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Off-season crop harvests boost food stock levels

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • March 2013
Off-season crop harvests boost food stock levels

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Most households in Chad are able to meet their food and nonfood needs through their normal livelihood strategies (food stocks from on-farm production, paid labor, and the sales of livestock and animal products). As a result, all livelihood zones are currently classified as facing Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. 

    • Good rainfed crop harvests, bolstered by the recent off-season harvests of berbéré (flood-recession sorghum) and/or market garden crops, are boosting current household food stock levels. In addition, high daily wage rates compared with last year are helping poor households access food normally on local markets.  

    • Cereal prices are relatively stable or down slightly from February of this year and March 2012. However prices in the Sudanian zone are still high compared with the five-year average. For example, sorghum prices in Sarh and Moundou are above the five-year average by 37 percent and eight percent, respectively.  

    Current Situation
    • Situation in agricultural areas: Harvests of berbéré (flood recession sorghum) in berbéré-producing areas of Salamat, Guera, Batha, and parts of Chari-Baguirmi are underway and production levels are better than usual. On the whole, the growing season for off-season market gardening crops in the Lake Chad area is also looking rather good.
    • Household cereal stocks: Food stock levels in most parts of the country are adequate and should last until May/June, which is similar to a normal year. Household cereal stocks in berbéré-producing areas are being bolstered by the recent harvests which should help households make it through the lean season (June through September) without experiencing food security difficulties. On the other hand, the slightly below-normal levels of household stocks in areas affected by last year’s floods (Eastern and Western Mayo Kebbi, Tandjilé, Eastern Logone, and Moyen Chari) will only cover household consumption needs through May, instead of June as in a normal year.
    • Situation in pastoral areas: Conditions in pastoral areas are relatively stable, with no reports of disease outbreaks. Prices for livestock are currently stable, except in N’Djamena where the price of sheep is down 14 percent compared to February 2013. This is due to a decline in demand from Nigerian exporters caused by civil insecurity in that country. 
    • Agricultural labor: There is a high demand for agricultural labor with the beginning of field clearing and clean-up work in the Sudanian zone. Daily wage rates are more or less normal, though up from the below-average wage levels seen last year at this time. For example, the current cost of labor in Sarh is 25 percent higher than in March 2012. 
    • Markets and prices: Markets are well-stocked with cereals, even in areas along the closed border with Libya. Ongoing harvests of berbéré are boosting market supplies. Cereal prices on most markets in the Sahelian zone are stable or slightly declining compared to last month and March 2012. March prices for pearl millet in Abéché are down from the same time last year by nine percent, though still similar to the five-year average (two percent higher this year). Cereal price trends in the Sudanian zone are varying from one market to another according to food stock levels. For example, current prices for millet and sorghum in Moundou are similar to February 2012 prices but are above the five-year average by 19 percent for both commodities.
    • Nutritional situation: The SMART nutritional survey conducted in the Sahelian zone in January/February of this year showed improvements in GAM rates in all areas of the country compared with July 2012. These improvements range from eight to 60 percent, depending on the area of the country.
    • Current food security situation: Overall, the current food security situation is satisfactory. Very poor and poor households are still consuming their harvests of rainfed and off-season crops. Seasonal incomes for this group of households are higher than usual due to the expansion of market gardening activities resulting from various farm assistance programs. In addition to market gardening, certain households in the Sudanian zone are diversifying their income sources by engaging in other normal income-generating activities, such as craft-making, brick-laying, and selling  straw, sand, and gravel. These households are easily able to meet their food consumption needs. Current cereal prices are enabling pastoral households to have normal food access and are allowing them to continue to build their cereal stock levels. Thus, analyses of current acute food insecurity show all parts of the country are currently facing Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of January to June 2013. A full discussion of the scenario is available at the Food Security Outlook for January through June 2013

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    With current food stock levels enabling households to meet their basic food needs between now and the end of May without needing to resort to any atypical coping strategies, Chad is expected to experience some of the lowest levels of food insecurity for the April to June period observed in the past five years. Moreover, cereal price that are lower than at the same time last year should help give poor households normal food access through market purchases, keeping them at Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between March and May. By the beginning of the lean season (June), households in flood-affected areas of the Sudanian zone and parts of the Sahelian zone (pockets within Batha and Guera) will be facing minor food shortages due to the depletion of their food stocks. Pastoral households will also begin to sell their small animals to bolster food stocks for the lean season in a manner similar to a normal year. Thus to deal with food shortages, households will employ their normal livelihood strategies and will continue to face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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