Food Security Outlook Update

Poor local food availability in the Northeast due to heavy rains affecting crop production

December 2017

December 2017 - January 2018

Haiti ML1

February - May 2018

Haiti ML2

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The smaller harvests and disruptions to livelihoods due to the strike by Hurricane Irma and the recent heavy downpours are keeping large parts of livelihood zone HT02 (the North and Northeast) in a Crisis situation (IPC Phase 3). Other parts of the country will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through May 2018, with specific areas on the Southern coast propelled into the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) stage of food insecurity during the lean season.

  • The downpours in the Northeast in October and November affected yields of bean and rice crops in the harvesting stage, particularly in plain areas. The recent rains are helping to spur land preparation work for the hiver growing season, but farmers are having problems obtaining supplies of seeds and farm inputs. The unduly high soil water content is delaying land preparation work on the Maribaroux Plain.

  • On the other hand, the November rains helped crops such as bananas, pigeon peas, roots, and tubers, even on the Southern coast hit by dry spells in September-October. There were average or above-average harvests of these crops, particularly in Grande-Anse.

  • Nominal prices for locally grown food crops (maize and black beans) and imported foods (rice) are on the rise. Prices for imported rice rose by an average of 11 percent between September and October. This upward trend continued into November, though it was somewhat less pronounced.

CURRENT SITUATION

 

Weather conditions: There were very favorable rainfall conditions between October and November, with average or above-average rainfall activity. Even the South, particularly coastal plain areas hard hit by a major drought between July and October, saw regular downpours in November. However, long-term analyses of water deficits suggest that rainfall rates on Gonâve Island and in Nippes and the Western departments were at only 50 to 80 percent of the average.

Farming conditions: According to a joint mission conducted by FEWS NET, the WFP, the CNSA (Haiti’s national food security agency) and the FAO, the progress of printemps crops in the Northeast expected to reach maturity in September was disrupted by the rains associated with Hurricanes Irma and Maria and crop predators, resulting in smaller than usual harvests.

Certain crops such as maize planted in August or September and previously suffering from water stress ended up producing good harvests for the été/automne growing season. On the Central Plateau, this season coincided with harvests of bean, peanut, and pigeon pea crops. While bean crops were lost to excess moisture, which rotted their roots, there were good harvests of both peanuts and pigeon peas. Farmers in the Northeast were able to get the été/automne growing season going, particularly in Fort-Liberté, but the season was marred by the rainfall activity between September and November, producing poor harvests of maize, rice, cowpeas, and peanuts, except in a few areas in the southern part of the department. Thus, there was no automne growing season in certain areas due, on one hand, to a lack of means and unavailability of farm inputs and, on the other hand, to the saturation of the soil by heavy rains and the silting of irrigation channels.

The high soil water levels in the Northeast have prevented farmers from planting any new crops and preparations for the hiver growing season have still not started up. Some rice fields have been rehabilitated, though this is reportedly not the case in Ouanaminthe and Ferrier (in the Northeast). However, these crops are being threatened by the presence of certain predators, bugs in particular. In spite of the favorable rainfall conditions in other areas, problems with seed availability and seed access will prevent the hiver season from being a complete success.

Food availability: In spite of the dry spells in September-October, there were average to above-average harvests of crops such as bananas, pigeon peas, roots, and tubers, particularly in Grande-Anse, which improved their availability on regional markets. Unlike the case of bean crops, which produced poor harvests due to excess moisture, harvests of pigeon pea and peanut crops on the Central Plateau are currently sustaining supplies, not only on the regional market (Hinche), but also on secondary markets throughout the department, and significantly bolstering supplies on the Croix-des-Bossales market in Port-au-Prince. On the other hand, certain markets (Fond des Nègres and Port-de-Paix) have been disrupted by the heavy rains in the month of November, which delayed shipments of supplies to these markets. Moreover, at the same time, the planting of hiver crops has reportedly heightened the demand for beans on the Les Cayes and Gonaïves markets. Markets are also getting a steady supply of imported foodstuffs.

Farm labor: In general, preparations for the planting of hiver crops are going well, even in the Northeast (particularly in mountain areas like Mont-Organisé, Carice, Sainte Suzanne, etc.) These activities are an important source of jobs for poor households, whose members are employed as day laborers in land preparation work and the planting of crops. This source of income should enable them to buy seeds and other inputs in preparation for the 2018 printemps season. However, the slowing of land preparation work in certain areas and crop losses in other areas have translated into less income for farm workers. The result is mass short-term seasonal labor migration by these workers to the Dominican Republic.

Food prices: The upward movement in food prices in general and rice prices in particular since the month of September (by an average of 11 percent) continued throughout October and into November. In contrast, there was a moderate contraction in prices for local varieties of maize. The average price of black beans went from 116.8 gourdes/kg to close to 120 gourdes, shooting up by 2.5 percent from the previous month. There were reportedly rises in the price of beans on seven of the ten markets tracked by Fews Net, including the Hinche market (where bean prices were up by 8.3 percent). On the other hand, prices on the Jacmel and Ouanaminthe markets were relatively stable and bean prices in Cap Haïtien were down by more than two percent.

UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

With most of the inferences made in the Outlook for October 2017 through May 2018 reflected in recent developments in the food security situation, this update upholds the assumptions presented in that report. However, prices for imported rice have risen considerably and, should this trend continue, there could be a deterioration in the food access of certain population groups. The same is true of bean prices, with bean consumption generally surging during the year-end holiday season. 

PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2018

A partial contraction in food supplies could keep prices for certain locally grown crops on the rise until the upcoming harvest of hiver crops in February. The upward movement in prices for imported foods in general and rice in particular for the past three or so months could continue, though prices are tending to stabilize. Outlays for the planting of printemps crops and the ensuing lean season extending through June 2018 could curtail the food access of certain households. However, there will more than likely be a high demand for labor for that growing season, which would help boost the incomes of farm workers. Households in most parts of the country should experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, with small pockets of households in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity. However, the shortfall in harvests and disruptions to livelihoods engendered by Hurricane Irma and the recent heavy downpours could keep certain parts of livelihood zone HT02 (the North and Northeast) and specific areas on the Southern coast in a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation through May 2018.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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