FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
- Normal progress of 2019 cropping season due to favourable weather conditions
- Above-average cereal harvest gathered in 2018
- Slightly below-average import requirements forecast
- Higher food prices in northeast due to persisting conflict
- Moderate economic growth and increasing food price inflation
- Assistance needs will remain high in 2019
Normal progress of 2019 cropping season due to favourable weather conditions
Following the timely onset of seasonal rains, planting of maize and yams in the south started in February/March. The harvest of green maize in the south is expected to start in June, while harvesting operations for yams will start in July. Rice, to be harvested from October, was planted in March. Planting operations for millet and sorghum, to be harvested from September, are still ongoing. The cumulative rainfall amounts since February were average to above average in most areas and the most advanced growth stage is tillering, observed for maize crop. Weeding activities are normally progressing for crops already in place.
Pastures and availability of water for livestock have improved in May compared to previous months in the main grazing areas of the country. The animal health situation is overall stable. It is noteworthy, however, that there was an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Plateau and Bauchi states between January and April 2019, which has been contained with the support of FAO-Nigeria. The conflict in the northeast and armed banditry in Zamfara and Katsina states continue to limit the access to normal grazing land for pastoralists.
Above-average cereal harvest gathered in 2018
The 2018 agricultural season was characterized by favourable rainfall and support of inputs from the Government and NGOs across the country. Field reports also indicate an increase in farming activities in the northeast due to improved security conditions and some engagement of some investors back to farming in relation to the economic recession experienced between 2015 and 2016. Despite the incidence of pests (including Fall Armyworm), the country’s aggregate cereal output in 2018 is estimated at about 28 million tonnes, about 12 percent above the five-year average. The 2018 harvest included 11 million tonnes of maize (7 percent above average), 8 million tonnes of rice (24 percent above average) and 6 million tonnes of sorghum (equivalent to the average).
Slightly below-average import requirements forecast
Domestic demand for imported rice remains strong despite trade restrictions introduced in 2015 by the Government. The country is the largest rice producer and importer in Africa, importing on average about 2.6 million tonnes per year. Wheat imports account for 5.4 million tonnes per year. Owing the above-average 2018 production, cereal import requirements for the 2018/19 (November/October) marketing year are set at 7.1 million tonnes, slightly below the average.
High levels of food prices in northeast
Market supplies and household food stocks are seasonally declining in most areas. Institutional purchases by the food industry and poultry farmers in major local markets as well as cross border purchases, mainly from Niger, are underway. Prices of coarse grains generally strengthened in April in line with seasonal trends. However, prices were well below the high levels of one and two years earlier reflecting the good level of market availabilities from the 2018 harvests. In the northeast of the country, food prices were relatively higher due to the negative impact of the Boko Haram conflict on market and livelihood activities.
Moderate economic growth projected, food price inflation increasing
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the economy is forecast to grow by about 2 percent (year-on-year) in the first quarter of 2019, similar to the first quarter of 2018. Growth is supported by agriculture, transportation, storage, trade, construction of industrial investments and services, including communications. The year-on-year food inflation rate slightly increased to 13.70 percent in April 2019, higher than the 13.45 percent recorded in March of the same year as result of the increase in domestic food prices.
The Central Bank of Nigeria continues to provide direct intervention into the foreign exchange market in order to stabilize the Naira, the national currency. However, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) forecasts the exchange rate to drop from NGN 306.5 per USD 1 in 2018 to NGN 319.5 per USD 1 in 2019 due to lower oil prices, looser monetary policy and high inflation.
Despite some improvements in security, over 2 million people remain food insecure
As of April 2019, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) identified over 1.9 million people that have been displaced, of which 92 percent by the insurgency in northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Heightened tensions in recent months have triggered further displacements, with new arrivals mainly in northern and eastcentral Borno State, Geidam and Gujba (Yobe) as well as Madagali (Adamawa). Furthermore, the farmer/pastoralist conflict in the northcentral states continues to disrupt markets and main livelihood activities, causing population displacement in Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger states. Most of the displaced households are heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance. Another dimension to the threat to food security is the armed banditry and cattle rustling ravaging northwestern states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto. Rural farmers in these states are unable to cultivate their land essentially because of the threat of kidnapping and banditry attacks. Households have been displaced due to destruction of their houses and food stocks.
According to the March 2019 ‘’Cadre Harmonisé’’ analysis, about 2.05 million people were estimated to be in need of food assistance from March to May 2019, with a significant decrease from the 3.71 million food insecure people in March-May 2018. The reduced caseload is largely due to the improved security conditions compared to last year. This number is expected to increase to 4.95 million people during the June to August 2019, if no mitigation actions are taken.