GIEWS Country Briefs: Gambia 10-January-2012

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Estimates for the 2011 harvest point to a large decline in cereal production

The depreciation of the national currency the Dalasi, high international food prices and limited coarse grains supply will make access to food difficult in marketing year 2011/12.

2011 cereal production sharply reduced due to rainfall deficits

Harvesting of the 2011 cereal crops was completed in November. Growing conditions for cereal crops and pastures have been poor in several parts of the country, 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; and an early cessation of rainfall in September.

A joint FAO/CILSS/WFP Crop Assessment Mission which visited the country in October, estimated the 2011 aggregate cereal production at some 244 000 tonnes, 33 percent less than last year’s record harvest and 4 percent below the average for the previous five years. Compared to last year, production of millet, the main coarse grain grown in the country, is estimated to decrease by 8 percent to 145 000 tonnes, while paddy production is expected to drop by 74 percent.

Cereal prices on the increase

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 months, which combined with high international commodity prices, has put an upward pressure on domestic prices of imported food commodities. Moreover coarse grains prices are likely to stay high during marketing year 2011/12 (November-October), given that production has decreased and supply will be limited in the whole western Sahel region. High food prices will make access to food difficult for large segment of the population.