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The month of December was marked by harvest activities across the country, which will continue through January. Even with the occasional localized rainfall anomalies during the 2016season, production levels will surpass figures for last year and the five-year average. This year, market garden crops are playing a larger role in the coping strategies of farming households due to the income generated by these crops.
The situation in pastoral areas is under control with the annual vaccination campaign and parasite treatment program for small ruminants conducted by livestock agencies. As usual, deep-sea fishing activities have been steadily picking up since October and inland fishing activities are gradually picking up as water levels on rivers and large streams continue to fall, which should increase food resources and incomes.
There are adequate market supplies and food reserves are being replenished with crops from ongoing harvests across the country. Rice prices are stable and will stay relatively stable for the next few months, thereby maintaining food access. The good food availability from ongoing harvests surpassing the five-year average and access of most households to these crops should translate into Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through at least May 2017.
Rainfall: The rains had more or less ended in most prefectures across the country by the beginning of November 2016, after an above-average rainy season.
This year, rainfall anomalies during the 2016 season triggered premature flooding followed by extended dry spells in areas such as Siguiri, affecting some 812 households. According to the Department of Agriculture in Siguiri Prefecture, in general, crop losses are estimated at 23,680 metric tons of rice and 30,751 metric tons of maize for the most part. These climatic anomalies also affected millet/sorghum, peanut, and even cotton crops. There was later than usual flooding in coastal areas (Boffa) of Lower Guinea towards the end of September and the beginning of October, mainly in Koba Subprefecture, affecting 332 households in a 2620 hectare area, whose crop losses were estimated at 7074 metric tons of paddy by the Department of Agriculture in Boffa Prefecture.
Farming conditions: There are ongoing harvests in all parts of the country, which will continue through January 2017 in line with the variety of crops (intermediate and late crops) and ecosystems involved. The strategy used by farming households is to stagger crop production to better replenish their food reserves and make them last for several months. Thus, their reserves are being gradually rebuilt as the harvest progresses. There will be a larger than average aggregate volume of cereal production in spite of the occasional localized deficits in production due to climatic anomalies.
As far as plant health issues are concerned, the potato crops of 3012 farmers in a total area of approximately 1300 hectares in Labé, Pita, Dalaba, Mali, and Mamou Prefectures in Middle Guinea were attacked by a fungus from infested seeds imported from neighboring countries in August 2016, which will negatively affect crop production in these areas, particularly potato yields. This has significantly slowed economic activities affecting farm workers, suppliers of farm inputs, truckers, and traders in these areas.
Household cereal stocks: There are increasingly visible signs of the replenishment of food reserves in all parts of the country as the harvesting period continues, which will improve household food availability and access.
Pastoral conditions: The ongoing annual vaccination campaign and parasite treatment program for small ruminants conducted by livestock agencies will help keep pastoral conditions stable. With the recent end of the rainy season, there is a good supply of pasture and watering holes to keep livestock in good physical condition. The steady pick-up in cross-border trade is keeping prices in line with the norm and, thus, maintaining average levels of income.
Farm labor: Increasingly rapid urbanization is driving more and more farm workers from rural areas to cities and mining sites. This has been a growing problem for the past several years, particularly in certain areas, and is sharply driving up daily wage rates for farm labor, which generally range from 15,000 to 30,000 FG but are as high as 45,000 to 50,000 FG in farming areas producing potatoes as a cash crop.
Markets and prices: There are adequate market supplies and food stocks are being replenished from the ongoing harvests across the country. November prices for rice were relatively stable, at around 5500 to 6500 FG/kg for locally grown rice and 4000 to 5000 FG/kg for imported rice, depending on the prefecture. However, the fungus attacking potato crops doubled the price of potatoes on markets in Fouta between July and November, which jumped from 6000 FG/Kg to 12,000 FG. This will limit the volume of domestic and cross-border trade and reduce potato consumption. Potato prices will continue to rise, gradually coming back down only with the total eradication of this fungal disease.
Situation of survivors and orphans from the Ebola virus outbreak: Assistance programs for survivors and orphans from the Ebola virus outbreak making distributions of food supplies and cash payments to Ebola victims have been temporarily suspended. The government and its partners are in the process of discussing terms and conditions for resuming the project.
Current food security situation: The availability of crops is enabling households to replentish their food reserves and increase their income, as well as to diversify their diets. In general, current food security conditions across the country are stable. The availability of different types of crops (maize, fonio, rice, peanuts, and tubers) from good harvests and the steady flow of rice imports are providing food access, enabling poor populations to meet their food needs and helping to keep food insecurity at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels.
The assumptions used by FEWS NET as basis for establishing the most likely scenario for the period from October 2016 through May 2017 have not changed.
In spite of the reported flooding problems, dry spells, and fungal infestations of potato crops in certain areas marring the 2016/2017 growing season, there are good harvests of rice, maize, millet/sorghum, fonio, and tuber crops underway all across the country, which will continue through January 2017. This will enable households to replenish their food stocks, improve food availability, and keep food prices in line with the norm. Thus, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least May 2017.
This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.