Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture


Global Information and Early Warning System on food and agriculture
December 2003


For the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, the prospects for the 2003 cereal harvest are mixed. In Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, the disturbances resulting from population displacements in the context of civil strife have worsened following insufficient and irregular rainfall. In general, less rainfall than average fell in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. In the two latter countries, where the secondary dry season of August began earlier than usual, a prolonged dry spell affected crop development, especially during the main cropping season. In Sierra Leone, potential reductions in yield will most likely be compensated by an increase in areas planted following the return of refugees and displaced farmers. Growing conditions on the whole were favourable in Benin, Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria and Togo.

Crop prospects everywhere are predicted to be close to or higher than average levels except in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, where production will be negatively affected by civil strife. The official data on crop production have not yet been made available by the local administrations for most of these countries. Preliminary Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) estimates for aggregate cereal production in these nine coastal countries is forecast at a total of approximately 33 million tonnes, which is higher than both 2002 production and the five-year average.

A good crop with exportable surplus is expected in most Sahelian countries. In the context of the increasing economic and agricultural integration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries, and based on the crop prospects, usual eating habits and trade patterns in these coastal countries, as well as on the probable evolution of exchange rates, cereal exports from the Sahel to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire may be anticipated. However, with good prospects for the harvest in Nigeria and the probable fall in the value of the Naira in 2004, Nigerian exports will become more competitive in neighbouring countries; imports could thus be negatively affected.

Table 1: Western African Coastal Countries Cereal Production 1993-2002 and preliminary forecast for 2003
(thousand tonnes, gross basis with rice in paddy)

Countries Cereal production Preliminary
forecast for
  1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 
Benin 6287426867178798709721 00690410491 147119.5
Cameroon 9709201 2281 3141 1801 2401 3501 2631 2691 2971 427111.2
Côte d’Ivoire 1 5361 6781 7541 9031 6021 7121 7691 8481 7851 3781 28075.4
Ghana1 6231 5941 8251 7701 7001 7671 6861 7501 6362 1551 76898.3
Guinea9537608238729229781 0421 1001 0261 0381 040100.3
Liberia 502356941001101281441451098869.2
Nigeria18 50920 33820 71121 63621 83322 53322 21122 61923 03123 93725 116109.8
Sierra Leone 503507402444467375271221345417408125.2
Togo 634420443687680589759711712740817116.3
Total 2/ 25 400 27 000 27 900 29 400 29 400 30 200 30 200 30 800 31 000 32 120 33 091 107.4

Source: FAO. Preliminary FAO 2003 production estimates based only on a qualitative assessment of the growing season.





Cereal production is expected to be higher than average. Overall, rainfall has been widespread and abundant, in particular in the north. Although July precipitation in the south was lower than average, harvest prospects are favourable on the whole. Second-season maize is developing satisfactorily in the south. The millet and sorghum harvest is under way in the north, where the rains have stopped.

No official production estimates for the 2003 cereal crop are available yet. The preliminary GIEWS estimates based solely on qualitative monitoring of the current crop season has set cereal production at approximately 1.15 million tonnes, which is 20 percent higher than the average for the past five years. Yam and cassava production should also be notably higher this year.

Good quantities of millet and sorghum have been harvested in the Niger, but the country has a structural deficit in maize and tubers. Market flow of these two products to the Niger should continue in 2004, even though maize from Benin must compete this year with imports from Mali and Burkina Faso, in addition to the Nigerian exports which will be more favoured because of the exchange rate of the Naira. These exports will be supported by the improved income of the farmers of the Niger following good production of cowpeas, one of the principal cash crops in the Niger.


Harvest prospects are favourable, reflecting widespread and abundant rains. Coarse grains have been harvested in the north. Maize is developing satisfactorily in the south.

On the basis of the qualitative monitoring of the crop season, GIEWS estimates that 2003 cereal grain production will reach approximately 1.4 million tonnes, which is 11 percent higher than the average for the past five years. Production should also increase considerably in the regions in the north located in the Sahelian zone, where rainfall was irregular and harvests decreased locally in some areas in 2002.

Millet, sorghum and maize from Cameroon are traditionally exported to Chad and to neighbouring countries in Central Africa. Even though cereal production in Chad increased by almost 20 percent in 2003, this country will still need cereal from Cameroon this year. The amelioration of the purchasing power of Chad, because of its crude oil exports, should support this demand.


Production will probably decrease for the second year in a row. The civil war that began in September 2002 has induced the displacement of more than one million people. At least 800 000 of them have fled from the north and centre to the south, and approximately 300 000 people were displaced in the west around the city of Man. At least 200 000 others (mostly migrant workers from neighbouring countries, i.e. Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia and Mali) have left the country altogether. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), several thousand migrant farmers and farm workers continued to be forced to leave the communities where they were living and working in the west. The food insecurity situation in the country remains critical, especially in the west and north, which are controlled by rebel forces. In addition, since May 2003 less rain than average has fallen, which could have consequences for the development of maize in the south and millet and sorghum in the north.

Agricultural production will probably decrease again this year, as it did last year as a direct result of the massive population displacements and seed shortages following the civil war and inadequate and irregular rainfall.

Under normal conditions a significant amount of cereal is commercially traded among Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso and the Niger, but the war has seriously perturbed both domestic and international market activities. Cereal imports could become necessary for emergency operations here. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently in Côte d’Ivoire, and food production and import needs estimates should be available very shortly, along with estimates of the quantity of emergency food aid that will be required.


Harvest prospects are mixed. In the south, less rain fell than usual, and a three-week dry spell in May was followed by another dry period in July, both of which disturbed seed germination and necessitated replanting in some areas. On the other hand, satellite images indicate that weather conditions were more favourable in the centre and north, where the millet and sorghum harvests are under way.

Maize production will probably decrease with respect to last year, even though it will still be close to average levels. A fall in rice production is also expected, as fewer areas were planted following the lack of market outlets for the substantial quantity of rice produced last year. GIEWS has estimated cereal grain production at approximately 1.8 million tonnes, 18 percent less than last year’s record level.

Cereal trade, maize in particular, is normally steady between Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and the Niger (via intervening countries). Taking into account lower maize production in Ghana, a fall in cereal exports to the Sahel and perhaps even imports can be expected.


Harvest prospects are generally favourable. Rainfall was regular and widespread, although precipitation levels were less than average, especially in the south.

Preliminary GIEWS estimations place cereal production (mostly rice) at approximately 1 million tonnes, which is about the same as the average for the past five years.

The presence of a large refugee population and the persistent instability in neighbouring countries have exacted a heavy toll on the country, which currently hosts more than 100 000 Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees. The outbreak of civil war in Côte d’Ivoire added more than 105 000 refugees, including Liberians, Ivorians, Malians, Burkinabe and Guinean evacuees. The sudden return of the latter has strained domestic resources. While some 27 000 Sierra Leoneans have been repatriated this year, renewed fighting in Liberia has led to a new influx of thousands of refugees. WFP is currently assisting some 172 000 people under Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO). The country imports mostly rice (two-thirds of imports) and wheat (one-third).


Rice production will decrease again because of the war. The civil war that has resulted in massive population displacements and reduced access to most farming areas is the major cause of food insecurity in this country. The current cropping season has been seriously disrupted by armed conflict, which will most likely cause a drop in rice production again this year.

The country normally produces only tubers and rice; GIEWS anticipates another food production decrease of 20 percent for this year.

Following the signature on 18 August 2003 of a global peace accord, and the deployment of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group in Liberia (ECOMIL peace-keeping troops), the humanitarian situation has begun to improve in Monrovia, where hundreds of thousands of refugees were living in makeshift shelters after the long combats in the capital. It is estimated that there are some 500 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Liberia, most of whom have been placed in camps on the outskirts of Monrovia. After a survey carried out at the end of August 2003 in Monrovia, World Vision said that nearly 40 percent of the young children in the IDP camps are suffering from malnutrition. With the improvement in security, WFP has launched an extensive food distribution programme, and more than 300 000 persons had received food aid by mid-November.


Crop prospects are favourable, reflecting the good precipitation up to now. After heavy rains at the beginning of September, the Kaduna River overflowed its banks in the north; some 100 000 persons were forced to flee their homes. Paddy output is forecast to increase this year, reflecting the higher producer prices that have resulted from an increase in import duties imposed by the government, which also set up a national rice security task force to boost local rice production.

Based on a qualitative monitoring of the current crop season, GIEWS estimates the 2003 cereal production at about 25 million tonnes, which is a 10 percent increase compared to the five-year average.

Along with production levels and agricultural policy measures taken by the government, the principal factor affecting trade with the country’s Sahelian neighbours (all members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union [UEMOA], whose common currency is the CFA) is the exchange rate of the Naira, the Nigerian currency. After 10 months of stability since the beginning of 2003, the Naira began to depreciate at the end of October on both the parallel and the official markets. The Naira can be expected to continue falling in 2004 and probably even in 2005 reflecting a likely decline in oil prices and the relatively low level of foreign exchanges reserves of the country. Under these conditions, Nigerian exports will be more competitive in the UEMOA, while its imports will be negatively affected.


Harvest prospects are uncertain after less-than-average rainfall and prolonged dry spells in July, which probably affected plant development in certain areas. These conditions modify the more optimistic harvest prospects that were made at the beginning of the season after the improvement of the security situation had allowed the refugees and displaced farmers to return to their lands, resulting in larger planted areas.

According to preliminary forecasts, cereal production – mostly rice – should be about the same as for last year, but this will still be some 25 percent higher than the average levels over the past five years that reflected the effects of the civil war.

Sierra Leone imports approximately 200 000 tonnes of rice and 80 000 tonnes of wheat per year.


Harvest prospects are generally favourable this year reflecting good growing conditions. Second-season maize is developing satisfactorily in the south. The millet and sorghum harvests are under way in the north.

Cereal production should attain 815 000 tonnes, which is an increase of 10 percent with respect to last year and 16 percent compared to the five-year average.

In addition to trading with Burkina Faso, Togo also exports maize to the Niger and Nigeria via Benin.


(in thousand tonnes. For 2003, production estimates based only on a qualitative assessment of the growing season)






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