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Cereals Harvest to Be Above Average Despite Floods

15 October 2013

NIGER - Another above average cereal harvest is expected this year as pasture conditions improve nationally, reports the World Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The late onset of the 2013 cropping season was followed by adequate precipitation and soil water reserves from July over the main producing areas. Satellite imagery analysis in early October indicates that good rains continued to fall over most of the country.

Hence, the outlook for this year’s cereal crops, for harvest from October is generally favourable. Pastures have been regenerating countrywide, improving livestock conditions.

Heavy rains, however, led to substantial flooding in several parts of the country in July and August. Tillabéry, Dosso, Maradi, Niamey and Tahoua are the most affected regions. The floods have caused serious damage to infrastructure and over 135 900 people are estimated to be affected.

There has been also considerable localised damage to agriculture with over 5 000 ha of crops flooded, according to Government sources. However, overall crop prospects remain favourable with millet and sorghum crops in maturation stages.

In 2012, an above-average harvest was gathered owing to favourable climatic conditions in the main cereal growing regions. According to the final estimates, the 2012 cereal output was estimated at about 5.3 million tonnes, 47 percent higher than the 2011 drought-affected output and 26 percent above the average of the past five years.

Cereal Markets Affected by Reduced Supplies and Insecurity in Nigeria

Niger is highly dependent on imports of coarse grains (millet, sorghum and maize) from its neighbours Nigeria and Benin to cover its cereal requirements. Cereal markets have been disrupted in Nigeria due to insecurity and reduced supplies from last year’s flood-affected crop, leading coarse grains prices to follow a sustained upward trend in the past months and limiting exports to neighbouring countries.

As a result, in spite of the bumper crop gathered in Niger last year, millet prices in Niamey have remained relatively higher. However, the beginning of the harvesting season in August has pushed prices down across the subregion. Millet and sorghum prices declined in Niamey by 14 percent and 17 percent, respectively, over the last three months driven mostly by increased imports from neighbouring Benin and Nigeria.

Continued Assistance is Still Needed for Vulnerable People

Niger has been struck by successive severe food crises in recent years that resulted in depletion of household assets and high level of indebtedness. In spite of last year’s good harvests and adequate food supplies, the food security situation remains difficult in parts, due to high food prices and the lingering effects of previous crises.

As a result, the Government has continued to implement emergency interventions to support vulnerable populations. These include safety-net interventions (including cash transfers, targeted distribution, sales at subsidized prices), targeted distribution of inputs (including seeds, fertilizer and animal feed) and improving access to nutritional recuperation centres.

TheCropSite News Desk

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