GIEWS Country Brief: Gambia 11-May-2017

News and Press Release
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  • Erratic rains affected 2016 crop production

  • Humanitarian assistance continues to be needed

Erratic rainfall resulted in below-average 2016 cereal harvest

Currently, seasonably dry conditions prevail in most parts of the country. Land preparation is underway and planting of the 2017 cereal crops is expected to start in the weeks ahead with the onset of the rains.

Harvesting of the 2016 crops was completed in November. The late onset and irregular distribution of the rains affected crop yields and pastures in several parts of the country. The 2016 aggregate cereal production was estimated at about 173 000 tonnes, 5 percent below the 2015 harvest and about 14 percent below the five-year average. Production of groundnuts, the main cash crop, is estimated to have declined by about 23 percent compared to the average.

Access to food constrained by high prices of imported food commodities

The Gambia, in a normal year, relies on imports for nearly half of its cereal consumption requirements (mostly rice and wheat) and domestic cereal prices are strongly affected by world prices and the exchange rate of the Dalasi (GMD), the national currency. The Dalasi has depreciated significantly over the past few years, which has put an upward pressure on domestic prices of imported food commodities. As a result, access to food continues to be difficult for several segments of the population.

Continued assistance still needed, especially for vulnerable people

The combined effects of the recent Sahel food crises, localized heavy flooding in 2012 and 2013 and insufficient rains in 2014 and 2016 have eroded vulnerable households’ coping mechanisms and resulted in protracted food insecurity in pockets of the country and persisting acute malnutrition.

About 78 000 people are estimated to be in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above between March and May 2017, according to the latest “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis conducted in the country. Child malnutrition is also a cause of concern. Chronic malnutrition ranges between 11 and 20 percent with the North Bank Region and the Lower River Region. The nutrition situation is expected to improve in 2017 thanks to numerous nutrition and health interventions across the country.