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Surge in prices has localized impact on household food security

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • May 2013
Surge in prices has localized impact on household food security

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Cereal prices reached a five-year high in April, with the sharpest increases in the Maradi and Diffa regions, where millet and sorghum prices are 30 to 50 percent above the seasonal average.  These increases are due to the tightening of market supplies as imports from Nigeria, an important component of cereal availability this time of year, have declined.

    • Aside from exceptionally high prices, other food security drivers are in line with normal seasonal trends, the combined positive effects of which should keep food insecurity in most parts of the country at IPC Phase 1: « Minimal » levels between now and September.

    • However, food security has deteriorated in the Diffa region, where reduced household income stemming from the combined effects of pepper production shortfalls and decreasing livestock prices will keep food insecurity at IPC Phase 2: Stress levels through September. 

    Current Situation
    • Varying amounts of earlier than usual rainfall have been reported in some parts of the country where crops have already been planted. Heavy rains in the Agadez region, mainly in Arlit and Iférouane departments, have caused flood damage to market garden crops.
    • The flow of supplies to domestic markets, slowed by the poor harvest in Nigeria, improved between April and May with the unloading of crops by traders in cereal-surplus areas and by surplus-producing farmers selling cereal as a source of cash for the hiring of agricultural labor. Cereal flows from Mali and Burkina Faso to the Tillabéri and Niamey regions and on into central and eastern Niger, to the Tahoua, Maradi, and Zinder regions, is also helping to improve cereal availability. This is somewhat of a reversal of typical cereal flows, also presented in the April news bulletin Actualités.
    • Demand for staple foodstuffs is still in line with normal seasonal trends. Most of this demand is from food-short households and pastoralists just beginning their yearly lean season. Harvests of irrigated rice and market garden crops are helping to bolster household food availability. Some households are still drawing on their remaining stocks of cereal from the last growing season.
    • In spite of improving market supply, the result of what is still a limited supply and a sustained demand  is preventing prices from coming down, keeping them at record levels. According to SIMA (Agricultural Market Information System) data, the average price of millet in April of this year was 276 F/kg, 33 percent above the five-year average and six percent higher than last year, which was a year of record high prices. Prices on the Maradi, Zinder, Tahoua, and Diffa markets are above the five-year average by 30 to 50 percent, due mainly to a low supply of cereal compared with a normal consumer demand.
    • High dependence on cereal imports from Nigeria is weakening household food security in the Diffa region. The poor harvest in Nigeria means limited cereal availability and higher prices on source markets, which is reducing the flow of cereal trade and supplies to markets in Niger. The problem is further compounded by persistent civil security threats, particularly in the northeastern reaches of Nigeria bordering on the Diffa region of Niger, which is significantly affected by the slowdown in trade. Located in the extreme eastern part of the country, the Diffa region is not benefitting from the larger volume of cereal trade with the extension of the flow of cereal exports from Mali and Burkina Faso into the Maradi, Tahoua, and even the Zinder regions. There is less income from the sale of peppers with the large shortfall in pepper production due to flood damage. The disruption in trade is also affecting livestock, with the deterioration in terms of trade for livestock/cereal forcing households to sell more animals in order to buy necessary food supplies for household consumption. Reported livelihood protection deficits could grow over the next few months.
    • Conditions in pastoral areas are marked by a slight rise in demand on livestock markets with the presence of traders on major markets including, in particular, Nigerian exporters. Prices will be driven up by a sustained demand, which will continue to grow in the coming weeks during the observance of Ramadan. Terms of trade for male goats/millet are more than 40 percent above-average on the Tchintabaraden and Gouré markets, the two main markets in pastoral areas. However, this is not the case on the N’Guigmi market in Diffa, where, with the lower demand for livestock, current prices for animals are giving sellers below-average cereal access. Thus, the price of a male goat on the N’Guigmi market in April of this year bought a pastoralist only 82 kg of millet, or 28 percent less than the average of 114 kg.  

    Updated Assumptions

    Current food security indicators confirm the projected food security outlook for the period from April through September 2013. 

    Projected Outlook through September 2013
    • With income from wage labor and the help of food assistance in the form of food and cash transfer programs, in general, most of the country will continue to experience IPC Phase 1 « Minimal » food insecurity between June and September. Good harvests of market garden and other off-season crops and high levels of seasonal income should help keep food insecurity in most areas of the country at minimal levels between now and September. According to findings from a FEWS NET HEA analysis in agropastoral areas of Tillabéri and Tahoua and the market gardening area of Madarounfa, in spite of higher prices, income from farming and wage labor should help bridge gaps in cereal purchasing due to spiraling prices between now and the end of the lean season in September.
    • The combined effects of losses of pepper crops and the decline in trade with Nigeria will reduce income and curtail food access in the far southeastern reaches of the country, particularly for very poor and poor households in the Diffa region. The continuing insecurity in Nigeria will reduce livestock imports by that country and income from livestock sales and create an influx of refugees and returnees fleeing the fighting. With their limited purchasing power during the lean season, which got off to an earlier than usual start, very poor and poor households will face IPC Phase 2: « Stressed » food insecurity outcomes between May/June and September of this year. 
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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