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Despite a few minor climatic anomalies (slight delay in the start of the rains in localized areas, flooding, dry spells, etc.), the 2016/2017 growing season is progressing normally, with above-average rainfall and a good spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall. Consequently, harvest forecasts for food crops are above the five-year average.
Ongoing harvests of maize, fonio, tubers (particularly cassava), and upland rice will improve food availability in most prefectures across the country and help provide poor households with average incomes through the sale of crops and farm labor. The starting of market gardening activities will serve as an important source of income and good dietary diversity.
Markets will remain well-stocked with foodstuffs, and cereal prices, particularly rice prices, will stay relatively stable through at least the month of May. Most households have average food access with the availability of home-grown crops, average cereal prices, and income from their usual livelihoods. Accordingly, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in all areas of the country through at least May 2017.
Progress of the growing season: There was plentiful regular rainfall throughout the 2016 rainy season. Cumulative rainfall totals for the period from April 1st through October 20th were above the average for 2006-2015 (Figure 1), helping to promote good crop growth and development and filling watering holes and reservoirs across the country.
Farming conditions: In general, this year’s crops are making normal progress and harvest forecasts are average to above-average owing to a good spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall and adequate rates of fertilizer use. Harvests of maize, fonio, upland rice, and tubers are still underway in hillside ecosystems in several prefectures across the country, along with harvests of fonio crops in the Forest Zone and parts of Upper Guinea.
These harvests are improving food availability across the country and replenishing household food stocks. Average to above-average revenues from crop sales are improving the purchasing power of farming households.
In contrast, mangrove rice crops in Lower Guinea are still in the transplanting stage due primarily to flooding issues delaying their development and reducing crop yields for this season. Rice crops planted on the country’s vast plains are in the heading stage. Thus, rice crops across the country are currently in different developmental stages depending on the prefecture, the type of ecosystem, and the growing cycle of different varieties of rice (from three to five months).
Average water availability with the good rainfall in market gardening sites and the enthusiasm of farmers are promoting year-round market gardening activities. Households are currently in the process of harvesting rainy season crops planted in hillside areas (okra, eggplants, watermelons, and cucumbers).
Cash crops: The pick-up in cross-border trade is beginning to jump-start cash crop production (coffee, cocoa, pineapples, palm oil, cola nuts, etc.) in crop-producing areas. Harvests of cocoa, cola nuts, pineapples, bananas, and rubber are underway and households are performing maintenance work on coffee, oil palm, and cashew plantations (producing cashew nuts).
Rubber production is stagnant due to the low price of rubber for the past several years and lack of proper maintenance for rubber plantations (Figure 2). On the other hand, cash crops such as cashews, particularly in Lower and Upper Guinea, are currently booming as a result of their attractive farmgate prices, government incentives waiving export duties, and, in particular, the large presence of Indian traders on Guinean markets in the past few years buying cashew nuts for export. Accordingly, on average, farmgate prices for cashew nuts went from 1000 FG/kg in 2010 to approximately 8000 FG/kg in 2016. This trend was further promoted by the personal involvement of the head of state, who supplied farmers with seeds and cashew plants and set a floor price of 5000 FG/kg. The prices in effect for the past several year have been generating sales revenues above the five-year average for growers and traders alike. Consequently, many farmers in Lower Guinea have begun to replace their peanut crops with cashew plants.
Flooding: There was earlier than usual heaving flooding at the beginning of August of this year in a number of areas, which does not usually happen until the end of August or the beginning of September. This was especially the case in Siguiri prefecture and areas along the Niger River and its tributaries. The floods in this prefecture affected a total of 812 households, causing the loss of 1,350 hectares of rice crops and 195 hectares of maize crops. Based on an average yield of 1.4 metric tons/hectare for rice and four metric tons/hectare for maize, this translates into the loss of approximately 1890 metric tons of rice production and 780 metric tons of maize production in this prefecture.
Pastoral conditions: In general, there are still good pastoral conditions in all parts of the country with the average availability of pasture and watering holes. Livestock are in good physical condition and have an adequate supply of drinking water, which is improving milk production. There have been no reports of any epizootic outbreaks.
Nationwide fish production: The good water situation has been beneficial for fish production. The steady expansion in fish ponds has also helped boost fish production. According to the National Fisheries Monitoring Agency (Observatoire National de la Pêche), 775 metric tons of fish were caught in fish ponds in 2016, mainly in the Forest Zone. This figure is up from last year and above the five-year average. Sales of fish and other seafood products are generating average to above-average levels of income for households engaged in fishing activities.
Cereal and livestock markets: There are adequate market supplies from the increasingly widespread ongoing harvests, carry-over stocks from last year’s harvests, and rice imports, mainly by traders. The normalization of trade between Guinea and neighboring countries with the Ebola situation under control is contributing to the good levels of domestic food supplies Prices for rice, the main cereal consumed by Guinean households, are still currently stable after small seasonal rises in prices during the lean season. They have not yet come down with the ongoing harvest (Figure 3). The price of local varieties of parboiled rice was at 6500 FG/kg in September, while the price of imported rice on the Nzérékoré market was 6000 FG/kg.
The good physical condition of the animal population is sustaining the rise in the prices of livestock and meat driven by demand for the Feast of Tabaski in September 2016. The price of meat went from 22,000 to 25,000 FG/kg in rural prefectures and from 33,000 to 35,000 FG/kg in the city of Conakry in September 2016, stabilizing in October.
Socioeconomic environment: In general, there is a normal socioeconomic environment, which is helping to sustain economic activity. The continued devaluation of the Guinean franc is helping to promote exports and generate more income for traders exporting crops and livestock. The cost of imported foods (rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil, onions, etc.) remains high, reflecting the effects of the devaluation of the local currency on consumers. A number of neighboring countries are also currently feeling the effects of the devaluation of their currencies.
Migration: The ban on small-scale gold and diamond mining activities for the 2016/2017 season was not extended for the farming period between July and September. As a result, most workers off in gold prospecting (mainly Siguiri, Kouroussa, Dinguiraye, and Mandiana) and small-scale diamond mining areas (Banankoro/Kérouané) stayed there all year with these mining activities offering them a better chance of earning significant amounts of income than farming, despite the unpredictability of earnings from small-scale gold and diamond mining operations.
Nutritional situation: The nutritional situation is improving with the growing availability of fresh crops and average household access to markets.
Food security situation: In spite of a few reported climatic anomalies during the 2016/2017 growing season related to the temporary dry spells or floods in a number of localized areas across the country, the general trend is towards a similar level of production to last year and above the five-year average, which is creating better-than-average food availability in all parts of the country. Ongoing harvests and the pick-up in market gardening activities are creating important sources of income and wage-earning opportunities for poor households. This is enabling these households to generate income and improve their food access. Most households have average food access with the availability of home-grown crops, average cereal prices, and average incomes from their usual livelihoods. Thus, all areas of the country are still experiencing only Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.
The most likely scenario for October 2016 through May 2017 is based on the following assumptions with respect to nationwide conditions:
- Rainfall: The expected steady rainfall into the middle of November 2016 and its good spatial distribution could help compensate for the effects of flooding problems, mainly in Lower Guinea, allowing for the harvesting of rice crops planted very late in the season according to the crop calendar.
- Crop production: In general, there will be an average to above-average main cereal harvest between October 2016 and January 2017 across the country owing to the good levels of rainfall throughout the growing season and large volume of assistance provided by the government and its partners. However, the approximate one to two week delay in the start-of-season in certain areas necessitating the replanting of crops by certain households, mainly in localized areas of Gueckedou, Macenta, and Kérouané, could adversely affect crop production by these households. In addition, the earlier than usual heavy flooding in Siguiri prefecture, along the Niger River, followed by protracted dry spells will affect normal crop growth and development and possibly reduce rice production to below-average levels in this area. However, the recourse by farmers to other types of crops such as market garden crops and to gold mining activities could compensate for part of the loss of income from this source.
According to the ANASA, (the National Food and Agriculture Statistics Agency), there are good rice production prospects. In fact, production will be up from last year (2015) by more than originally projected, most likely by 6.17 percent.
- Cash crops: Revenues from cash crops will be up from than last season and above the five-year average with the incentives provided by the government at the beginning of 2016 designed to promote these crops and the devaluation of the Guinean franc, which will stimulate exports. In addition, the conversion of peanut and fonio fields to cashew production with the high price of cashew nuts will help boost cashew production, generating above-average revenues from the sale of these crops.
- Market garden production: The average water availability at market gardening sites and the enthusiasm of farmers causing households to scale up their year-round market gardening activities will translate into average to above-average levels of production between October 2016 and May 2017.
Sources of food and income
- Migration: There will be a normal pattern of labor migration to urban areas and gold prospecting sites across the country. The lower output from diamond mining activities with the growing scarcity of diamonds will translate into below-average levels of income. In general, with most migrants heading to mining sites, the violation of the government ban shutting down these sites, with prospectors staying put longer than usual, will continue to produce an average to above-average stream of migration income.
- Farm labor: The smaller rural workforce for the performance of farm work with the urban drift in the past few years and the failure of migrant workers to return to the land for this year’s farming activities will keep the cost of labor high. As a result, wage rates will be above-average. Poor households engaging in these activities will profit from these higher wage rates to earn above-average incomes.
- Fishing: Both ocean fishing and fresh water inland fishing activities will start up in October and continue through May 2017. The growing numbers of fish ponds and the favorable water situation for fish breeding activities will help produce generally average to above-average catches. These larger catches will raise the incomes of fishing households to average or above-average levels.
- Livestock raising: With the continued devaluation of the Guinean franc vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar, traders and pastoralists will profit from livestock sales in neighboring countries, whose incomes will exceed the five-year average.
- Market supplies: With the expected boost in crop production as harvests of food crops get underway, the pick-up in cross-border trading activities, and the extremely favorable world market price of rice, markets will be well-stocked with foodstuffs and inventories will be built up over the period between October 2016 and May 2017, helping to facilitate good food availability on markets across the country.
- Food prices: The price of rice will remain stable through May 2017 with the expected good volume of rice production as of October and large flow of rice imports into the country. More specifically, the price of imported parboiled rice will remain stable, while imported milled rice will be less expensive than (both local and imported) parboiled rice throughout the outlook period (between October 2016 and May 2017).
- Prices of cash crops: In general, prices for all major cash crops will be in line with the average throughout the outlook period. However, the price of cashew nuts will stay well-above-average and rubber prices will stay low.
- Prices of livestock: Prices on livestock markets where there had been a growing supply of animals to meet demand for the celebration of the Feast of Tabaski will remain high through May 2017. The same applies to the price of meat with the price agreement between livestock traders and the butchers association, unless negotiations by consumer organizations with these two groups succeed in lowering prices.
- Cross-border trade: With the Ebola situation under control and the pick-up in trade between Guinea and neighboring countries, there will be a steady normalization in trade flows throughout the outlook period (October 2016 through May 2017). However, there could be minor road harassment incidents, which would not have any major effect on trade.
Other important issues
- Socioeconomic environment: According to the IMF, the continued devaluation of the Guinean franc will improve the incomes of exporters, particularly exporters of food and animal products, while at the same time helping to keep Guinean products competitive.
- Impact of the Ebola outbreak: The assistance programs mounted by the government and its partners for Ebola survivors and orphans will monitor their health and help facilitate their social reintegration to gradually rebuild their livelihoods and limit their dependency.
Most likely food security outcomes
The presence of fresh cereal, tuber, and oilseed crops from ongoing harvests on markets and of imported foods in shops will improve food availability on domestic markets. The continuing harvests through November and availability of market garden crops will help improve dietary diversity and promote near-average levels of food consumption. Average to above-average levels of income from small-scale ocean and inland fishing activities, farm labor, and the sale of livestock will improve household purchasing power for the entire outlook period from October through May. Average food prices and income levels from their livelihoods will give households market access, enabling them to obtain food supplies without much trouble. Accordingly, poor households across the country will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through at least May 2017.
Current food security outcomes for October 2016
Source: FEWS NET
Seasonal calendar in a typical year
Source: FEWS NET
Figure 1: Rainfall (RFE) anomalies compared with the 2006-2015 average (1st dekad of April - 2nd dekad of October)
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
Figure 2. Trends in world market prices for rubber from January 2011 to September 2016 ($/kg)
Source: World Bank
Figure 3. Trends in net local market prices for rice in selected cities from November 2015 to September 2016 (FG/kg)
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.