Food Security Outlook

Stable conditions across the country except in areas affected by climatic anomalies

October 2017

October 2017 - January 2018

February - May 2018

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Harvests of banana, root and tuber, maize, bean, and other crops will sustain local food availability between October and January. Proceeds from the sale of these crops and income from wage labor will help give households market access. Most regions of the country will be in the Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phases of food insecurity with the exception of areas hard hit by Hurricane Irma, which will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

  • Conditions will remain stable between February and May, with certain areas stricken by Hurricane Irma starting to recover. However, southern coastal areas will be propelled into a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation by the cumulative effects of Hurricane Matthew and the poor performance of the Printemps growing season.

  • Hurricanes Irma and Maria had a limited effect on the country as a whole, though certain parts of the Nord-Est and Nord departments suffered major damage. The hurricanes destroyed part of the crops and affected the agricultural labor and trade. They also affected other sources of income such as fishing and salt production.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current situation

Climatic conditions and outlook

In general, climatic conditions are better this year than in 2016. Estimates by different weather forecasting agencies such as the USGS, NOAA, and CARICOF put rainfall levels at or above the average. The good rainfall conditions continued into October, spurring the growth and development of Eté campaign crops. However, conditions in certain parts of the Sud (Tiburon, Les Anglais, Chardonnière, Côteaux, and Roche à Bateaux) and low-lying areas of Nippes (Anse à Veau, Petit Trou, etc.) were somewhat less favorable.

According to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), the condition of vegetation across the country was much better than last year and well above the ten-year average (Figure 1).

Impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria

The northern and northeastern parts of the country were severely impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. According to a joint report by the Departmental Bureau of Agriculture for the Nord-Est (DDANE), the Civil Defense Agency (DPC), and the FAO, the hardest hit crops were rice, bananas, cassava, maize, pigeon peas, and peanuts. Approximately 1,308 hectares of crops were completely destroyed, mainly in plain areas (Maribaroux, Fort Liberté, Caracol, Trou du Nord, Limonade, and Quartier Morin) and in the highlands (Mont Organisé, Carice, Sainte Suzanne, and Mombin Crochu).

Impact on seasonal crop production

According to the 2017 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) report (by the CNSA and its partners, published in October 2017), the Printemps growing season (March through August) produced near-average harvests. The Eté-fall season devoted mainly to maize and bean crops got underway in July. The harvesting period is already at its height in certain areas such as the Artibonite, Sud, Centre, and mountain areas of Nippes and will reach its peak in November in other areas such as Grand'Anse (Chambellan, Beaumont, etc.). There should be near-average harvests, particularly in the case of beans, which is the main Eté-Automne crop. Certain varieties of maize are already maturing in most parts of the country and are about to be harvested, except in Ounaminthe (in the Nord-Est), where the short-cycle variety of maize planted in that area was already harvested in October.

The good rainfall activity was also very beneficial for other crops such as bananas, peanuts, and roots and tubers, particularly in Grand'Anse, the Sud, mountain areas of Nippes, the Centre, the Artibonite, and the Nord-Ouest. Harvests in these areas are already in progress and are providing large supplies of crops for area markets on which the two main locally grown crops offered for sale are bananas and yams. There are reports of a few minor breadfruit harvests in Grand'Anse nowhere near the size of these harvests prior to the strike by Hurricane Matthew.

Harvests of rice crops planted or transplanted in May and June in the Lower Artibonite are currently underway. According to a key informant in that area, the limited supply of farm labor to work in the harvest is responsible for the average to below-average volume of production. Crops ready for harvesting are rotting in pools of water created by the excessive rainfall in that area. Harvests in Marchand Dessalines and Verrettes (in the Artibonite) are fully completed and preparations are currently underway for the planting of market garden and sweet potato crops.

This month’s rice harvests in Torbeck, in the Sud, have not been that good due to the poor water availability for the planting and transplanting of these crops (in July).

Rice fields in the Nord-Est in general and, more specifically, on the Maribaroux Plain were completely swamped by Hurricane Irma. There was no major damage to crops in Latasse, Ponigot, and Malfety on account of the long low-water period in these areas. However, there was more severe damage to crops in the municipality of Ouanaminthe (in the Upper Maribaroux area) in which travel was still difficult two weeks after the hurricane strike due to the ensuing post-Irma rains keeping water levels in local rice fields from falling.

Food availability

The growing availability of locally grown foodstuffs from the Printemps and Eté growing seasons (ground maize and grain maize, beans (all different varieties), and local varieties of rice) peaked between June and September. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development (MARNDR), harvests for the Eté growing season account for only 10 percent of national crop production. Thus, there are still market supplies of these foodstuffs, though inventories are limited.

Markets are currently selling bananas and root and tuber crops, which are produced in large quantities, particularly in the South, mountain areas of Nippes and Grand'Anse, the Central Plateau, the Artibonite, and the Northwest (Saint Louis du Nord, Jean-Rabel, etc.). While imported foods or crops from other regions of the country still account for most food consumption in areas affected by Hurricane Matthew, the share of locally grown foodstuffs in the local diet in these areas is gradually returning to normal.

There is a stable availability of imported foods. 

Price trends

Staple food prices monitored by FEWS NET and the CNSA showed little movement between August and September after dropping sharply between July and August.

Average variation in prices across the country between August and September 2017:

  • Maize: + 1.5 percent
  • Imported rice: + 1.7 percent
  • Black beans: < - 1 percent

Variation in prices on specific markets between August and September 2017:

  • Maize prices in Port-au-Prince: + 13 percent
  • Bean prices in Gonaïves: + 11.4 percent
  • Bean prices in Jérémie: - 26.6 percent
  • Rice prices in Jérémie: + 6.5 percent

Prices for imported foodstuffs are stable. 

Animal production

The above-average rainfall activity helped spur new pasture growth, enabling pastoralists to feed their animals. The new natural vegetative growth (particularly in Grand'Anse, the Central department, and the Artibonite) is improving the physical condition and reproductive performance of livestock.

Supply and demand for farm labor

The seasonal rise in demand for labor with the harvests in June-July and the start of the Eté growing season (between July and September) was followed by a slowdown in October. There is about to be a new surge in demand with the ongoing harvests and preparations for the start of the Hiver growing season in November-December, followed by the harvests of Hiver crops in January-February and the start of the Printemps growing season in March-April.

The shortage of farm workers has driven up daily wage rates from 100-150 to 200-250 gourdes. The fact of the matter is that workers are increasingly less interested in performing farm work, preferring to migrate to the Dominican Republic or Chile or to work as motorbike taxi drivers, which is a very common practice. There is a regular flow of seasonal migration by farm workers in mountain areas of the Artibonite and the Nord-Est to irrigated plain areas during harvesting or crop planting periods in search of better working conditions than in their respective home areas.

Other sources of income

Poor households engage in petty trade in crops or non-agricultural products and in the production and sale of charcoal as a way to supplement their normal income.

Data compiled by the Bank of the Republic of Haiti (BRH) suggests a growing influx of private migrant remittances from Haitians living abroad. The quarterly volume of remittances for the period from April through June 2017 was up by close to seven percent from the first quarter of the year (January through March), bringing the value of remittances to more than US$ 700 million. This represents an inter-annual variation of 17 percent (between April-June 2016 and April-June 2017), which could be even larger in December with the year-end holiday season. While very poor households are not direct recipients of foreign remittances, they may benefit indirectly from these remittances insofar as a portion of these funds are used in crop production and other job-creating activities.

Emergency humanitarian assistance

The humanitarian assistance program for the outlook period includes:

  1. Unconditional food assistance from the World Food Program (WFP) for disaster-stricken households;
  2. The distribution of food rations to approximately 29 health centers and as part of the Market Access component of the "KABOS" project operated by Catholic Relief Services (CRS); 
  3. Agribusiness development, natural resource management, and activities by various agencies and organizations such as the WFP and CRS designed to build resilience to natural disasters and food crises.

These operations, targeting over 60,000 households, will be discussed in greater detail in upcoming reports.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for October 2017 through May 2018 is based on the following assumptions:

 

  • Seasonal forecast. The rainfall outlook is for above-average rainfall activity between October and December, extending through January-February 2018, and average levels of rainfall through April-May.
  • Crop production for the Eté/Automne season (from October-November harvests). Based on the average to above-average rainfall activity between September and November 2017 and the developmental stages of Eté crops, there will likely be a near-average volume of crop production for the Eté growing season, except in areas affected by a major water shortage or large excess of rainfall.  
  • Crop production for the Hiver season. Based on the rainfall outlook, there should be an average volume of Hiver crop production. However, the drought conditions for the last thirty days in low-lying areas of Nippes, the southern coast, Grand’Anse, the Sud-Est, and the Ouest could delay the start of the Hiver growing season.  
  • Farm labor. There will likely be a growing demand for farm labor with the November/December harvests and farming activities for the Hiver growing season, except in areas affected by the drought conditions in the last thirty days. There should be a new surge in demand for labor in January-February for the Hiver harvest, extending into the month of March with the start of the Printemps growing season.
  • Prices for imported and locally grown foodstuffs. There should be very little movement in the prices of imported staples in general and rice in particular with the relatively stable exchange rate for the national currency. The same applies to the prices of locally grown crops, which harvests for the Eté-Automne season should help keep in check through the month of December. Prices for these latter crops are expected to move upwards between February and May, fueled by their increasingly limited availability.
  • Private migrant remittances. According to the BRH, Haitian immigrants inject close to US$ 2 billion a year into the Haitian economy. These remittances are the main source of income for many households while, for others, they are limited to peak spending periods, mainly, the beginning of the new school year in September/October and the year-end holiday season in December. Thus, there will likely be a growing volume of remittances throughout the outlook period.
  • Trends in the exchange rate. Interventions by the country’s monetary authorities injecting over US$120 million into the banking market have stabilized the exchange rate for the Haitian gourde against the U.S. dollar since last April.
  • Humanitarian assistance. Scheduled humanitarian assistance for the outlook period will be in place in areas hard hit by Hurricane Irma, particularly in the Nord-Est. Numerous local and international NGOs are on site to assist the hurricane victims. In addition to humanitarian assistance, this includes livelihood recovery and resilience-building programs for impacted populations. These humanitarian assistance programs will likely extend through the end of the outlook period. However, at present, we have no official data confirming the funding or scheduling of this assistance through May 2018.

Most likely food security outcomes

Harvests of Eté and Hiver maize, bean, pigeon pea, and sorghum crops should keep the food security situation stable between October and January. In addition, the good performance of banana, root, and tuber crops suggests a certain degree of stability in local food availability. Moreover, income from wage labor and the sale of these crops will help give poor households market access. Thus, households in most areas of the country will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. The structural problems in some parts of the country, particularly in the southeast and certain municipalities in the central department, are forcing many households to regularly resort to atypical strategies for maintaining their food and non-food access, which puts these areas in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity. In addition, areas stricken by Hurricane Irma in the Nord and Nord-Est and drought-stricken areas in the Southwest will be in a Crisis (IPC Phase 3) situation.

Food reserves from harvests of Eté-Automne and Hiver crops and reserves of bananas and root and tuber crops will likely be sharply reduced between February and May, during the annual lean season. However, earnings from wage labor or fishing activities should help supplement household income, giving households access to locally grown and imported foodstuffs sold on the market. Thus, most parts of the country will remain in IPC Phases 1 and 2.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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