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Country Briefs

  Benin

Reference Date: 23-April-2020

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Planting of 2020 main season maize ongoing in south under normal moisture conditions

  2. Above‑average 2019 cereal crop harvested

  3. Prices of coarse grains overall stable in March

  4. Pockets of food insecurity persist

Start of 2020 cropping season in south follows timely onset of rains

Following the timely onset of seasonal rains in the south, planting of yams was completed in March, while planting of the main season maize crop is ongoing and will be completed by the end of April. The harvest of yams is expected to start in July, while harvesting operations of maize will start in August. Planting of rice crops, to be harvested from August, is underway. The cumulative rainfall amounts since early March have been average to above average in most planted areas and supported the development of yams and maize crops, which are at sprouting, seedling and tillering stages. Weeding activities are normally taking place in most cropped areas. In the north, seasonal dry weather conditions are still prevailing and planting operations for millet and sorghum, to be harvested from October, are expected to begin in May‑June with the onset of the rains.

In April, despite the ongoing pastoral lean season, forage availability was overall satisfactory in the main grazing areas of the country. The seasonal movement of domestic livestock, returning from the south to the north, started in early March following the normal onset of the rains in the south. The animal health situation is generally good and stable, with just some localized outbreaks of seasonal diseases, including Trypanosomiasis and Contagious Bovine Peripneumonia.

Above‑average 2019 cereal crop harvested

Harvesting activities for the 2019 rainfed and irrigated crops was completed by end‑January. Favourable rainfall across the country and adequate supply of inputs by the Government and several NGOs benefited the 2019 national cereal production, estimated at 1.9 million tonnes, about 5 percent above the five‑year average.

Cereal import requirements for the 2019/20 (November/October) marketing year, mostly rice and wheat for human consumption are estimated at 400 000 tonnes, about 20 percent below the previous year and 17 percent below the average. The country usually re‑exports rice to neighboring Nigeria to cover household consumption needs. Following the closure of the border with Nigeria imposed by the Nigerian Government since late 2019, traders are unable to re‑export their rice stocks into Nigeria. This will likely result in the decline of the quantity imported by the country.

Stable food prices due to increased supply

Most agricultural markets are well supplied following the commercialization of newly harvested crops and the relatively high level of carryover stocks from the previous year. Prices of maize have been broadly stable since the start of the harvests in October on account of good domestic availabilities. Prices of imported rice were also relatively stable due to the regular supply from the international markets.

Pockets of food insecurity persist

Despite overall favourable food security conditions, some vulnerable households need external food assistance. According to the March 2020 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 14 500 people (less than 0.5 percent of the population analysed) are estimated to need food assistance from June to August 2020, below the level of 20 000 food insecure people in June‑August 2019. The main drivers of food insecurity are localized crop shortfalls in 2019 due to floods, mostly in northern areas, including Alibori and Donga regions.

COVID-19 and measures adopted by the Government

In view of the evolving COVID‑19 situation, the Government has decreed a total country lockdown. The Government has also taken some sanitary, social and economic measures, including the free diagnosis and treatment of all suspected and confirmed cases of COVID‑19. Official restrictions on population movements, combined with heightened levels of fear, have led many people to stay at their homes. Although these measures have not affected access to food, further restrictions on population movements could hamper access to land and have a negative impact on 2020 agricultural production. In addition, the measures taken by the Government to limit population movements in 15 high‑risk communes in southern parts of the country could lead to atypical price increases for basic foodstuffs.

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