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Expected harvest production losses heighten the risk of food insecurity later in 2015

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Senegal
  • October 2014
Expected harvest production losses heighten the risk of food insecurity later in 2015

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Though below-average, ongoing harvests of green crops in farming areas are bringing relief to rural households after the long lean season, providing them with food and income for the period from October 2014 through March 2015. Households are currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    • Expected shortfalls in cereal and peanut production will adversely affect food availability and the farm incomes of poor households, particularly in the northeastern and central reaches of the country. The good food availability for poor households in October, which normally extends through June, will not last beyond the end of March. Thus, these households will be facing an escalation in food insecurity to Stressed levels (IPC Phase 2).

    • Border closures in border areas with Guinea are interfering with the free circulation of persons and goods, which is hurting the local economy and heightening household vulnerability to food insecurity. The resulting rise in prices is curtailing the market access of poor households to some extent.





    Scheduled harvests of cereal crops between October and November will be more than 20 percent below average due to the poor rainfall conditions in cropping areas in the northern and central reaches of the country.

    Production shortfalls for cereals and pulses will deplete household food stocks earlier than usual, by April instead of June, and reduce household income, heightening household vulnerability to food insecurity in 2015.

    The closure of the country’s border with Guinea on account of the Ebola outbreak is disrupting food trade in southern border areas, which is putting pressure on domestic markets.

    There will be continuing disruptions in cross-border trade with Guinea until the Ebola outbreak has calmed down. The resulting rise in prices will adversely affect household food access.

    The seeds for short-cycle pulses and cassava distributed to farmers by the government under its emergency assistance program were put to good use with the good rainfall conditions across the country in the month of September.

    Expected harvests of cowpeas, sesame, and cassava as a result of the emergency assistance program mounted in August will enable households to produce enough food and income to meet their needs.

    Projected Outlook through March 2015

    The persistent late September rains helped improve the water situation across the country, particularly in the central  basin area and Southeast. However, cumulative rainfall totals for the period from May 1st through October 10th were still below-average to well-below-average in all parts of the country with the exception of the Southeast, where rainfall numbers in Kedougou, Saraya, Tambacounda, Bakel, and Goudry were average to above-average (Figure 1). Satellite imagery of vegetation cover (NDVI imagery) shows the negative effects of rainfall anomalies on crop production and new pasture growth (Figure 2).

    The ongoing harvests of green maize and peanut crops in different crop-growing areas are improving food availability for households in farming areas, at least for the current post-harvest period. Millet and sorghum crops are in the heading to maturation stages, reflecting the lag in crop growth and development. The diminishing rainfall activity and soil water deficits reported earlier in the season will prevent crops in all farming areas from properly maturing. The resulting smaller areas planted in crops and low crop yields are expected to translate into rather large production shortfalls, particularly in the northern, central, and southwestern reaches of the country.

    The average to below-average pasture availability in all parts of the country as of October 10th should still suffice to meet the current needs of livestock. However, the low levels of pasture production in northern pastoral areas could create grazing problems for livestock during the lean season in pastoral areas between April and June. Shortfalls in animal production and the lower market value of livestock will mean less income for pastoral households.

    Market supplies of locally grown cereals are still limited. These fresh crops will normally trigger the unloading of existing inventories, boosting market supplies. This year, however, the disappointing progress of the current growing season is prompting rural households to hold onto their crops. The suspension of trade with neighboring countries and shutdown of a number of major markets in the southern part of the country on account of the Ebola outbreak are sharply reducing the supply of various foodstuffs (fruits, tubers, rice, and vegetables) in this area, which is fueling the rise in prices and, thus, curtailing the access of poor households to these foods. The stabilization of prices for imported broken rice, the cereal of choice for household consumption, since last month at levels near or slightly (approximately two percent) below-average in Kaolack and Saint Louis is ensuring household access to this foodstuff. Millet prices are up from the month of August by 18 percent in Fatick, 20 percent in Matam, and 12 percent in Tambacounda, most likely, due to the poor progress of the current growing season. Market prices for millet are hovering around the five-year (2008 – 2013) average (+/- five percent). Prices for livestock are near or above-average, particularly sheep prices (which are 25 percent above-average), driven by needs for the celebration of Tabaski. This trend could continue through March, when the beginning of the lean season will prompt pastoralists to cull their herds to minimize losses and stock up on food supplies.

    The lean season for farming households has ended with the availability of green crops from ongoing harvests in farming areas. Though smaller than average, these harvests will provide households with food stocks and improve supplies on retail markets for at least a few months after the harvest. The ensuing decline in prices will help improve the food access of nonfarming households with earnings from their usual activities. However, shortfalls in crop production as a result of the lack of sufficient rainfall will deplete the food stocks of small farmers prematurely, who will turn to local markets for their food supplies sooner than usual, by March instead of May. Lower crop yields and farm incomes (which are dependant on the volume of production) will force poor households in the Matam, Louga, Thiès, and Ziguinchor regions and parts of the Kaolack, Fatick, Diourbel, and Kaffrine regions to ramp up activities such as nonfarm and on-farm employment in off-season farming activities, the gathering and sale of forest products, labor migration, borrowing, and the sale of livestock more than usual in order to meet their food needs. With the average levels of income generated by these activities, they will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between October and March 2015. However, there is a suspicion that the food security situation of poor households may start to deteriorate in April with the usual in food prices at that time of year, leading to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Cumulative rainfall anomalies for the period from May 1st through October 10, 2014

    Figure 2

    Figure 1.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Vegetation (NDVI) anomalies for October 10, 2014

    Figure 3

    Figure 2.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    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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