Reference Date: 21-October-2013
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Sharp drop in rice production in 2013 compared to the above average harvest of the previous year
Rice prices strengthen in 2013 and remain above the levels of 2012
Lower domestic supplies, higher rice prices and climatic shocks combined to deteriorate food security conditions
Below average rice production estimated in 2013
A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), conducted in July, estimates national rice production in 2013 at 3.6 million tonnes (2.4 million tonnes in milled terms). At this level, the national rice harvest is estimated to have declined by 21 and 18 percent compared to the above average harvest of 2012 and the previous five-year average, respectively. Similarly, production of maize and cassava decreased by 15 and 14 percent respectively compared to the outputs of last year.
The 2012/13 cropping season (November-June) was characterized by erratic weather conditions, with a slight delay to the start of seasonal rains, followed by a prolonged dry spell in December and January. The cyclone season (October-April) brought heavy rains with the arrival of cyclones Felleng and Haruna in January and February 2013, causing floods and crop damage in the north-east and south-western areas. The locust plague further contributed to a decrease in production, particularly in the south-west, both through damage to vegetation and with many farmers citing the potential destruction of crops as a reason that limited their plantings. However, the south-western regions contribute only to a small proportion of the national rice output, and therefore the impact of the locust plague at the national level has been more limited.
A locust campaign was launched in September, and spraying is expected to begin in late October, prior to the start of the main planting period that is expected to commence in November.
Commercial imports expected to satisfy the bulk of the national deficit in 2013/14
Given 2013’s domestic rice harvest, the country is left with a national deficit (in milled terms) of about 240 000 tonnes in the 2013/14 marketing year (April/March). The bulk of the deficit is expected to be covered by commercial imports, with favourable international supplies and decreasing prices creating conducive conditions for imports.
Rice prices strengthen in 2013, reflecting tighter supplies
Reflecting the lower domestic harvest and consequently tighter national supplies, prices of local rice were 14 percent higher in September 2013, compared to levels of one year earlier. Unlike previous years, local rice prices did not experience a strong seasonal decline following the start of the first harvests in February and consequently prices are likely to continue to remain above the levels of 2012 during the remainder of 2013 and beginning of 2014. Similarly, imported rice prices are also higher, albeit by a smaller proportion (+5 percent). Prices of imported rice however, have remained relatively stable compared to prices of local varieties during 2013, on account of generally stable exchange rate and export prices from main suppliers of the country. The higher rice prices are expected to have a significant negative impact on households’ purchasing power, with up to 75 percent of a households’ budget allocated to food purchases.
Food security conditions deteriorate in 2013
The decline in national rice production, rising food prices, the impact of the cyclones and the locust plague resulted in increased food insecurity. Based on the results from the CFSAM, approximately 28 percent of rural households suffer from food insecurity, translating into about four million people in the 20 surveyed regions (excluding Diana and Sava). Severe food insecurity is quite significant in the southern regions (Androy, Atsimo Atsinanana and Atsimo Andrefana), in the regions of the southern plateau (including Hirombe) and in the food basket region of Alaotra Mangoro.