Country Listing

Chad Table of Contents


Subsistence Farming


Figure 6. Ownership of Chad's Major Industries, 1987

Since the 1950s, Chad's food production has declined (see table 4, Appendix A). Even so, despite pockets of malnutrition remaining in areas where rains failed or locusts damaged local crops, the overall picture for Chad's food production was good in the 1985-87 period. The rebound of food production in this period was the result of good rains, the return of political stability, and the absence of major conflict in the sahelian and soudanian zones. The downturn in cotton production and added restrictions on its cultivation also released lands and labor for farmers to put into food production. Production was so high in these years that, for the first time in a decade, it was estimated that Chad had returned to food sufficiency. This followed a cereal shortfall in the drought years of 1984 and 1985 of around 325,000 tons. Total cereal production rose thereafter to the 700,000-ton level, well above the estimated 615,000 tons of grains needed for food sufficiency.

Yet the overall food sufficiency registered by Chad in these years served to underscore the problem of regional imbalances in cereal production. The sahelian zone experienced a chronic shortfall in cereal production, whereas the soudanian zone traditionally had a cereal surplus. The soudanian zone was also the biggest producer of all subsistence food crops and of cash crops. It was estimated that the soudanian zone produced between 53 and 77 percent of Chad's total cereal production from 1976 to 1985, with the average falling in the 60- to 70- percent range. But because the populations of the two regions were approximately equal, the lack of a good transport system and marketing mechanisms to allow the rapid transfer of the southern surplus to the northern zones was a constant problem. This danger was especially threatening during times of drought affecting the sahelian zone.

Data as of December 1988