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Country Briefs

  Gambia

Reference Date: 24-July-2018

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Favourable moisture conditions allow timely planting of 2018 crops

  2. Cereal import requirements expected at same level of last year

  3. Strong economic growth projected, food price inflation decreasing

  4. Humanitarian assistance needed for vulnerable people

Timely start of 2018 planting season

Rains started on time in late June and early July allowing for a normal start of the 2018 cropping season. Planting of maize, for harvesting from September, and rice, millet and sorghum for harvesting from October, is expected to be completed by end-July.

Land preparation and planting operations for groundnuts, the major cash crop produced in the country, are ongoing and the harvest will start in November.

Cereal import requirements maintained to offset decrease in production

The 2017 agricultural season was characterized by near-average rainfall. However, crop development and harvest were adversely affected by heavy flooding in August 2017, followed by a dry spell in September. In addition, attacks by migratory birds have resulted in localized crop losses. The 2017 national cereal production was estimated at 126 000 tonnes, about 35 percent below the average of the previous five years. The major declines were observed in rice and millet production.

Imports account for over half of the national cereal utilization in the country. Rice accounts for about 70 percent of the import requirements, followed by wheat, which accounts for about 20 percent. As a consequence of the significant decline in 2017 domestic production, the import requirements for the 2017/18 marketing year (November/October) are expected to increase and remain almost one-fourth above the average.

Strong economic growth projected, food price inflation decreasing

According to the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBOS), the economic growth is expected to pick up during 2018 due to the inflow of remittances and re-exports, the increase in public investment in sector-specific projects and infrastructure, the development of tourism and the sustained growth in agriculture with the modernization process. The GDP growth is forecast at 5.4 percent in 2018, over 6 percent up from an estimated 5.1 percent in 2017. The food inflation is expected to decrease to an average of 6.5 percent in 2018 from 8 percent in 2017, driven by favourable weather conditions supporting agricultural output. However, access to food is likely to continue to be difficult for several segments of the population.

Humanitarian assistance needed for most vulnerable people

The poor performance of the 2017 agricultural season has increased the vulnerability of most households who depend on farming activities as the main source of food and income. In addition, the political and institutional stalemate following the elections in 2016 has affected all economic activities, including tourism that normally accounts for about 20 percent of the GDP. According to the March 2018 “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis, about 45 000 people are estimated to be in need of food assistance in March to May 2018 compared to 21 000 people in October-December 2017. This number is expected to increase to 63 000 people during the June to August period if mitigation measures are not taken.

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