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Early depletion of household stocks in agropastoral and rain-fed crop areas

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Mauritania
  • February 2020
Early depletion of household stocks in agropastoral and rain-fed crop areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2020
  • Key Messages
    • Despite the average or above-average incomes that poor households in the rain-fed area could derive from the sale of straw and seasonal migration remittances, the area will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between February and September, due to severe livelihood protection deficits, deteriorating consumption and high rates of acute malnutrition.

    • In the agropastoral area, where transhumance is taking place early, rising labor demand for herders will provide poor households that typically earn more than 50 percent of their income from this crucial income source with similar or rising incomes and access to markets, potentially placing them in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until June. This situation will continue through September, with increased availability of milk and wild products from July onwards.

    • Overall, the supply of staple foods and livestock feed to the markets is average and the additional production of flood-recession crops and inflows from Mali are expected to help maintain this satisfactory availability throughout the period. However, due to a longer pastoral season and falling livestock prices, wealthy households will be forced to sell more livestock to cover the costs of livestock feed and agricultural labor.       

    • Despite the overall increase in production of about 23 percent compared with the five-year average, facilitated by the good performance of irrigated and flood-recession crops, stocks produced by poor households in rain-fed (MR-09) and agropastoral (MR-07) livelihood zones were depleted early in February. This was due to the decline in rain-fed sorghum and millet production in these areas.
    • Livestock fodder deficits in the central and northern parts of the country resulted in early transhumance from November to December.
    • The lean season will be longer, between February and June, especially in the wilayas (regions) in livelihood zones MR-09 and MR-07 (Adrar, Assaba, Brakna, Gorgol, Hodh Ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Tagant, Tiris Zemmour and Guidimaka) and market purchases that normally cover 60 to 70 percent of food sources will become more significant.
    • The demand for livestock feed in the markets will also increase between February and June. During this period, households are expected to sell more livestock to cover both the upkeep of the rest of the herd and their own food needs. 


    Projected Outlook Through September 2020

    Agricultural production in the previous season increased by 23 percent compared with the five-year average. This increase is due to the production of rice, mainly irrigated, which represents an average of 70 to 80 percent of national production. Flood-recession crops along the Senegal River, which have just begun to be harvested, are also expected to increase, thanks to good water levels. However, this production represents around 2 percent of the total production. Therefore, despite the good performance of the season as a whole, the country will have to import almost 42 percent of its cereal consumption, mainly of rice and wheat.

    However, in the rain-fed livelihood zone in southeastern Mauritania on the border with Mali (MR-09) and the agropastoral zone (MR-07) just north of MR-09, rainfall shortages and poor rainfall distribution have resulted in a 16- and 3-percent decline in traditional production (millet and sorghum), respectively, compared with last year and the five-year average. For example, poor households’ stocks, which usually last three to four months, are already almost exhausted in February. This is leading to early market dependency. The fodder deficit, particularly in the central and northern wilayas (Trarza, Brakna, Tagant, Adrar, northern Assaba, northeast Gorgol), led to transhumance of animals in November to other wilayas in the country, which is earlier than usual. In a normal year, transhumance begins in December and herds return in June. This may result in higher demand among livestock farmers for livestock feed in the markets, which will be a factor in reducing their purchasing power for staple foods to feed their families.

    The market supply of imported products is average, but lower for sorghum and millet. Additional production of flood-recession crops and inflows of cereals from Mali should help improve market supply. With the rise in household demand, food prices (which were 10 to 25 percent below the average in October 2019) could be stable or have slightly above-average seasonal variations between February and September 2020.

    In livestock markets, the joint market assessment mission (Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel [CILSS], February 2020) reports higher livestock supplies than during the same period last year, lower prices and below-average terms of trade for livestock farmers. Prior to new pasture growth from July onwards, households will be forced to sell more livestock between February and June to cover the cost of staple foods, but also to purchase livestock feed for the rest of the herd. This will negatively affect their purchasing power and livelihoods.

    Poor households in MR-09 are expected to generate higher revenues from the sale of crop residues due to increased demand and prices. Similarly, seasonal migration to cities will also increase due to the early depletion of these households’ stocks. These migrations, which will last until June, generally concern women and young people. On average, 20 to 30 percent of earnings are sent to families. In the agropastoral zone, poor households are expected to rely on near-average to above-average incomes from herding on behalf of more affluent households due to early transhumance departures and higher labor demand. In the two zones, labor income in a normal year contributes more than 50 percent toward the total income.

    HEA analysis results (November 2019) indicate the presence of light (less than 10 percent) livelihood protection in most moughataas (departments) in the MR-07 agropastoral zone during the harvests. During the same period, deficits of more than 90 percent were recorded in the moughataas of Kankossa, Maghama, Mongel, Amourj, Bassikounou, Djigueni and Timbedra in the rain-fed agricultural zone (MR-09). Between June and August, severe gaps in livelihood protection will persist in MR-09 and in the Tintane moughataa (MR-07).

    With deteriorating food access and livelihoods, malnutrition rates could reach the medians of historical lean seasons, with a national prevalence of 12 percent, but a higher prevalence in the wilayas of Hodh Ech Chargui, Assaba, Gorgol, Tagant and Guidimaka.

    Overall, severe livelihood gaps and high global acute malnutrition rates expose poor households in the rain-fed agricultural zone to acute Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between February and September. Poor households in the agropastoral zone (MR-07) will depend on markets between February and June, but income from agricultural labor will allow them to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the period. Between July and September, pasture regrowth will improve the dietary conditions of livestock and thus increase the availability of milk. Access to fresh milk for consumption and to wild foods (green vegetables) will ensure households remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Figures Title: Mauritania seasonal calendar
Description: Flood recession planting is from October to December. Off-season planting i

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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