The food and nutrition situation in the Niger is still of concern with the impact of recent crises in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012 that caused both fodder and cereal deficits across the country. The 2013 main agricultural season showed deficits of 343 543 tonnes of cereal and 6 708 332 tonnes of dry matter for animal feed. Given the recent erratic distribution of rainfall, pasture development as well as cultivation have been hampered.
As a result, 4.2 million people are food insecure and 7.5 million people are considered to be at risk of food insecurity. Subsistence agriculture and pastoralism are, in fact, the predominant economic activities occupying more than 80 percent of the workforce. In particular, agro-forestry-pastoral production and fisheries heavily rely on rainfall and are subject to pest attacks. FAO's main objectives are, therefore, to reinforce the food and nutritional security of vulnerable populations as well as to boost their resilience to shocks and natural hazards.
Increasing resilience of vulnerable populations
In order to enhance the productive capacities of the local farming families, FAO is implementing a four component programme:
- Rainfed agricultural activities: FAO is supporting nearly 133 000 vulnerable farming families with the distribution of a total of 1.6 tonnes of quality seeds (millet and cowpea).
- Irrigated agricultural component: FAO is strengthening the resilience of 100 000 vulnerable farming families affected by the repeated food crises with the distribution of 800 tonnes of seeds (maize, potato, tomato, carrot, cabbage, lettuce and onion).
- Seed multiplication: FAO is supporting improved quality and availability of seeds in Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua, Zinder and Tillabéri. During the 2013 rainy season, 8 000 ha of seed multiplication plots were cultivated on 20 000 ha identified at the national level. This has allowed the production of 6 455 tonnes of improved seeds (millet, sorghum, cowpea, maize and peanuts) out of the 12 200 produced at the national level.
- Livestock component: Given the significant production of crop residues, FAO is supporting processing units for production of densified multi-nutritional blocks to feed small ruminants and in turn strengthen resilience of nomads. With both feed and sanitation issues under control, animals show no major sign of stress, even in areas affected by the crisis. FAO is also supporting efforts in the fight against parasitism and animal diseases.
Effective response through increased collaboration
In 2012, FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) signed a common "Road Map" in order to strengthen their collaboration on the field. This allowed for the implementation of two projects funded by France in 2013, in which FAO is providing seeds and WFP is rehabilitating agricultural land.
A new approach is also being developed, called "communes de convergence": an integrated approach to create synergies among different actors in the same area to reduce vulnerability and ensure continuity between humanitarian and development interventions. This approach allows for better coordination and startegic planning of the Government as well as both humanitarian and development actors.
Additionally, FAO is currently working in line with the objectives of the Government of the Niger, such as the 3N initiative (Les nigériens nourissent les nigériens), and is strengthening the resilience capacity of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists.
FAO's work is imperative to safeguard the livelihoods of the most vulnerable population and ensure cereal, vegetable and livestock production.