Reference Date: 06-June-2019
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Generally favourable weather conditions expected to result in larger paddy harvest in 2019, but output forecast to remain below average
Imports of rice in 2019/20 marketing year foreseen to remain unchanged on yearly basis, enabling the country to buffer national availabilities and replenish stocks
Prices of rice declined between January and May 2019, weighed down by good first season harvest and favourable production prospects for main season’s output
Small production increases in vulnerable southern provinces expected to help stabilize food security conditions that, however, still remain serious concern
Paddy production forecast to rise in 2019
Harvesting of the 2019 main season paddy crop is underway and is expected to conclude in early July.
Rains were generally satisfactory over most of the country since the start of the cropping season in October 2018, positively impacting the production outlook for the 2019 cereal crop. Reflecting the rainfall patterns, vegetation conditions, based on remote sensing analysis, were mostly favourable in May in the main paddy-producing regions in the centre, inferring a likely increase in yields and the area harvested. In addition, in the southern regions, near-normal rainfall volumes, although unevenly distributed temporally, are anticipated to cause a minor increase in cereal production, following successive years of sharply reduced outputs. Infestations of Fall Armyworms were also reported to have caused yield losses in southern regions.
Overall, the national paddy production is expected to increase in 2019 for a second consecutive year and could reach a level close to the five-year average (2013-2017). However, underlying structural factors, including poor access to inputs, such as improved seed varieties and an inadequate irrigation system that continues to severely impede farmers’ productive capacities, are expected to curtail the larger production gains.
Import volumes likely to remain unchanged in 2019/20
Despite an expected increase in paddy production, the quantity of imported rice in the 2019/20 marketing year (April/March) is foreseen to remain unchanged on a yearly basis, as the country seeks to replenish stocks and buffer domestic availabilities following consecutive years of below average harvests. In the previous 2018/19 marketing year, rice imports were estimated at about 413 000 tonnes, an above average quantity but down from the high level of 730 000 tonnes imported in 2017/18 when domestic availabilities were significantly cut due to a sharp decline in paddy production.
Prices of rice declined, weighed by positive production prospects
Prices of rice, the main food staple, declined seasonally between January and May 2019, as new supplies from the first season harvest boosted market availabilities. Moreover, favourable production prospects for the main paddy harvest weighed on prices. Stable exchange rates and international prices have also contributed to easing pressure on prices of imported rice varieties.
Food security remains concern in southern regions
New supplies from the 2019 main harvest are expected to instigate seasonal improvements in food security conditions in the vulnerable southern regions of Androy and Anosy. Although the harvests in these areas are likely to be slightly higher than the previous year, they are still foreseen to remain well below average and consequently the prevalence of food insecurity is expected to remain high, compelling households to continue to adopt coping strategies.
During the first quarter of 2019, an estimated 0.5 million people in the two aforementioned regions were estimated to be food insecure, representing about 44 percent of the regions’ population.
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