GIEWS Country Brief: Gambia 5-November-2014

News and Press Release
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  • Preliminary forecast for the 2014 harvest points to a large decline in cereal production

  • Access to food continues to be constrained by high food prices

  • Humanitarian assistance continues to be needed

2014 cereal production forecast to decline sharply due to rainfall deficits

Harvesting of the 2014 cereal crops is underway across the country. Growing conditions for cereal crops and pastures have been poor in several parts of the country, mostly in central and western regions, due to irregular rains at the beginning of the cropping season in May/June which delayed plantings, and subsequent erratic precipitation in July and August.

According to a preliminary forecast released by national agricultural statistics, aggregate cereal production in 2014 will drop by 75 percent (compared to 2013) to about 57 000 tonnes. Production of groundnut, the main cash crop, is anticipated to decline by over 80 percent. Moreover, the erratic rains caused the depletion of grazing resources and lowered water points’ level in the major pastoral areas of the country.

In 2013, favourable climatic conditions in the main cereal growing regions benefited crops during the growing period: as a result, aggregate 2013 cereal production was estimated to have increased by about 5 percent to 227 000 tonnes compared to 2012.

Access to food constrained by high food prices

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 is still needed, especially for vulnerable people

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

Despite adequate cereal production in 2012 and 2013, about 202 500 people are estimated to be in Phase 3 (Crisis) and above according to the last Cadre Harmonisé analysis conducted in the country. Child malnutrition is also a cause of concern: chronic malnutrition ranges between 13.9 and 30.7 percent with North Bank Region and Central River Region surpassing the ’critical’ threshold of 30 percent.

The United Nations and humanitarian partners launched earlier this year a three‑year Regional Strategic Response Plan (RSRP) to provide aid to millions of people in nine countries of the Sahel belt. The country plan for the Gambia is seeking to mobilize USD 26 million to provide food and non‑food assitance to over 345 000 people accross the country.