Skip to main content

Cereal prices remain generally stable with small increases in localized areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • April - September 2013
Cereal prices remain generally stable with small increases in localized areas

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Area of Concern
  • Key Messages
    • Between April and the end of June, all areas of the country will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity (Figure 1). However the earlier than normal depletion of food stocks, coupled with seasonally normal cereal price increases, will propel households in Kanem, Bahr-El-Gazal (BEG), Batha Est, Logone Oriental, Tandjilé, Logone Occidental, and greater Mayo Kebbi into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between July and September. 

    • Due to last year's good rainfall conditions, the availability of pasture and water resources has been good, although these resources are beginning to deteriorate with the approach of the pastoral lean season (April through June). However despite the recession of pastures and the drying up of semi-permanent watering holes, animal body conditions remain at seasonally normal levels. 

    • Household food stocks in the Sahelian zone are starting to decline, but are still at high levels compared to a normal year. Household food consumption is also stable due to the availability of milk and market garden produce and the start-up of humanitarian assistance programs in Kanem, BEG, Lac, and Hadjer Lamis. 

    National Overview
    Current situation

    Situation in agropastoral areas

    Harvests in berbéré-producing areas were completed in March and in these zones, many households are currently engaged in market gardening, craft-making, and brick-making activities. One exception is the Haraze Mangueigne area where the threshing of berbébé (flood-recession sorghum) crops continues. In the Lake Chad region, the wheat and bean harvests finished up in March and certain farmers are occupied with threshing and/or storing these crops. Within the irrigation schemes located in this region's polder areas, farmers are still harvesting their maize crops. Similarly in the region's traditional polder areas, farmers are starting to plant their third round of maize, which will be harvested in June.  In the Sudanian zone, most farmers are in the process of clearing and cleaning up their fields. All of these various agricultural activities occurring throughout the country are providing job opportunities for poor households, though not to the same extent as other more labor-intensive activities (such as weeding, harvesting, etc.) that occur at other times of the year.

    Pastoral conditions are deteriorating at seasonally normal levels, although they are still at better conditions compared to last year at this time due to last season's good rainfall conditions. This has enabled animal grazing conditions to be normal. With the rise in temperatures in April, semi-permanent watering holes in the Sahelian Belt have now dried up, about one month later than usual. In addition, seasonally normal brush fires associated with the start of March rains in the Sudanian zone have reduced the quality of green pasture and water found in seasonal lakes and ponds. In general, there are no major livestock disease outbreaks noted within the country, with the exception of Moyen-Chari and parts of Salamat where two forms of anthrax (bacterial and symptomatic), ovine rinderpest, suspected cases of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, and a swine epidemic that killed approximately one hundred hogs have been recently reported. There are also reports of a few cases of Newcastle Disease in Logone Oriental, Logone Occidental, and Tandjilé and a few cases of ovine rinderpest in the area around Lake Chad. Returning transhumants with camels are currently in the vicinity of Am-timan while transhumants with cattle are in the Moyen-Chari area. These movements are all in line with normal seasonal trends.

    Refugee situation

    According to UNHCR - Chad, recent communal fighting in Darfur, Sudan, at the beginning of the year and the outbreak of violence in the Central African Republic has triggered mass population displacements and a new influx of refugees into both eastern and southern Chad. As of the middle of April, the total number of new arrivals was estimated at approximately 21,000 in Tissi (in southeastern Chad, on the border with Sudan and the Central African Republic) and 5,620 from the Central African Republic in Nya-Pendé (in southern Chad, on the border with the Central African Republic). This is in addition to the estimated 65,000 Central African refugees who have been living in camps in southern Chad since January 2013. The government has already furnished and distributed more than 100 metric tons of cereals, 1,000 sleeping bags, 1,000 plastic mats, 1,000 bags of salt, 450 sacks of wheat flour, 400 cartons of milk, and 400 twenty-liter cans of oil to the refugee population in Tissi, which reportedly consists primarily of large families with many children. This situation will require close attention over the next few months.

    Humanitarian assistance

    In the BEG, Kanem, and Lac areas, a local NGO has started up a program to distribute 1,492 metric tons of food to 7,920 households. This distribution is part of efforts to assist vulnerable households in structurally deficit areas of the country.

    Markets and trade

    Cereal markets are being supplied normally with market supplies currently bolstered by shipments of freshly harvested flood-recession sorghum. In structurally deficit areas (Kanem and BEG), market supplies are also in line with normal seasonal trends. However, supplies of rainfed sorghum and millet crops are beginning to tighten in some areas where, due to the effects of last year’s floods, production was below the five-year average (Logone Occidental, Moyen-Chari, and Tandjilé). In general, prices were stable between March and April due to good cereal availability in most areas and the harvests of off-season berbéré, wheat, and maize crops. The steepest drop in prices (-10 percent) was for sorghum in Abéché while the sharpest increase in prices (13 percent) was for sorghum in N’Djamena. The increase in N'Djamena was due to the low supplies of that food commodity at the market in this city. In general, cereal prices are lower than they were at the same time last year, particularly for pearl millet in Abéché and for maize in Bol where prices were down 38 percent. However compared to the five-year average, cereal prices are anywhere from six to 25 percent higher this year, except for in Abéché where pearl millet and sorghum prices are below their five-year averages by 18 percent and 13 percent, respectively. These price fluctuations across markets are attributable to differences in market supply levels.

    Trade flows from the Sudanian zone to the Sahelian zone are normal, particularly for oilseed crops (groundnuts and sesame). However cereal trade within the Sahelian Belt is below normal due to good household cereal availability that has reduced demand and local government bans on cereal exports from certain areas of the country. In addition, cross-border trade with Nigeria has been slow compared to normal seasonal trends due to civil insecurity in Nigeria and the closure of the border. Between Chad and Sudan, cross-border trade, consisting mainly of sugar, flour, and pasta products, has been normal. In addition, the steady flow of imports from Libya is bolstering food availability in the country's Saharan Belt, as far as the Wadi Fira region.

    Livestock prices were generally stable between March and April. However, prices in Abéché are down 16 percent for goats and 12 percent for sheep due to a decline in demand from Libya with the closure of the Libya-Chad border. Likewise, livestock prices are falling in the Lac region due to low demand caused by civil insecurity in Nigeria. In these areas, sales of small animals are generating slightly less income than normal, although in terms of food security outcomes, the effect on poor households' food access has been negligible due to the good availability of cereals and incomes from market gardening crops that are filling in the gap.

    Nutritional situation

    The findings of the SMART survey conducted in January and February of this year in the Sahelian zone showed an improvement in GAM rates in all of the surveyed regions with rates that were between eight and 60 percent lower than July 2012's levels, depending on the area. However despite this improvement, the nutritional situation in certain Sahelian regions (Kanem, Ouaddaï, and BEG) remains critical, with malnutrition rates still over 15 percent. In general, nutritional conditions in most parts of the Sudanian zone are in line with seasonal norms with GAM rates under 10 percent (January/February 2013 SMART survey).

    Food security situation

    The national food security perspective is positive, marked by good household cereal availability, stable cereal prices, and a good supply of market gardening crops. Households are currently consuming their own food stocks, whose levels are generally satisfactory compared with the five-year average. The exception to this are areas that were affected by flooding last August and September (Mayo-Kebbi Ouest, Tandjilé, Logone Occidental, Batha-Est, Logone Oriental, Moyen-Chari, and Chari-Baguirmi) where household food stocks are currently below-normal. Market gardening activities in the Sudanian zone and parts of the Sahelian zone have enabled certain farmers to stay where they are, slowing rural-urban migration to N’Djamena, Abéché, Amtiman, and Moundou to take advantage of job opportunities in these large cities. Market gardening activities are helping to strengthen household purchasing power while, at the same time, serving as an important source of food. Households in agropastoral areas have had above-normal food access after three consecutive months of stable cereal prices. In addition, despite the official closing of the border with Libya, there is a continuing flow of imported foods into the country’s Saharan zone from Libya, strengthening food availability as far as the Wadi Fira region. This is giving local households normal food access and preventing them from having to change their normal eating habits. Based on current conditions, all areas of the country are currently facing Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity (Figure 1).  


    The most likely food security scenario for the April to September 2013 period is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Pastoral conditions: The pastoral lean season (April through June) will be a month shorter than usual. Animal grazing and watering conditions will be better than usual through the month of September despite a seasonal decline in pasture and water quality between April and May. With the onset of the rainy season expected in or around May/June (depending on the area), new pasture growth and improved water availability at animal watering holes will improve livestock body conditions. There will be a normal incidence of livestock diseases throughout the outlook period and a normal pattern of return migration by transhumant livestock between March/April.
    • Livestock markets: Beginning in May, livestock prices could increase by anywhere from seven to 25 percent, in line with normal seasonal trends, as pastoralists distance themselves from markets in their search of water and pasture for their livestock. This upward trend in prices will steepen in July, August, and September in Abéché, N’Djamena, Mongo, and Massaguet in response to high local demand during the month of Ramadan and for the celebration of Tabaski. In areas close to the border with Nigeria and Libya, demand will be slightly below-average between now and September due to civil insecurity in Nigeria and the Libya-Chad border closure.  
    • Cereal markets and prices: Markets will receive a regular, normal supply of cereals throughout the outlook period. Trade flows from the Sudanian zone to the Sahelian zone will slow as of May with the definitive start of the rainy season, which normally limits trade flows within the Sudanian zone. The influx of Sudanese refugees into eastern Chad and of Central African refugees into southern Chad will create above-average demand for cereals from humanitarian organizations who are assisting this refugee population. In the Lake Chad area, current cereal supplies will be bolstered by harvests from irrigation schemes and traditional polders. Trade flows with Sudan will be normal, but trade with Nigeria and Libya will remain slow throughout the outlook period due to the insecurity in Nigeria and the closing of the Chad-Libya border. Cereal prices will fluctuate in line with normal seasonal trends, rising by five to 10 percent a month through the end of August and coming down in September. Cereal prices are expected to remain above the five-year average for the entire outlook period. 
    • Chadian/Libyan border closure: The border will remain closed for the entire outlook period. Markets in the BET area will continue to be provisioned with imports from Libya, though at atypically low quantities compared with the seasonal norm. To fill this gap, the usual cereal flow patterns from Ouaddaï will be expanded to supply Batha and Salamat.
    • Sources of food and income: Trends with regards to different sources of food and income between April and June will be in line with the normal seasonal trends. Households in areas of the Sudanian zone with below-average production this year and parts of the Sahelian zone with structural cereal deficits (Kanem, Barh-El-Gazel, and Batha-Est) will be slightly more dependent on market purchases in July and August compared to a normal year.
    • Rainy season: Seasonal forecasts by major centers (IRI, ECMWF, and NOAA-NCEP) are predicting that the rainy season will start normally sometime between April and June in both the Sahelian Belt and the Sudanian zone. Information on the spatial-temporal distribution of this rainfall is not yet available but, in quantitative terms, there should be normal to above-normal levels of rainfall and no major rainfall anomalies between now and the end of the season (in September).
    • Agricultural lean season: The lean season will start normally in the Sahelian zone in June. However in the Sudanian zone, it will begin one month earlier than usual (by May instead of June).
    • Locust situation: According to seasonal forecasts, the presence of desert locusts in Chad will be near normal.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Food insecurity in both the Sudanian and the Sahelian zone will be stable throughout the first half of the outlook period (April to June) due to good household cereal stocks and the availability of market garden crops which are enabling households to diversify their food sources. Likewise, there will be no food security issues in the BET area, where low levels of imports from Libya will be bolstered by cereal trade from Wadi Fira, Ouaddaï, Batha, and Salamat and will enable local households to improve their food access during this period. With the definitive start of the agricultural lean season in June, household cereal stocks will be reduced to minimal levels and very poor and poor households will be entirely dependent on market purchases. At this point, food insecurity will start to deteriorate in certain areas. Income from cotton sales earned in April/May in the Sudanian zone will enable some poor households to build up their food stocks very poor households in the Sahelian zone will employ their normal livelihood strategies to access food. In pastoral areas, normal livestock sales could mitigate food insecurity by improving household food access. As a result, the entire country will remain at Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity throughout this period (Figure 1).

    There will be a gradual deterioration in access to cereals during the second half of the outlook period (July to September), beginning in the North and extending southwards. Even with the availability of wild foods at this time of year, food insecurity could arise in certain areas where crop production was below the five-year average and in areas affected by last year’s floods (Mayo-Kebbi Ouest, Logone Oriental, Tandjilé, and Logone Occidental). Certain areas of the Sahelian Belt (Kanem, Barh-El-Gazal, Batha-Est, and northern Guera) will also face food insecurity with the depletion of household cereal stocks and high GAM rates at this time of year. As a result, all of these areas are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during this period. Meanwhile, the rest of the country remains at Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. However, without humanitarian assistance and programs to reduce malnutrition, certain other areas (Wadi Fira and Batha Ouest) could also see Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes.

    By the end of the second half of the outlook period (September), early harvests will start and food insecurity levels will improve in the Sudanian zone, as well as parts of the Sahelian zone.

    Area of Concern

    Mont de Lam Department (Capital: Mbaïbokoum) / Livelihood zone 1 (Southern Staple and Cash Crops)

    Current Situation

    Crop production

    The cereal balance sheet for the Mont de Lam Department indicates a 712 metric ton production shortfall compared with the 2012-2013 harvest forecasts, which puts total production at below-normal levels. This production shortfall is a result of the new strategy by local farmers to plant larger areas in oilseed crops (ex. groundnuts) to the detriment of cereal crop production. This strategy was inspired by attractive producer prices for oilseed crops seen last year in the zone. Other contributing factors to the production shortfall include normal levels of damage to cereal crops by pests (caterpillars and grain-eating birds) and, to a lesser extent, above-normal levels of flooding along the Logone River.

    Markets and prices

    Markets are currently well-stocked with cereals at slightly above-average levels due to an atypically high flow of imports as traders shuttle cereals from Cameroon and/or the Central African Republic (CAR) to Mbaibokoum. In general, the large volume of imports has kept maize prices stable since January of this year, though prices are up 19 percent compared to the same time last year. March prices for sorghum are also up 33 percent compared to March 2012 due to high demand from consumers and from local beer breweries.

    Market gardening

    Due to technical assistance provided by the National Rural Development Agency (ONDR), input distributions from the National Food Security Program (PNSA), and above-normal water levels along the Logone River, market gardening activities in this area have been more extensive than normal. These crops serve as both a food and income source for very poor and poor households.

    Household cereal stocks

    Household cereal stock levels are below-normal due to the decision by farmers to grow more oilseed crops and less cereal crops compared to last year. As a result these cereal stocks, which normally meet household needs through the month of June, only lasted through the beginning of April. Households had hoped that the additional income that they would earn from groundnut sales would exceed that of sorghum and enable households to better meet their cereal needs this year. However, the additional groundnut production saturated the market and caused excess supply. In addition, there has been below-normal demand for groundnuts from exporters due to civil insecurity across the border in the CAR and in Nigeria. As a result, groundnut crops that sold last year in April at 390 FCFA/kg are now selling for 270 FCFA/kg, indicating a 30 percent decline in prices. 

    Livestock body conditions and disease outbreaks

    Crop residues are enabling livestock to remain in satisfactory physical condition. However, there is very limited pasture availability due to the destruction of green pasture by multiple seasonally normal brush fires. There are no major livestock disease outbreaks noted except for a few cases of Newcastle Disease, which is similar to a normal year.


    As in an average year, there are no ongoing food assistance programs in this area. However, the National Food Security Program (PNSA) distributed additional supplies of inputs for market garden crops and farm implements (hoes, weeding tools, etc.) in December 2012 and January 2013.

    Wild foods

    As usual for this time of the year, mango production in this area is currently improving food security for very poor and poor households. Mango sales also serve as an important source of income for these households. At this time, mango prices are at relatively normal levels.

    Food security situation

    Income from the sale of oilseed crops and the sale of market gardening produce is currently stabilizing food security conditions by strengthening household purchasing power. This is, in turn, improving household access to market supplies of local cereals, as well as imported cereals from Cameroon and/or the CAR. Also, the availability of market gardening produce has improved the food security of poor households. As a result, local households currently face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.


    The most likely food security scenario for the April to September 2013 period in Mont de Lam Department is based on the following assumptions:

    • Markets and prices: Cereal markets will function normally throughout the outlook period, although demand for cereals will be above-normal due to the production deficit in this area.  This deficit will be offset by an above-normal volume of cereal imports from Cameroon and the CAR between April and June, improving cereal availability on local markets. Mont de Lam Department will be isolated from the rest of the region between July and August due to rising water levels on the Logone River which will impede access to the area. As a result, prices for sorghum, an important staple cereal for this area, could rise 25 to 30 percent during this period, surpassing normal seasonal price trends. Declining groundnut prices and increasing sorghum prices means that there will be a steady deterioration in terms of trade through the end of June.
    • Income sources for very poor and poor households: These households will rely on their normal income sources during the outlook period, with a slight increase in incomes from oilseed crop and market garden produce sales during the first half of the outlook period. In addition, there will be greater reliance on certain income sources, such as craft-making and sales of eggs, poultry, and firewood, during the second half of the outlook period in order to improve cereal access between July and August.
    • Sources of food: Households will depend on their normal sources of food. However, the depletion of their household cereal stocks will make them much more reliant on market purchases between April and August.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between April and June, supplies of market garden produce and wild foods will supplement low levels of household cereal stocks to help households meet food needs and stabilize food insecurity. Sales of oilseed and market garden crops will strengthen household purchasing power and will provide better access to cereals on local markets. Consequently, local households will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity during this period.

    Between July and August, at the height of the lean season, expected increases in market cereal prices, the earlier than normal depletion of household food stocks, and the scarcity of wild foods that serve as a source of food and income will complicate household cereal access. As a result, households will begin to have more difficulties meeting food needs. To cope with this problem, households will resort to above-normal sales of firewood, hand-made goods, and animal products, which will be less lucrative at that point in the year. During this time period, poor households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

    By September, harvests of early crops will reduce household reliance on market purchases and will improve food consumption.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    • Cereals are sold on the market at lower, subsidized rates
    • Improvement in household cereal access;
    • Stabilization of cereal prices in certain areas.
    • Unusual high prevalence of crop pests  
    • Lower than anticipated harvests;
    • Few wage-earning opportunities for farm laborers.
    • Sudden end of the rains 
    • Few wage-earning opportunities for farm laborers;
    • Delay in the harvests of early crops.
    • Flooding
    • Lower than anticipated harvests;
    • Few wage-earning opportunities for farm laborers.

    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