Special Report: Inter-Agency Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to Niger
Despite flooding in parts, adequate rainfall during the main cropping season together with improved distribution of key inputs, has resulted in a favourable cereal harvest in 2012.
Aggregate cereal production, estimated at over 5.1 million tonnes (including off-season crop harvest forecasts) is about 42 percent higher than the 2011 output and well above the average of the past five years.
Accordingly, the country is expected to have a cereal surplus that would partly help the replenishment of stocks, which were depleted after the 2011/12 food crisis.
With the exception of a few localized areas, the rangelands have also recovered well and the water points have been replenished.
The improved harvest position, coupled with favourable crop prospects in most neighbouring countries, is expected to lead to a much improved food availability during the 2012/13 marketing year (November-October).
This generally favourable situation nevertheless follows in the wake of a particularly difficult year.
In 2011, late rains and prolonged dry spells seriously compromised agricultural and pasture production across the country. Cereals production dropped by 31 percent compared to the previous year, while biomass production in the pastoral zones was 50 percent below domestic requirements.
The Mission found that the 2011/12 food crisis had caused a drop in incomes, substantial loss of assets, increased levels of household indebtedness, and deteriorated the nutritional situation of the pastoralist, agro-pastoralist and other farming groups.
The Inter-agency Assessment Mission considers it a matter of urgency to improve household purchasing power and access to food that is available domestically by supporting off-season cropping and other income-generating activities. Support also needs to be given to the marketing of agricultural products through local purchases, where possible, and the replenishment of national food security stocks. It is also essential to continue supporting the nutritional recuperation centres.