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Crop and livestock prospects shaping up well

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Niger
  • September 2012
Crop and livestock prospects shaping up well

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  • Key Messages
  • Food Security Outlook Update to December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Due to favorable agro-climatic conditions, millet, sorghum, cowpea, and groundnut crops are in good condition. Preliminary crop estimates by the Office of Statistics indicate about 5 million MTs, including production levels that exceeded expectations in the Diffa, Zinder, and Maradi regions. These estimates validate earlier forecasts that predicted good agricultural production this season.

    • In the Tillabéri, Dosso, and Tahoua regions, favorable rainfall since the beginning of August has significantly improved millet and sorghum development, and overall production may be average to good. The exceptions are  localized areas where heavy rainfall on leached soils may result in reduced production levels, especially in Téra, Tillabéri, Dosso, and Tahoua. Poor households in these areas will not have sufficient cereals to meet their typical needs.

    • Heavy rains since August have resulted in the flooding of  10,000 hectares of rice in Tillabéri, Dosso, and Niamey.  FUCOPRI (Fédération des Unions des Producteurs de Riz)  estimates production losses at more than 27,200 MT, which is the equivalent of over 5 billion CFA francs. Most rice producers are wealthy or middle-income and will overcome the impact of these losses on food stocks. Poor households will mainly feel the effects of the losses as they will lose paid work opportunities that they heavily depend upon to enable  cereal purchases until December.

    • Cereal prices began to stabilize in September but were almost imperceptible as price levels still remained above the seasonal average. The stable prices are due to  declining demand at the end of Ramadan and the start of harvests in the major production areas. Prices should continue to decline gradually until December, though they will remain above the seasonal average.


    Food Security Outlook Update to December 2012

    Current Food Situation

    The continuation of fairly heavy, regular, and well-timed rains since early August lends credence to forecasts predicting a good season for both cash crops and cereals.  In September, the early arrival of new millet and cowpeas on some markets in agricultural areas of the Maradi and Zinder regions is improving household food availability and access. The mid-season assessment mission reported some delays in crop development in the Tillabéri, Tahoua, and Dosso regions. However, the regular rainfall which occurred until the end of September may be enough for the cereals to complete their growth cycle normally and should yield harvests that are average overall. The exception is areas in the Ayorou, Tillabéri, and Tahoua departments where heavy rainfall on leached soils will result in a significant drop in production.

    Producer demand has dropped due to the new harvests, but consumer demand is still strong due to purchases made by livestock farmers and households in agricultural areas where crop development has been delayed. The institutional purchase of 25,000 MT by the government is currently in progress with the last phase for September 2012 already launched. Sixteen thousand metric tons from this purchase are intended for subsidized sales operations.

    Heavy rains in August and September caused flooding, with dwellings and rice production in the Niger River valley most significantly impacted. FUCOPRI assessments indicate that nearly 10,000 hectares of rainfed and irrigated rice were flooded, causing a loss estimated at 27,000 MT and worth 5 billion CFA francs. The floods may have affected about one million people, including direct effects on middle-income and wealthy rice-growing households, and indirect effects on poor and very poor households due to low agricultural labor demand  to tend and harvest rice.  The public health situation in these areas is also deteriorating due to heavy rains in combination with poor hygienic conditions. As a result, cholera epidemics have broken out in some areas of the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions. The total number of cholera cases recorded in September 2012 was 4,503, including 4,151 cases in the Tillabéri, Téra, Kollo, and Say departments.

    According to data reported by the Office of Epidemic Monitoring and Response, the nutritional situation is currently marked by an over 50 percent national increase, on average, in the number of new cases of malnourished children registered in therapeutic feeding centers in August 2012 compared to the previous month and to the five-year average. The total number of moderate and severe cases was 93,537 in August 2012, compared to 59,744 in July 2012 and a five-year average of 34,189 children. This can be attributed primarily to a large upsurge in seasonal diseases, especially malaria, which increased by more than 200 percent in August compared to July 2012, likely due to heavy rains in August. The number of children vulnerable to epidemics and malnutrition also increased after the early return of pastoral households to areas where pastures are growing well.

    2012/13 Growing Season Conditions

    The September 2012 mid-season assessment mission, conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Office of Statistics in cooperation with other partners, including FEWS NET, observed that the general condition of crops was good, with no major crop disease or pest problems. While preliminary results for the season will not be released until October 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Office of Statistics has estimated millet, sorghum, cowpea, and groundnut production to be average to good, with an estimate of 5 million MT for dry cereals, which is average to superior overall. Abundant, regular rains have allowed crop growth to progress well. As of mid-September 2012, early maturity and harvest stages were seen in some of the country’s agricultural areas, especially in Diffa, Zinder, Maradi, and some departments of Dosso and Tahoua. Legumes (cowpeas and groundnuts) also finished their growth cycle in the Maradi, Zinder, and Diffa regions.

    In all regions, good rainfall levels filled ponds and recharged aquifers, creating favorable livestock watering conditions, good stream flow conditions in koris (temporary streams), and a good supply of water for crop irrigation, especially in the Agadez region where agricultural production depends on irrigation. Due to abundant pasture for grazing and favorable watering hole and reservoir levels, pastoralists and their animals were able to return to grazing areas early. The filling of major surface water sources has also created a significant water reserve for the upcoming off-season.

    Market Conditions

    Overall, markets are being supplied normally. Demand is still high, though it did decline as Ramadan ended and the consumption of newly harvested products began. Elevated demand on all markets is keeping cereal prices high compared to last month’s prices. Cereal prices are also very high compared to the same period in 2011 and the five-year average. The most significant price increases over last year have been seen on Diffa’s markets for maize (+45 percent), on Téra’s markets for millet (+87 percent), and on Zinder’s markets for sorghum (+86 percent). The same markets are showing the highest prices in comparison to the five-year averages for millet, sorghum, and maize. Increasing millet prices in Téra can be explained mainly by poor market supply due to frequent breakdowns of the river ferry and the destruction of the Golé bridge by heavy rains in August. The rise in maize and sorghum prices in Diffa and Zinder, respectively, is related to the depletion of local sorghum and flood-recession maize from Lake Chad, which are the main products sold on these markets. In the coming months, food commodity prices should fall from levels seen during the past months as new harvests significantly increase market availability. However, prices will still remain above-average.

    Tillabéri Region

    The agricultural season got off to a slow start between May and July, but improved greatly in August and September as regular, heavy rains encouraged crop development. Crops in the region (millet and sorghum) are in tillering to seed-setting stages. The less-advanced stage (tillering) is being seen in the Tillabéri, Ayorou, and Abala departments. In the rest of the region, growth stages vary from flowering to seed-setting, with no major plant disease or pests. However, some attacks by flower-feeding insects and locusts have been reported in nearly all of the region’s departments, but no abnormal impact has been reported.

    There have been several floods, with the most significant impacts being seen in rice-growing areas. According to FUCOPRI, production will be 70-80 percent of average due to the complete destruction of floating rainfed rice grown by poor households and a 40 percent loss of rice grown in hydro-agricultural developments. September 2012 forecasts issued by a joint government/partners mission suggest that millet and sorghum production will be average to good overall in the region, though poor production is expected in the Tillabéri and Ayorou departments. The exception to this will be localized departments most affected by the August and September floods.

    Harvesting has not yet begun in this region, and millet prices are between 315 and 384 FCFA per kilogram, compared to an average price of 272 to 345 CFA per kilogram in other regions this year. Currently, the main income sources are agricultural labor and the sale of animals or wood. While labor prices in July were 20 percent higher than in 2011, the crop damage from the recent flooding reduced the need for agricultural laborers, especially in the Tillabéri and Téra departments. In these areas, the millet equivalent for labor wages dropped by 23 percent in August 2012 compared to July and by 33 percent compared to the same period in 2011. This is due to the flooding of rice, which caused the availability of labor for tending crops grown on dune soils to rise sharply. In urban centers, straw sales have been significant and the price has begun to rise due to increased demand as animals are being fattened for the Tabaski holiday. However, the upturn in straw prices is still not significant enough to raise poor household incomes as prices having only risen by 6 percent in September as compared to August 2012. Market prices for animals are climbing but given the greater increases in cereal prices, the sale of a male goat would only purchase 86.45 kg of millet in August 2012, compared to 130 kg for the same period in 2011. Humanitarian actions by the government and its partners (free food distribution, subsidized sales, and cash transfers) continued until the end of September and have helped improve food security for poor and very poor households.

    The Refugee Situation

    According to UNHCR, the total number of refugees in Niger in September 2012 was 61,406, which points to an estimated 6,200 new arrivals in September. The aid program being implemented with operational support from WFP and UNICEF and political support from Niger’s Ministry of the Interior, is based on UNHCR's planning figures of 90,000 refugees, and is judged to be sufficient to meet the needs of the new arrivals in September.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    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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