GIEWS Country Brief: Mauritania 18-January-2019

Food Security Snapshot

  • Above average cereal harvest gathered in 2018
  • Import requirements similar to average levels
  • Food prices largely stable, following seasonal trends
  • Humanitarian assistance needed for vulnerable people

Above average cereal harvest gathered in 2018

Harvesting activities for irrigated rice, maize, millet and sorghum crops have almost finalized, while harvesting of low lying area crops will start in late January and will be completed by end-February. Due to favourable rainfall conditions and timely provision of inputs by the Government, the 2018 national cereal production is estimated at about 338 000 tonnes, about 13 percent above the previous year’s output and 5 percent above the average of the last five years.

Pasture development conditions are generally good in the agro-pastoral zone. However, the overall fodder balance gives a supply of 3 million tonnes of dry matter against the 8 million tonnes estimated for the theoretical total needs of the resident livestock, leaving an overall forage deficit of about 5 million tonnes. The pastoral lean season is expected to be harsh and it is likely to start in February-March, about two months earlier than usual. This may affect animal’s body conditions, worsening animal-to-cereals terms of trade for pastoralists. Currently, the animal health situation is generally stable, with no major disease outbreaks reported.

Imports account for two-thirds of the total domestic cereal requirements of the country. Wheat import requirements (for human consumption) for the 2018/19 (November/October) marketing year are set at about average 400 000 tonnes, accounting for about 80 percent of the total imports, followed by moderate quantities of millet and sorghum.

Food prices generally stable following seasonal trends

Markets are generally well supplied with items imported either from the subregion (mainly millet, maize, sorghum, cowpeas, peanuts and animal feed from Mali) or from international markets (wheat, rice, oil, sugar and flour). In most markets, prices of millet and sorghum declined in October 2018 compared to previous months, with the expectation of a good 2018 harvest, and reached levels similar to those of a year earlier. Prices of imported rice remained broadly stable in November 2018 compared to October 2018 due to satisfactory supply. Off-season local rice harvests between March and April 2019 are expected to insure satisfactory market availability in most producing areas.

Humanitarian assistance needed for most vulnerable people

According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), the economy is expected to grow at about 2.6 percent in 2019, up from an estimated 2.2 percent in 2018, driven mostly by investments in mining, construction, agriculture and services. The average consumer price inflation rate is forecast at 2.9 percent in 2019, down from 3.3 percent reported in 2018, mostly reflecting stable food prices.

According to the November 2018 ‘’Cadre Harmonisé’’ analysis, about 227 000 people were estimated to be food insecure between October and December 2018 compared to 379 000 people in October-December 2017. However, this number is projected to increase to 576 000 people during the peak of the lean season (June-August 2019), if mitigation measures are not taken.

As of December 2018, according to the UNHCR, over 57 000 refugees are present in the country, mostly from northern Mali due to the persisting civil conflict. Most of the refugees are heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance following the severe disruption of their livelihoods.