizations in the northern and central areas of the country accentuates the drop in income, making poor populations even more vulnerable before an early lean season. After the current harvest season, where acute food insecurity is Minimal (IPC Phase 1), these poor households will remain exposed to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes from February until May 2022.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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