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After an atypical start of season, planted crops are benefiting from good rainfall

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • August 2015
After an atypical start of season, planted crops are benefiting from good rainfall

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2015
  • Key Messages
    • The start of season was delayed by two to four weeks, depending on the area. However, the observed improvement in rainfall conditions since the end of July and recent updates for rainfall forecasts offer expectations for an average outcome for the agropastoral season.

    • Pastoral conditions have improved, with good levels in watering points and good pasture cover putting an end to this year’s longer than average lean season. However, the seasonal decline in the availability of food reserves and decrease in household purchasing power will keep poor households in certain agropastoral areas of Tillabéri, Tahoua, and Zinder Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September, with their situation most likely improving in October 2015.

    • The security problems in the Diffa region and their impact on household livelihoods will keep food security conditions Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in areas with access to humanitarian assistance and maintain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity in the central and eastern parts of the region between August and December.

    Current Situation

    After the late start of the 2015/2016 growing season, the increase in rainfall in July helped facilitate the last rounds of successful crop planting activities in farming and agropastoral areas across the country. In some cases, there was a two to four week delay in the start of season compared with average planting dates. The longest delays in crop planting activities were in southern areas of Maradi, Zinder, Tahoua, and Dosso. Millet crops are in anywhere from the sprouting to the early flowering stage in Gaya. Sorghum crops are in anywhere from the sprouting to the height growth stage in Doudou, Gaya, Tessaoua, and Takeita. As for other crops, cowpeas in Boboye, Dioundiou, Gaya, Tessaoua, Gazaoua, Guidan-Roumdji, Malbaza, Madaoua, Mirriah, and Damagaram Takaya are reportedly in the branching stage. The heavy rains in all parts of the country are helping to promote normal crop growth and development.

    Findings from the assessment mission conducted by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics in the Ministry of Agriculture, in conjunction with the SAP (the national early warning system), WFP, FAO, and FEWS NET in the first dekad of August 2015, midway through the growing season, confirmed the late start of the growing season. Most farming areas of the country did not get enough rain for planting until the middle or end of July, compared with estimated average planting dates in June. With the resulting delay in crop growth and development, only 30 to 40 percent of crops are expected to complete their growth cycle if the rains end by the middle of September, particularly in Doungass, Diffa, Abalak, Madarounfa, and Ouallam departments, compared with 80 to 90 percent with continuing rainfall activity through the end of September or into early October, which is more likely according to the latest updates of seasonal rainfall forecasts.

    Higher wage rates for labor, sales of livestock, and food assistance from the government are enabling households to maintain their food access. Wages for farm labor bought a household 8.70 kg of millet per person per day in July 2015, compared with the average of 5.81 kg. An examination of  pastoral conditions shows good levels of plant cover in anywhere from the sprouting to the tillering stage in all parts of the country and good water levels in animal watering points. There has been a significant improvement in the physical condition of livestock, jump-starting dairy production and boosting the market value of livestock. There were also positive trends in household purchasing power as measured by terms of trade for male goals versus millet which, as of July 2015, was above the five-year average by anywhere from 20 to 40 percent in pastoral areas of Dakoro (28 percent), Tanout (29 percent), Mangayze (35 percent), and Tchintabaraden (42 percent).

    An examination of conditions on food markets shows regular, adequate market supplies. Most cereal supplies (supplies of maize, sorghum, and millet) are being furnished by importers from Nigeria, Benin, and Burkina Faso. Stock disposal sales prompted by good rainy season conditions and the government’s subsidized sales program are helping to promote good local food availability on markets around the country. Prices on most markets tracked by FEWS NET are well below average. Prices on certain markets in the Maradi region are more than 15 percent below the prices charged by subsidized sales programs. However, there are reports of normal rises in prices on certain monitored markets such as Abalak as a result of market purchasing by pastoralists, where the price of millet is up by 13 percent from last month.

    Updated Assumptions

    Trends in food security indicators support the projected food security outlook for July through December 2015.

    Projected Outlook through December 2015

    Based on the updated rainfall forecasts, the agropastoral season should continue normally and should have a normal outcome. There will be further improvements in animal grazing and watering conditions and, with livestock in good physical condition and a sustained demand through December 2015, households in pastoral areas will be able to fully meet their food and nonfood needs without requiring outside assistance.

    The lean season for households in farming and agropastoral areas will continue through September. There will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity in localized agropastoral areas of the Tillabéri, Tahoua, and Zinder regions. With the availability of crops from the upcoming harvest, most households will be able to meet their food and nonfood needs without depending on food assistance between October and December.

    In the Diffa region, the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions in southern agropastoral areas and the current Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation in northern pastoral areas will continue through December. The ongoing conflict with Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria will continue to contribute to large population displacements, obstruct household access to livelihoods, and disrupt markets.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 5


    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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