Skip to main content

Spring harvests may be close to average, but food insecurity persists amid the sociopolitical crisis and high food prices

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Haiti
  • February 2022
Spring harvests may be close to average, but food insecurity persists amid the sociopolitical crisis and high food prices

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • NATIONAL OVERVIEW
  • EVENEMENTS QUI POURRAIENT CHANGER LES SCENARIOS
  • Key Messages
    • Despite slightly above-average precipitation in January, harvests of short-cycle winter crops such as maize and beans will be below normal due to water deficits in November and December. On the other hand, the average rainy season which is forecast from March to May would suggest average spring harvests, assuming adequate external support for farmers, especially in areas affected by last year's shocks.

    • The exchange rate of the domestic currency against the US dollar has increased by about 38 percent compared to February 2021. Due to depreciation and the rising cost of public transportation, food commodity prices remain above their five-year average by more than 80 percent. 

    • Amid above-average prices, winter and spring farm incomes, which were below and close to the average, respectively, will have a significant impact on the purchasing power of households and thus their access to food, as they are highly dependent on the market for their food consumption. Food insecurity persists, particularly in poor neighborhoods in earthquake-affected areas, which have received little assistance, and in arid areas without irrigation systems, which are more vulnerable to irregular rainfall and price shocks. These areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3); the others will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).


    NATIONAL OVERVIEW

    Current Situation

    Sociopolitical situation: The sociopolitical and security situation in Haiti remains tense, although protests in the capital are easing. However, the intransigence of the political actors involved in the dialogue process makes it difficult to reach an agreement on the governance of the country. This is increasing uncertainty regarding the sociopolitical stability needed for sustainable economic recovery in Haiti.

    In addition, the political instability is fueling greater insecurity, which is rampant in the Haitian capital and is also on an upward trend in other areas of the country such as the Centre and Nord-Ouest departments. Clashes between gangs and the police and inter-gang violence continue to trigger population movements, and to disrupt markets and public transportation in various areas, including Croix-des-Bouquets, La Plaine, and Pétion-Ville, in addition to the "hot" neighborhoods of Martissant, Fontamara, Cité Soleil, and Carrefour.

    Monitoring of African swine fever (ASF) in Haiti: To date, no data are available to analyze the development of ASF in Haiti, following the cases diagnosed in August and September 2021. The lack of transparency in the government's response to ASF has kept it out of the national press. The most recent data are from January 2022, and show that the disease is prevalent in six departments (Sud-Est, Nord, Artibonite, Ouest, Sud, and Grand'Anse). This is despite the measures announced to contain its spread. According to statistics from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), out of a total of 2,632 pigs, nearly 95 percent of which were recorded in the municipality of Anse-à-Pitre (Sud-Est), from August 2021 to January 2022, nearly 11 percent caught ASF. The death rate combined with the number of pigs slaughtered (59) amounts to approximately 14 percent. However, at the national level, the number of cases reported so far is low compared to the situation that is developing in the Dominican Republic where, according to the National Association of Livestock Farmers, losses amounted to 74,000 pigs, including both deaths and slaughters, by early December. Furthermore, given the highly transmissible nature of the virus and limited diagnostic capacity in Haiti, FEWS NET maintains that the number of ASF cases and deaths in Haiti are being underestimated. In addition, cases of swine disease reported in some departments, generally considered to be Teschen disease, may be linked to ASF, as the symptoms are similar. As a result, according to key informants, pig farmers are continuing to reduce their herds through excessive sales without replenishment, in anticipation of the potential impact of the epidemic on their income.

    Moreover, pork and pork products are circulating freely on the Haitian market and are mostly imported from the Dominican Republic. According to AyiboPost, the price of a case of pork knuckle in the first week of February was worth less than half of its value in December. Importers and distributors can therefore quickly liquidate their stock to limit their loss of income.

    Rising oil prices: On February 28, 2022, the price of Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was above 100 USD per barrel, representing an increase of more than 60 percent above the five-year average. The average price of Brent crude oil was 85.60 USD per barrel in January, up more than 14 percent from December. Rising oil prices in the international market are pushing up the oil import bill in Haiti and increasing the subsidy paid by the Haitian state. In a macroeconomic context characterized by a budget deficit, a trade deficit, and depleted foreign exchange reserves, the government decided on December 10, 2021, to increase the price of petroleum products (Figure 4). The subsidy has been partially reduced for gasoline and completely eliminated for diesel and kerosene. Discussions are under way to consider how prices can be adjusted gradually until the oil subsidy is completely eliminated.

    Depreciation of the gourde and remittances: From February 2021 to February 2022, the gourde to US dollar rate on the formal market increased from 74.05 to 101.40gourdes to one US dollar, a depreciation of nearly 37 percent. This continued depreciation of the national currency is amplifying the rise in imported food product prices, leading to significant annual inflation that approached 25 percent in December, according to the BRH. At the same time, there was a seasonal increase in remittances from abroad, which reached around 325 million USD in December 2021 (Figure 3), an increase of more than 11 percent from November. This helped to supply the market with currency and thus foster some stability in the exchange rate at the end of the year.

    Rainfall and agricultural production: Overall, winter harvests, which make up less than 20 percent of national crop production, are below average in most regions, due to water deficits in November and December. Average rainfall was last seen in June 2021. From July to December 2021, below-average rainfall ranging from 14 percent (in August) to 65 percent (in November) was recorded. Following an increase in rainfall from 65 percent below average in November to 24 percent below average in December, precipitation was 6 percent above average in January 2022 (Figure 5). After these six months of below-average rainfall, irregularly distributed both geographically and over time, compromising the performance of the fall and winter growing seasons, this slight improvement in January did not enable a normal recovery of winter crops, except in the Sud, Grand Anse, and Bas-Plateau-Central regions. This was particularly the case for short-cycle crops, such as maize and beans, which had already been significantly affected by rainfall deficits in November and December.

    Markets and prices: Apart from those located in the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area, which are occasionally disrupted by political unrest, most markets in the country are functioning normally and are well supplied with imported products. Local food availability is below average due to the below-average fall and winter harvests. Nevertheless, pigeon pea, root and tuber, vegetable product, and banana supplies are average, although prices are high. Between December 2021 and January 2022, prices underwent seasonal increases, with the exception of imported products, particularly rice, the price of which remains relatively stable month on month. Local maize prices saw the largest increase (nearly 10 percent on average nationally), particularly in the markets of Fond des Nègres (approximately 21 percent), Les Cayes (approximately 37 percent), Hinche, and Port-au-Prince (around 19 percent). In addition, prices for staple food products remain above their January 2021 level and their five-year average.

    Livestock conditions: Livestock conditions, particularly for cattle and goats, have improved slightly from November and December due to improved fodder and water availability. However, the pig herd has been severely affected by Teschen disease, or likely ASF, which was diagnosed in September in the southeast of the country.

    Agricultural labor: As the agricultural workforce waits for the spring growing season to begin, they are mainly occupied with winter harvesting and soil preparation activities. These have begun in areas that usually start activities for this season in January, including Grand Sud, Sud-Est, and Bas-Plateau Central, where there has since been an increase in demand for workers. Income from the sale of labor remains limited due to low hiring capacity caused, among other factors, by the residual impacts of the climate, sociopolitical, and economic shocks of 2021, which have reduced households' ability to invest in agriculture.

    Other sources of income: Poor urban households, for the most part, earn their income from small-scale trade, which has remained around average since the more or less normal resumption of activities in December 2021. Income from migrants in the Dominican Republic, an important source of revenue for poor households in border areas, remains below average due to the prevalence of COVID-19 and other migration control measures in the neighboring territory, which resulted in several waves of deportations last year, and at the very beginning of this year. Income from wood and charcoal sales is more or less normal. Fishing income has not yet reached its average level, due to the loss of infrastructure limiting the development of this industry, especially in areas affected by the earthquake and Hurricane Grace in August 2021.

    Food aid: According to the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), 1.5 million people were expected to receive humanitarian assistance that year. However, FEWS NET does not have access to these plans. Until January 2022, this assistance was more concentrated in the three departments affected by the earthquake of August 14, or Tropical Depression Grace on August 16. Cash and food assistance continued to be distributed to approximately 92,000 households from August to November. However, in the three departments affected by the August 14 earthquake, or Tropical Depression Grace on August 16, key informants claim that the assistance provided in November and December has continued into January and February.

    Current food security outcomes: In Bas-Nord-Ouest, Haut Plateau Central, Haut Artibonite, poor urban neighborhoods, arid areas in the North, and hard-to-reach earthquake-affected areas, households continue to adopt crisis strategies such as increasing charcoal and livestock sales, and consuming seeds and foods with low nutritional value, to maintain their current consumption. These areas are therefore in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    In irrigated and semi-humid areas, which are less affected by climate shocks, households use coping strategies such as reducing non-essential expenditure, increasing food purchases on credit, consuming non-preferred food, and reducing adult consumption in favor of children, to maintain their current consumption. They are therefore in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In addition, earthquake-affected areas that received food assistance covering at least 25 percent of their food or caloric needs — according to key informants — are therefore in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Assumptions

    The most-likely scenario for February to September 2022 is based on the following assumptions at the national level:

    Rainfall and agroclimatology

    • Average temperatures are forecast until March (United States Geological Survey — USGS, 2022).
    • Based on North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) forecasts, the main 2022 rainy season from March to May is expected to be average.

    COVID-19

    • The governement will not implement any new COVID-19 measures during the outlook period that could have a negative and significant impact on economic activities and thus food security.

    Macroeconomic situation

    • The significant contraction of net official foreign exchange reserves in 2021 means that the Haitian Central Bank will be unable to contain the gradual depreciation of the gourde during the outlook period.
    • Year-on-year inflation will increase during the lean season (February to May 2022).

    ASF

    • ASF, which was first diagnosed in Haiti in September 2021, is likely to cause a loss of about 30 percent of the pig herd and discourage pig farming in Haiti.
    • ASF fears will continue to reduce demand for pork and pork products and increase demand for alternative proteins, particularly poultry products.
    • Demand for chicken meat, a substitute for pork, is expected to increase during the outlook period, as is the price.
    • Sociopolitical situation
    • Sociopolitical instability is likely to worsen, disrupting trade flows and thus the physical food availability and access throughout the outlook period.
    • Agricultural production
    • Total spring and summer cereal production (rice, maize, and sorghum) is likely to be close to the five-year average.

    Sources of income

    • Demand for agricultural workers, which is normally higher in the first four months of the outlook period than in the last four months, is expected to be close to normal. Revenue from agricultural labor is also likely to be close to the average.
    • The deteriorating sociopolitical and security situation in Haiti could lead the Dominican authorities to tighten migration and security measures at the border, slowing down the migration of Haitians to the Dominican Republic, and border trade, resulting in lower than normal income.
    • Income from informal activities, particularly small-scale trade, by very poor households may be close to normal, with the exception of the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan Area, which is plagued by insecurity and sociopolitical unrest.
    • Tourism will continue at significantly reduced levels, hindering economic recovery and reducing job opportunities in the industry and related sectors, such as hotels and restaurants.
    • The income of the fishing industry will remain below normal in the first two months of the outlook period before resuming a more or less normal trend, with the exception of areas affected by the earthquake and Hurricane Grace, such as Sud and Grand'Anse (HT08), and Sud-Est (HT01).

    Prices/markets

    • Despite a global increase in cereal production in 2022 and an even greater increase in demand, particularly due to the decline in crop production in low-income and food-deficit countries, according to FAO, the international cereal price index is expected to rise. This price trend will have a direct impact on the price of food imports in Haiti, which is a net food importer.
    • The upward trend in fuel prices in the international market and the additional tax burden this creates for the national budget suggest that subsidies for petroleum products will continue to decline in Haiti. In turn, prices at gas stations will continue to rise, leading to increases in public transportation costs and, consequently, higher prices for food and non-food staple products in local markets.
    • From February to May (lean season), the availability of local products in markets is likely to decline, but imported food products should cover this deficit.

    Other assumptions

    • Since very few concrete actions have been taken to restore the agricultural infrastructure in the areas affected by the earthquake of August 14, 2021 and Tropical Depression Grace, the residual impact of these two shocks on various sectors of the economy is likely to persist.
    • The gourde will continue to depreciate against the US dollar. This depreciation is likely to be maintained by sociopolitical instability and the negligible impact of the measures taken by the Central Bank. This will increase the price of imported food products. The formal market exchange rate could reach 110 to 115 gourdes to one dollar before the end of the outlook period.
    • FEWS NET does not have any data about planned assistance during the outlook period. While assistance is likely to continue to improve food security outcomes in some locations, coverage is likely to remain low outside the earthquake-affected areas. Since these data are not yet available, FEWS NET's analysis includes only limited consideration of food assistance.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The first part of the outlook period (ML1) coincides with the winter season harvest, which contributes very little to total annual production. This period also coincides with the lean season, when the share of local food in food consumption reduces and household stocks run out. Households are likely to have to rely more on markets amid high commodity prices and limited income from the sale of agricultural labor, small-scale trade, charcoal and wood sales, and so on. Below-average incomes and above-average prices continue to impact the purchasing power of the poorest households, reducing their economic access to food. Under these conditions, the poorest households will have to resort to negative coping strategies to meet their food needs, such as intensifying tree cutting for charcoal production and sale, increasing the sale of female livestock, and consuming seeds and foods with low nutritional value. Thus, most areas of the country, in particular HT08 Sud and Grand'Anse, HT07 Nippes, Ouest and Sud-Est, HT02 Nord-Ouest, Haut Artibonite, Haut Plateau, arid areas in Nord, Nord-Est, and Nord-Ouest, which are more vulnerable to climate and price shocks, poor neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, and areas affected by the earthquake, will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In the rest of the country, where winter harvests have taken place and the 2022 spring growing season is about to begin, very poor and poor households will cut back on non-essential expenditures, increase food purchases on credit, consume non-preferred or lower-quality foods, reduce adult consumption in favor of children, and will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    The second part of the outlook period coincides with the spring harvest and with the start of the summer/fall growing season. Households' own production as a source of food during this period is set to improve slightly, in contrast to the first part of the outlook period, although market purchases are expected to remain important (more than 80 percent of food needs). There should be increased availability of local products such as beans, maize, rice, and wild products (such as bananas, breadfruit, and mangoes), contributing to a moderate improvement in food security for the poorest households. In addition, the increase in local availability compared to the first part of the period is likely to drive down staple food prices, enabling wider access to these products.

    The spring harvest beginning in July, as well as activities related to the summer/fall growing season, are also expected to generate revenue from agricultural labor and crop sales. Thus, livelihoods may remain stable in the second part of the outlook period as households resort less often to crisis strategies. The areas that will experience near-average harvests (Bas Artibonite, Bas Plateau, Grand Anse, Sud, Sud-Est, Nord, some municipalities in Ouest), as well as those affected by the earthquake, may progress from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) amid the nascent economic recovery. However, most of the communes in Nord-Est, Haut Plateau, Haut Artibonite, Bas Nord-Ouest, Côte Sud, and the arrondissement of Belle-Anse, as well as those in Nippes (Grand Boucan) and Ouest (La Gonâve, Croix des Bouquets), where livelihoods are still disrupted by various climate and anthropogenic shocks, will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    EVENEMENTS QUI POURRAIENT CHANGER LES SCENARIOS

    Zone

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

     

    National

    Increased sociopolitical unrest

    The escalation of violence would likely disrupt the current functioning of the economy and markets. This would lead to a decrease in food availability and access, forcing more households to adopt negative coping strategies. As certain coping strategies are depleted, food consumption deficits could appear. Thus, more areas and households could be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Stabilization of the sociopolitical situation

    Sociopolitical stability, with the establishment of a consensus government, would strengthen trade flows and market supplies. Sources of income should also return to normal. This would reduce the number of people and zones in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Increased oil and cereal prices in the international market

    This situation may affect the global oil and cereal markets, leading to supply disruptions and upward price fluctuations, as well as financial market volatility. This would increase food and other import bills for Haiti, impacting food security over the period.

    ASF outbreak in the Dominican Republic

    Restrictions at the Haitian–Dominican borders to prevent the spread of ASF are likely to negatively impact trade between the two countries.

     Continued and possibly increased humanitarian assistance during the outlook period

     Food assistance would benefit a large proportion of the population in need, and could help beneficiary households cover at least 25 percent of their food needs. This would allow them to maintain their current food consumption.

    Production areas

    A hyperactive hurricane season

    Livelihoods in vulnerable areas including Sud, Sud-Est, Nippes, and Grand'Anse would be destroyed (livestock, plantations, production assets).

    There would be improved rainfall for crops in arid areas such as Pignon, La Victoire, and Ranquitte (in the north).

    Figures

    Figure 2

    Calendrier saisonnier pour une année typique

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET/OANDA

    Figure 4

    Figure 3

    Source: BRH

    Figure 5

    Figure 4

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 6

    Figure 5

    Source: WFP-VAM

    Figure 7

    Figure 6

    Source: FEWS NET/CNSA

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top