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Crisis expected in some areas between July and September

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • April - September 2014
Crisis expected in some areas between July and September

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Events that can change the outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The combined effects of below-average harvest stocks, poor pastoral conditions, and unusually high market prices for staple foods are leading to acute food insecurity in large parts of the country. Conditions in many farming, agropastoral, and pastoral areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between now and September. Acute food insecurity will even reach Crisis (IPC Phase 3) for certain poor households, particularly in Ouallam, between July and September.
    • Poor households in pastoral areas and in farming and agropastoral areas of Tillabéri (Ouallam), Diffa (Diffa and Mainé Soroa), Tahoua (Tahoua and Illéla), Zinder (Magaria and Mirriah), and Maradi (Mayahi) will have difficulty meeting their nonfood expenses between April and June. Poor households in pastoral areas of Nguigmi and certain groups of households in agropastoral and farming areas of Tillabéri, Tahoua, and Zinder will continue to be food-insecure between July and September.
    • In spite of regular market supplies and normal seasonal price trends, cereal prices will stay above the five-year average, but will be relatively close to figures for last year. There will be continued disruptions in trade flows from Nigeria, which will keep prices above-average through September.

    National Overview
    Current situation

    The final results of the harvest assessment for the 2013 growing season for rainfed crops released in February of this year by the Statistics Office attached to the Ministry of Agriculture put net cereal availability at 3,739,083 metric tons, which breaks down into 3,645,264 MT of net cereal production, plus 93,819 MT of cary-over stocks. A comparison of total cereal availability, including the more than 534,500 tons of projected commercial imports and foreign food assistance, against consumption needs shows an estimated cereal surplus of over 255,000 tons. This is equivalent to an annual per capita cereal availability of 246 kilograms. However, as usual, Niger is highly dependent on these imports for adequate rice and wheat availability to meet the especially strong demand for these foodstuffs in urban areas. These imports are also an important source of staple cereals (millet, sorghum, maize, and fonio), since cereal surpluses in major crop-producing areas are reportedly not large enough to ensure an adequate flow of crops to deficit areas. Such imports will be especially important to the Niamey, Agadez, Diffa, Tillabéri, and Zinder, where local production this year fell signifcantly short compared with household consumption needs.

    Cereal availability will be further bolstered by ongoing harvests of market garden crops in all parts of the country. However, the growing season for irrigated crops is winding down with this year’s hot season beginning earlier than usual and the limited availability of irrigation water. Nevertheless, it is still expected to produce the equivalent of 400,000 metric tons of cereals, which is above-average.

    In spite of the good overall availability of stocks of cereal crops across the country, harvests in certain parts of the country were well below-average. Households in these farming-oriented and agropastoral livelihood zones were faced with crop production deficits after the poor distribution of rainfall during last year’s rainy season. The earlier than usual depletion of their stocks of harvested crops is forcing these poor households to resort to market purchasing one to three months earlier than usual this year.

    Pasture availability in pastoral zones is extremely limited, particularly in areas reporting pasture growth deficits, including in Abalak and Nguigmi. The sociopolitical crisis in Nigeria has disrupted the normal transhumant movements of 10 to 20 percent of livestock, depending on the species. The influx of herds belonging to certain Nigerian pastoralists into the Diffa area, which was already short of pasture after the low levels of rainfall during last year’s rainy season, is putting additional pressure on its limited supply of pasture. Most herd movements in search of better pastures and watering holes are internal, between different areas of the country, rather than between Niger and neighboring countries. This has resulted in an extended lean season in pastoral zones beginning in February, earlier than usual. Commercial and ongoing subsidized sales of animal feed at 50 percent below normal market prices are helping to improve feed availability for livestock and prevent a sharp deterioration in their physical condition.

    Most market supplies are from traders with large enough inventories to meet consumer demand and who are not yet having any restocking problems on source markets. There are government stocks earmarked for subsidized sales programs, the first phase of which, involving the sale of 9,500 metric tons of cereals, started in March throughout the country. The reportedly good operation of cereal markets was confirmed by the results of the joint CILSS/FAO/WFP/SIM/FEWS NET market and food security assessment conducted in February of this year. The assessment mission reported a restoration of trade between Niger and neighboring countries, including Nigeria, which had good production this year, unlike last year when the combined effects of low output and the conflict in that country disrupted trade flows. Markets also have good supplies of vegetable and market garden crops, whose prices are peaking as supplies steadily tighten with the main growing season coming to an end. The livestock trade is benefiting from the return of Nigerian exporters. In general, there is an average supply of animals and a good supply of cattle, which are the main focus of strategic culling efforts on account of their vulnerability in the face of the pasture deficit.

    Prices for all types of crops are high compared to their five-year average. Market prices for cereals (millet, sorghum, and maize) are 20 to 40 percent above-average, particularly for millet and sorghum on the Agadez, Diffa, Nguigmi, and Zinder markets. Cereal prices have been consistently above-average since the disruption in trade with Nigeria in 2012/13. Livestock prices are also well above-average by anywhere from 18 to 30 percent, depending on the species.

    Implementation of the subsidized cereal sales component of the government’s social safety net plan has been delayed.

    Household livelihoods are currently reliant on income from livestock sales, farm labor (in irrigation schemes and land preparation work for rainfed crops), sales of market garden crops, straw/wood, hand-crafted goods, and labor migration. Income levels from these sources in most parts of the country are generally in line with the norm. Most spending by an increasingly large majority of households is on purchases of cereal supplies with the depletion of their own stocks of harvested crops. The higher price of cereals compared with the prices of other items is weakening the cereal purchasing power of households selling products such as wood and straw. On the other hand, in general, the cereal equivalent of livestock is up by 20 to 30 percent for households selling livestock.


    The most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2014 was established based on the following underlying assumptions with respect to trends in nationwide conditions:

    • Small farmers have depleted their food stocks earlier than usual. Thus, there will be an increasingly strong market demand from growing numbers of households and for the observance of Ramadan in July/August.
    • There should be adequate market supplies of crops from traders, consisting largely of imports from Benin, Nigeria, Mali, and Burkina Faso. There should not be any official border closures and there will be a larger than usual flow of trade between Niger and source countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali) to cover shortfalls in cereal availability, except in the case of trade flows from northeastern Nigeria.
    • Movements in prices are in line with normal seasonal trends, but price levels are still above the five-year average. Even with these normal seasonal price trends, the price of millet on the country’s least expensive markets (Maradi) could be about 250 CFAF/kg and as much as 350 CFAF/kg on its most expensive markets by July-August of this year.
    • Ongoing procurements through the end of April for the rebuilding of national security stocks for subsidized sales programs and distributions of free food assistance will meet established targets.
    • The government assistance plan for the outlook period will not be carried out as scheduled due to funding gaps. Certain components of the plan will not be implemented, including cash/food-for-work and cash transfer programs.
    • The growing season for irrigated and flood recession crops will end in April-May with average harvests as a result of the input assistance provided in the form of seeds and farm implements.
    • With no major shocks affecting the growing season for these crops, the expected average harvests of dry-season irrigated rice crops in May-June will strengthen household food security in riverine areas.
    • According to seasonal rainfall forecasts, the agropastoral season will get underway in May-June and should progress normally. The expected good rainfall conditions during the growing season will create a normal demand for labor at normal wage rates in crop-producing areas for land preparation work in June and for the maintenance and harvesting of rainfed crops between July and September.
    • There will be a below-average supply of pasture resources through the end of June in areas affected by the pasture production deficit. Based on the outlook for a normal rainy season, there will be an adequate supply of surface water for the watering of livestock between July and September and a good supply of pasture in pastoral zones.
    • There will be normal levels of milk production and consumption between July and September with the recovery in pastoral resources.
    • Livestock prices will be stable through the end of June, followed by a normal upward trend in prices between July and September with the improvement in livestock body conditions and the high demand for slaughter animals for the celebration of Tabaski in August-September. Terms of trade for livestock/cereals will be 15 to 30 percent below-average between April and June and average to above-average between July and September.
    • There will be a normal to above-normal volume of migration and remittance income, with larger numbers of migrant workers concentrating in urban areas of the country and the usual destination countries, where economic and political conditions have improved. The sole exceptions are northeastern Nigeria and Libya, which will attract less migration labor due to the sociopolitical crises in both countries.
    • There will be a normal seasonal deterioration in nutritional conditions between June and September with the depletion of household cereal stocks, the termination of irrigated crops, and the high rates of seasonal disease (malaria, cholera, and meningitis).
    Most likely food security outcomes

    The cereal stocks of very poor and poor households will be depleted between April and June, along with supplies of irrigated cash crops, which will become scarce on local markets and whose consumption will be sharply reduced. The main source of cereal supplies for very poor and poor households during this period will be market purchase. There will be adequate market supplies of cereals throughout this period, but prices will stay above-average, driven by a strong household demand. This will be the main constraint for households, who are more dependent than usual on market purchasing this year. In general, poor households will earn only average amounts of income from sales of livestock, farm labor, and sales of wood, straw, and hand-crafted goods. With the extremely high prices of cereals compared with incomes, there will be a larger number of areas with a high percentage of households experiencing Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) between April and June, compared with the first quarter of the year (January through March). These households will be concentrated in pastoral zones of Nguigmi, Abalak, and Ouallam departments and agriculture and agropastoral zones of Ouallam, Tahoua, Magaria, Mainé Soroa, Diffa, and Tillabéri.

    Seasonal rises in cereal prices between July and September will put them at a five-year high. Income drivers will behave normally, except for livestock prices fueled by the good body condition of livestock and high demand for slaughter animals for the celebration of Tabaski. This will gradually improve the food security situation in pastoral zones, where households will experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1), except in certain parts of Diffa and Zinder in which, with the sharp decline in sales revenues from livestock exports, poor households will have just enough income to cover their spending on food needs. In addtion, conditions in agriculture and agropastoral zones will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with many households reaching Crisis (IPC Phase 3), particularly in Ouallam.

    Areas of Concern

    Agropastoral Zone of Tahoua

    Current situation

    The principle activities of households in this area are farming and livestock-raising. The main growing season for cereals and cash crops is generally followed by the cultivation of irrigated crops during the dry season. Own production for poor households generally lasts through February/March, making these households dependent on market purchase to meet their food consumption needs for the rest of the consumption year.

    The poor distribution of rainfall during the last main growing season severely affected harvests for local households. Tahoua Department reports a shortfall of approximately 8,000 metric tons in available crop production from the past growing season. As a result, the food stocks of very poor and poor households have been depleted for two to three months, or since December/January instead of February/March, as is normally the case. This shortfall in production has driven cereal prices more than 20 percent above-average.

    The growing season for irrigated onion and other vegetable crops is still underway, though the area of land croped is sharply reduced. With the low level of the water table due to the rainfall deficit and the resulting limited availability of water for the growing of irrigated crops, only about 1,900 hectares were actually planted in crops, compared with the original projection of 33,000 hectares for this year and last year’s figure of 31,000 hectares. Onion crops are an important source of income and help strengthen the food and financial security of farming households. The average March price of 14,000 CFAF for a 120 kg sack of onions was 18 to 25 percent above the five-year average as a result of this year’s shortfall in onion production.

    The low demand for labor as a result of the smaller area croped due to the limited availability of irrigation water has reduced income from farm labor in irrigated farming activities.

    The main animals raised in this area are small animals, cattle, and poultry. There is a normal domestic and export demand for livestock and a normal supply of animals on major markets in this area. Fluctuations in livestock prices from the average and from figures for last year vary according to the species in question. Prices for cattle in general and bulls in particular are below-average and down last year by less than 10 percent, while March prices for male sheep and goats were 20 to more than 30 percent above-average.

    There are ongoing institutional assistance programs selling cereals (millet, sorghum, maize, and rice) at subsidized prices, but cash/food-for-work and cash transfer programs have not yet started.


    The most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2014 was established based on the following assumptions:

    • With the depletion of the cereal stocks of poor households since December/January instead of March/April, as is normally the case, there will continue to be a high demand for cereals between April and September.
    • Even with adequate market supplies, heavy household demand will keep cereal prices above the five-year average by 15 to more than 30 percent between April and September of this year.
    • Livestock prices should come down by five to 10 percent from previous months over the period between April and June, in line with the sharper than usual deterioration in livestock body conditions, which will reduce terms of trade by more than 15 percent compared with figures for the past few months, to 10 to 20 percent below-average.
    • There will be more sales of livestock than usual between April and June to cover increased expenditures for market purchase.
    • There will be a small stream of income from irrigated crops in May, ending in June.
    • There will be a larger than usual expansion in the gathering and sale of straw by poor households between April and June. In general, prices will be on par with the average.
    • Income levels from labor migration to Côte d’Ivoire will be 10 to 20 percent above-average with the larger number of migrant workers per household.
    • Based on this year’s outlook for a normal rainy season, there will be a normal demand for labor for land preparation work in April-May and for the maintenance of rainfed crops between June and September.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Depletion of cereal and market garden stocks will keep households highly market-dependent through September. Staple food prices will be above-average throughout the outlook period. Regular sources of food will be supplemented by the gathering of wild foods. Income from sales of livestock, wage labor, and sales of wood and straw will help maintain household food access. Thus, very poor and poor households will not face a food consumption gap, but will experience livelihood protection deficits exposing them to Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) between April and June.

    Consumer demand will grow between July and September with the return of migrant workers and the observance of Ramadan. This will increase the number of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) areas, though government food assistance programs will help ensure adequate consumption or most households. However, there will still be a small group of poor households which, even with assistance programs, will be facing food consumption deficits in July-August due to their market dependence at a time when atypically high prices exceede their incomes. Nevertheless, this minority group of local households facing Crisis levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) should not exceed the 20 percent threshold required to classify this area as in Crisis.

    Pastoral Zone of Nguigmi

    Current situation

    Annual rainfall in this primarily livestock-raising area ranges from 100 to 200 mm. On average, very poor and poor households have one or two large animals, four to six small animals, and a few head of poultry. The main sources of income are sales of animals and animal products, the tending of livestock herds, sales of wood/charcoal and straw, and migrant remittances. The main sources of food for household consumption are market purchase, household animal production, gifts/charity, and in-kind wages. Household expenditures are on food purchases (millet and sorghum), purchases of animal feed in April-May-June, loan payments, and social spending (for feasts and other social events).

    Drivers of the current household food security situation include:

    • the rapid depletion of pasture resources as a result of the pasture deficit in this part of Nguigmi Department equivalent to  101,893 metric tons of wild fodder owing to the poor distribution of rainfall during the last rainy season;
    • a larger than usual concentration of animals along the shores of Lake Chad with the massive influx of livestock herds from Nigeria and the disruption in transhumant movements affecting approximately 18 percent of livestock in the Diffa area ;
    • the drying up of temporary lakes and ponds and the continued watering of animals at wells, boreholes, or the lake due to the scarcity of animal watering holes;
    • a steady, sharper than usual, deterioration in livestock body conditions due to the pasture deficit in this area, without this posing a mortality risk; and
    • an improvement in household cereal availability with ongoing harvests of flood recession maize crops in areas around the lake.

    Drivers of market conditions include:

    • market supplies of locally grown maize, while most millet and sorghum supplies are from Nigeria, where security problems are disrupting normal trade channels;
    • March prices for millet and sorghum exceeding the five-year average by 36 and 15 percent, respectively, due to the civil security problems in Nigeria disrupting trade between this area and Nigeria and rising prices for maize as a result of the delay in harvests and a high demand from other areas of the country (Zinder);
    • a slowdown in camel exports to Libya to more than 30 percent below-normal and a decline in camel prices putting them 20 percent below-average; and
    • a 16 percent decline in March prices for bulls compared with figures for the same time last year, while March prices for male goats and sheep were still five to 35 percent above the five-year average and unchanged from last year.

    Drivers of livelihood conditions include:

    • a three percent delcine in terms of trade for camels/millet in March compared with the same time last year;
    • a reduction in the volume of migrant remittances to more than 40 percent below-average due to the social problems in destination countries (Nigeria and Libya);
    • a decline in income from the tending of livestock herds due to the low demand for labor from transhumant pastoralists with the conflict in Nigeria; and
    • an average stream of income from the sale of straw, with the doubling of sales prices making up for the lower volume of sales.

    As of January of this year, there were an estimated 37,332 displaced persons in the Diffa area, concentrated mainly in Bosso/Nguigmi, Diffa, and Mainé Soroa departments. According to the UNHCR, this figure is currently up to approximately 40,000 displaced persons from northern Nigeria.


    The most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2014 was established based on the following assumptions:

    • The conflict in Nigeria will continue to disrupt cereal flows along normal trade routes, diverting trade to Zinder and driving up prices in general and cereal prices in particular between April and September.
    • Average levels of production from flood recession maize crops in the Lake Chad area will help stabilize maize prices between April and June. Movements in prices between July and September will be in line with normal seasonal trends.
    • Pasture availability will remain limited and well below-normal between April and June with the influx of herds from Nigeria. Conditions will recover between July and September with the normal growth of fresh pasture in the wake of what is expected to be a normal rainy season.
    • Low demand from Nigeria and the deterioration in livestock body conditions will drive down livestock prices between April and June. This decline in livestock prices in the face of rising cereal prices will keep terms of trade 10 to 20 percent below the five-year average.
    • A continued lower than usual demand for labor will reduce income from the tending of livestock between now and September.
    • Based on the outlook for a normal rainy season, there should be a normal demand for labor at normal wage rates for rainfed and flood-recession croping in the southern reaches of the area between June and September. There should be average levels of wage income from pepper growing activities and income from sales of wood/charcoal and straw for the month of April.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Very poor and poor households will sell more animals than usual between April and June, under pressure to meet their cereal consumption needs and from the below-average prices for livestock. They will have below-average levels of income from cash remittances and the tending of livestock with which to feed themselves and their animals on account of the pasture deficits in this area. Above-average cereal prices will weaken household purchasing power, creating livelihood protection deficits and Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) in this area.  A small group of very poor households will face Crisis levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) as they begin to experience food consumption deficits. This minority group of households, while below the required threshold to reclassify the area, will face the greatest difficulty due to the below-average terms of trade.

    Local pastoral conditions will improve and gradually recover between July and September, but the disruption in trade with Libya and Nigeria, the main importing countries for local livestock, will sharply reduce sales revenues and remittance income. Thus, while there will be no households in Crisis and the number of Stressed households will come down, a large percentage of local households will be forced to continue to limit their nonfood spending to meet expenditures for staple food purchases and, thus, will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Agropastoral Zone of Ouallam

    Trends in food security indicators in this area are in line with the assumptions presented in the Food Security Outlook for January through June of this year. Cereal prices will stay high between April and June, but the decline in demand with the large out-migration for labor opportunities from this area and inflows of migrant remittances are giving households the means with which to meet their food needs, though a large majority of households will continue to have unmet nonfood needs. Overall, food security conditions in this area will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the end of June.

    Consumer demand will increase between July and September and there will be fewer means with which to meet this growing demand in the face of high food prices. Even with the extra seasonal income generated by what are expected to be normal start-of-season conditions for the growing season, the majority of poor households will be unable to fully meet their food and nonfood needs. These households will be facing Crisis levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) between July and September.

    Events that can change the outlook

    Table 1. Possible events in the next six months liable to change the outlook




    Impact on food security conditions


    Higher than expected cereal prices between June and September

    Greater difficulty meeting food needs could develop into livelihood protection deficits or small survival deficits in certain areas.

    Poor start-of-season conditions for the 2014-215 growing season for rainfed crops

    • Hoarding of cereal stocks by large farmers and traders
    • Less wage income from land preparation work

    Limited implementation of the national assistance plan

    • Limited mitigation of food security problems
    • Persistent food insecurity

    More sociopolitical unrest in Nigeria, accelerating the rate of population displacement

    • Larger than expected increase in the number of refugees
    • Stronger demand for cereals, larger supply of labor, and higher than expected prices
    • Poorer than expected purchasing power, with livelihood protection deficits

    Agropastoral Zone of Tahoua

    Stronger than expected cereal demand or limited flow of food products from source countries for imports


    • Limited flow of imports and higher than expected cereal prices

    Heavy flooding during the growing season


    • Losses of crops and assets
    • Less demand for labor

    Pastoral Zone of Nguigmi

    Beefing up of measures designed to close the country’s borders with Nigeria


    • Suspension of trade
    • Rises in prices

    Higher than expected animal mortality rates due to shortages of pasture or animal health  problems


    • Less bargaining power to meet food needs
    • Erosion in livelihoods


    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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