GIEWS Country Brief: Chad 10-January-2012

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  • Estimates for the 2011 harvest point to a sharp decline in coarse grains production

  • Cereal prices are on the increase despite the recent harvests.

  • Large number of returnees and refugees are putting pressure on food supply.

  • Assistance is needed for large segments of the population

Crop prospects adversely affected by irregular rains in several parts of the country

Harvesting of the 2011 cereal crops was completed in November. Erratic rains and extended dry spells throughout the growing period caused serious damage to crops, reducing coarse grains yields and delaying harvests in several parts of the country. The prolonged dryness also negatively impacted pasture production in the pastoral and agropastoral areas of the country. The most affected areas include the northern sahelian zone (Kanem, Bar El Gazal, Hadjer Lamis, Ouaddai, Wadi Firra, Batha regions) and Logone Occidental and Guera regions in the southern sudanian zone.

A joint FAO/CILSS/WFP Crop Assessment Mission which visited the country recently estimated 2011 aggregate cereal production at some 1.6 million tonnes, 50 percent less than last year’s record harvest and 23 percent below the average for the previous five years. Production of millet and sorghum, the main staple cereals in the country, is estimated to be reduced by half. Cereal prices are on the increase across the country

Unlike the normal seasonal patterns, prices of locally produced cereals (millet and sorghum) have remained firm in recent months in several markets despite the recent 2011 crop harvest. In all monitored markets, prices in November 2011 were well above the levels of the same month last year, by up to 71 percent for millet and 95 percent for sorghum. For example, millet and sorghum prices in the capital N’Djamena were 52 and 20 percent higher than in November 2010, respectively.

Prices of imported rice, mainly consumed in urban centres, increased in November in N’Djamena (+21 percent from October to November) and were 71 percent higher than at the same time last year, consistent with trends in international food markets and supported by increasing fuel prices and transport costs. Food and agricultural assistance is needed to prevent a further deterioration of food insecurity

Global high malnutrition rates are structurally high in the country, especially in the Sahel. According to a nutritional survey conducted in August 2011 by the Ministry of Public Health and UNICEF in the 11 Sahelian regions, the emergency threshold set by World Health Organization (WHO) for Acute Global Malnutrition, 15 percent, is exceeded in 6 regions (Kanem, Wadi Firra, Bar El Gazal, Batha, Hadjer Lamis and Salamat), where the situation is critical, while the situation has been classified as “severe” (with a rate higher than 10 percent) in all the other regions. The low cereal and pasture outputs and the prospect of an earlier than usual start of the lean season is likely to further aggravate global acute malnutrition rates.

According to the findings of the joint FAO/CILSS/WFP Crop Assessment Mission, and based on estimates from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 1.6 million people, located mainly in the regions of the Sahelian belt, but also in parts of Mayo Kebbi Est, Mayo Kebbi Ouest, Logone Orientale, Logone Occidentale and Tandjilé regions, in the Sudanian zone, are at risk of food insecurity.

Moreover, the influx of returnees from Libya is putting additional pressure on food supply. According to OCHA, about 83 000 Chadian workers returned as of late November, with a further 40 000 expected in the near future. The country also hosts 288 000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region and 75 000 from the Central African Republic.

To tackle the current food insecurity situation, a joint effort was launched by the government, the United Nations and the humanitarian community, which has so far received just over half of its required funding of USD 455 million. Specific measures include targeted distribution of food and agriculture equipment and inputs, such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.