GIEWS Country Brief: Liberia 09-March-2017


  • Food crop production declined in 2016

  • Food markets recovered significantly following Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)-related disruptions

  • Number of food insecure people estimated at about 53 000

Below-average rice harvest gathered in 2016

Harvesting of the 2016 paddy crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country, was completed in December. The overall rainfall situation was conducive for crop development. However, localized dryness during planting of upland rice and flooding of lowland in some areas combined with increased pest infestations led to a decline in national rice output. Preliminary estimates put the 2016 aggregate paddy production at about 269 000 tonnes, 9 percent below the previous year’s output and 5 percent below-average. By contrast, cassava production rebounded strongly by 27 percent compared to the previous year’s output.

The EVD outbreak had a serious impact on the agriculture and food sectors in 2014. In particular, cereal production in Lofa and Margibi counties was substantially affected by the outbreak that started to spread when crops were already being planted and expanded during the whole crop‑growing season until the critical harvesting period. However, production recovered significantly in 2015.

Food markets recovered significantly

During the peak of the Ebola outbreak (June‑August 2014), trade activities declined significantly. Border closures, quarantine measures and other restrictions seriously disrupted marketing of goods, including agricultural commodities. There has been a significant recovery of marketing activities. However, prices of imported commodities are reported to be on the increase, driven by the depreciation of the local currency.

Liberia normally depends heavily on food imports. Cereal import requirements for 2016 are estimated at over 400 000 tonnes, about 13 percent above the previous year’s level.

Lingering effects of the EVD outbreak continue to affect food security

Beyond its impact on the agriculture and food sector, the EVD outbreak seriously affected all other sectors of the economy. According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) revised estimates, GDP growth was estimated at 0.2 percent in 2016 and 0.3 percent in 2015, owing to the low output for Liberia's main exports and reduced harvests in 2014. A stronger rebound of 3.9 percent growth is forecast in 2017, well above the growth rate of the last two years, but still well below the 8.7 percent forecasted before the Ebola crisis. As the economy continues to recover, household livelihoods and incomes are returning to the levels observed prior to the Ebola crisis. The EVD outbreak had a substantial impact on employment activities throughout the country on all livelihood groups. Although the Ebola outbreak has ended, about 52 960 people were estimated to be in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above between October and December across the country, according to the latest “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis. Moreover, according to UNHCR, Liberia is hosting about 19 000 registered refugees as of end-December 2016, most of them from Côte d’Ivoire. Voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees was suspended by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire at the beginning of the Ebola epidemic, but it was resumed in mid‑December 2015 following the agreement among UNHCR and the Liberian and Ivorian governments.