Reference Date: 11-November-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Preliminary forecast for 2014 harvest points to a significant decline in cereal production
Pastures have been affected by irregular rains in parts
Humanitarian assistance continues to be needed, including for Malian refugees
2014 cereal production forecast to decline due to rainfall deficits
Growing conditions for cereal crops and pastures have been poor in several parts of the country, due to irregular rains at the beginning of the cropping season in June/July which delayed plantings and subsequent erratic precipitation through August. Dieri (rainfed) production, which represents almost two-thirds of total cereal production in a normal year, is most affected. As a result, the National Agricultural Statistics Service has forecasted a below‑average 2014 cereal harvest. Moreover, the erratic rains affected pasture regeneration and water points’ level in several pastoral areas of the country, notably in Hodh El Chargui, Hodh El Ghrabi, Brakna and Tagant regions.
In 2013, an above-average harvest was gathered for the second consecutive year owing to favourable climatic conditions in the main cereal growing regions. The 2013 cereal output was estimated at about 301 000 tonnes, 29 percent above the average of the previous five years.
Access to food constrained by high food prices
In spite of last year’s above-average harvest, access to food has remained difficult for several segments of the population due mostly to high prices of coarse grains. Mauritania’s domestic cereals 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. International wheat prices are on the decline, but coarse grains market has remained relatively tight in neighbouring Senegal (one of Mauritania’s main sources of supply) due to a reduced 2013 cereal harvest. As a result, sorghum prices increased by 57 percent between February and August 2014 in Nouakchott.
Continued assistance is 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. As of September 2014, more than 54 700 Malian refugees were still living in Mauritania, mostly in southeastern Hodh Ech Chargui region. These refugees represent an additional burden to a region that was affected by a serious food and nutrition crisis in 2012.