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Minimal food insecurity driven by average food availability

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • November 2013
Minimal food insecurity driven by average food availability

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Nationwide Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through March 2014
  • Key Messages
    • In spite of the small shortfall in nationwide production, an estimated 2.5 percent below-average, available crop production as of November of this year is helping to meet current household food needs. Households experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) in November, which should remain at this level through the end of December in all parts of the country (Figure 1).

    • The depletion of cereal stocks, the high levels of cereal prices, and the decline in the market value of livestock will create livelihood protection deficits between January and March of next year in certain parts of Tillabéri, Tahoua, Zinder, and Diffa. The escalating acute food insecurity in these areas will produce Stressed food security outcomes (Phase 2, IPC 2.0) between January and March (Figure 2).

    • The effects of flooding on household livelihoods and child nutrition, combined with the effects of the security shocks in certain neighboring countries, prompted the government of Niger to draw up an emergency response and resilience-building plan for a target group of 1.133 million beneficiaries, which is close to the five-year average.

    Current Nationwide Situation

    Estimates of crop production made by the Bureau of Statistics for the Ministry of Agriculture in October/November of this year and confirmed by the joint CILSS/FEWS NET/FAO/WFP/Government pre-harvest assessment mission for the 2013/14 cropping season put gross cereal production at 4,292,510 metric tons which, in turn, places cereal availability (millet, sorghum, maize, and fonio) slightly below the five-year average by 2.5 percent, at 3,648,634 metric tons. A breakdown of this production figure shows cereal surpluses of 50,000 to over 200,000 metric tons in the Tahoua, Maradi, and Dosso regions, but cereal deficits of anywhere from 49,000 to 87,000 metric tons in the Zinder, Diffa, and Tillabéri regions with the reported production shortfalls in Magaria, Doungass, Nguigmi, Diffa, Mainé Soroa, Ouallam, and Tillabéri departments. Thus, cereal imports (particularly imports of rice and wheat) will be crucial to cover the cereal balance sheet deficit for this growing season. Assessments of cash crops put cowpea, groundnut, and sesame production at over 1.5 million MT, over 380,000 MT, and approximately 39,000 MT, respectively, translating into 14 to 26 percent above-average harvests.

    Carryover stocks consisting of remaining food supplies from the 2012/2013 growing season, averaging out to an estimated 169,274 MT and including 46,000 MT of public food stocks and 89,236 MT of on-farm inventories, are another component of food availability. Ongoing harvests prevented non-pastoral households from having to resort to market purchasing to maintain their food access in November of this year, including those in areas showing production deficit.

    The feed balance sheet established by the Ministry of Animal Husbandry shows a 6.7 million metric ton deficit.  This deficit is two to three times less severe than in 2011 and 2009, both years marked by large pasture deficits. The main cause is the large shortfall in pasture production in far western and eastern pastoral areas hard hit by poor rainfall conditions. Pastoral areas in the central part of the country are showing average to good levels of pasture production. There was sufficient pasture and water availability to meet livestock needs in November 2013. However, there will be a sharp decline in supplies of pasture and water beginning February/March 2014, particularly in pastoral areas of Ouallam, Abalak, Tchirozérine, and Nguigmi, which are not typically depleted until April/May.

    In general, animal herds in the Tahoua, Diffa, Tillabéri, Dosso, and Maradi regions have begun moving southwards and animals in the Zinder region are heading west. As usual, these herd movements will take livestock into farming areas and neighboring countries (Nigeria, Benin, Chad, and Burkina Faso).

    The food security situation of pastoral households is marked by an improvement in livestock prices, which were anywhere from 16 to 61 percent above the average for the month of October, driven by the average physical condition of livestock and sustained demand for the Feast of Tabaski and needs for end of the year holidays. This sharp increase in the market value of livestock is helping to mitigate the impact of rising cereal prices on the purchasing power of pastoral households. Livestock prices will remain stable between January and March of next year, except in pastoral areas of Diffa, Tahoua, and Zinder where the deterioration in the physical condition of livestock will cause prices to drop. Terms of trade for livestock against cereals will be below-average by February/March.

    Markets are sufficiently well-stocked with rainfed crops from ongoing harvests and carry-over inventories. However, few shipments of fresh cereal crops from recent harvests have actually reached markets and imports from Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali still account for most market supplies.

    The main sources of cereal demand are traders and pastoralists. Farmers are mainly supply-side actors for cash crops such as cowpeas and groundnuts. The government and other agencies and organizations have postponed their cereal procurements to the period from December through March/April of next year. Part of these procurements, specifically 20,000 of the 60,000 metric tons of cereal scheduled to be purchased by the government, will be made through direct contracting with crop farmers. The remaining 40,000 metric tons will be purchased through competitive bidding. 

    October prices for cereals were still well above the five-year average by 24 to 60 percent in the case of millet and by 32 to 36 percent in the case of sorghum. The highest cereal prices compared with seasonal averages are on the Diffa and Agadez markets, where there is a strong local demand and cereal supplies are still limited.

    Updated Assumptions

    Trends in food security indicators confirm the projected food security outlook for the period from October 2013 through March 2014.

    Projected Outlook through March 2014

    In general, with favorable terms of trade for pastoralists, fresh crops from recent harvests bolstering cereal availability, and income from sales of cash crops and wage labor helping to shore up household cereal stocks and cover nonfood expenditures, all parts of the country will experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) between November and December 2013. The cereal supplies of most very poor and poor households from on-farm production will be gradually depleted between January and March 2014, though migrant remittances and farming activities for irrigated crops affording local on-farm employment opportunities should stabilize their incomes. However, with the depletion of their cereal stocks, very poor and poor households in agropastoral and pastoral areas in the west (Ouallam and Tillabéri), the central part of the country (Tahoua, Keita, and Abalak), and the east (Nguigmi and Diffa) will face serious livelihood protection deficits, subjecting them to Stressed food security outcomes (IPC Phase 2) between January and March as above-average prices sharply limit the extent to which their cereal purchasing power is able to meet their food needs.


    Figure 1


    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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