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Good cereal harvest and significant food security improvements

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • November 2012
Good cereal harvest and significant food security improvements

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Early findings from the preliminary harvest assessment released by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, corroborated by the joint CILSS/FAO/WFP/FEWS NET/Government mission estimate cereal production at approximately five million metric tons, with a surplus of over 800,000 MT, comparable to the production figure for 2010.

    • Consults by National Disaster and Food Crisis Prevention and Management Network experts in November of this year resulted in the identification of 185 at-risk areas with an estimated population of 2,483,051 inhabitants, compared with a food-insecure population of 6,005,993 inhabitants at the same in 2011.   

    • According to calculations of kcal equivalents by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, cereals, pulses, and tubers from this season’s harvest should ensure sufficient kcal availability to keep food insecurity at minimal levels (IPC Phase 1) between now and March. 

    • In spite of the nationwide production surplus, certain areas affected by localized shocks saw below-average harvests, particularly in Ayorou, Tillabéri, and Torodi departments where 700,000 people will be unable to meet their food needs as of next January/February without social assistance, compared with the norm of 300,000 to 400,000 people in these areas.  

    Current Situation

    As of the beginning of the 2012/13 consumption year, food security in Niger is stable, even in areas with poorer harvests.

    • Crop production is estimated at over five million metric tons, representing an 824,105 MT cereal surplus. This puts per capita cereal availability at approximately 300 kilograms, compared with an average per capita cereal requirement of 231 kilograms. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the kcal equivalent of total cereal plus cash crop (cowpea and groundnut) production ranges from 2,500 to 3,330 kilocalories in major farming areas of Zinder, Maradi, Tahoua, and Dosso, compared with an average requirement of 2,100 kcal per person per day.  On average, the kcal equivalent is also above 2,500 kcal in the Tillabéri region, except in Ayorou, Tillabéri, and Torodi departments with below-normal kcal equivalents.
    • Average nationwide prices for millet and sorghum came down by 19 percent and 15 percent, respectively, between September and October of this year, but were still 29 to 30 percent above the five-year average. 
    • Assessments by the Ministry of Livestock estimate pasture production at 16 million metric tons of dry matter, compared with 5.8 million MT last year and 11.2 million MT in 2010. The large pasture surplus, estimated at 1.8 million metric tons of dry matter, promises adequate browse for sedentary livestock herds. High demand and good physical condition of livestock boosted terms of trade for male goats/millet by 88 percent in Ouallam and by 50 percent in N’Guigmi between September and October of this year which, in general, puts them at or slightly above the five-year average.
    • The growing season for irrigated crops officially began in early November. The main farming activities involve the preparation of fields, the transplanting of crops, and the harvesting of certain vegetables such as lettuce, which is currently being sold on local markets at above-average prices for this time of year.
    • At a national level, the number of admissions of malnourished children to therapeutic feeding centers came down by 14 percent between September and October of this year largely due to the good harvest, the decline in seasonal water-borne diseases, and blanket feeding programs run by the government and its various partners.

    Updated Assumptions

    Current trends in food security indicators support the projected food security outlook for the period from October 2012 through March 2013. An in-depth discussion of the most likely scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for October 2012 through March 2013.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013
    • In general, food security should be stable throughout the outlook period. The combination of good harvests and higher incomes from the sale of cereal crops, cash crops, and livestock at lucrative prices should bolster household food consumption through December/January.
    • With the large volume of assistance furnished by the government and its partners for irrigated farming activities, FEWS NET expects optimal farming opportunities for irrigated crops and a growing demand for labor for crop maintenance and for the ongoing harvests. These irrigated farming activities should help offset any cereal deficits and boost income between November of this year and March of next year. 
    • For pastoral households, a normal demand for livestock should continue with the upcoming year-end holiday season and the improvement in income from livestock sales will be further bolstered by the large proceeds from sales of animal products (milk and cheese).
    • Monitoring is required in departments in the Tillabéri region (Ayorou, Torodi, and Tillabéri) facing production shortfalls, where the prospect of an early start for the 2013 lean season could lead to food insecurity levels of IPC Phase 2 (stressed) without timely implementation of the government assistance plan in early January.
    Figures Standard Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Standard Seasonal Calendar

    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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