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Good household food stocks slow market demand and lead to declining prices

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • March 2015
Good household food stocks slow market demand and lead to declining prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Unlike the case in previous years, cereal access through market purchase still accounted for only a small share of household food needs in March 2015 owing to the continued availability of household cereal stocks. This is reflected in the low market demand and sustained downward trend in cereal prices.

    • Most households were able to meet their food needs in March 2015, except in certain localized areas of the Tillabéri, Tahoua, and Zinder regions where they do not have the financial means to cover essential expenses. Households in the Diffa region are facing food deficits as a result of the ongoing conflict, which is disrupting deliveries of humanitarian assistance to that area.

    • There will be growing numbers of food-insecure areas between April and June with the deterioration in conditions in certain other parts of the Zinder region, expanding the size of the area subject to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity. There will be an escalation in food insecurity levels in the Diffa region, producing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions in pastoral areas and localized farming and agropastoral areas.

    Current Situation

    The food security situation as of March 2015 was marked by good household cereal availability and access from remaining household food stocks. The availability of these household stocks is also responsible for the low market demand and resulting sharp, sustained decline in cereal prices on markets across the country. Food supplies from off-season crops are currently enabling households to feed themselves, hold onto their household stocks for the upcoming lean season, and sell a certain amount of crops (vegetables, cassava, and potatoes) expected to generate a normal stream of income.

    The effects of ongoing market gardening activities are mitigating the economic impact of the dwindling household cereal stocks in areas affected by crop production deficits. This vegetable production is giving poor households with low incomes and cereal stocks in March access to sales revenues for purchasing cereal supplies and meeting other essential nonfood expenses. However, cereal prices in agropastoral areas of Ouallam are still high, where food spending accounts for a large share of household expenditures.

    The conflict in northeastern Nigeria and the related recent developments in the far southeastern reaches of Niger are destroying the livelihoods of households in the Diffa region unable to harvest and sell their pepper crops due to the unstable security situation in that area. This has sharply reduced demand and wage rates for workers in the pepper harvest, making poor households dependent on food assistance programs, which have been scaled back as a result of the security threats to humanitarian workers. The incomes of households in the northern part of the region used for making cereal purchases and other outlays are suffering as a result of the ongoing conflicts disrupting livestock exports to Nigeria and Libya, which are continuing to reduce demand for animals and drive down their prices.

    The pasture deficit for the 2014/15 season, estimated at over eight million metric tons of dry matter by the Pastoral Development Office attached to the Ministry of Livestock-Raising, is gradually eroding grazing and watering conditions for livestock which, in turn, is undermining the household food security situation and creating increasingly unfavorable terms of trade for pastoral households in northern areas of Diffa, Tahoua, Zinder, and Tillabéri.

    Conditions on cereal markets have been marked by a steady normal seasonal decline in cereal prices since the beginning of the marketing season. On average, market prices for millet range from 126 CFAF/kg to 133 CFAF/kg in the Maradi region, which posted the lowest prices for February 2015, and are 34 to 35 percent below figures for February of last year and the five-year average. The highest reported prices for February 2015, averaging 257 CFAF/kg to 277 CFAF/kg, were on markets in the Tillabéri and Diffa regions, where price levels are at or above the average and figures for the same period of 2014. The downward trend in prices on major markets is due in large part to the low demand for cereals from producers and traders anticipating an improvement in household cereal access.

    Updated Assumptions

    Trends in food security indicators support the projected food security outlook for January through June 2015, except in the Diffa region where further shocks from the conflict with Boko Haram are having a growing impact on the local population.

    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    Most households will have food access from their own well-managed household food stocks, including carry-over stocks and supplies of market garden crops, which are helping to extend food availability. The combination of lower cereal prices and average incomes should help maintain the food access of food-short households in farming and agropastoral areas and enable them to meet their nonfood expenses, except in the case of poor households in the Diffa region, certain farming and agropastoral areas of a number of departments in the Tillabéri and Zinder region, and pastoral areas of the Tillabéri, Tahoua, and Zinder regions, where households will have insufficient financial means with which to meet their nonfood expenses. In general, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity  in most parts of the country through June 2015, though households in Ouallam, Abalak, Magaria, Matameye, and Gouré departments and all across the Diffa region will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) if not higher levels of food insecurity.

    With pasture deficits and security problems disrupting trade and sources of income and undermining the household food security situation in the Diffa region and, particularly, in Nguigmi department, local livelihoods will be severely limited and households will have difficulty meeting their food needs, especially poor households in pastoral areas. The Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity affecting poor households in this region between March and June 2015 will escalate between April and June, exposing populations displaced by the conflict with Boko Haram and households in pastoral areas to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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