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Country Briefs

  Benin

Reference Date: 24-July-2018

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Planting of cereal crops ongoing under favourable conditions

  2. Cereal production in 2017 estimated at above average level

  3. Humanitarian assistance needed for vulnerable population

Normal progress of 2018 cropping season

Following a timely onset of the seasonal rains in the south, planting of maize and yams started in February/March and harvesting operations are expected to start in August. Rice, for harvest in September, was planted in April. Planting operations for millet and sorghum, for harvest from October, are underway. Weeding activities are normally progressing in most cropped areas.

Land preparation for the 2018 minor season maize crop is ongoing and planting activities are expected to finalize in August 2018. The crop will be harvested between December 2018 and January 2019.

Above-average 2017 cereal crop harvested

Despite some disruptions to the network for distribution of agricultural inputs following the installation of the new authorities, the 2017 cropping season was characterized by favourable rainfall conditions. The overall 2017 cereal production is estimated at about 2 million tonnes, 12 percent above the 2016 harvest and 23 percent of the five-year average levels. Major increases were observed in maize and rice production.

Imports account for over 25 percent of the national cereal utilization, equivalent to about 400 000 tonnes of cereals, mostly rice and wheat. Small quantities of maize (less than 200 000 tonnes) are also annually exported. Despite the above-average 2017 production, import requirements for the 2017/18 (November/October) marketing year are expected to increase by about 20 percent compared to previous year and about 40 percent above the average due to higher demand for human and industrial use.

Small pockets of food insecurity persist

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the country’s real GDP is expected to grow in 2018 by about 6 percent, up from an estimated 5.6 percent in 2017, supported by strong activity in agriculture (and particularly the cotton industry), high public investment and growing domestic demand. Food inflation in 2018 is expected to remain low at 1.3 percent as in 2017, driven by the good performance of the agricultural sector, which will keep local food prices low, and a strengthening of the local currency.

Despite the aggregate above-average agricultural production, some households in rural areas early depleted their stocks during the lean season. As a result, pockets of food insecurity still persist in some areas. According to the March 2018 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 8 500 people were estimated to be in need of food assistance between March and May 2018 compared to 60 000 people in October-December 2017. The number was projected to increase to 31 000 people during the June to August period, if mitigation measures are not taken. However, this still only represents a minor proportion of the total population of 11 million and, in general, the food security conditions are favourable.

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