Expected improvement in food security with the Printemps harvests in June/July
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Progress of the Printemps season. The first growing season for 2017, which accounts for close to 60 percent of annual crop production in Haiti, has been marked by plentiful well-distributed rainfall in all parts of the country. There were average levels of cumulative rainfall in most areas of the country, with above-average rainfall numbers in the southwestern reaches of Sud and Grand’Anse departments. According to remote sensing data and ground reports, the rainy season began one to two weeks early, except in a few parts of Haut Plateau, Nippes, Nord-est, and Nord-ouest, where ground reports show the rains getting off to a late start. There were very heavy downpours between the middle of April and the middle of June in most areas of the country, particularly in Grand’Anse and Sud, in the latter case, with floods and losses of bean crops in certain localized areas.
The rains tapered off considerably between the middle of May and the middle of June, with extended dry spells in the last weeks of the season. Ground reports show mixed effects on crops, with the late June rains contributing to their success and the drought conditions in certain areas reducing crop yields.
Aside from the localized flooding problems in certain communes, particularly on the Sud Peninsula, the rains were beneficial for the growth and development of Printemps crops (other than beans). The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) shows clear anomalies in plant health conditions and vegetative growth compared with the average (2007 à 2015). According to the NDVI, conditions across the country at the height of the season were above-average (Figure 1).
Near-normal seasonal production. In general, the rains helped promote the growth and development of major Printemps crops, particularly maize and beans, in spite of the flooding problems and crop losses in certain areas. Maize in particular is the seasonal crop that gained the most benefit from these climatic conditions. Farmers in agro-ecological zones where the rains began in February and March planted near-average numbers of maize crops in spite of the absence of expected farm input assistance for this year in certain areas. Most of the assistance for this growing season was concentrated in areas stricken by Hurricane Matthew such as the Southern part of the country and parts of Nord-ouest. Farmers in other areas were left on their own to deal with the scarcity and high cost of seeds. These constraints had a negative impact on the size of cropped areas in Nippes, the Haut Plateau, Upper Artibonite, and Nord-est.
Maize has been growing in good conditions and is currently in the grain filling stage of the growing cycle in Sud, Sud-est, Grand'Anse, Artibonite (mountain areas), Nord, and Nord-est departments. Harvests of green maize are underway in areas where the first crops were planted in February (Bas Plateau and Sud) and are completed in the Artibonite Valley, where volume of production is larger than usual. The current condition of these crops in other parts of the country points to good harvests, particularly in Nord and Nippes, where the break in the rains between the end of May and the first dekad of June was about to put crops in jeopardy, subjecting them to a severe water deficit at an important stage of their development. However, the rains in May and June allowed these crops to recover. Crop planting activities in areas where the seasonal rains got off to a late start such as Nippes (particularly in Arnaud, Grand Boukan, and Petite Rivière de Nippes), the Haut Plateau and Nord-ouest began at the end of May, extending through the month of June.
However, bean crops, occupying a third of the cropped area in Sud and Grand'Anse, suffered from the rainfall activity in late April and May which, in certain cases, caused bean plants already in the maturity stage to germinate. Crops in Nord were also partially destroyed, where excess moisture reduced bean production to half the usual volume. On the other hand, crops in other areas such as Nord-est (in humid mountain areas like Mont Organisé and Carice), Sud-est, and parts of Nippes (Miragoane, Fond-des Nègres, and Paillant) were successful, producing near-average yields.
This year’s yields from mango trees were average to below-average due to Hurricane Matthew, particularly in Sud and Nippes and nearly nonexistent in Grand'Anse. Yields in mountain areas of Nord-est were quite low and acerage in the Artibonite, particularly in Gros Morne – a bastion of mango production – and in Ouest, mainly in Léogane, Grand Goave, and Petit Goave. Mango production, a source of both food and income, continues to create jobs for members of very poor and poor households in producing areas, particularly the Francis mangoes earmarked largely for export. All related operations from the picking to the boxing of the fruit are job-creating activities.
The hurricane strike in October has reduced this year’s breadfruit production in the Southern part of the country, where harvests usually initiate in June. To date, there have been no reports of any harvests of this fruit in Grand'Anse. The rainfall activity since March is helping to gradually regenerate the natural environment in this area. Breadfruit, mango, and other fruit trees are starting to grow new leaves, though it will take time for them to grow new fruit, particularly in the case of breadfruits, which are an important part of the household diet as a source of energy. The market supplies of these fruits observed by members of a field assessment conducted by FEWS NET in May, particularly in Grand'Anse, are mostly from a few communes in Ouest (Arcahaie), Nord, and the Nord-ouest.
The good conditions in rice-growing areas such as the Artibonite Valley, the plain of Les Cayes in Sud, and the Maribahoux Plain in Nord-est bode well for a good rice crop this year. For example, transplanting work is underway in the Valley, which accounts for close to 75 percent of national rice production. The ongoing dredging of irrigation canals launched by the Haitian President as part of the public works program known as the Caravane du changement (Convoy of Change) is laying the groundwork for improving this year’s rice production in the lower Artibonite.
Rice harvests for this year’s first growing season (from January through March) are underway on the Maribahoux Plain. According to the food security observatory in that area, current estimates put production 65 percent above-average, which should improve the availability of local rice in this area. Preparations are underway for the second (été) growing season kicking off in July, bolstered by USAID’s AVANSE project targeted at eight to ten thousand recipients in the Nord and Nord-est. Rice fields on the Plain of Les Cayes are in very good condition owing to the beneficial rains in April and May.
However, like in 2016, the main obstacle to achieving a much larger volume of production is the high cost of chemical fertilizer. In fact, this is a common problem for all crops grown at this time of year. Rice farmers will need to continue to buy fertilizer from private distributors. In any case, preliminary field assessments by different agencies (the FAO, WFP, CNSA, FEWS NET, etc.) generally agree on the prospect of a good volume of crop production for the Printemps season in line with the norm. However, the upcoming assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture will provide more detailed information on production levels for each of this season’s crops.
Availability of food crops. Rice, maize, beans, and bananas are currently being harvested and can be found on all markets. In fact, these ongoing harvests are helping to improve general food availability across the country. However, as usual, most market supplies are imported, particularly in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. In fact, with the lack of household production in Grand'Anse, local households are reliant on market purchases for their food supplies. Thus, there are clear changes in their diets due to the limited availability of root vegetables, tubers, breadfruits, and bananas, all of which are grown locally and in short supply since the hurricane strike. Markets are well-stocked with locally grown crops from Sud-est, Nippes, Sud, Plateau Central, and Nord-est (mainly from Mont Organisé and Carice), from the harvests of bean and other crops in those areas.
Price trends. In May, prices for imported rice, main staple food, were extremely stable at levels slightly above the five-year average (Figure 2). The improvement in the availability of locally grown crops is helping to keep prices across the country somewhat stable and triggering a slight seasonal decline in prices for locally grown crops in certain areas. For example, in May 2017, maize prices were relatively stable, though up slightly, unlike the trend in April. This same pattern has been reported on various markets with the exception of Jacmel, where there have been atypical trends in maize prices in particular (which were up by an average of more than five percent from the previous month and from last year) due to the limited availability of local crops with harvests not yet underway. The largest though still modest fluctuations are in black bean prices, which are up by 2.4 percent, due mainly to the highly atypical behavior of prices in the Cap Haïtien market (which jumped by more than 46 percent in May after a 25 percent drop in prices between March and April) and the Port-au-Prince market (where prices are up by 11.6 percent) (Figure 3).
Black bean prices were also affected by the prices of other local varieties of beans that are popular at this time of year (particularly lima beans) and by the large availability of imported beans (pinto beans in particular). Prices are still very firm compared with last year’s levels and well above the five-year average in spite of the first harvests and drop in the value of the U.S. dollar against the Haitian gourde since the announced US$ 120 million injection into the foreign exchange market by Haiti’s monetary authorities. This measure is designed to increase the supply of foreign currency to ease pressure on the foreign exchange market and, thus, on commodity prices in general, and prices for imported commodities in particular.
Animal production. The rainy season has helped spur new pasture growth, enabling pastoralists around the country to properly feed the livestock, even in areas particularly affected by Hurricane Matthew. There have been large losses of livestock in the southern part of the country, particularly in Grand'Anse. However, with the regeneration of the natural environment, livestock body condition is improving and as well as their reproductive performance. Nevertheless, there are still a shortage of available pasture due to the magnitude of previous losses. Newcastle Disease poses an imminent threat to poultry in several parts of the country in that it tends to decimate poultry populations. In addition to the threat of Newcastle Disease, parasites are attacking goat populations in Artibonite, Centre, and Nord-est departments, while Teschen Disease is steadily spreading among pig populations, particularly in the Artibonite Valley.
Demand for labor. The demand for labor leveled off during the lean season following the seasonal rise in demand for farm labor for the Printemps growing season. It is about to gain new momentum, fueled, on one hand, by the current rainfall in Nippes, on the Haut Plateau, in Nord-ouest, and in other parts of the country kicking off crop planting activities in these areas in late May and June and, on the other hand, by the need for workers for ongoing harvesting activities in areas where crops were planted on schedule. Ongoing activities in certain areas such as Artibonite, Centre department (the Haut Plateau), and Nord-est in particular are creating a high demand for labor. The high demand and relative scarcity of farm workers in the Artibonite have increased the daily wage rate from 100 to 150 gourdes to approximately 200 gourdes plus meals. The fact is that workers are increasingly less interested in doing farm work, preferring to migrate to the Dominican Republic or to engage in the extremely common practice of driving motorbike taxis. There is also a flow of seasonal migration by farm workers from mountain areas of Artibonite and Nord-est to irrigated plains at harvest time or during crop planting periods in search of better working conditions than in their respective home areas.
Other sources of income. In addition to farm labor, poor households also engage in petty trade, including the sale of crops or nonfarm commodities such as used clothing, sweets, etc., and the production and sale of charcoal. These activities enable households to supplement their regular income to some extent.
Steady increase in private remittances. Data compiled by the Central Bank of Haiti (BRH) indicates a steady growth in private remittances. In fact, the volume of remittances transferred by February 2017 increased by more than seven percent compared February 2016, or by more than US$ 277 million. This figure is likely to increase between now and September with the beginning of the school year and the holiday season in December. However, very poor households do not normally receive private remittances from abroad. They may benefit indirectly in that recipients will use part of these funds for crop production and other activities.
Emergency humanitarian assistance. Most humanitarian assistance programs were scheduled to end in June. This explains the reported sharp reduction in the number of program recipients of all types as of that month. Thus, ongoing programs mounted in the first half of the year, particularly USAID-financed programs implemented by CARE, CRS, and other organizations, are currently assisting less than 25 percent of targeted households, or approximately 234,000 households concentrated mainly in areas hit by the hurricane and the recent floods. The American Red Cross, Solidarity International, the Swiss and Haitian Red Cross, and other international organizations are planning to assist more than 9,000 households beginning in June as part of their food security and rapid recovery programs. This assistance involves distributions of seeds (for maize, bean, and cassava crops), fishing equipment, and female goats in Nippes (Petite Rivière and L'Asile) and cash transfers for farmers to jump-start crop production in Sud-est (in the commune of Bainet), etc.
Typical hurricane season. The month of June normally marks the beginning of the hurricane season extending through November 30th. Its location in the direct path of hurricanes, its degraded environment, its limited infrastructure, and its poor quality housing continue to make Haiti extremely vulnerable to hurricane strikes. These natural phenomena generally affect livelihoods, destroying crops, livestock, and economic and social infrastructure, taking human lives, etc. Two to four of the predicted storms are expected to be major hurricanes. Given the country’s high vulnerability, this suggests the need to take precautions in anticipation of one or more potentially severe hurricane strikes.
The following general assumptions are based on the findings outlined above:
- Crop production for the Printemps season. Based on the average or above-average rainfall between April and June 2017 and the progress of Printemps crops, there should be near-average levels of crop production in general and maize production in particular for the Printemps growing season, even in Sud and Grand'Anse departments.
- Based on forecasts by CariCOF and a combination of international forecasts (NMME, ECMWF, USGS), there will likely be average to above-average levels of cumulative rainfall between June and August in all parts of the country. Rainfall levels between September and November will likely be above-average in Nord and about-average in the rest of the country. In view of these forecasts, there will most likely be near-average levels of crop production across the country for the Eté/Automne season, which is a relatively important growing season on the Plateau Central and in semi-humid mountain areas. Given the country’s high vulnerability, this suggests the need to take precautions in anticipation of one or more potentially severe hurricane strikes.
- Demand for farm and nonfarm labor and wage rates. There will likely be a growing demand for farm labor with the harvesting and crop planting activities in June/July and August, respectively (the Printemps harvests and crop planting activities for the Eté/Automne season) and the land preparation and crop planting work for the Hiver season (between October and November). However, there will probably be less demand for farm labor for the Eté season in drier areas with the seasonal slowdown in farming and harvesting activities, which will mean less wage income for very poor and poor households. The ongoing reconstruction projects in disaster areas are also likely to recruit farm workers in these areas. This could create a shortage of available labor for farming activities in these areas while reconstruction work is still in progress, which would drive up daily wage rates.
- Trends in other sources of income. With the conducive socioeconomic conditions for the expansion of activities such as petty trade and motorbike transportation services serving as sources of extra income for poor households, they will continue to play an important role in most of the country.
- Private remittances from the diaspora. Remittances from Haitian diaspora inject more than two billion U.S. dollars into the country’s economy each year, accounting for a fourth of its gross domestic product. They are the main source of income for many households while, for others, they simply help cover major household expenses at certain times of the year, particularly at the beginning of the school year in September/October and during the holiday season in December.
- Prices of imported food (including expected trends in international rice prices). World markets for imported food, particularly rice, are still relatively well-stocked and there are good farming conditions in most of the major exporting countries. Thus, in spite of the moderate price rise in May, inventory levels are unchanged and there is less likelihood of any major changes in prices during the outlook period. Accordingly, Haitian importers should be able to continue getting supplies from their usual providers and a change in price would not have a major impact on their buying habits. Prices for imported staple food, particularly rice, will probably stay close to their current levels between June 2017 and January 2018, particularly with the relatively stable exchange rate for the gourde against the dollar since the U.S. dollar injection into the foreign exchange market by the monetary authorities (the Central Bank).
Prices of locally grown foods. The larger supplies of locally grown foods such as ground maize and beans in particular with the harvests in June/July will likely bring down their current prices, though they will stay above the five-year average. Their high prices will boost the incomes of better-off farmers but will weaken the purchasing power of poor households. The upward adjustment in fuel prices at the pump is also likely to drive up the cost of staple foods all across the country by increasing shipping costs, particularly in remote areas.
- Outlook for the hurricane season. Based on the forecast by the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University, the most likely scenario for the 2017 hurricane season is for above-normal hurricane activity through November 2017. Current food security analyses do not consider the possibility of a direct hit by a hurricane, which could cause major damage with significant effects on food security.
- Humanitarian assistance. The number of recipients of humanitarian assistance is expected to drop sharply in June 2017 with the termination of scheduled, funded assistance projects for that period. Very little scheduled and funded assistance is expected to be delivered over the course of the outlook period.
Most likely food security outcomes
The country is still feeling the residual effects of Hurricane Matthew and the April and May floods, even with the reported progress in farming and breeding activities in impacted areas. The persistence of a number of major problems such as high price levels are concealing certain after-effects from a food security standpoint. In many aspects, the situation is improving compared with the first half of this year. For example, there are good crop production prospects for the Printemps season in many areas with the exception of Grand'Anse and Sud, both of which were particularly affected by the recent floods and are still affected by the shocks from Hurricane Mathew, particularly for maize and crops other than beans. An increase of food availability and food supply will lead to prices for locally grown foods to drop, improving food access. Also, the income-generating activities and increase in demand for labor in most parts of the country suggest higher incomes for very poor households.
Thus, food security conditions are clearly improving. Most very poor and poor households will see some improvement in their food security situation between June and September 2017 through household crop production and market purchases with income from on-farm employments and the production and sale of charcoal. Their purchasing power could also improve with the stabilization and drop in prices for staple food crops from the Printemps harvest. As a result, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes in most areas of the country. However, households in areas particularly affected by Hurricane Matthew, particularly Grand'Anse, Sud, certain parts of the Sud-est, and Nippes, will have difficulty meeting their basic needs, even with the use of non-sustainable strategies. Thus, conditions in these areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least the month of September, with fewer areas experiencing these Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions between October 2017 and January 2018. An IPC analysis scheduled to be conducted by the Technical Working Group this coming September will update and refine these analyses and classifications.
About Scenario Development
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.
Region Contact Information