Reference Date: 07-February-2014
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Estimates point to a significant decline in cereal production in 2013
Pastures affected by irregular rains
Cereal markets show sign of stabilizing
Humanitarian assistance continues to be needed including for Malian refugees
2013 cereal production reduced by irregular rainfall
Harvesting of the 2013 cereal crops was completed in December. A delayed start and early end to rains caused serious damage to crops. Coarse grain yields were reduced and harvesting delayed in several parts of the southern producing regions (Dosso, Tahoua, Maradi, Zinder, Diffa and Tillaberi). Moreover, heavy rains led to substantial flooding in several regions in July and August.
A joint CILSS/FAO/FEWSNet/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission that visited the country in October 2013 estimated 2013 aggregate cereals production at some 4.3 million tonnes (including off-season crop harvest forecasts), about 19 percent lower than the 2012 output and 6 percent below the average of the previous five years. Production of millet, the most important staple crop, dropped by 19 percent compared to 2012. By contrast, the output of cowpea, the main cash crop, was estimated at 1.5 million tonnes compared with 1.1 million tonnes in 2011. Although the good cowpea harvests will have a positive impact on farmers’ income, the food security effects of the reduced cereal crop can be substantial. The erratic rains also affected pastures in most regions, notably in Tillaberi.
In 2012, an above-average harvest was gathered owing to favourable climatic conditions in the main cereal growing regions. The 2012 cereal output was estimated at about 5.3 million tonnes, 47 percent higher than the 2011 drought-affected output and 26 percent above the average of the previous five years.
Cereal markets show signs of stabilizing
Niger is highly dependent on imports of coarse grains (millet, sorghum and maize) from its neighbours Nigeria and Benin to cover its cereal requirements. Cereal markets have been disrupted last year in Nigeria due to insecurity and reduced supplies from the previous year’s flood-affected crop, leading coarse grains prices to follow a sustained upward trend through August 2013 and limiting exports to neighbouring countries. As a result, in spite of the bumper crop gathered in Niger in 2012, millet prices in Niamey have remained relatively higher. However, the new 2013 harvests that were favourable, mainly in Nigeria and Benin, have pushed prices down across the subregion. Millet and sorghum prices declined in Niamey by 30 percent and 23 percent, respectively, between July and November driven mostly by increased imports from neighbouring Benin and Nigeria. Prices have been mostly stable since November 2013.
Continued assistance is still needed for vulnerable people
Niger has been struck by successive severe food crises in recent years that resulted in depletion of household assets and high level of indebtedness. The food security situation remains difficult in parts, due to the lingering effects of previous crises and the impact of last year’s erratic rains on crops and pastures in some regions
. About 4.2 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity. Moreover, the armed conflict in Northern Mali has forced thousands of Malians to cross the border into Niger. As of November 2013, more than 50 000 Malian refugees were still living in Niger. These refugees represent an additional burden to a vulnerable country that was affected by a serious food and nutrition crisis in 2012.
The United Nations and humanitarian partners recently launched a three-year Regional Strategic Response Plan (RSRP) to provide aid to millions of people in nine countries of the Sahel belt. The country plan for Niger is seeking to mobilise 391 million dollars to provide food and non-food assitance to over 7 million people accross the country.