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GIEWS Country Brief: Niger 11-November-2021

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• Cereal production forecast at reduced level in 2021

• Above-average cereal import requirements forecast in 2021/22 marketing year (November/October)

• Prices of coarse grains declined in October with arrival of newly harvested grains

• Increased prevalence of food insecurity in 2021 in conflict-affected areas

Cereal production forecast at reduced level in 2021

Harvesting of the 2021 cereal crops is underway and is expected to conclude by the end of November. The aggregate cereal production in 2021 is forecast to decrease compared to the estimated near‑average output of 5.8 million tonnes in 2020, mostly due to the combined effects of unfavourable weather conditions and a deterioration of the security situation that resulted in a significant decline of yields and plantings.

Although seasonal cumulative rainfall amounts were average to above average across vast parts of the country, an erratic distribution of rains caused delays in planting operations and affected the establishment of cereal crops. In particular, an early cessation of seasonal rains in key producing western, southern and eastern parts, combined with pest attacks in several districts, negatively affected crops during critical flowering and grain filling stages, and these factors are attributed to causing the expected reduction in yields. Torrential rains and floods, notably in parts of central Maradi and Zinder regions, also caused localized crop losses that have further contributed to the poor production outlook.

Furthermore, a deterioration of the security situation in the country, mostly due to increased violence in the Liptako‑Gourma area and the Lake Chad Basin, limited access to fields and constrained availability of inputs and labour. This resulted in many households reducing the planted area and/or abandoning their crops in the fields.

Adequate rainfall amounts in July and August resulted in favourable conditions of pastures, which enhanced livestock body conditions and production of animal products in some parts of the country. However, the early cessation of the rains in September resulted in stressed vegetation conditions in some pastoral areas in central and eastern parts of the country. Intense bushfires destroyed more than 300 000 hectares of pasture, with a significant decline in forage production. The upsurge of violence throughout 2021 in the areas already affected by conflict has continued to limit the access to pastoral resources and has disrupted transhumance movements, curbing local production prospects.

Above‑average cereal import requirements forecast in 2021/22

The country heavily relies on imports to cover its consumption needs of cereals that grow especially due to demographic trends. In the 2021/22 marketing year (November/October), cereal import requirements, mostly rice, are anticipated at 570 000 tonnes, nearly 5 percent above the previous year and about 20 percent above the five‑year average.

However, import flows are likely to be constrained by several factors, including the lingering cross‑border restrictions due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, export bans of cereals in neighbouring countries, mainly Benin, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, and reduced exportable supplies in Mali.

Prices of coarse grains declined in October with arrival of newly harvested grains

Prices of locally produced coarse grains, mainly sorghum and millet, declined in October compared to previous months, reflecting the arrival to the markets of the newly harvested grains and the subdued demand by farming households that stopped resorting to markets and relied on their own crop production. However, the unfavourable production prospects in 2021 limited the seasonal downward pressure. In October, prices were still well above their year‑earlier values, particularly in remote and conflict‑affected areas, reflecting persistent disruptions of markets and agricultural activities. Prices of imported rice eased in October and were generally near their year‑earlier values, reflecting overall adequate supplies.

Increased prevalence of food insecurity in 2021 in conflict affected areas

The food security situation has deteriorated in 2021, particularly in the eastern Diffa and Zinder, central Maradi, and western Tahoua and Tillaberi regions. Since early 2021, inter‑communal disputes and violent incidents by non‑State armed groups (NSAGs) have increased compared to the previous year, further displacing populations. According to the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of September 2021, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was estimated at about 280 000, above the estimated 266 000 a year before. Due to conflicts in neighbouring countries, the country also hosts about 250 000 refugees, mostly from Nigeria and Mali. The upsurge of violence has disrupted agricultural livelihoods, labour migration and the delivery of humanitarian food assistance, particularly in the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, constraining availability of and access to food especially for IDPs, refugees and poor households. Moreover, COVID‑19 containment measures curbed income‑generating activities and reduced remittances, further constraining households’ purchasing power. According to the latest “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 2.3 million people were estimated to face acute food insecurity (CH Phase 3 [Crisis] and above) between June and August 2021, well above the 1.6 million people assessed to be food insecure between March and May 2021. Of particular concern, about 215 000 people were projected in CH Phase 4 (Emergency) , up from the estimated 102 000 people between March and May 2021.

Reflecting the anticipated below‑average cereal production in 2021, coupled with persisting disruptions of markets and agricultural acitivites and high food prices, the food security situation is likely to deteriorate in the coming months. An ongoing “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis is expected to provide shortly an update of the current food security situation.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.