Liberia + 1 more

FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 1-2/00 - Liberia

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Reflecting favourable growing conditions and an improved security situation, 1999 cereal production is expected to be similar to or above the previous year, except in the north where fighting broke out in Lofa County during the growing season. Agricultural production increased in Bong, Bomi, Montserrado and Nimba counties, but not in Maryland, Sinoe and Grand Kru where poor roads have made access to farms difficult. With the exception of Lofa County, relative prevailing peace has exerted a positive influence on farming activities. The cultivated area should be substantially higher than in 1998, with rice production expected to be around 80 percent of pre-war level and 100 percent for cassava. Although a shortage of basic agricultural inputs was a limiting factor for farmers, it was minimized by substantial distribution of seeds and tools and improved technical assistance to resettling farm families. In Lofa County, most of the estimated 25 000 displaced people are farmers who have not been able to harvest their crops. Several thousands have been displaced from Voinjama and Kolahum camps in upper Lofa to Tarvey and Sinje in lower Lofa.
The overall food situation has improved significantly in 1999. Food supplies in urban markets are relatively stable, and in general, prices are relatively lower than in 1998. Food supply in rural areas continues to be tight. Rehabilitation programs allow resettlement and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons through provision of repatriation packages. However, humanitarian programmes for Liberian returnees and Sierra Leonean refugees were disrupted by insecurity and looting in Lofa county, where the nutritional and health conditions of displaced people have deteriorated. About 90 000 refugees from Sierra Leone remain in Liberia. The country continues to rely heavily on food aid.