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Country Briefs

  Mauritania

Reference Date: 07-February-2018

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Below-average cereal harvest gathered in 2017

  2. Food prices largely stable reflecting adequate supplies

  3. Poor harvest leading to deterioration in food security

Below-average cereal harvest gathered in 2017

Harvesting of the irrigated rice, maize and millet crops was completed in November and that of sorghum in December 2017. Currently, walo crops (also called flood recession crops) low-lying area crops and off-season rice are in the vegetative stage. The 2017 cropping season began with a timely onset of the rains across most regions. However, a series of prolonged dry spells in July led to re-sowing of crops in some areas. An early cessation of the rainy season at the end of September 2017 negatively impacted yields. An increase in the harvested rice area, the primary grain grown in the country, partially offset the impact of the rain deficit on the aggregate production figure. As a result, the 2017 cereal production is estimated at about 291 000 tonnes, about 13 percent below the last five-year average.

The below-average and poorly-distributed precipitation in 2017 negatively affected grazing resources. Large pastoral reserves, with still a good supply of pasture (southeast of Hodh el Charghi and Hodh el Gharbi, south of l’Assaba, Guidimakha, southeast of Gorgol and south of Brakna), are increasingly under pressure due to the high concentration of animals. Pasture conditions are expected to deteriorate in ensuing months as the next rains are not expected before July.

Food prices generally stable reflecting adequate supplies

The domestic cereal production covers about 30 percent of the national utilization requirement in a given year. On average, the country imports two-thirds of its total domestic cereal requirements. Wheat imports (for human consumption) are set at about 400 000 tonnes, accounting for about 80 percent of the total imports, followed by smaller quantities of millet and sorghum.

Despite moderate increases in some markets in recent months, prices of grains have been largely stable. By contrast, prices of livestock recently exhibited a declining trend as forced sales of animals have increased in response to the shortage of pasture, decreasing the purchasing power of pastoralists.

Poor harvest aggravates food insecurity, highlighting need for continued assistance, especially for vulnerable people

A large share of the 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 September 2017, about 52 000 Malian refugees were still living in the Mbera Camp in the country. Reflecting the below-average harvest outlook in 2017, the food security situation in the country is expected to deteriorate. According to the latest “Cadre Harmonisé” (Harmonized Framework) analysis, between October and December 2017, about 379 000 people were estimated to be in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above. Although this figure accounts for less than 1 percent of the total population, it reflects a substantial increase from the caseload of about 119 000 people a year earlier.

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