UN news agency IRIN quoted CGD visiting fellow Jenny Aker on Niger's food supply.
From the article:
"Jenny C. Aker, economist at US-based Tufts University and fellow, Center for Global Development:
"Niger is a highly risky agro-climatic environment, with 300-500mm of rainfall per year, poor soil quality and subject to periodic droughts and pest infestations. All of these factors, but especially the periodic shocks, reduce agricultural production on a regular basis and discourage investment in agricultural production – as it is a highly risky venture. The frequency of shocks… can either be exacerbated or mitigated by agricultural markets.
"If fuel prices are low, if only a few areas were affected by drought and prices in northern Nigeria, and if surrounding countries’ prices were lower than those in Niger, then traders could import grains from surrounding countries to make up the local deficit and keep prices fairly stable in the country. If, however, multiple markets – especially those in the breadbasket regions of Niger, Maradi and Zinder – are affected by drought, and neighbouring countries also are affected by shocks, then Niger can’t import. This is what happened in 2005 - prices soared partially because of a combination of droughts but also because of fewer imports from neighbouring countries.” "