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Cereal markets and prices still behaving typically

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • April - September 2015
Cereal markets and prices still behaving typically

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • At the national level, food availability remains typical on markets and in households, and market prices are average to below-average due to low consumer demand.

    • While food insecurity was generally Minimal (IPC Phase 1) throughout the country in April 2015, the situation is still concerning in some regions. Cereal stock levels will fall significantly by September. Pasture availability will also be greatly reduced in May-June 2015 in agro-pastoral areas of Ouallam, Tanout, and Goure, the agricultural area of Doungass, and pastoral areas of Ouallam, Tanout, Abalak, and Tchintabaraden. Poor households in these areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), not be able to cover all of their essential non-food expenditures.

    • Persons displaced by the conflict in northeastern Nigeria, now present in southern Diffa, will also face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. Pastoralists in northern Diffa (Nguigmi) will be significantly impacted by limited sales opportunities for livestock and high food prices. Pastoral areas of Nguigmi will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) at least through September.

    National Overview
    Current situation

    According to the final results of the 2014 rainy season published by the Ministry of Agriculture Bureau of Statistics in late March, just over 4.1 million metric tons of cereals (millet, sorghum, maize, fonio, rice, and wheat) were produced nationwide. These crops (millet, sorghum, maize, rice, fonio, and wheat), excluding carryover stocks, commercial imports, and donations, will be enough to cover 95 percent of the Nigerien population's food consumption needs for the 2014/15 consumption year.

    If market garden crops, which benefited this season from good water availability and inputs from the government and its partners (including the FAO), are taken into account, food availability will be even higher nationally. These additional food resources could even compensate for cereal shortages, mainly in the Zinder and Tillabéri regions.

    With food sufficiently available nationwide, supplies of locally produced cereals will consist mainly of millet, except on the markets in Diffa, where cereals are imported from other regions or neighboring countries. Imports (mainly from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Benin) will continue normally for other cereals (maize and sorghum), except in areas of Diffa, where insecurity is limiting trade flows.

    Local consumer demand also shows stable food availability among households, especially with the contribution of market garden produce, which is an increasingly significant part of the local diet. Demand is stable and is primarily centered around locally produced millet, the main cereal typically consumed in Niger. This situation is clear given the difference in prices on the markets, where locally produced millet is more expensive than millet imported from Nigeria and other locally produced cereals.

    Cereal markets are functioning normally, with average to above-average supply levels. Prices are generally average to below-average. In March 2014, the lowest reported millet prices were between XOF 100 to 200 per kg on the markets in Maradi, Tahoua, and Zinder, while the highest prices observed were between XOF 200 and 280 per kg on the markets in Diffa, Agadez, and Tillabéri. On all markets, prices are 3 to 30 percent lower than the five-year average.

    During the month of April, households that did not have their own food stocks accessed food mainly by selling market garden produce, straw, wood, and labor. In Diffa, the loss of income from selling peppers and fishery products due to restrictions related to insecurity caused by Boko Haram is an obstacle to accessing food for households in the area, who depend greatly on these livelihoods.

    The report on the results of the pastoral season published by the Pastoral Development Bureau estimates pasture production at 14,324,098 metric tons of dry matter (DMT), compared to the 22,760,805 DMT needed, resulting in a total pasture deficit of 8,436,709 DMT. During this period, which coincides with the typical start of the pastoral lean season, all regions are facing pasture shortages, with deficits reaching over 2 million metric tons of dry matter in the Tahoua and Tillabéri regions. An assessment of the pasture situation by region shows the largest deficits in the pastoral areas of Téra, Abalak, Diffa, Maine Soroa, and Nguigmi. Monitoring of the pastoral situation by the national early warning system (SAP) indicates limited to no pasture available in the pastoral areas of Bosso, N’guigmi, and Mainé-Soroa, the Diffa region, northeast Tchintabaraden, Tassara, and Abalak in the Tahoua region.

    With limited pasture available in Niger to meet the needs of livestock, households will engage in transhumant migration. Animals are migrating in search of areas with good pasture production and watering holes, mainly among different regions of the country rather than from Niger to neighboring countries. This situation has significantly heightened the depletion of available pasture, which is already in short supply following last season's rainfall shortages, leading to an early start to the lean season in several pastoral areas. Transhumant migration in the eastern part of Niger, especially in the Diffa region, has been disrupted by the escalation in the security situation in Nigeria in late 2014.

    To improve the availability of animal feed and prevent a significant deterioration in animal body conditions, approximately 10,800 metric tons of livestock inputs (wheat bran and feed cakes) have been made available in the regions for commercial and subsidized sales at reduced prices (XOF 400 and XOF 500 for 50 kg bags of wheat bran and feed cakes, respectively), which are 50 percent lower than those on the markets. Purchase of this supplemental animal feed will significantly improve animals' nutrition and maintain their current body conditions.

    Livestock markets are functioning normally, except for in the Diffa region, where transactions are being severely impacted by the security crisis in Nigeria. This crisis is reducing the number of export traders, who fear attacks by armed groups. Livestock supplies are generally average. On the whole, demand is coming from both domestic and international traders (mainly Nigerian). Livestock sale prices published by the livestock market information system (SIMB) for the month of March 2015 remained above the five-year average for all animals. Prices are up 22 percent for bulls, 20 percent for male sheep, and 3 percent for male goats. These high prices hide some disparities, because prices on livestock markets in Diffa and the Abalak Region are 10 to 30 percent lower than the seasonal average.

    Terms of trade are favorable for pastoral households that sell livestock to buy cereals, because with the sale of one male goat they can access a quantity of millet approximately 25 percent higher than the five-year average.

    Milk and dairy products constitute sources of income for pastoral households. However, milk availability and supply is estimated to be 50 percent below average, mainly in regions with pasture shortages, such as Diffa, Tahoua, and Tillabéri. This decline in supply could be the reason for milk prices rising to double the average in March 2015, suggesting there will be no significant changes in income from milk sales.

    The health situation is characterized by the early appearance of seasonal diseases. According to a report presented by the Ministry of Public Health on April 18, 2015, all of the country's health regions (except Diffa) have reported cases of meningitis. A total of 905 cases have been reported, including 63 new cases from April 17 to 18, 2015. Only 242 cases of meningitis were reported during the same period last year. More than 50 percent of cases were reported in the region of Niamey alone. According to WHO epidemic thresholds, the Niamey 2, Gaya, and Doutchi health districts are in a state of epidemic.

    Following new developments in the security situation in Nigeria and its spilling over into the Diffa region in February 2015, the number of displaced persons in the region rose sharply from less than 100,000 to approximately 150,000 (according to official numbers). With recent attacks on the islands of Lake Chad, the security situation remains tense, and population movements will continue to increase in the coming months.

    The food security of displaced persons depends on humanitarian assistance, which is provided according to a person's status and the length of time spent in the area. Most displaced persons who have remained a relatively long period of time receive assistance from humanitarian organizations. Rations are made up of cereals (500 g/person/day), legumes (100 g/person/day), and oil (25 g/person/day). Children receive a CSB+ ration (200 g/child/day). Approximately 75-80 percent of the displaced population receives assistance from the government and its partners. This assistance has increased with the formal opening of the camps in Sayam Forage (December 2004) and Kablewa. Displaced persons who are not yet registered do not receive official assistance and are beginning to engage in petty trade to meet their food needs but could face food shortages given the deterioration in the area's socioeconomic fabric.

    The food security situation of the majority of host households is also characterized by decreased food availability due to cereal and pasture production shortfalls, pressure from displaced persons on their limited food stocks, and particularly security measures, which are preventing them from conducting income-generating activities. As for peppers, the area's main cash crop, in addition to lower production levels linked to a reduction in the area planted in 2004 because of a deterioration in the security climate, the marketing channel has also been disrupted by decreased export demand and especially by measures imposed by local authorities prohibiting collection and transport by vehicle.

    In southern Diffa, other economic activities, particularly fishing and fish sales, practiced in insecure areas around Lake Chad have been affected by the same restrictions.


    The most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2015 described below was established based on the following underlying assumptions with respect to trends in nationwide conditions:

    • Farmers will deplete their cereal stocks in April/May, as in a normal year, but earlier in deficit areas of Zinder and Tillabéri.
    • The production of irrigated and flood-recession crops will end in April-May with average results thanks to assistance in the form of seeds and equipment.
    • Harvests of dry season irrigated rice will take place in May-June and will improve food availability for households in areas around the Niger River.
    • Markets will have sufficient supplies of foodstuffs, which will mainly be imported by traders from Benin, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso. There will be an above-average flow of trade between Niger and these source countries to cover shortfalls in cereal availability, except in the case of trade flows from northeastern Nigeria, where the security situation has impacted trade flows to the Diffa region.
    • Market demand will rise typically with an increase in the number of market-dependent households due to the depletion of more households' food stocks, the return of migrants and transhumant pastoralists, and Ramadan celebrations in June-July. The presence of Malian refugees and displaced persons from Nigeria will place increased pressure on demand.
    • Pasture resources will continue to diminish in April-May-June during the pastoral lean season, but the situation will be mitigated by feed supplements, except in the Diffa region, where pastoralists will concentrate in or overcrowd more secure areas, aggravating pastoral conditions already made critical by pasture shortages and reduced migration to Lake Chad.
    • There is no indication that the rainy season will not start as normal (in agricultural and agropastoral areas in May-June and in pastoral areas in July-August) and progress as usual.
    • Demand for and wage income from farm labor will be normal in June, July, August, and September. The expected good rainfall conditions during the growing season will create normal demand for labor at normal wage rates in crop-producing areas for soil preparation and planting activities in May-June 2015 and the maintenance of rainfed crops in July-September 2015.
    • Pasture and animal watering hole conditions will improve in July-August-September with an expected normal start to the rainy season in pastoral areas. There will be normal levels of milk production and consumption in July-August-September 2015 with the recovery in pastoral resources.
    • Animal body conditions will deteriorate in May-June but will start to improve beginning in July. Livestock prices will fall in pasture deficit areas, followed by a normal upward trend in prices from July through September 2015 with the improvement in livestock body conditions and the high demand for slaughter animals for the celebration of Tabaski. Livestock/cereal terms of trade will be 10 to 20 percent below those in 2014 but average to above-average in July-September 2015.
    • The ongoing reconstitution of the 30,000-metric ton national food security stock for subsidized sales and free food distributions will continue as expected through the end of April.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    In most agricultural and agropastoral areas with surplus cereal production and/or above-average carryover stocks, households have been able to use irrigated cash crops to improve food availability and make their own food stocks last longer. In these areas, located mainly in the agricultural and agropastoral areas of Maradi, Tahoua, northern Zinder, and southern Tillabéri, most households will be able to access enough food to meet their food needs and cover non-food expenditures to prevent malnutrition and a deterioration in their livelihoods. These areas, covering a significant portion of the country, will generally be characterized by Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    In crop and pasture production deficit areas located in the southeastern strip of the agricultural area of Zinder, the northern strip of the agropastoral area of Tillabéri, and the pastoral areas of the Tahoua and Tillabéri regions, households will be more dependent on the markets, where cereal prices will be high while livestock prices will be low. However, these households will face only minimal food shortages, which will be compensated for by annual food assistance. Poor households will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in pastoral areas in April-May-June and in agricultural and agropastoral areas in June-July-August-September.

    In the agropastoral area of Diffa, civil insecurity and security measures taken by local authorities to restrict movement will make more people dependent on food assistance, particularly displaced persons and poor households facing production shortfalls. These groups will face significant difficulty meeting their consumption and livelihood protection needs and will only be able to remain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) through September 2015 thanks to assistance.

    In the pastoral area of Diffa, livelihood activities (particularly livestock sales and migration to Libya and Nigeria) will be significantly disrupted. Livestock prices are down, due not only to low export demand but also to deteriorating animal body conditions caused by pasture shortages. Income is down significantly, weakening purchasing power to buy consumer goods. Poor households in this area will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout April-June and July-September.


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes for April 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes for April 2015

    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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