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An earlier than usual lean season in pastoral areas threatens incomes in the North

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Senegal
  • February 2015
An earlier than usual lean season in pastoral areas threatens incomes in the North

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Markets still have adequate supplies in spite of the 37 percent shortfall in cereal production compared with the average. Though smaller than in an average year, as usual, current cereal stocks are making households less dependent on market purchase.

    • Their longer than usual market dependence with the premature depletion of their food stocks by March instead of June and their reduced farm incomes are preventing poor farming households from adequately meeting their food needs. Thus, they will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity between March and April and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions by May.

    • The unusually early start of the lean season in pastoral areas as a result of the pasture deficit and growing damage from brush fires in northern and central areas of the country will negatively affect animal production and threaten the survival of livestock, undermining the livelihoods of agropastoral and pastoral households.


    current anomalies

    Projected Anomalies


    • The marketing season for groundnuts is facing complications as a result of the limited financial means of prospective buyers.

    • Marketing difficulties will cause large numbers of farmers to frequent weekly markets, driving down selling prices for groundnuts and further reducing farm incomes.

    • Spreading brush fires are threatening pasture availability already curtailed by the pasture deficit in livestock-raising areas in the northern and central reaches of the country as of the end of the agropastoral season.
    • The pasture deficit will be further aggravated by the combined effects of poor rainfall conditions and damage from brush fires, negatively affecting the physical condition of livestock, milk production and, by extension, the incomes of pastoral households.
    • The opening of the border with Guinea is reviving trade with that country, which has been disrupted for the past year.
    • Trade with Guinea will speed up, improving the flow of food (tubers, fruits, palm oil, etc.) and bolstering the economic recovery for the well-being of border area residents.

    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    The decline in farm income as a result of shortfalls in cereal and groundnut production is weakening the purchasing power of agropastoral households, particularly in the central and northeastern reaches of the country. Average crop yields from ongoing harvests of market garden crops in the usual crop-producing areas are generating average amounts of income for farming households and improving their market access. The low water supply in certain reservoirs for northern areas of the country is limiting these market gardening activities, which are still expected to produce average harvests between January and April. The growing season for off-season rice crops currently in progress in the Senegal River Valley is creating average employment opportunities for poor households between February and March. The expected average rice harvests in May-June will improve the availability of this foodstuff in northern areas of the country.

    The pasture deficit in northern pastoral areas is triggering unusual herd movements to relatively lush grazing lands in the South and East, limiting household access to animal products (milk and cheese). The decline in milk production and in the market value of livestock due to their poor physical condition will negatively affect the incomes and purchasing power of pastoral households. The higher than usual risk of animal mortality will undermine pastoral livelihoods. Prices for sheep and goats are still above figures for 2014 by approximately 13 percent and eight percent, respectively, in spite of the larger supply of animals with pastoralists culling their herds earlier than usual, before the beginning of the hardship period in April, as a coping strategy. The expected poor physical condition of animals by March with the harsh conditions affecting stock-raising activities in pastoral areas will drive down the price of livestock, contributing to the deterioration in terms of trade for pastoralists.

    In spite of the 37 percent below-average volume of cereal production, farming households still have enough cereal stocks to meet their needs. However, the depletion of these food stocks one to two months prematurely will make households unusually dependent on market purchase, further depleting their livelihoods already eroded by shortfalls in farm income. The lean season is expected to get underway earlier than usual, by March/April, particularly for poor households in the Thiès, Louga, Matam, Kolda, and northern Tambacounda regions. These households will have difficulty adequately meeting their food needs by March.

    There are average to large market supplies of cereals, particularly rice and imported maize. Prices for regular broken rice, the main cereal consumed by Senegalese households, are more or less unchanged from last month and approximately seven percent below-average. Prices for millet and sorghum are down slightly from last month and approximately six to nine percent above-average. Food prices will rise in line with normal seasonal trends between February and June, with somewhat steeper rises in the prices of locally grown cereals fueled by poor crop production, limiting the access of poor households to these foodstuffs. Prices for shelled groundnuts are more or less on par with the average and down from last month by approximately three percent. Marketing difficulties are causing farmers in urgent need of cash to flock to weekly markets, significantly boosting supplies and driving down prices. The combination of lower prices and a smaller than normal volume of marketable output is further eroding the seasonal incomes and purchasing power of farming households, heightening their vulnerability to food insecurity.

    The heavier than usual reliance on migration, on-farm employment in the Senegal River Valley and market gardening areas and employment in nonfarm activities, the gathering and sale of forest products, and work in small trades and fishing activities by maximum numbers of people is generating average levels of income for households looking to improve their market access. However, earnings from these activities cannot completely make up for shortfalls in their farm income and longer than usual market dependence. Rises in the prices of locally grown cereals to above-average levels will curtail the food access of poor households until next September, when the availability of green crops will ease hardships during the long lean season. Thus, households will deplete their meager livelihoods between April and September, aggravating the livelihood protection deficits emerging between February and March. Most farming households are currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. Poor households affected by the bad 2014 rainfall will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as of March 2015, resorting to coping strategies such as cutting their food intake and their number of daily meals, selling productive assets, and/or thinning their herds (in the case of pastoral households). As a result, they will be unable to meet basic food and nonfood expenses by around May or June. Thus, without some form of assistance, this group of poor households will be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity as of May.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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