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Country Briefs

  Niger

Reference Date: 27-November-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Above-average cereal output expected in 2017

  2. Prices of coarse grains declined reflecting ongoing harvest, but remain above year-earlier levels

  3. Despite improvements in security situation, continued assistance still needed, including for refugees

Above-average cereal production expected in 2017

Harvesting of the maize and millet crops was completed in October, while those of cowpea, groundnut, rainfed rice and sorghum are still ongoing and will be completed by the end of November. The cropping season has been characterized by below average but well-distributed precipitation, albeit with some regional variations. Although localized incidents of dryness, violent winds, flooding and pest infestations have been reported, the situation is largely under control and the impact on crop production is expected to be limited. Agro-climatic conditions have also been generally favourable for the regeneration of pastures throughout the country, improving livestock body conditions, with the exception of pastoral regions of Diffa and Tahoua where pockets of dryness in August impeded biomass production.

Area under cultivation decreased in 2017, including for key cereals such as sorghum and millet, as persistent insecurity led to population displacement and emergency measures restricting access to fuel and fertilizers (to prevent inputs needed to create explosives), curtailed production capacity. The preliminary forecast of aggregate 2017 cereal output is put at about 5.5 million tonnes, 7 percent below the 2016 bumper levels, but about 6 percent above the five-year average.

Imports, which typically account for about 10 percent of total domestic cereal requirements, are forecast to increase by about 10 percent compared to last year and the five-year average to 618 000 tonnes, or about 11 percent of the total output, offsetting the reduction in local production. About 70 percent of the cereal imports is in rice.

Prices of coarse grains declined since September reflecting ongoing harvest, but remain above year-earlier levels

Prices of coarse grains declined in September and October 2017, reflecting positive harvest prospects. In Niamey, prices of local millet declined by 26 percent between July and October and those of local sorghum by 9 percent over the same period. However, prices in many markets across the country remain above the long-term average and that of 2016, due to strong demand from institutional bodies, which are replenishing their stocks. In the areas affected by the spillover effects of the Boko Haram insurgencies, market closures and disruption in the regular supply routes, led to an increase in consumer prices. Prices of livestock, a major export commodity, on the other hand, declined for the third consecutive year, reflecting weak demand from neighbouring Nigeria, where the weak local currency and low prices of oil, its key foreign exchange earner, have negatively impacted the economy. The slow recovery of macroeconomic conditions in Nigeria, combined with persistent insecurity wrought by Boko Haram insurgencies, has also reduced demand for cross border labour from Niger in towns in northern Nigeria such as Maiduguri, further impacting the purchasing power of Nigerien households.

Despite improvements in security situation, continued assistance still needed, including for refugees

The country hosts a large number of refugees due to the continuing civil conflict in neighbouring Nigeria and Mali. As of October 2017, the two countries accounted for over 108 000 and 57 000 refugees living in the Niger, respectively, similar to a year earlier. The refugee crisis has exacerbated an already fragile food situation. In the Diffa Region, where the majority of the refugees from Nigeria reside, the ban on sales of red peppers, a major source of household export revenues, imposed by the Government in 2015 to stem Boko Haram’s access to land and its proceeds, was just lifted in October 2017, reflecting the improving security situation.

Nevertheless, as of October 2017, in the Diffa Region, there were more than 129 000 IDPs, who have been struck by civil insecurity in recent years that resulted in the depletion of household assets and high level of indebtedness. The food security situation has remained difficult also in several other parts of the country due to the lingering effects of the previous crises and the impact of recent years’ erratic rains on crops and pastures in a number of regions. Several segments of the population still need food and non-food assistance to restore their livelihoods and enable them to have better access to food. According to the last Cadre Harmonisé” (Harmonized Framework) conducted in the country in November 2017, about 796 000 people were estimated to be in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above, down from around 1.3 million in March 2017.

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