FEWS Chad Food Security Update: 18 Jan 2002

Originally published


Joint report prepared in conjunction with the Office of Water Resources and Meteorological Services (DREM) as part of the Multidisciplinary Working Group mission


The food situation is good throughout most of the country, according to two Multidisciplinary Working Group (GTP) missions that include FEWS NET that are tracking off-season grain crops.

As the New Year gets under way, the main activities in farming and livestock- raising areas are tending vegetable crops, scaring off birds from berbéré (water recession sorghum) crops, watering livestock, and searching for pasture.

In general, harvest prospects for water recession sorghum crops are good. The pre-harvest assessment for berbéré crops for the 2001-02 growing season is one of the best in five years. Grazing conditions are satisfactory in most departments around the country, despite localized brush fires. The lack of water rather than pasture is forcing herders engaged in long-range migration away from their home bases.

Thus far, good rainfed crop yields and harvest prospects for off-season grain crops (November to February) have had no effect on grain prices, which are still unusually high.

1. Food Availability

a) Rainfall

Good rainfall throughout the 2001-02 crop year, which resulted in the submersion of floodplain areas, has been especially good for berbéré (flood-irrigated sorghum) crops in the Sahelian zone. Taking advantage of good moisture in area soils, local farmers planted visibly larger areas in flood-recession crops this year than last. The Multidisciplinary Working Group (GTP) mission, during a tour of southern Chad from December 7-12 in which FEWS NET participated, noted there was tremendous potential for expanding the size of areas planted in these crops in so-called "wet" years. However, the local population is beset by problems that could make such expansion difficult, including wandering animals from migratory herds destroying their fields, lack of improved seeds, lack of appropriate bunding methods for soil and water conservation purposes, and attacks by crop predators such as grain-eating birds.

b) Pre-Harvest Assessment of Off-season Crops

Current estimates put flood-irrigated sorghum yields for the 2001-02 crop year at 140,671 metric tons (MT), which would be one of the best harvests in the last five years, second only to the production figure for the 1999-2000 crop year, which is a five-year nationwide record (Table 1).

The Sahelian zone produces a good deal more water recession (or flood-irrigated) sorghum than the Sudanian zone, thanks to its numerous bottomlands and the floodwaters of the Bahr Azoum, Batha, and Lake Fitri. In fact, there has been a sharp drop in crop production in the Batha area which, according to agricultural experts interviewed during the GTP mission, is a result of the submersion of floodplain areas for a longer than usual period due to excessive rainfall as well as seed shortages in certain areas.

Table 1. Berbéré (Water Recession Sorghum) Production for the last 6 years (MT)

Sudanian zone
Sahelian zone

Source: National Rural Development Agency/Agricultural Statistics Division

Berbéré crops are grown mainly in the Sahelian zone, as well as in parts of the Sudanian zone. Both GTP missions toured the main farming areas for these types of crops.

Berbéré crops are grown in East Batha, West Batha, Sila, Salamat Guéra, Ouaddaï, Dababa, Baguirmi, and Hadjer Lamis Departments in the Sahelian zone. They are also grown in Kabia, Mayo Boneye, Mayo Dalla, and East Tandjilé Departments in the Sudanian zone. On the whole, the condition of fields visited by the two missions bodes well for upcoming harvests.

Most crops are in the maturation stage of the growing cycle. In certain departments, harvests of early-transplanted crops began around the second half of December. In others, harvests are not expected to begin until sometime in February. due in part to the planting of slow-maturing crop varieties and the longer than usual submersion of floodplain areas.

Farmers questioned while working in their fields maintain that the crop predators they fear the most are grain-eating birds. However, the mission report indicates no significant crop damage.

Vegetable crops grown in areas around wadis, in bottomlands, and along the banks of rivers are doing well. Tomato, onion, garlic, and lettuce crops planted by farmers in these areas are in different stages of the growth cycle, ranging from transplanting to flowering to maturity. These truck farming activities providing farm families with extra income are running up against problems, such as lack of improved seeds, pesticides and other plant protection products, and even the most rudimentary pumping equipment for pumping water from wells, for example.

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