Food Security Outlook

Successful start of the 2016/2017 growing season across the country

June 2016 to January 2017

June - September 2016

Guinea June 2016 Food Security Projections for June to September

October 2016 - January 2017

Guinea June 2016 Food Security Projections for October to January

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The 2016 rainy season is well-established in all prefectures across throughout the country. Cumulative rainfall totals as of the second dekad of June show a large to moderate excess. Crop planting is expected to have to a near-normal start in all parts of the country with average to below-average rainfall, which suggest average crop production and average incomes from farming activities for the 2016/2017 growing season.

  • In spite of the approaching lean season (June through September) and the rises in prices during the month of Ramadan (June), markets will continue to be well-stocked with staple foods and prices will be relatively stable, allowing food availability and food access for most households. The successful rebuilding of livelihoods since the end of the Ebola crisis will limit its residual effects.

  • The recent incidents of Ebola are finally under control, allowing for a normal resumption of crop-producing activities and crop trade on both domestic and cross-border markets. This will enable households to produce normal yields of crops, supply markets, and generate income. Thus, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in all parts of the country at least through January 2017.

National Overview

Current situation

Rainfall levels: The 2016 rainy season experienced a strong start in the month of April in the forest zone. Cumulative rainfall levels are higher than average, with a good spatial/temporal distribution of rainfall. According to ten-day satellite rainfall estimates (RFE) for the period from April 1st through June 10th, rain coverage in virtually all parts of the country is at or above the ten-year seasonal average (Figure 1). Crop planting activities have started in most regions of the country, particularly in the forest zone, where rainfall conditions have been steadily normalizing since the start-of-season. 

Farming conditions: The crop yields for 2015/2016 above the five-year average and continuing market gardening activities have made it possible for households to still have enough food reserves and income to meet their food needs.

The 2016/2017 growing season has started in nearly all prefectures. Farming activities began with the planting of hillside maize, rice, fonio, and groundnut crops. Crop planting or transplanting activities in lowland areas will get underway in the next few months, depending on soil quality and flooding levels. 

To ensure a successful 2016/2017 growing season, the government has created a fertilizer plant in Dubreka (close to Conakry) to meet demand from Guinean farmers. It has also selected a contractor (Tidiane Agriculture) to make timely distributions of pesticide in all prefectures, unlike in previous years. Thus, there are currently large available supplies of fertilizer and pesticide to meet the needs of farmers in all parts of the country.

Labor: The daily cost of farm labor is still high (at 30,000 FG) due to the high rates of rural-urban migration in the past several years, exacerbated by the Ebola crisis in 2014 and 2015. There is an average stable stream of income from farm labor, but workers continue to be lured by small-scale mining activities. In addition, many youths are starting to drive motorbike taxis, which are more lucrative than farming activities (generating an average of 40,000 FG in earnings per day).

Migration: There are a number of (domestic and foreign) sources of migration income. Every year, large numbers of able-bodied workers leave home during the dry season (between December and April) to try make money in gold-mining or diamond-mining areas. In fact, most migrants earning income from mine labor often give up farming for other economic activities such as driving motorbike taxis, petty trade, running a bar, etc. Thus far, there is a normal flow of migrants slowly returning from mining areas.

Pastoral conditions: In general, the situation in pastoral areas is still good. Livestock are in good physical condition and have adequate watering holes. There have been no reports of any major epizootic outbreaks.

Fishing conditions: Guinea’s 300-kilometer-long coast line on the Atlantic Ocean and its numerous rivers and large streams are importance fishing sources, both for consumption and for sale. There are year-round ocean fishing activities and a reduction in river and stream fishing between July and August, during the period of heaviest rain. There are also rapidly growing numbers of fish ponds, particularly in Guinea’s forest zone, which are helping to promote small-scale fishing activities. On average, these ponds produce close to 500 kg of fish every six months, or a metric ton of fish per year. Most of the fish sold, generating large amounts of income for fish-farmers.

Market supplies and prices: Markets are still well-stocked with staple foods such as steamed local rice, parboiled imported rice, tubers, and palm oil from the good harvests obtained by many households for the 2015/2016 growing season. 

Prices on most markets are stable and close to normal (pre-Ebola levels). The complete eradication of the Ebola virus is helping to strengthen market supplies of crops and stabilize prices. May prices for a kilogram of local rice ranged from 4500 to 6500 FG depending on the location and its quality, which is close to the three-year average (Figure 2). There was a slight rise in May prices for a kilogram of parboiled imported rice from 4000 to an average of 4500 FG/kg. Rice vendors attribute this rise to the increase in the value-added tax (VAT) on rice in the last few months. The cost of palm oil varies from 6500 to 7000 FG /liter depending on its quality.

There is a high consumer demand for staple foods such as maize, cassava, fonio, fruits, and vegetables during the month of Ramadan beginning in June. This year, the month of June also coincides with the beginning of the lean season, when certain traders attempt to drive up food prices. Thus, prices for certain types of foodstuffs are already above-average.

Domestic and cross-border trade: There are signs of a normalization of food trade between crop-producing areas and high-consumption areas, which had been disrupted by the Ebola outbreak for the past two years. The measures taken by the government at the beginning of the year to eliminate harassment at road control points have helped promote a normal resumption of transportation activities, though there are still scattered reports of uniformed agents extorting bribes from truckers.

The flow of cross-border food trade between Guinea and its neighbors has effectively normalized. The flow of crops between Guinea and bordering countries is up sharply from 2015 at the same time of year. There are large shipments of palm oil to Guinea from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The normal resumption of cross-border trading activities is enabling pastoralists to sell their animals in neighboring countries. The decision by Liberia, for example, to close its border during the recent Ebola outbreak this past March in N’Zérékoré prefecture was ignored by traders and, thus, has not affected trade.

Residual effects of the Ebola outbreak: The Ebola outbreak beginning in 2014 created socioeconomic disruptions which, with the suspension of socioeconomic activities, exposed large numbers of people to acute food insecurity, especially in the Forest Zone and Lower Guinea. Even after the eradication of the Ebola virus, its residual effects are still being felt, both by  households of Ebola victims who have lost their assets and are having trouble recovering, and by overburdened households who have taken in Ebola survivors and orphans. Certain traders who had purchased perishable goods (fish, potatoes, etc.) on credit during the Ebola crisis, which caused a reduction in sales and deterioration in the quality of these products, have been unable to pay their debts and, thus, still owe money to their suppliers. Heads of households who purchased fertilizer on credit and whose workers were killed or forced to flee during the Ebola outbreak are in the same predicament.

Nutritional situation: According to the SMART survey in January 2015, the average nationwide global acute malnutrition rate was 6.8 percent which, though below the WHO critical threshold, is still concerning. There are local disparities all across the country, with GAM rates of 14.5 percent in Siguiri, above the critical threshold. These rates are similar to figures for the same time period in 2012. With good harvests and well-stocked markets, seasonal trends in food availability and food diversity appear to be in line with the norm and similar to trends in 2015.

Food security situation: The 2015/2016 growing season was marked by a major rebound in household agricultural activities (crop-farming, livestock-raising, and fishing), putting production levels for 2015/2016 above the five-year average. This physical availability of agricultural products has helped produce good market supplies and keep prices relatively stable since the beginning of the year. In addition, the normal start of the 2016/2017 growing season is producing average employment opportunities for farm labor and average levels of income from these activities. The availability and accessibility of crops for Guinean households are important drivers of food security across the country. Thus, all areas are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for June 2016 through January 2017 is based on the following assumptions with respect to nationwide conditions:

  • Rainfall: Seasonal PRESAO forecasts from May 2016 predict that the rainy season in Guinea will have a generally normal start and end later than usual, in November instead of October. Based on the analysis of NOAA, ECMWS, IRI, and UK MET seasonal forecast models, despite the expected dry spells, there will be average to below-average levels of cumulative rainfall between May and November (Figure 3). A good temporal distribution of rainfall could mitigate the effects of these deficits and would provide adequate rainfall for normal crop growth and development.
  • Crop production: The ongoing crop planting activities for different crops will proceed as usual, according to the country’s different ecosystems. On the whole, at a minimum, there should be average cropping rates with the extension of hydro-agricultural development schemes, particularly for rice, and the farm input assistance (seeds and fertilizer) furnished by the government and its partners. In general, harvests of early-planted crops will begin in August and, depending on the area in question, will continue through January and be at least similar to the average.

Sources of food and income

  • Migration: The usual flow of return migration by workers to farm the land will continue through the month of July. The normal outflow of labor to urban areas of the country and neighboring countries to engage in trading and other activities will begin as of October-November, which marks the end of the growing season is many areas of the country. The average levels of income from these activities will be used to meet household needs. The same assumptions apply to workers heading to gold mining sites between November and June.
  • Gold mining activities: There will be near-average levels of income from gold mining activities with the large influx of foreigners from other regional countries and the expansion in the mining sites of mining companies. As usual, mining sites for small-scale gold mining operations will be shut down during the growing season (between approximately May and November).
  • Cash crops: The inadequate maintenance of fields planted in cash crops with the departure of workers for gold mining areas, a phenomenon exacerbated by the flight of labor during the Ebola crisis, and the limited availability of income for the payment of maintenance costs will reduce yields of different crops and, as a result, household income levels. This will be accentuated in the case of Ebola survivors and orphans.
  • Fishing: There will be the usual decline in fishing activities with the heavy rains in the months of July and August. The growing interest of farmers in the construction of fish ponds and the promotion of mixed rice/fish-farming operations (combining rice-growing and fish-breeding activities) will help boost fresh water fish production. In general, there will be average to above-average levels of fish production between June and January 2017.
  • Livestock-raising: There will be an average volume of sales of pigs and goats throughout the outlook period. Pastoralists will sell their animals in neighboring countries, earning average to above-average incomes, with the high demand for live animals in September for the celebration of Tabaski helping to drive cattle and sheep prices up sharply.
  • Income sources: Sources of subsistence income such as the food trade, livestock trade, etc. will perform normally. The continued rapid resumption of cross-border trading activities will help generate an overall average stream of income between June and January 2017.
  • Farm labor: The shrinking farm labor pool with the increasing urbanization of the country’s population in the last few years will help sustain the high price of labor. This will translate into above-average incomes from wage labor.

Markets

  • Market supplies: Good crop production and the resumption of normal trade flows with neighboring countries will help produce average market supplies throughout the outlook period, between June and next January. Ongoing localized harvests of off-season crops and expected harvests beginning in August will also help bolster market inventories.
  • Food prices: These average market supplies will help keep prices for local and imported rice relatively stable. On the other hand, prices for other imported foodstuffs will stay high with the reinstatement of the value-added tax (VAT).  The current stable prices of locally grown crops and on-farm and trader inventories will prevent a sharp rise in prices, which should stay close to the average. There will be normal rises in the prices of certain staple commodities such as maize, fonio, cassava, fruits, and vegetables from their current levels with the observance of Ramadan. The maize harvests beginning in August and the harvests of other cereal crops (millet, sorghum, rice, fonio, and tubers) between September and January will help reduce household consumer demand on local markets. This lower demand and the improvement of food availability on domestic markets with the first harvests beginning in September will trigger a seasonal decline in prices, which will put them near average. In contrast, prices for livestock will rise in September, fueled by demand for the celebration of Tabaski.
  • Cash crops prices: In general, there will be average levels of cash crop production during the outlook period, involving mainly kola nuts, coffee, rubber, palm oil, and cocoa in the country’s forest zone and potatoes, cashews, yams, bananas, peppers, and groundnuts in the rest of the country. The usual competition from farmers in Ivory Coast and Liberia on the markets for these cash crops will prevent major price fluctuations. However, there will be seasonal fluctuations in the prices of different crops at the usual times.
  • Cross-border trade: The virtual normalization of cross-border trade in crops between Guinea and its neighbors and the containment of the recent Ebola outbreak in March 2016 will help facilitate the normal conduct of business by traders, translating into regular market supplies of foodstuffs. There will continue to be a regular flow of informal trade in spite of the closure of the country’s border with Liberia after the recent flare-up of Ebola in N’Zérékoré prefecture.

Other important factors

  • Effects of the Ebola outbreak: Certain households will continue to feel the residual effects of the Ebola outbreak. However, the coverage of all medical costs by the National Ebola Response Commission and the cash transfers to directly-affected households will help ease the burden on these households. Nevertheless, households indirectly affected by the Ebola outbreak whose livelihoods were disrupted by the crisis could continue to feel its effects. The effective livelihood rebuilding efforts of affected households will limit its impact.
  • Nutrition: In the absence of other aggravating factors, malnutrition rates will stay within normal ranges, with the usual rise in malnutrition levels during the lean season, between June/July and the beginning of September, driven by outbreaks of diarrheal diseases and malaria. The normal rise in admissions rates to therapeutic feeding centers during this period will confirm the deterioration of nutritional conditions. The nutritional situation will improve with the upcoming harvests between September and January and the decline in malaria and diarrheal diseases.
Most likely food security outcomes

The lean season, limiting dietary diversity, and the rise in the prices of certain staples during the month of Ramadan will trigger a normal slight deterioration in food consumption between June and September. However, markets will continue to be well-stocked with foodstuffs, the growing season will proceed as usual, and households will earn normal income levels from their livelihoods. In addition, their energy needs will be met through the implementation of normal household strategies during this period: heightened reliance on cassava, taro, and other brush crops, as well as on borrowing, wild plant foods, or wage labor. Another commonly used strategy beginning with the start of the growing season is the planting of short-cycle hillside crops in April and May with the expectation of harvesting these crops in July and August. Thus, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in all areas of the country.

The period from October through January 2017 is the marketing season for locally-grown crops. With the expected average levels of rainfall and assistance from the government and its partners, there should be plentiful market and household supplies of crops during this period. The intervening harvests during this time and available supplies of fish and fish products will improve food availability, access, and diversity, promoting normal food consumption. Thus, the entire population will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity during this period. 

About Scenario Development

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.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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