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A good harvest, stable prices, and normal income levels lead to Minimal food insecurity

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Sierra Leone
  • October 2012
A good harvest, stable prices, and normal income levels lead to Minimal food insecurity

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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 increase is due to an annual increase in the amount of land cultivated, although the exact value of this increase is currently unknown due to the absence of an agricultural survey.

    • This season's production levels for sweet potatoes, groundnuts, cassava, yams, and vegetables are also forecasted to be at levels higher than last year and the five-year average. These good harvests are improving poor households' access to food and are reducing the need for market purchases. 

    • 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. At the moment, the cholera epidemic has not yet significantly impacted food security.

    • 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. Though medical and behavior changing support is needed to save lives, the cholera epidemic has not yet significantly impacted food security.

    Satellite-based cumulative rainfall totals from April to the end of September indicate above-normal to normal precipitation throughout the country. A 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 the amount of land cultivated, although the exact value of this increase is currently unknown due to the absence of an agricultural survey. 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. This means that the country is self-sufficient in rice. Despite this excess, Sierra Leone imports rice from Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and the United States. Commercial rice imports were 115,000 MT in 2010 and 210,000 MT in 2011. These imports, as well as the country's excess production, suggest that a certain amount of rice is be exported from Sierra Leone although no data on rice export levels has been identified.  

    As of early October, newly harvested rice had not yet reached local markets, and markets were still dominated by imported rice. Newly harvested rice will likely arrive on the markets in November or December. Prices for both local and imported rice vary between 800-1,000 LE/cup, which is similar to prices during the last several months and to last year's prices at this time. 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. However, due to a relatively minor 2012 lean season and a good upcoming harvest, these payments will have less of an impact on household food stocks compared to a normal year.

    The harvests of other major crops are also expected to be above-average this season. For example, the October pre-harvest assessment forecasted that cassava, sweet potato, and maize production levels will 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 and this year, stocks are expected to last at least five to six months and possibly one month longer.

    In addition to income from staple food sales, many poor households earn normal income levels 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 (ex. wood, charcoal, wild fruits), 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, stable food harvests, and normal income levels, minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is likely through at least next April. 

    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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