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Above-average harvests in progress across the country

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Sierra Leone
  • November 2012
Above-average harvests in progress across the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Forecasted rice production for the 2012/13 cropping season is estimated to be 10 percent higher than last year, which was itself an above-average year. This production increase is due to an annual increase in land area under cultivation.

    • The number of new cholera cases will continue to slow through November/December due to diverse assistance, a multi-sectoral approach adopted by the Government and its partners, and decreasing precipitation levels. The cholera epidemic has not significantly impacted food security in the country.

    • Poor households will earn normal levels of income from non-cropping activities (ex. petty trade, forestry product sales, casual labor) during the upcoming months. Good harvest prospects and normal income levels will result in Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) through at least March 2013. 

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • The 2012/13 major crop harvests have started in October and are expected to be above-average.
       
    • The country's worst cholera outbreak in 15 years is underway. As of early October, 20,736 cases and 280 deaths have been reported.
    • Good food stock levels will enable households to have normal access to basic foods and normal income levels from crop sales.
       
    • The number of new cholera cases is expected to slow through November/December.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013

    The worst cholera epidemic in Sierra Leone in at least 15 years is underway, affecting 12 of 13 districts. Western Area, Port Loko, and Kambia are most affected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of cases has risen to 20,736 as of October 16, but the number of new infections has begun to slow since September. This is due to diverse assistance, a multi-sectoral approach adopted by the Government and its partners, and decreasing precipitation levels. The fatality rate has decreased from 3.2 percent in July to 1.5 percent in August and 0.5 percent in September. This trend will likely continue through November/December. The cholera epidemic has not significantly impacted food security.

    Harvests are currently underway for various crops including rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, maize, and millet. The joint CILSS/FAO/FEWS NET/WFP/Government pre-harvest assessment conducted in early October estimates that 2012/13 rice production levels will be approximately 10 percent higher than last year, which was itself a good year. This increase is due to an annual increase in land area cultivated. The provisional milled rice available in the country is about 684,850 MT. Compared to the population needs for the upcoming consumption year (639,839 MT), the country has an excess of about 45,000 MT of rice.

    The ongoing harvests of other major crops are also expected to be above-average this season due to good rainfall and increased land area under cultivation. For example, the October pre-harvest assessment forecasted that cassava, sweet potato, and maize production levels would be 5 percent, 2 percent, and 2 percent higher than last year's levels and 34 percent, 34 percent, and 40 percent higher than the 5-year average, respectively. This will lead to good household food stocks, normal income levels from crop sales, and a reduced dependency on market purchases for staple foods. Household food stocks normally last approximately five to six months but given this year's good crop production levels, stocks will likely last one month longer. Households are also starting to plant cassava in a few areas of the country although this activity will increase in December and January. Cassava harvests are expected to occur in June, coinciding with the beginning of the lean season.

    As of November, newly harvested rice has arrived at local markets, although markets are still dominated by imported rice from Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the United States. Higher levels of local rice will reach rural markets beginning in December. Local rice prices in November remain generally stable compared to October. Low consumer demand due to new harvests and an increasing supply of local rice on markets is causing imported rice prices to decline by 11 percent compared to October. Poor households who relied on food loans during the June-August lean season to meet food needs will repay traders with their newly harvested rice in December/January. However, due to a relatively minor 2012 lean season and the current good harvests, these payments will have less of an impact on household food stocks compared to a normal year.

     In addition to income from staple food sales, many poor households earn income from other income-generating activities, such as petty-trade, the selling of farm products (ex. vegetables and cash crops, such as tobacco and palm oil), the selling of forest products, local labor, and mining activities. These livelihood strategies will remain in place at normal levels throughout the 2012/13 consumption year.

     Due to a good harvest and normal income levels and livelihood strategies, Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is likely through at least March 2013. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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