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Harvests of off-season crops to improve household food stocks

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Chad
  • March 2015
Harvests of off-season crops to improve household food stocks

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Ongoing harvests of off-season crops (berbéré, maize, and market garden crops) are improving the food stocks of very poor and poor households in crop-producing areas (Salamat, Guera, Batha, Sila, Mayo Kebbi, Moyen Chari, and parts of Chari Baguirmi). Household food stocks in BEG, Hadjer Lamis, and Guera are being depleted one to two months earlier than usual.

    • Cereal supplies are normal on markets and availability is generally adequate. Current price levels are lower than at the same time last year. Fresh crops from ongoing harvests have driven the price of berbéré (flood-recession sorghum) in Amtiman down from February 2015 by 21 percent and 11 percent below the five-year average.

    • Household food stocks in the Sudanian zone are similar to last year’s levels, with all livelihood zones currently facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, which should remain through the month of June. The food consumption of very poor and poor households in Kanem, the BEG area, and Guéra in the Sahelian zone is reduced, creating Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes.

    • There will be an earlier than usual lean season for pastoral populations in BEG, Kanem, and Lac Regions between April and June. With the lower than usual prices of livestock, there will be a deterioration in terms of trade just as milk availability starts to decline. Current Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity would escalate into a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) without the planned assistance for this period.

    Current Situation

    Agricultural conditions: Ongoing harvests of off-season (berbéré and maize) crops are nearly completed. Yields from off-season crops in Djourf-al Ahmar and Kimiti Departments and parts of Ouaddaï (southern Ouara) are more than adequate after last year’s good flooding levels and the resulting larger area planted in berbéré crops compared with 2014. However, the growing season in Lac Region was average.

    Ongoing market gardening activities are supplying crops to markets in large population centers. There are plentiful market supplies of tomatoes, cabbage, eggplants, fresh okra, and spices in Moundou and N’Djamena, for example. Garlic and onion crops are also in the harvesting stage. Tractor plowing is already underway in Mayo Kebbi Est and Tandjilé in preparation for the start of the 2015/2016 rainy season.

    Household cereal stocks: Harvests of fresh crops in berbéré-producing areas are enabling households to increase their food stocks to better cope with the upcoming lean season, which has begun without posing major challenges for most households. However, the current levels of food stocks in Kanem, BEG, and Guera Regions and parts of Wadi Fira are lower than usual. Food stocks in Kanem and the BEG Regions are nearly exhausted, and in Guera and Wadi Fira, will meet household food needs only through May, rather than June. On the other hand, existing food stocks in Sarh should meet household needs through the middle of June or into July. With the good 2014/2015 rainy season and harvests of flood-recession crops, household food stocks in Abéché are more or less adequate and should be able to meet the food needs of households through June-July 2015.

    Pastoral conditions: The pastoral lean season is already underway in in western Chad is already underway. There is a visible reduction in the amount of pasture and number of watering holes. Cattle herders in the Sudanian zone are driving their animals to areas along the banks of rivers or the shores of lakes in search of pasture or any remaining supplies of dry straw spared by brush fires in that part of the country. There are increasingly large concentrations of animals around major bodies of water, posing all sorts of potential risks (the spread of disease, tensions, and conflicts).

    Cereal markets and prices: Trade flows of cereals to markets are normal in the Sahelian belt and, on the whole, there is adequate cereal availability supported by the arrival of off-season crops at market. . The Abéché market currently has quite a large overall supply of cereal crops. There is no institutional demand to speak of for the time being. Trends in cereal prices in the Sudanian zone vary from one market to another. Sorghum and millet prices in Moundou, for example, are stable (up by only three percent from February 2015), but are above the five-year average by 20 percent and 14 percent, respectively. There are reports of imports of maize from Cameroon to meet local demand. March prices for pearl millet on N’Djamena market are stable (down by two percent from February 2015), but are 25 percent above the five-year average.

    Livestock markets and prices: In general, livestock supplies are adequate, with markets regularly supplied with cattle, goats, and sheep. There is some local demand for livestock on all markets, but it is still extremely weak and price levels are lower than usual. This is due to the restrictions imposed on livestock exports by the security problems in border areas and the crises in neighboring countries previously serving as major outlets for Chadian livestock. The larger-than-normal supply of animals on certain markets at a time when exports are limited is creating much poorer-than-usual terms of trade for pastoralists on these markets.

    Population movements: There are reports of large-scale population movements in the Lake Chad area since the beginning of the year in the wake of the attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Most villages in Lac Region have seen an influx of displaced persons and refugees. With the two latest attacks by Boko Haram this past month (March) on the villages of Kaiga (March 4th) and Djarguimaro (March 15th), the number of refugees, IDPs, and returnees has swollen to close to 45,000 people. There is virtually no one left in certain abandoned villages, such as N’gouboua and Tchoukoutalia, which are major maize-producing and market gardening areas.

    Current food security situation: Ongoing harvests of off-season crops have helped improve the current food security situation, enabling very poor and poor households to replenish their cereal stocks. In addition, market garden production and yields of fruits such as watermelons and mangoes and root and tuber crops (sweet potatoes and yams) are helping to diversify the household diet. Normal sources of income such as the sale of firewood, straw, and market garden crops, gravel mining, petty trade, the sale of livestock, agricultural labor  for ongoing harvests, etc. are enabling most very poor and poor households to meet their food and nonfood needs. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely scenario for the period from January through June 2015. A full discussion of the scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for January through June 2015

    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    Food stocks in the Kanem, Barh-El-Gazal, and Guera regions will be depleted by April, one month sooner than usual. The pastoral lean season will begin earlier than normal in the BEG, Kanem, and Lac Regions between April and June. With the lower than usual prices of livestock, there will be a deterioration in terms of trade just as milk availability starts to decline. Current Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity would deteriorate into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) without the assistance planned for this period. This will force poor households to engage in less essential nonfood spending than usual, translating into Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes between April and June. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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