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Good cereal availability due to ongoing harvests

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Chad
  • October 2013 - March 2014
Good cereal availability due to ongoing harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Area of Concern
  • Events That Might Change The Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The size of the harvests from this year’s agricultural season varies considerably from one region of the country to another.  Harvests in southern and eastern areas are expected to be average to above-average. Meanwhile, below-average production levels are expected for the Wadi-Fira region, parts of northern Ouara, Kanem, Hadjer Lamis, northern Batha, and Bahr-El-Ghazel.

    • Compared with September 2013, markets are currently well-stocked with coarse grains that are beginning to arrive on local markets from the new harvests. In general, prices have been declining since September, improving food access for poor households.  

    • As of October, food security for households dependent on rainfed cereal production is improving due to the ongoing harvests. The combination of replenished cereal stocks and localized supplies of market garden crops will allow households to diversify their food sources between October and December. During this time period, all areas of the country will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.  

    • However, cereal stocks in Wadi-Fira, parts of northern Ouara, Kanem, Hadjer Lamis, northern Batha, and Bahr El-Ghazel will begin to deplete in January, one to two months earlier than usual. Between January and March, households in these areas will be more dependent on market purchases than usual and will also face atypically high food prices at local markets. As a result, household food consumption in these areas will be reduced and minimally adequate, translating into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes. 


    National Overview
    Current situation

    Crop production 

    A string of dry spells between June and July and poor rainfall distribution in September across the Sahelian zone reduced crop yields in certain areas (Biltine, northern Ouara, and Batha). Meanwhile, the Sudanian zone had a more or less average rainy season with normal crop development. The growing season has continued into October with ongoing harvesting and threshing activities for coarse grains. In addition, off-season farming activities are starting up normally in the Eastern Rainfed Cereals and Market Gardening livelihood zone (Ouaddaï, Sila, and southern Wadi Fira). Due to low water levels in seasonal lakes and ponds, this year’s market gardening season started approximately three weeks earlier than usual.

    Locust situation 

    In general, the crop pest situation is calm. As of September, there were some isolated solitary immature winged adult locusts in the central and northeastern reaches of the country between Salal, Kalaït, and Fada. There was also some small-scale locust breeding activities in southeastern Salal and in the vicinity of Fada, as evidenced by the presence of isolated solitary larvae. However, there are no signs of any major damage. In addition, there continues to be reports of grain-eating birds in localized areas of Batha, Guera, Wadi-Fira, and Ouaddaï, similar to a normal year.

    Pastoral conditions

    In general, pastoral and livestock body conditions are good. Pasture is available, although at slightly below-average levels in certain areas.  Similarly, low rainfall levels in September in localized areas of the Sahelian zone did not help to refill local water reservoirs. As a result, water levels in these areas are below-average and animal watering needs are already a source of concern. Consequently, there have already been reports of large-scale herd movements southwards by transhumants in Wadi-Fira, Sila, and Ouaddaï. Currently, there are no major epizootic outbreaks, except for the presence of soil-borne diseases in localized areas.

    Wage labor

    Farm labor earnings in agropastoral and rainfed farming areas normally account for approximately 20 to 40 percent of total household income for very poor and poor households. The relatively normal growing season in the country’s Sudanian zone provided near-average incomes for poor households. However, due to this year’s rainfall anomalies and their effects on crop production, agricultural labor income in certain parts of the Sahelian zone is down approximately 50 percent.

    Household cereal availability

    As usual, households are currently replenishing their cereal stocks with fresh crops from the recent harvests. Before the start of the harvests, households in the Sudanian zone generally had no carry-over stocks from last year due to below-average 2012/13 production caused by flood-related crop losses. However, at present, there is good cereal availability from the ongoing, average to above-average 2013/14 harvests. In the Sahelian zone, carry-over food stocks from last year were above-average due to a record 2012/13 harvest. These carry-over stocks are being bolstered by ongoing harvests and assistance programs (blanket feeding programs and general distributions of food rations), creating adequate cereal availability in the zone.

    Markets and prices 

    Trade flows have picked up between primary to secondary markets with the improvement in conditions on certain major roads that were extremely difficult to negotiate during the rainy season. In addition, government restrictions prohibiting cereal exports from certain regions of the country to other regions that were in effect earlier in the year have since been lifted. As a result, intra-zonal trade flows are normal within the Sudanian zone and trade flows from the Sudanian zone to the capital are also starting to be observed, particularly for groundnuts.

    Cereal markets are currently well-stocked compared to September 2013 levels with supply being bolstered by fresh crops that are beginning to arrive on local markets. Household demand is also declining with the new supplies of crops, which have improved household food availability and helped facilitate food access. While prices for certain crops (pearl millet and rice) have remained stable since September, food prices are generally declining with the marketing of freshly harvested crops, as well as due to assistance programs underway in the Sahelian zone. The most pronounced price decreases have been for sorghum, whose prices have dropped 10 to 15 percent.

    In general, prices for animals on livestock markets in the Sahelian zone have declined compared to September 2013 levels due to the sharp decrease in demand after Ramadan and Tabaski. The Mao market is reporting the sharpest drop in prices with the price of sheep down 30 percent compared to September. However compared to October 2012 levels, sheep prices at Mao still remain up 21 percent.

    Current food security situation 

    As a whole, the food security situation is satisfactory compared to conditions during the lean season (June through September) due to the start of harvests in certain areas and the availability of market garden crops (cabbage, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, etc.). Households have now returned to their normal eating habits (consuming at least two meals a day) and are currently facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity across all livelihood zones in Chad (Figure 1).

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario for the period from October 2013 through March 2014 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Grain-eating birds and locusts: In the northern reaches of Kanem and Batha, as well as in Biltine department, reports of small-scale, locust breeding activities could lead to an increased number of locusts. While the drying up of natural vegetation could trigger the concentration and formation of small groups of locusts, their impact on biomass production will be negligible due to their low density levels (Figure 4). However, there will be normal levels of grain-eating birds in the fields of late-season rainfed crops that are still in the maturation stage due to crop development delays.
    • Crop production: In general, cereal production will be average with many localized cases of production deficits in the Sahelian zone and production surpluses in the Sudanian zone. The localized production deficits in the Sahelian zone are due to several factors including a late start-of-season, rainfall deficits in July, and an abrupt, earlier than usual end to the rainy season. In the Sudanian zone, harvests for cash crops (cotton, groundnuts, and sesame) are expected to be average to above-average.
    • Market gardening activities: Despite below-normal water levels in seasonal lakes and ponds in the Sahelian zone, households will intensify their market gardening activities between November and January. In general, market gardening harvests are expected to be average and as a result, there should be a good availability of market garden produce during this time period. Market gardening activities will generate extra income for certain households, including the poor and very poor, and will help households diversify their diets.
    • Cereal stocks: Households and traders will have large cereal stocks between October and December from harvests in agricultural areas which, in general, are expected to be average. Starting in February, cereal availability will be bolstered by harvests of berbéré (flood-irrigated sorghum) crops in flood-recession agricultural areas. However, the levels of household cereal stocks in certain parts of the Sahelian belt (BEG, Hadjer-Lamis, Kanem, Wadi-Fira, and parts of Batha and Ouaddaï) will be lower than usual due to below-average harvests expected in these areas. While above-average carry-over stocks from 2012/13 are helping to offset the effects of the poor 2013/14 harvest, cereal stocks in these areas will generally deplete one to two months earlier than usual, by December (in areas where berbéré crops are not grown) or by January (in berbéré production areas).
    • Pastoral conditions: In general, forage resources will be below-average throughout the outlook period due to the localized, low rainfall levels in the country’s Sahelian zone. Likewise, except for areas in the eastern and southern parts of the country, availability of water for livestock will be a source of concern, particularly in the Kanem, Hadjer-Lamis, Wadi-Fira, and northern Batha regions. Throughout the outlook period, rates of soil-borne diseases will be normal. However, the physical condition of livestock will begin to deteriorate in March, one month earlier than usual, due to the limited forage availability. Seasonal migration by transhumant livestock will begin early (by the end of October instead of in December) due to issues meeting animal watering needs and due to the poor quantity and quality of pastures in livestock receiving areas.
    • Livestock markets: Currently, the average price for a sheep is up compared September 2013 and prices will continue to rise through December, fueled by a peak in demand relating to preparations for the end-of-the-year holiday season. This demand will be reinforced by additional demand from returning pilgrims, which will also drive up prices. Starting in January, prices will begin to decrease slightly as demand declines. Meanwhile, demand from Nigeria and Libya will be slightly below-average due to the continuing civil insecurity in these countries.
    • Cross-border trade: There will be no significant abatement of the conflict in northern Nigeria, which will continue to limit trade between northeastern Nigeria and Chad. Likewise, there will be no change with respect to the situation in Libya, where continuing security problems caused by the presence of armed groups will prevent the restoration of normal trade flows with Chad. As Libya’s southern borders remain officially closed, any trade between Libya and Chad will continue to be informal. Trade flows with the Central African Republic and Cameroon will be normal.
    • Cereal markets, prices, and trade: While there will be a regular flow of cereals to markets throughout the outlook period, market cereal supplies will not be the same across the country’s two agro-ecological zones due to the reported cereal deficit in the Sahelian zone. Prices in the Sudanian zone will follow normal seasonal trends between October 2013 and March 2014 with prices remaining below last year’s levels but above the five-year average due to the good harvest in this zone. Prices in the Sahelian zone will also be in line with normal seasonal trends through January, at which point they will increase at a faster rate than is seasonally normal. Trade flows from the Sudanian to the Sahelian zone will return to normal levels, although low supplies at collection markets in the Sahelian zone, particularly in the Wadi-Fira region, will reduce intra-zone trade within this zone.
    • Sources of food and income: Household food and income sources throughout the outlook period will be similar to a normal year. However, the cereal production deficit in the country’s Sahelian zone will translate into an above-normal dependence on market purchases between January and March. Very poor and poor households in this part of the country will intensify craft-making activities, as well as sales of wood and straw, to strengthen their buying power during this period. Despite a larger supply of wood, straw, and hand-made goods on local markets, prices for these products are expected to remain relatively normal.  
    • Migration: Internal migration patterns will be normal with the first departures at the end of October after harvesting activities are complete. However, there will be above-average numbers of migrant workers from production deficit areas of the Sahelian zone towards urban areas with relatively normal incomes earned by these migrants.
    • Nutritional situation: There will be a significant improvement between October and December in areas with average harvests due to an expected decline in cereal prices on local markets and a normal contribution of market gardening produce in household diets. However, there will be a slight deterioration in the nutritional situation starting in February due to a seasonal increase in respiratory illnesses.
    • Situation of refugees: Tensions created by the difficulties restoring peace in the Central African Republic and in Darfur could lead to a larger influx of refugees into Chad from these areas. As a result, assistance programs set up by humanitarian agencies for refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic will be extended and will continue to provide full food rations to refugees throughout the outlook period. Furthermore, the new Sudanese refugees will require food and nonfood assistance to rebuild their livelihoods.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Food security will be relatively stable throughout the country during in the first half of the outlook period (October through December). Households will rely on their on-farm production and will not resort to any atypical coping strategies. The downward trend in cereal prices during this time period will improve food access for very poor and poor, market-dependant households. There will also be a good availability of market garden produce, which will help bolster household income and improve food security. Due to good food availability, there will also be an improvement in the nutritional situation. Accordingly, households will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in all parts of the country between October and December 2013 (Figure 2).

    The positive trends in food security between October and December will continue into February/March in the Sudanian zone due to good household cereal availability in this zone. However, food stocks in the Sahelian zone will start to deplete beginning in January (one to two months earlier than usual) due to cereal production shortfalls in that zone, making households much more dependent on market purchases. In addition, atypical cereal price increases during this time period will limit food access for very poor and poor households. In response, these households will intensify their regular livelihood strategies (labor migration, the collection of wild fruits, craft-making, etc.) to atypical levels to help bridge the gap. However, these strategies will not entirely offset the effects of both poor harvests and high food prices. As a result, very poor and poor households in the Wadi–Fira, Kanem, Bar-El-Gazal, Hadjer Lamis, northern Guerra, and northern Batha regions will spend less money on essential nonfood expenditures between January and March 2014, producing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute  food security outcomes (Figure 3).

    Beyond the outlook period and through the end of the next lean season in August 2014, there will be a steady deterioration of acute food security outcomes in the Wadi–Fira, Kanem, Bar-El-Gazal, Hadjer Lamis, northern Guerra, and northern Batha regions.


    Area of Concern

    Biltine Department/Livelihood zone 6 (Eastern rainfed cereals and market gardening zone)

    Current situation

    Status of the growing season

    In general, the growing season in Biltine Department was marred by a number of anomalies, including a three to four week delay in the start-of-season, a string of dry spells between June and July, and an abrupt, early end of the rainy season two to three weeks ahead of schedule. While the first June rains allowed for the planting of crops, these rains were followed by a string of dry spells across the department’s northern areas, which made it necessary to replant crops in July and August. As a result, the land area under cultivation as of August 31st was estimated at 103,975 hectares, which compared with 143,475 hectares at the same time last year, represents is a 28 percent reduction in cultivated land area. In addition, the abrupt end of the rainy season prevented crops (millet and sorghum) from maturing normally. The situation for locusts and beetles is relatively normal with pests currently in their larval stage. However due to their low densities, these pests are not currently a source of concern. 

    Pastoral conditions

    The availability of pasture and water in all areas of the department is relatively good, although slightly below-average due to this year’s lower than usual rainfall levels. As a result, livestock are in satisfactory physical conditions with no major outbreaks of livestock diseases within the department.

    Markets and prices

    Cereal markets are well-stocked with larger stock levels compared to the same time last year due to carry-over stocks from 2012. Demand is currently down compared to the last two months with the gradual departure of transhumant pastoralists from the area. On the Biltine market, September prices for sorghum were up six percent compared to the previous month while millet prices were down 14 percent. Prices for both crops were below the five-year average (by 17 percent in the case of sorghum and two percent in the case of pearl millet) due to good availability of cereals from the above-average 2012 harvest.

    There are large supplies of animals on livestock markets and business is brisk with the presence of transhumant pastoralists in the vicinity of this area. In addition, demand has been stronger than usual due to the celebration of Tabaski in October. As a result, the average price of a sheep in October is up 23 percent compared to September. However, compared to the same time last year, sheep prices are down 18 percent and goat prices are down 53 percent as the large cereal production shortfall has caused very poor and poor households to rely more on income from livestock sales. Accordingly, terms of trade are disadvantageous for pastoralists compared to a normal year.

    Current food security situation

    Very poor and poor households are currently enjoying good food availability due to large 2012 carry-over food stocks, fresh crops from recent harvests, and the availability of market garden produce. As a result, there has been a significant improvement in food consumption by these household groups since the lean season (June to September). Based on these conditions, households are currently able to meet their food and nonfood needs without engaging in any atypical coping strategies and, thus, are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario in Biltine Department for the period of October 2013 to March 2014 is based on the following assumptions:

    • Crop production: Due to the late start of the growing season in Biltine Department and the sudden, earlier than normal end of the rainy season, crops were unable to mature normally, resulting in below-average yields per hectare. As a result, this year’s cereal production will be approximately 40 to 45 percent lower than average.
    • Grain-eating birds: Based on ground reports of the presence of grain-eating birds in October in Biltine Department and a delay in the development of crops planted in August, the presence of grain-eating birds is expected to continue at relatively normal levels between October and November.
    • Cereal stocks: Households will rely on their own food stocks to meet their consumption needs between October and December. However starting in January, household food stocks will begin to deplete, one to two months earlier than normal.
    • Markets and prices: Between October and December, markets will be well-stocked with carry-over trader inventories and fresh crops from the ongoing harvest. However with this season’s below-average harvest, food prices will not follow normal seasonal trends. In particular, strong household demand and low supply starting in January will drive cereal prices up at a faster rate than normal through at least the end of the outlook period in March 2014.
    • Sources of household income: Very poor and poor households will rely on their normal income sources during the outlook period. However, households will earn below-average levels of income from farm labor and sales of crops and market garden produce due, in part, to the below-average levels of agricultural activities this year and, in part, to the premature drying up of seasonal lakes and ponds. In addition, craft-making activities, small-scale trading activities, construction work, migration, remittances, and sales of wood and straw will be scaled up to above-average levels as households try to compensate for the effects of the below-average harvest. The recent discovery of gold in the BET region will also encourage more workers to head to these areas for gold mining activities.
    • Sources of food: Food sources for very poor and poor households will be similar to a normal year with a reliance on a combination of on-farm production, market purchases, and the gathering of wild foods. However, with the low levels of household cereal stocks during the second half of the outlook period, the share of food coming from certain sources, particularly food loans from better-off households and market purchases will be larger than usual between January and March.
    • Nutritional situation: Based on the 19 percent decline in admissions of children to therapeutic feeding centers between June and July and on supplies of fresh crops from ongoing harvests, there should be an improvement in the nutritional situation between October and January. There will then be a slight deterioration starting in February 2014 as the prevalence of acute respiratory diseases seasonally increases. However, the number of admissions to therapeutic feeding centers will stay below figures from July 2013, which was both the peak of the lean season and the peak of admissions to these centers.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    With good levels of carry-over cereal stocks from the 2012 harvest and supplies of fresh crops from the ongoing harvest, households will be able to meet their food needs between October and December with no major difficulties. The decline in market cereal prices during this time period will improve very poor and poor households’ access to staple foods. In addition, income from crop sales will improve household purchasing power. Accordingly, households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity during this period.

    However starting in January, the food security outlook will be less promising, with cereal stocks depleting earlier than usual and households becoming more dependent on market purchases, at least in part, to bridge food gaps. In addition, atypically high cereal prices will limit cereal access for very poor and poor households. Household food consumption during this period will be reduced and minimally adequate, ruling out essential non-food spending. Very poor and poor households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes between January and March, with the possibility of a further deterioration in food security outcomes after the end of the outlook period through the end of the next consumption year in August 2014.


    Events That Might Change The Outlook

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security conditions

    National

    • Atypically severe locust infestation

     

    • Atypically severe infestation of grain-eating birds

     

    • Reduction in pasture and milk availability;
    • Difficulty reconstituting fodder stocks;
    • Difficulty rebuilding cereal stocks;
    • Harsher than usual lean season for livestock;
    • Heightened levels of food insecurity for pastoral populations.
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, October 2013

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, October 2013

    Source: FEWS NET

    Risk of locust infestations, as of  October 10, 2013

    Figure 3

    Risk of locust infestations, as of October 10, 2013

    Source: FAO

    Figure 1

    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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