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Improved access to food across the country, with the exception of certain municipalities in the North, the Northeast, and the Northwest

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Haiti
  • January - June 2014
Improved access to food across the country, with the exception of certain municipalities in the North, the Northeast, and the Northwest

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Events That Could Change the Outlook
  • Partners
    MARNDR/CNSA
    European Union
    IICA
    UNICEF
    WFP
    FAO
    Key Messages
    • After reaching record highs in the first half of 2013 following various shocks (including Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy), food prices will remain similar to the five-year average. Due to excellent crop yields in 2013, bean and maize prices will be 30 to 33 percent lower than in January 2013.
    • The crop harvest that began in August is ongoing due to sufficient rainfall and programs implemented by donors and the Ministry of Agriculture. Food availability has improved, but household food stocks will begin to be depleted in February, two months early for the lean season.
    • Even though food availability has improved and prices of locally produced foods have fallen, weak demand for labor will reduce the purchasing power of many rural households. Some will experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1), while others will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to a lack of income.
    • The early cessation of rains at the end of October in the Northwest Peninsula and certain municipalities in the North and the Northeast led to losses of sorghum, bean, and maize crops. The scarcity of surface water and an earlier and longer lean season will put households there into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between March and June.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Since the last harvest, the food security situation has improved significantly in some regions of the country. This improvement should last until February, when household food reserves will begin to be exhausted.

    Rainfall distribution. Until November, rainfall was evenly distributed in most of the country’s crop-producing areas during production cycles. But the second rainy season, which normally begins in August, began two to three weeks later than usual. The ground was still able to accumulate enough moisture for crops to grow, however. With average monthly rainfall ranging from 137 to 284 mm, the Northern department remained one of the rainiest regions until October.

    However, some departments and municipalities received very little rainfall, with significant deficits during the growing and planting seasons. This was particularly the case in the Northeastern and Northwestern departments. Municipalities like Aquin in the South, Anse-Rouge in the Artibonite department, and Pignon in the North experienced dry spells during the second rainy season. Rains in Grand Anse, most municipalities in the Northern and Northeastern departments, and Nippes stopped in early November instead of December.

    Impact on crop production. Primary crops such as pigeon peas, beans, sorghum, and bananas benefitted from rainfall in September and October. According to farmers and Ministry of Agriculture experts, yields of pigeon pea crops, which are grown almost everywhere in the country, were much higher than in 2012-2013, even in areas with low rainfall. This was particularly due to the fact that pigeon peas are resistant to drought and were not exposed to wind gusts during the flowering stage as they often are in certain areas. However, yields of sorghum, which is being grown less and less, will be low, though higher than in 2012-2013.

    Production levels in banana plantations, which were greatly affected by the extreme weather of 2012, are beginning to return to normal. Other crops such as yams, sweet potatoes, and citrus fruits are being harvested throughout the month of January, providing households with a source of both food and income until February. Yields are normal for all crops except citrus fruits, which have been affected by the citrus greening disease that has caused significant crop losses, particularly in the North, Grand Anse, and the Southeast.

    November and December also coincided with the bean planting season in the irrigated plains and certain humid mountain areas. The season began well and the plantations are currently in different phases, depending on the planting date. Yields are expected to be higher than in 2013 due to the fact that the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Affairs have provided farmers in three departments with more than 500 metric tons of bean seeds, 5 metric tons of pesticide, and financial support for land preparation. However, yields are likely to be significantly reduced in the North, the Northwest, and the Northeast due to the cessation of rains in October/November. Meanwhile, the harvest has already started in certain areas such as Beaumont and Les Anglais, where bean yields are expected to be above average. The harvest has had a positive impact on the food availability of households, which have benefitted from employment opportunities in these areas.

    Elsewhere, drainage in the Artibonite Valley has helped the growth of rice fields and market garden produce. These crops, which are planted in November and December, are now in their growth phase and should be harvested in March and April.

    Food availability. Sorghum, pigeon peas, yams, sweet potatoes, beans, maize, and bananas are being harvested now. These crops, which are produced throughout the country, are available in large quantities on all of the markets. Harvested crops and food imported by the government (particularly rice) have helped improve overall food availability in the country. To help stabilize staple food prices, the government imported a total of 66,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam in 2013. This policy will further reinforced in 2014 with imports of approximately 216,000 metric tons, or 18,000 metric tons a month. Rice accounts for approximately 15 to 20 percent of household food consumption, and Haiti imports 320,000 (or 80 percent) of the 400,000 metric tons of rice it consumes.

    Agricultural labor. Seasonal demand for agricultural labor is currently very low, except in the irrigated plains, where it still remains high. Various maintenance activities such as weeding, watering, and harvesting crops are providing temporary work to members of poor households. Agricultural workers earn between 100 and 200 gourdes a day, depending on the area, an amount which has remained relatively stable over the last two years. Agricultural road rehabilitation and soil conservation efforts carried out under development projects are also creating temporary jobs in the North. An increasing number of young people in both urban and rural areas are also engaged in other activities such as driving motorbike taxis and selling top-up phone cards.

    In dry plateau areas like the upper Central Plateau and the dry agro-pastoral zone, migration and charcoal production are currently the primary sources of income for the poor. These activities are helping raise the income of poor households, as is usually the case during this time of year. However, the income derived from these activities is far from sufficient for meeting the basic food needs of these households, which must also pay their children’s school fees. According to a FEWS NET/CNSA study conducted in 2009 in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, poor households will not attain the standard 2,100 kilocalories consumed per person per day if they have to send and keep their children in school.

    Foreign remittances. Remittances from Haitians living abroad are one of the main sources of income for certain rural and urban households. According to the Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH), remittances make up approximately 20 percent of the country’s GDP. Available data indicates that foreign remittances were 11.4 percent higher in November 2013 than in November 2012 (BRH).

    Price trends. Food prices rose between November 2012 and July 2013, with prices of certain foods such as bananas increasing by up to 100 percent. However, prices of all staple foods, including imports, have fallen considerably since August due to better harvests than in 2011/2012. For example, on the Croix-des-Bossales market in Port-au-Prince, a sack of locally produced maizemeal which sold for 90 gourdes in January 2013 now costs 60 gourdes (Figure 2), while black bean prices have fallen from 244 gourdes to 170 gourdes, representing decreases of 33 and 30 percent, respectively. Bean prices, however, have remained nearly the same as the five-year average since December 2013 (Figure 2). The price of a 6-pound sack of imported rice varies slightly from one market to another but has remained relatively stable at 125 to 150 gourdes.

    Assumptions

    The following general assumptions are based on the findings outlined above:

    • The early arrival of this year’s lean season could influence the start of the spring growing season due to the shortage of seeds on the markets, which could cause prices to rise.
    • Household food stocks will begin to be depleted by late February due to the low level of stocks built up during the last two harvests.
    • Prices of locally produced foods could rise up to 10 to 15 percent higher than current rates throughout the country.
    • According to United States Geological Survey (USGS) forecasts, the rainy season should start in April in most areas in the Southern Peninsula, the West, the North, and the Northeast and in May in the Northwestern Peninsula, Artibonite, Haut Plateau, Grand Anse, and Gonâve (Figure 1). Planting is therefore expected to be delayed by more than one month.
    • Lower oil prices on the international market will have a positive impact on transport costs, helping to alleviate the negative effects of the depreciation of the gourde vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar.
    • The volume of monthly remittances from the diaspora should increase in April during Lent, raising the income of a certain category of households.
    • With the depletion of household food stocks and the increased incidence of waterborne diseases between April and June, the nutritional status of children in poor households could deteriorate.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    Despite numerous efforts made over the last four years to help households affected by the various shocks that have struck the country, residual effects still remain. However, from a food security standpoint, improvements have been made since August 2013 given successive harvests and the subsequent drop in staple food prices. While adequate rainfall until late October/mid-November (depending on the area) and assistance provided to farmers by various stakeholders have helped improve crop production, yields still remain lower than in a normal year.

    It should also be noted that crops harvested in December and January will not likely allow poor households to build up food stocks that will last until the end of March. Stocks in most households across the country, particularly in certain municipalities in the Southern Peninsula, the West, the upper Artibonite, the Center, and the North, will begin to deplete in February. Beans will be harvested in February in specific areas, particularly in the irrigated plains, which only make up a small percentage of all area planted. Between February and March, agricultural laborers in other livelihood zones such as the dry agriculture and fishing zone and the dry agro-pastoral zone will have very few employment opportunities and will have to rely on coping strategies such as logging, livestock sales, and migration. They will have to wait until April or May, more than one month later than usual, depending on the area, for agricultural activities to begin once again.

    During the outlook period, from January through June 2014, poor households will depend primarily on the markets as their source of food, as their reserves of harvested food will have been exhausted. In addition, given the scarcity of employment opportunities between January and April, their diminished purchasing power will make it impossible for them to adequately meet their basic food needs. While these households are currently facing Minimal acute food insecurity according to the IPC classification, most will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) beginning in March.

    It should also be noted that rainfall has not been distributed equally in all areas of the country. Some areas in the Southern, Grand Anse, Artibonite, Northwestern, and Northeastern departments faced and are still facing droughts that are hindering crop production. Food security conditions in these areas are close to deteriorating and should be monitored more closely in order to prevent irreversible effects on the livelihoods of impacted households.


    Areas of Concern
    Dry Agropastoral Zone (Anse Rouge, Jean-Rabel, Môle St-Nicolas, and Baie de Henne)

    Current situation

    In general, crops harvested in this area from November to January normally include pigeon peas, maize, and sorghum. While pigeon pea yields were higher than last year, maize and sorghum yields were very low and almost nonexistent as a result of the prolonged drought during this period.

    The start of the winter growing season was somewhat affected by the long drought. Many areas could not be planted, while those that were planted early are currently suffering from a lack of rainfall paired with wind gusts that have reduced the humidity even more through evapotranspiration. The most severely impacted crops are beans, maize, and groundnuts in Jean Rabel and Môle St-Nicolas. However, the Baie de Henne municipality, a fishing and sea salt production zone, experienced moderate weather at the start of the season and should therefore produce more crops than Môle St-Nicolas, which did not receive the precipitation necessary for successful agricultural activities between September and January.

    Livestock are generally in good physical condition, but some animals in certain communities, such as the Jean-Rabel and Anse Rouge municipalities, have been attacked by parasites or lack pasture. Some farmers are having to buy animal feed for their livestock. Adverse weather conditions have also caused many water sources to dry up, pushing many farmers to turn to transhumance1 in order to water their herds. Farmers must now travel further to find drinking water, which has become scarcer. According to a rapid assessment conducted by Action Against Hunger (ACF) in December 2013, some farmers in Anse-Rouge have had to sell livestock to buy animal feed, which is normally a rare occurrence.

    Despite all of this and due to a relative improvement in food availability in the area, prices have remained generally stable over the last three months. The price of a sack of locally produced ground maize, for example, fell 12.5 percent between October and December. Black bean prices have remained stable since October at 240 gourdes for a 6-pound sack. Sorghum prices have also remained stable since October but are slightly higher than they were during the same period last year.

    Demand for labor is currently very weak, but some of the income lost by poor households is being compensated by governmental direct transfer programs in different municipalities. Poor families in the Jean Rabel and Môle St-Nicolas municipalities are benefitting from an irrigated land rehabilitation program and continue to receive food vouchers from CARE. However, this is not the case in other municipalities, where these types of programs have ended.

    Poor households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and finding it difficult to meet their basic food needs given the reduced food availability resulting from the poor winter harvest, the lack of employment opportunities, and the scaling back of activities conducted under a CARE assistance program that supported a large number of poor households.

    Assumptions

    • The lean season will begin in February, as stocks of pigeon peas and yams harvested between November and December will be used up one month earlier than usual.
    • Prices should rise approximately 15 to 20 percent during the peak of the lean season between March and June. In order to cope with high staple food prices, poor households will have to continue selling livestock.
    • USGS forecasts estimate that the rainy season will start approximately two months later than usual, which will result in weak demand for labor throughout the months of March and April.
    • Migration and charcoal production will peak between February and March to compensate for decreased income due to weak demand for labor.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    Poor production from the premature autumn harvests, decreased activity from assistance programs, and the ongoing drought that has slowed labor demand for winter crop production have all reduced the purchasing power for poor households. These households are only just maintaining minimally adequate food consumption levels and are for the most part experiencing Stressed acute food security outcomes (IPC Phase 2).

    This situation is expected to worsen in February, when food reserves will be totally depleted. According to USGS forecasts, the spring growing season will start one month later than usual, meaning that demand for labor will not get underway until May and making it even more difficult for poor households to meet their basic needs.

    The lean season (February to June) will be marked by higher prices, making food less accessible to households at the same time that they will be more dependent on the market. Even when agricultural activities begin again, they will not require as much labor as usual as agricultural activities are diminishing in this area, according to ACF. In addition, with the lean season expected to arrive earlier and last longer, poor households will experience a considerable decline in their purchasing power. Coping strategies with irreversible consequences on livelihoods, such as charcoal production and livestock sales, will be used to meet basic food needs. Despite that, the food security situation of poor households will deteriorate even further between March and June, shifting them into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes.

    Dry agro-pastoral areas of the Northeast (Fort Liberté, Ouanaminthe, Trou du Nord, Terrier Rouge, Perches, and Capotille)

    Current situation

    In the dry agro-pastoral areas of the Northeast, the rains ended in late October, two months earlier than usual, reducing the size of the area that is normally planted with crops including okra, cowpeas, squash, and sweet potatoes.

    Even though the Ministry of Agriculture has helped farmers by providing them with seeds, black beans, which are very important for this area at this time of year, could not be planted until the end of November due to the lack of rain. However, land preparation is continuing in all of the dry plains areas. Some farmers in the Ouanaminthe, Terrier Rouge, Caracol, and Fort Liberté municipalities have told technician/trainers that they will substitute maize and cowpeas for beans once the first rains fall. Groundnuts have not yet been planted in the Perches municipality for the same reasons.

    In rice-growing areas in the Maribaroux and Fort Liberté plains, between 20 and 30 percent of farmers have already set up their nurseries upstream where there is more humidity, but the transplanting process has not started yet due to the lack of water in irrigation systems.

    The natural vegetation that provides fodder for animals is currently very dry, even though livestock are not suffering as much as crops thanks to water remaining in certain water sources. Some experts have noted an increase in the number of livestock being sold on the market, an anticipatory strategy for preventing the loss of their market value in the coming months if the drought persists. These increased sales have already caused prices to fall 5 to 10 percent.

    The presence of mealy bugs has somewhat discouraged groundnut planters in the Ouanaminthe, Capotille, and Perches municipalities. A pest management program is currently being implemented under the World Bank-funded RESEPAGII project in order to solve the problem.

    Food from the Dominican Republic is widely available on the markets, while locally produced foods are scarce. The pigeon pea harvest is coming to an end, making green pigeon peas less widely available on the market. Tension between the two countries is also making food more expensive. For example, an average-sized chicken or a carton of eggs costs between 25 and 50 percent more than before the tensions started. A bunch of bananas or a batch of potatoes or mirlitons (chayotes) from the Dominican Republic costs between 15 and 30 percent more than usual on the country’s different markets.

    Fewer agricultural activities are causing very low demand for agricultural labor. Laborers who would normally be earning their income from agricultural labor at this time of year have had to find other alternatives. For example, in the area of Caracol, the salt marshes are more crowded than usual, suggesting that a number of agricultural laborers have gone there to find work. Fishing and charcoal production have also increased. Tensions in the border regions are impeding trade somewhat, reducing the income of many small traders who operate there, but migration to the Dominican Republic continues to be a primary coping strategy.

    Poor households, which must buy the majority of their food from the markets, are already having problems meeting all of their basic food needs. Nutrition data is not available, but the end of the assistance program for malnourished children implemented by FONDEV, a non-governmental organization working in the Northeastern department, in November raised concerns that the prevalence of malnutrition could increase in the Perches and Terrier Rouge municipalities. The area is currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Assumptions

    • Prices of certain locally produced foods will rise in February given the normal demand but with yields from mountain harvests not being enough to compensate for the production deficit in the plains areas.
    • In the absence of assistance programs, the nutritional situation of children could deteriorate between February and May, particularly in the Grand Bassin municipal district.
    • The lean season could begin in February, as food reserves are currently very low and no harvests are expected for the month of February.
    • The beginning of the mango harvest between May and June will help improve the situation, though conditions will still remain very difficult.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    The plantings that did not take place between September and October have reduced the current availability of locally produced foods on the market, forcing poor households to buy increasingly expensive imported products. The market is becoming the primary food source for poor households while their income remains negligible given that the demand for agricultural labor is at a low. USGS and CARICOF meteorological forecasts predict that spring will arrive approximately one month later than usual, delaying the hiring of laborers even more.

    The combination of the foregoing considerations will make it difficult for poor households throughout the area to meet their basic food needs between January and March, classifying them with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    At the peak of the lean season between March and June, households will have no more food reserves, while prices of staple foods (maize, beans, and rice) will be up between 15 and 20 percent. Food consumption will further deteriorate. Demand for labor will not reach its usual level, even with the start of the spring growing season, and there will be no alternative employment opportunities, which will reduce the purchasing power of poor households even further. Even with an increase in the use of coping strategies, the area will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

     

    1 Transhumance: Seasonally moving herds from one pasture to another.

     


    Events That Could Change the Outlook

    Tableau 1:Événements possibles dans les prochains six mois qui pourraient changer les scenarios ci-dessus.

    ZoneEvénementsImpact sur les conditions de la sécurité alimentaire
    National
    • Politicians, the government and civil society are engaged in constructive dialogue to help institutions function properly.
    • 2014 is declared an election year in Haiti.
    • An atmosphere of trust will be built, which will bode well for the successful holding of elections, provide reassurance, and ensure the normal functioning of markets and business.
    • Tensions between rival groups may cause socio-political problems that could slow market supplies and accelerate price increases.
    Border regionsImproved Haitian-Dominican relations around binational trade.Lower prices on local markets.

     

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Probable start of the first rainy season

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Probable start of the first rainy season

    Source: USGS

    Figure 3

    Nutrition

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. Price trends for staple foods

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 5

    Source:

    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.

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