afrol News, 20 October - Current crop developments indicate that" there will be a decent harvest this year in Niger," according to the latest reports on the country's food security. The access of urban and rural households to cereals had however been difficult for the past eight months due to a staggering price increase that began in February and continued until a downward trend emerged last month.
According to the last Niger report by the US agency Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net), "favourable conditions are in place for a decent and average production throughout Niger." This assessment was further confirmed by the forecasts of the national and regional food security actors.
The rainfall situation in September had been characterised by moderate precipitation, which had been consistent since the second dekad of July. This season, cumulative rainfall varied from 200 and 800 mm among the regions, which was around or over average.
The September rains had "enabled crops to complete their growing cycle," FEWS reports. The rains had further reduced the harm caused by crop pests and had also provided the ground and surface waters needed for watering animal and cultivating irrigated crops.
Cereal production in certain regions may however still be affected by massive crop pest attacks, especially those of stem-borers, unless preventive measures, such as spraying, were taken, FEWS warns. The Plant Protection Directorate had embarked on aerial land spraying activities and had been informing farmers of the potential need for early harvesting, should crops come under significant predator threat, FEWS informs.
An observed "favourable progression of biomass and abundance of pastures" was expected to promote animal fattening in the South-East of the country. The conditions were however less favourable in the belts situated in the dry West and North of the country. September rainfalls had replenished animal watering ponds all over the country.
All the cereal markets were exhibiting a decrease in prices normal for this time of year. The decrease was influenced by "the entrance of cereal surpluses and millet on the market," the FEWS report says. In Zinder, September prices marked a 37 percent decrease from August and a 31 percent decrease from July. In Maradi, prices marked a 23 percent decrease from August and a 25 percent decrease from July.
However, the inter-annual comparison of average millet prices had showed that the price of millet had increased 13 percent between 2001 and 2002, and by 92 percent between 2000 and 2002.