FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
- Rice production provisionally estimated to decline in 2012 following damage from adverse weather
- An estimated 84 000 households currently facing severe food insecurity
Estimated decline in rice production following cyclone damage
Harvesting of the main rice crop is expected to almost complete. Following a period of dry weather at the start of the cropping season (October-December) that resulted in moisture deficits in far northern and western regions, a series of cyclones brought torrential rains and strong winds during the first quarter of 2012, causing loss of lives, damage to crops and infrastructure.
The landfall of tropical cyclone Giovanna on 14 February resulted in significant damage to eastern coastal regions, including the heavily populated districts of Toamasina, Brickaville, Ambatolampy and Vatomandry. In addition, south-eastern areas were affected by flooding following the passing of severe tropical storm Irina in early March. Post-cyclone assessments indicate that between 49 and 75 percent of the rice crop was damaged in several eastern districts, while maize and cash crops, including banana and coffee, also suffered losses. In addition, locusts infested an estimated 300 000 hectares of land at the start of the year. To combat the spread, aerial control operations were undertaken in March 2012.
Although official production estimates are not yet available, the damage caused by successive cyclones is expected to result in a reduced 2012 national rice harvest, compared to the previous five-year average.
Prices of rice stabilise in June
Following seasonable declines between January and May 2012, prices of local rice stabilised in June 2012 at MGA 1 125 per kg. At this level, the national average price is 10 percent higher than in the same month in 2011, reflecting, in part, the lower anticipated national production. However, regional variations exist across the country, with generally higher prices recorded on the eastern coast and southern districts. Imported rice prices, which generally exhibit less variability than local rice varieties, also stabilised in June, at MGA 1 258 per kg, and similarly remain 6 percent higher than one year earlier.
Cyclone damage aggravates food insecurity in affected areas
The passing of consecutive tropical cyclones has resulted in significant damage in eastern and south-eastern areas. Damage to cash and food crops, as well as households’ food stocks is negatively impacting on food availability and access of the affected households. According to a food security and damage assessment, led by FAO, an estimated 84 000 households (approximately 502 000 people) are experiencing severe food insecurity. The worst affected areas are Atsinanana (specifically the districts of Brickaville, Vatomandry, Mahanoro and Toamasina II) and Atsimo Atsinanana regions. Assistance is currently being provided to the affected population.