The food situation in most departments around the country is good, owing to generally good availability and accessibility of grain supplies in most areas. This is borne out by falling prices of millet on three of the nation's four leading markets and the leveling-off of millet prices on the fourth market. Long season rainfed crops in farming areas of the country are in the maturity/wax-formation stage of the growing cycle. There are reports of harvests already in progress in certain localized areas.
Farmers are now mainly engaged in threshing operations for rainfed crops, protecting berbéré or flood-irrigated sorghum crops, and tending irrigated grain and vegetable crops. These off-season crops are doing well in farming areas around the country, despite minor damage from crop predators.
Forecasts by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (DSA) put bebéré yields for the 2001-2002 crop year at 140,700 metric tons (MT), or 18 percent above the final production figure for last year, or 119,300 MT.
1. Status of Off-Season Crops
Flood-irrigated sorghum crops (berbéré) in outlying cantons of Hadjer Lamis Department appear to be doing well. Observers confirm the good progress of berbéré crops in the villages of Mara and N'Djamena Fare lying approximately 20 and 40 km west of the city of N'Djamena, respectively, as well as of crops in the villages of Mandiagoh and Boutalfil at distances of 50 and 60 km, respectively, from the capital.
Most flood-irrigated sorghum crops in these villages are in the heading/flowering and maturation stages of development. There are reports of light, localized damage from grasshoppers.
The members of the Multidisciplinary Task Force (GTP) mission touring the northern reaches of Hadjer Lamis Department on December 10 observed berbéré crops along their route in the height growth and, in the case of early transplant crops, the maturity/harvesting stage. Plant health conditions in this area are good. However, there are reports of persistent, minor wilting in localized areas south of the departmental capital of Massaquet.
Harvest prospects in areas east and west of Massaguet are average, assuming these crops are not attacked by grain-eating birds during the milk-grain stage of the growing cycle, which should be well underway within the next few weeks.
According to travelers from that area, crops in Salamat Department, the "premier" farming area for berbéré, appear to be doing well. With the flooding of the Bahr Azoum, farmers began transplanting as soon as the floodwaters receded from plain areas of the subprefectures of Aboudéya, Haraze Mangagne, and rural Amtiman where, according to the travelers, the size of transplanted areas is up from last year. Most crops in these areas are in the heading/flowering stage.
Fortunately, a number of plain areas of this department traditionally planted in berbéré crops that have not flooded for several years finally flooded this year.
Harvest prospects are good, provided grain-eating birds do not damage crops in the maturation stage. A mission of the Multidisciplinary Task Force, which includes FEWS NET, is touring Salamat Department during December. Detailed findings from the mission will be reported in next month's Update.
According to SODELAC (Lake Chad Development Agency) officials in Lac Department, approximately 730 hectares of land have been planted in wheat in the modern Guini and Bérim polders, compared with 537 hectares last year.
Planting began November 14 in the Guini polder and on November 24 in the Bérim polder. The FEWS NET representative on a mission to these areas noted that wheat crops in some plots were in the emergence/leaf-formation stage of development in certain localized areas. According to on-site SODELAC officials, planting activities are scheduled to continue up to December 15.
The Mamdi polders covering an area of 1,800 hectares are undergoing full rehabilitation that is expected to take 24 months.
Stages of development of maize crops in traditional polders range from the emergence/leaf-formation and height growth stages of development to the maturation stage. Wheat crops are also in the emergence/leaf-formation stage. Observers also noted that okra crops were in the harvesting stage, sweet potato crops in the flowering stage, and cassava crops in the maturation stage.
Good growing conditions for these off-season crops have slowed rural seasonal migration to the capital, which generally begins in the month of November, by offering income-earning opportunities and prospects of a lucrative harvest.
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