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Decline in farm income for poor households due to the late start of the rains

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Senegal
  • July 2015
Decline in farm income for poor households due to the late start of the rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Poor agropastoral households in central and northern areas of the country who are unable to meet their food needs due to the negative effects of below-average 2014 harvests and limited pasture availability are reducing the size and, in some cases, the number of their meals, as well as resorting to other atypical coping strategies. Consequently, these households are currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.

    • This year’s rainfall deficits across the country have prevented the timely planting of crops in agricultural areas and improvements in pastoral conditions in livestock grazing areas. Unusually low levels of labor opportunities due to a reduction in the land area planted in crops this year, as well as low dairy production levels, are reducing incomes for poor agropastoral households.

    • The availability of freshly harvested green crops should ease the severity of food insecurity from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels starting in September. In October, the main harvest and expected decline in cereal prices will help ensure household food access, maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October and December.


    Current Anomalies

    Projected Anomalies




    The rainfall deficits in central and northern areas of the country are responsible for a one-to-more-than-two-week delay in crop planting activities and an intensification of dry planting activities in affected areas.

    The forecasted below-average rainfall during the last week of the month will not significantly improve cropping rates across the country. The late start of the rains will also negatively affect crop growth and development, causing the availability of green crops in September to be below average.



    Poor households in areas affected by the below-average 2014 harvests have limited food access. Consequently, they are reducing their food intake and resorting to atypical coping strategies, such as borrowing.

    The combined effects of scheduled food assistance deliveries between now and September, farm input assistance programs, upcoming harvests, and the ensuing decline in prices for locally grown cereal crops in October will improve household food access.

    Pastoral areas

    Herd movements to regular rainy season grazing areas are late due to a delay in the improvement in pastoral conditions compared to a normal year.

    The new pasture growth and replenishment of animal watering holes will improve pastoral conditions over the next few weeks, jump-starting milk production and the physical recovery of livestock.

    Projected Outlook through December 2015

    Cumulative rainfall totals from May 1st to July 10th were below-average to well-below-average in all parts of the country with the exception of the farthest reaches of southeastern Senegal, where totals were average to above-average in localized areas (Figure 1). As a result, even with the large volume of farm input assistance from the government and its partners, crop planting activities are still behind schedule, particularly in the groundnut basin and the northern part of the country where dry-planting efforts have been ramped up to ensure adequate cropping rates. These usually low levels of farming activities are generating below-average seasonal incomes for poor households which, in turn, is curtailing their market access. However, ongoing average harvests of off-season rice in the Senegal River Valley are providing area households with average incomes and food supplies, which is helping to improve their food access. 

    The limited rainfall activity and resulting delay in the improvement of pastoral conditions are making it difficult to graze and water animals in livestock holding areas in the groundnut basin and the Southeast, delaying return livestock migration to rainy season pastures. The poor physical condition of livestock and limited availability of milk are negatively affecting the diets and incomes of pastoral households which, in addition to their reduced incomes, are contending with larger than average losses of livestock, particularly in the eastern part of the country. However, animal feed assistance (14,800 MT) in the form of a 50 percent subsidy as part of Opération de Sauvegarde du Bétail (the livestock protection program) is helping to limit these losses pending the improvement in pastoral conditions with the increase in rainfall levels over the course of this month. Despite heavy demand due to Ramadan, there has been an atypical decline in livestock market prices due to ongoing herd thinning efforts caused by the poor pastoral conditions. Thus, cattle prices are down compared to average by approximately 22 percent in Fatick and 12 percent in Kédougou. Similarly, sheep prices are 24 percent below-average in Louga and Kolda. These atypically low prices are reducing incomes for pastoral households.

    In general, cereal supplies remain adequate on markets across the country. In particular, market supplies of both imported regular broken rice and locally grown rice are average to above-average while supplies of other locally grown cereals are down sharply due to the earlier than usual depletion of on-farm stocks due to last year’s poor crop yields. However, despite these low supply levels, millet prices are only above the five-year average by five percent in Tambacounda and Dakar and are below-average on other markets, most likely due to low demand. Meanwhile, prices for regular broken rice, the most widely consumed cereal by Senegalese households, are generally below average, except for in Ziguinchor where they have been similar to average levels. However, despite these favorable prices, poor households with reduced incomes are still have unusually limited access to rice through market purchase this year.

    Due to becoming market dependent a full month earlier than usual (and is some cases longer), households with generally below-average incomes are cutting back their nonfood spending and increasing to atypically high levels their reliance on borrowing, livestock sales, and labor work (farm or non-farm) in an effort to increase incomes and improve food access. However, limited farm labor opportunities as a result of the poor rainfall conditions are aggravating the situation for poor households who are in the midst of a longer than usual lean season. Consequently, these households are reportedly cutting the size and, in some cases, the number of their meals, which in turn will likely drive up the already critical rates of malnutrition in these areas (ranging from 10 to over 15 percent). As a result, despite food and nonfood assistance supplied by the government between July and September, poor households in central and north areas of the country will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity through August 2015.

    In September, the availability of freshly harvested green crops, though limited by the delay in crop planting activities, will ease household food insecurity down into the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase and, eventually, to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels starting in October with the availability of crops from the main harvest, the expected decline in prices for locally grown cereals, and the seasonal improvement in household income, which should help maintain normal food access.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Estimated cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomalies, May 1 - July 10, 2015 (in mm)

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Estimated cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomalies, May 1 - July 10, 2015 (in mm)

    Source: USGS

    Figure 2. Crop water requirement satisfaction index (WRSI), first dekad of July 2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Crop water requirement satisfaction index (WRSI), first dekad of July 2015

    Source: USGS

    Figure 4


    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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