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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 10-March-2016


  1. Despite slow onset of seasonal rains, overall crop prospects remain favourable

  2. Food prices stable, reflecting adequate supplies

  3. Humanitarian assistance continues to be needed, including for Malian refugees

Despite irregular rains in parts of the country, above-average 2015 cereal harvest was gathered

The slow start of the rainfall during the 2015 cropping season has initially delayed plantings of rice and coarse grains in several parts of the country. However, precipitation increased significantly from July, improving soil water reserves and crop prospects across the country. Despite the late start of the rains, dieri (rainfed) crop production improved significantly compared to the previous year and the five‑year average. Similarly, the irrigated coarse grains crops developed normally as the water need satisfaction index has generally remained adequate for these crops. By contrast, the rice planted area and production have been negatively affected.

A joint CILSS/FAO/FEWSNet/WFP Crop Assessment Mission that visited the country in November estimated the 2015 aggregate cereals production at some 342 000 tonnes (including off‑season crop harvest forecasts), about 8 percent lower than the 2014 bumper crop but 15 percent above the average of the previous five years. The decline in aggregate cereal output (compared to 2014) was driven by a 24 percent drop in rice production. Production of sorghum and maize increased by 63 percent and 38 percent, respectively. The filling levels of most water points were adequate, pastures regenerated well and animals are reported to be in good condition.

A bumper crop was gathered last year. The aggregate 2014 cereal production was estimated at about 373 000 tonnes, 20 percent above the previous year’s reduced crop and 45 percent above average.

Food prices stable reflecting adequate supplies

Mauritania’s domestic cereal production only covers one-third of the national utilization requirement in a normal year. The country is highly dependent on imports of coarse grains (millet and sorghum) from its neighbours Senegal and Mali, as well as wheat purchased on the international market.

Food prices have been generally stable in recent months, reflecting good supplies of imported staple foods and stocks from the above‑average cereal harvest gathered.

Food situation improved but continued assistance needed, especially for vulnerable people

A large segment of the Mauritanian population relies on traditional agriculture and livestock‑related activities to maintain their livelihoods, and, therefore, remain in a state of chronic vulnerability due to unpredictable seasonal rains and climatic conditions. Moreover, the high import dependency rate for food exposes the population to fluctuations of the global market. In addition, the armed conflict in Northern Mali has forced thousands of Malians to cross the border into Mauritania. According to UNHCR as of early February 2016, more than 52 154 Malian refugees were still living in Mauritania, mostly in the Mberra Camp. Results of the last “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis in the country indicate that about 149 000 people are in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above and require urgent assistance for food.