FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Liberia, 17 December 2014

FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Liberia, 17 December 2014
Dec 2014

Highlights

  • The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, which has severely affected the country since the beginning of 2014, has seriously impacted on the agriculture and food sectors. The relatively high level of impact on food production, compared to Guinea and Sierra Leone, is primarily due to the much higher intensity of the disease transmission during critical periods of the crop cycle. The infections grew rapidly during the crop growth and harvesting periods.
  • The aggregate food crop production in 2014 is estimated at 323 000 tonnes, about 8 percent lower than 2013, including 174 000 tonnes of milled rice production, about 12 percent below 2013.
  • The sub-national level impact, such as in Lofa and Margibi counties hit hard by the disease, is much more severe , where losses of paddy crop are estimated as high as 25 percent.
  • Liberia normally depends heavily (up to 80 percent) on food imports and at the estimated level of cereal production, the cereal import requirement in 2015 is set at 445 000 tonnes of cereals, about 24 percent more than the average of the previous five years Rice import requirements account for about 350 000 tonnes of the total.
  • Commercial imports of cereals are anticipated to remain at average levels of 380 000 tonnes, leaving an uncovered gap of about 90 000 tonnes for which urgent additional resources and international assistance is required. The significant impact of Ebola on the country’s export earnings is likely to compromise its ability to cover the country’s cereal gap.
  • Trade activities have slowed significantly across the country with about 77 percent of traders interviewed during the Rapid Assessment (from late September to mid-October) reporting that traded volumes were significantly lower compared to 2013. Border closures, quarantine measures and other restrictions have seriously disrupted marketing of goods including agricultural commodities. However, trading activities have shown some signs of recovery in late November/December with the reopening of some weekly markets as reports of disease incidence rates decreased.
  • The price of imported rice in Liberia has increased during several consecutive months, spiking well above usual seasonal patterns. Prices stabilized in November 2014 but remained higher than a year earlier in most markets. Prices of imported rice have also increased due mainly to exchange rate depreciation.
  • EVD has had a substantial impact on employment activities throughout the country on all livelihood groups while at the same time not being disproportionally worse in high EVD counties. While this is the case, findings from remote surveys undertaken by WFP (mVAM) suggest that the lowest wage rates are to be found in Lofa, one of the first areas to be affected by EVD in Liberia. The wage-to-local rice terms of trade is also lower in Lofa compared to rest of the country.
  • In November 2014, about 630 000 people, or 14 percent of the population, are estimated to be severely food insecure of which the EVD impacts account for 170 000 people. The number of food insecure is projected to increase to 750 000 by March 2015, of which 290 000 people are due to EVD. Rural areas account for about 76 percent of the EVD related food insecurity. Among income groups, food crop producing households, fishermen, hunters and unskilled labourers are the most food insecure.
  • The analysis indicates that varying types of assistance will be required in addition to covering the uncovered food import gap, including cash/voucher transfers where appropriate to assure food access for people whose main livelihood is not agriculture.
  • Although the incidence of disease has declined in recent months, food security monitoring activities must continue as there is still a risk of a flareup.