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West and Central Africa: Market situation in 2020 and 2021 outlooks - March 2021

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Situation Report
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• The global food production increased in 2020 (FAO) but the demand for food is still high and rising. The increasing demand is a combination of the natural growth within the world population coupled with industrial and feed uses.

• In 2020, international food prices recorded the largest average annual increase since 2014. In 2021, food prices increased by 4.7% compared to December 2019. These price increases are due to a higher demand and soaring freight costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

• In the West and Central Africa region, food prices have already doubled, or increased even beyond that in several countries. These critical food price increases have largely been caused by the restrictive measures that were put into place to stem the spread of COVID-19. In addition to wider insecurity, floods and rainfall deficits, as well as farmers holding onto their stocks in the face of the uncertainties caused by COVID-19 in 2020. These upward trends will intensify in 2021 with the arrival of the lean season.

• With the second wave of COVID-19 and the new restrictive measures implemented in 2021 in several countries, the purchasing power of vulnerable populations is likely to be more affected by drops in income (trade, tourism, informal activities, transfers, etc.) and by the rise in food prices, contributing to the deterioration of an already precarious food and nutritional security situation in the region.

• Price projections for the month of July 2021 for the main commodities in various countries in the region show a relatively alarming situation on the markets. Not only would upward trends continue, but some commodities could see their prices double compared to normal, making them inaccessible to vulnerable households whose incomes are already hard hit by COVID-19.