GIEWS Country Brief: Gambia 13-November-2017

News and Press Release
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  • Timely and abundant rainfall benefited overall crop production

  • Depreciation of local currency contributes to high prices of imported food commodities

  • Humanitarian assistance still needed

Recovery in cereal production expected in 2017

Harvesting of the 2017 maize crop ended in October, while that of rice, millet and sorghum is expected to be completed by the end of November. Harvesting of groundnuts, the country’s main source of export, is about to begin and will continue until the end of February. In the 2017 cropping season, timely and above-average rainfall throughout July and August across all regions in the country benefitted crop development.

The presence of Fall Armyworm has been reported in all regions. However, the situation is being closely monitored by national authorities and no significant impact on crop production has yet been observed. Given favourable weather conditions, the aggregate 2017 cereal production is estimated at 192 000 tonnes, slightly below the five-year average and 5 percent above the harvest in 2016 which was affected by the late onset and irregular distribution of rainfall.

Depreciation of local currency contributes to high prices of imported food commodities

The country relies on imports to meet over half of its cereal consumption requirements, with rice and wheat accounting for over 70 and 20 percent of the requirements, respectively. Domestic cereal prices are strongly linked to world prices and the exchange rate of the Dalasi (GMD), the national currency. The depreciation of the Dalasi in recent years has put an upward pressure on domestic prices of imported food commodities. According to the Consumer Price Index published by the Gambian Bureau of Statistics, food inflation has eased slightly since its all-time high of 10 percent year-on-year recorded in January 2017, but remains above 8 percent. Access to food continues to be difficult for several segments of the population.

Humanitarian assistance still needed for most vulnerable

Erratic weather adversely affected the 2016 cropping season, halving the groundnut cash crop harvest. Political uncertainty following the elections in 2016 also dampened tourism, which normally accounts for about 20 percent of the GDP. In addition, households’ coping mechanisms have been eroded by a series of events such as the Sahel food crises, localized heavy flooding in 2012 and 2013, and insufficient rains in 2014, resulting in protracted food insecurity in several areas of the country and persistent acute malnutrition. The results of the “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis conducted in spring 2017 estimated that about 112 000 people were in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above, between June and August 2017, up from about 60 700 in the previous year.