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Late start to the Spring growing season throughout the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Haiti
  • April 2019
Late start to the Spring growing season throughout the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • After months of low rainfall, some regions have experienced average rainfall, albeit irregular in terms of its distribution. Soil preparation and sowing activities began in February in the great South and the humid mountain areas and are under way in Nord-Est and Centre.

    • Food prices are continuing to rise as in January and February, with the exception of imported rice. They are likely to increase further as a result of further depreciation of the gourde against the US dollar, following relative stability in March. While markets are well supplied, these high prices are reducing food access for the poorest. 

    • Loss of livelihoods in some areas, irregular rainfall and loss of purchasing power due to inflation are driving the poorest households to use negative coping strategies, including sharp increases in sales of charcoal and in migration toward urban areas and the Dominican Republic.

    • As a result of the continued increase in the prices of basic necessities, a significant proportion of households are having to limit their non-food expenditure, placing most of the country in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security. The poorest households who are having to increase their coping strategies to obtain food are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 


    Rainfall conditions were more or less favorable at the end of March and the beginning of April. The highest rainfall was observed in the Great South and in the communes of Limonade, Quartier Morin and Cap-Haïtien, among others. Anomalies are observed almost everywhere in Grand Anse, except in the southeast of this department.

    Nevertheless, soil preparation and spring sowing activities, which started earlier in the Great South and the humid mountain areas, are now under way in these other regions, with farmers wanting to take advantage of the current rains.

    The spring 2019 growing season is at different stages depending on the region. In Haut-Plateau, it is about to start; in Nippes, weeding is under way.

    Local food availability is currently dominated by bananas, root vegetables and tubers, pigeon peas, sorghum, market garden products and certain fruits (mango, breadfruit, citrus, soursop, etc.). On the whole, markets are well supplied, though mostly through food imports.

    Between February and March 2019, local food prices, especially for maize and black beans, continued to rise (on average by 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively, at the national level), although at a lower rate than the previous period. Compared to February, prices for imported products have fallen, including rice (6 percent decrease on average). The increase in local food prices is due to increased demand for seeds (beans, maize, etc.) for sowing activities following the first seasonal rains at the end of March.

    Prices are significantly higher than last year, especially for local grain maize, which is over 43 percent more expensive than in March 2018 and above the five-year average. While the price fluctuations for local products are generally seasonal, due in particular to harvests and physical access to markets, the fluctuations for imported products are due to socio-political shocks observed for over a year, and also to fluctuations in the gourde/dollar or gourde/Dominican peso exchange rates.

    Since mid-March, agricultural activities have been dominated by soil preparation and sowing activities for the spring season. The demand for agricultural labor is exceeding supply. On the whole, however, labor demand is lower than usual, as average and better-off farmers do not have the capacity to hire large numbers of people, given the high cost. However, the supply of labor has been declining for some time. Migration to urban areas, and especially to the Dominican Republic, remains one of the main causes of this decline. The increasingly prolonged lack of rain is exacerbating this phenomenon.

    Meanwhile, in addition to migration, certain activities such as petty trade or charcoal production are still alternatives to poor seasonal agricultural activities.

    Livelihoods are continuing to deteriorate, mainly due to higher commodity prices. The purchasing power of the poorest is continuing to decline and some households are still using negative coping strategies to obtain food, while others are having difficulties covering non-food expenditure. As a result, crisis strategies continue to be scaled up. Most of the country’s regions are therefore Stressed (IPC Phase 2), others are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and very few are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security.


    With most of the inferences made in the Outlook for February through September 2019 having been reflected in recent developments in the food security situation, this update upholds the assumptions presented in that report.


    The situation in May should remain very similar to the current situation. The June to September period, which coincides both with the spring harvests and with the start of the second growing season (summer), should see improved availability of local products and access to food. This is partly because of the harvests but also due to the seasonal increase in agricultural income. In addition, the prices of local products may fall, and the prices of imported products may remain stable. Most regions of the country will therefore remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), including some areas (Nord-Est, Grand Anse) that were previously in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), although others will remain in this phase. However, a small number of areas will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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