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  Mauritania

Reference Date: 28-September-2022

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Cereal production in 2022 forecast near average, above 2021 reduced level

  2. Cereal import requirements not likely to be met in 2021/22 marketing year

  3. Prices of imported cereals increased following international trends

  4. Unprecedented 880 000 people in need of humanitarian food assistance in 2022

Cereal production in 2022 forecast near average, above 2021 reduced level

Planting of the main irrigated rice crop was completed in July and planting of coarse grain crops, maize, millet and sorghum, concluded recently. Harvesting of all cereal crops is due to start in October and production prospects are overall favourable.

The rainy season had a timely start in June. Average to above‑average rainfall amounts between June and August supported planting activities and crop establishment. Although the abundant rains supported crop development, flooding across seven regions through mid‑September caused localized damages to standing crops, the disruption of agricultural livelihoods and losses of productive assets. The most affected regions were Tagant, Assaba and Hodh El Garbi in the south and southeastern parts of the country.

Despite the crop losses due to floods, 2022 national cereal production, mostly rice, is forecast at 400 000 tonnes, near the five‑year average and about 13 percent above the reduced level in 2021, as abundant rainfall amounts supported yields in several cropped areas.

Cereal import requirements not likely to be met in 2021/22 marketing year

In the past five years, imports of cereals covered up to 80 percent of the national consumption requirements, with about 50 percent of wheat imports coming from the Black Sea Region, mostly Ukraine. This high cereal‑import dependency makes the country highly vulnerable to the supply shock associated to the war in Ukraine.

In the 2021/22 marketing year (November/October), cereal import requirements were estimated at about 520 000 tonnes, near the previous year’s level and about 18 percent below the five‑year average. This includes 405 000 tonnes of wheat and wheat flour. The estimated slowdown of imports is due to high international prices of cereals and bottlenecks in the international supply chain. Between November 2021 and August 2022, the country imported about 155 000 tonnes of wheat, about one‑third of the annual requirements, mostly reflecting the interruption of shipments from the ports in the Black Sea Region. At this pace, it is unlikely that the country will be able to meet its import requirements in 2021/22, leading to a significant deficit of wheat and wheat flour in domestic markets, with a likely drop in its per capita consumption.

Prices of imported cereals strengthened following international trends

Domestic prices of imported wheat flour, the country’s main staple, strengthened in the first half of 2022, reflecting increasing trends in international markets and the low level of imports. As of June 2022, prices of imported wheat flour were about 60 percent above their previous year’s levels. Prices of imported rice increased in 2022, but to a lesser extent, and were about 10 percent higher on a yearly basis in June 2022.

Unprecedented 880 000 people in need of humanitarian food assistance in 2022

According to the March 2022 "Cadre Harmonisé" analys is, the aggregate number of people facing acute food insecurity (CH Phase 3 [Crisis] and above) between June and August 2022 was estimated at about 880 000, including about 83 000 in CH Phase 4 (Emergency). This is the highest number on record and well above the 485 000 people estimated to be acute food insecure during the same period in 2021. The sharp increase in acute food insecurity levels reflects below‑average market supplies and high food prices, stemming from the drought‑reduced cereal output in 2021 and increasing prices of imported food. In addition, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of August 2022, over 90 000 refugees, mainly from northern Mali, were present in the country. Most of the refugees are heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance following the severe disruption of their livelihoods. In order to support the acute food insecure households during the lean season, between June and September, the country implemented a national response plan, that includes the free distribution of wheat, local rice, oil, sugar, condensed milk and dates, in addition to a monthly cash transfer of MRO 450 (about USD 12) per capita for a period of four months. The plan targets all estimated acute food insecure persons.

Despite the near‑average 2022 cereal production, acute food insecurity is expected to remain at high levels during the second half of the year as the country is particularly vulnerable to the unfolding effects of the war in Ukraine on international trade and commodity prices due its high import dependency. In addition, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), flash floods have affected, as of September 2022, about 40 000 people. Weather forecasts indicate that abundant rains are still expected through October in southern parts of the country, increasing the likelihood of more floods. New CH estimates of the number of people facing acute food insecurity in the last quarter of 2022 are expected to be released next November by the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.