The ultra-poor – a group of people who eat below 80 per cent of their energy requirements despite spending at least 80 per cent of income on food – are most vulnerable to seasonal fluctuations in food supply and wage employment, and seasonally induced nutrition and health risks. Low energy intakes are linked with greater seasonal instability, and seasonal fluctuations in employment are also greatest for the ultra-poor. The poor in sub-Saharan Africa are likely to suffer more in these respects than their Asian Counterparts because of their less developed irrigation and transport systems. This influences the cropping pattern of African farmers. As population pressure intensifies in Africa, public spending in support of the farm sector is required to reduce the bad season impact on the ultra-poor. Of particular importance are policies to support migrants, provide rural credit and to manage common property resources.