FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Extremely elevated price levels recorded in July
Cereal import requirements forecast at below-average level
Extremely high food prices registered in July in most markets
Increased external assistance needs in 2020
Cereal production in 2020 estimated at slightly above-average level
Harvesting of the 2020 main season maize crop was completed in August in the south, while it is still ongoing in the rest of the country for rice, millet and sorghum crops. Following a timely onset of seasonal rains, planting activities started in February/March in the south and in May/June in the north. The cumulative precipitation amounts were above average in most areas since the beginning of the season, favouring crop germination, establishment and development as well as improved vegetation conditions (see ASI image). However, in September, below-average rainfall and moisture deficits are impacting main season cereals in northwestern parts of the country. Moreover, flooding across northwestern and northcentral parts of the country due to heavy rains in July and August, coupled with the widespread high levels of conflict in the northern areas and the effects of restriction measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had a negative impact on yields, curbing production prospects. In addition, localized Fall Army Worm (FAW) attacks were reported, with high presence in Adamawa State. Overall, the 2020 cereal crop production is estimated at slightly above the last five-year average.
The abundant rainfall in July and August boosted natural pasture conditions and contributed to replenish surface water, improving livestock body conditions and enhancing their market values. The animal health situation is generally stable, with only small seasonal outbreaks of epizootic diseases, including Trypanosomiasis in northern parts of the country. However, in the northern parts of the country, pastoralist production systems are still affected by armed and community conflicts, theft and banditry. As a result, a higher concentration of animals is expected in the areas less affected by insecurity, with a consequent rapid degradation of fodder and water resources.
Favourable rainfall and the adequate supply of inputs by the Government and several NGOs in 2019 benefitted crop production in most parts of the country. Despite some pockets of drought and some FAW outbreaks, the 2019 national cereal production is estimated at about 30 million tonnes, 16 percent above the previous five-year average.
Below-average import requirements forecast
Despite the trade restrictions introduced since 2015 by the Government, the country relies on imports of crops, including rice and wheat, to cover its domestic requirements. Following the above-average 2019 production, cereal import requirements for the 2019/20 (November/October) marketing year are forecast at a below-average level of 7.1 million tonnes.
Extremely elevated food prices registered in July in most markets
Prices of coarse grains continued to increase significantly in most markets in the past few months, supported by the effects of the restrictive measures implemented to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and strong domestic demand. The situation is exacerbated by the closure of the borders with neighbouring countries, implemented since August 2019 to curb the smuggling of imported rice and maize. In addition, the continued depreciation of the local currency, the decline in foreign reserves and the high general inflation rate, coupled with high transportation costs due to the 20 percent increase in petrol prices in July, have contributed to the atypical price spikes. As of July, prices of all cereal products were at least 50 percent higher than their year-earlier values, with peaks in the conflict-affected areas of the northeast due to the impact of persistent insecurity.
Increased external assistance need in 2020
According to the March 2020 "Cadre Harmonisé" analysis, without considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 7 million people were estimated to be severely food insecure during the lean season between June and August 2020, well above the about 5 million food insecure people estimated in the same period in 2019. The main drivers for the significant increase in the number of people in need of assistance are some localized cereal production shortfalls in 2019, the escalation of armed and community conflicts and high inflation rates. The areas most affected by food insecurity are Borno and Yobe states, where over 2 million people are food insecure. However, the current situation is worse than expected as the COVID-19 containment measures adversely effected households’ livelihood activities and incomes, especially in urban areas.
Recent attacks by Boko Haram insurgents and military operations across the northeast continue to hinder the agro-pastoral and seasonal livelihood activities, including access to fields. This is resulting in increased displacement, humanitarian needs and food insecurity. Heavy rainfall in July and August resulted in localized flooding in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger states, affecting thousands of people and causing human casualties, loss of livelihoods and damage to crops, livestock and infrastructures. As of August 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) identified over 2.7 million people that have been displaced due to the insurgency in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, due to communal clashes in North-West/North-Central and to natural disasters. Most displaced households have limited income and mostly rely on humanitarian assistance to cover their basic needs.