Niger

Niger Food Security Update, November 2009

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With the numerous periods of drought and the rainy season cut short at the most vulnerable stages of plant growth and development, crop and agropastoral production levels for the 2009/10 season are down from last year and below?average. In general, grain availability in over half the country's farming communities is too poor to meet even three months worth of consumption needs. The largest production deficits involve millet and cowpea crops on which these populations are highly dependent, not only as a source of food, but also as a way of increasing their income. A look at the current food security situation shows what are generally being classified as moderate levels of food insecurity.

The Ministry of Livestock and Animal Industries has just released its analysis of the overall pasture deficit, which puts it at 16,137,329 metric tons of dry matter, or the equivalent of 67 percent of nationwide livestock needs in terms of tropical livestock units (TLUs). However, in practice, the actual deficit is probably somewhat smaller, since the herd growth rate was lower than usual and most migratory animals (whose needs are included in this figure) have already left the country. Moreover, this year's herd size is at least twice as large as the figure for 2004/05, which indicates a rather good response capacity on the part of pastoralists through destocking.

The disruption in cross?border trade between Niger and Nigeria over the period from November 5th through November 16th slowed shipments of grain, tuber, and vegetable crops from Maradi, Tahoua, and Niamey, and raised the cost of imports. The cost of livestock exports to Nigeria has also increased. Although the border is now normally open, this incident will only encourage stepped?up speculation by traders and could begin driving up food prices as of November, instead of in January, as originally anticipated.