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Country Briefs

  Liberia

Reference Date: 17-November-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Favourable prospects for 2017 harvest

  2. Increased import requirement forecasted

  3. Food price inflation increased in August 2017, but remains below the peak in November 2016

  4. Number of food insecure people declines, but humanitarian assistance still needed

Favourable prospects for 2017 harvest

Harvesting of the 2017 paddy crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country, is ongoing and will be completed by the end of December. The early onset of rainfall in February allowed for an on-time start to the cropping season. Although localized dryness was observed following a below-average rainfall in July and August, overall production outlook is favourable and preliminary estimates put the 2017 aggregate paddy production at about 275 000 tonnes, 2 percent above the previous year’s output and slightly below the five-year average. Cassava production is expected to continue to grow, expanding by close to 40 percent over last year’s level and increasing by over 70 percent over the 2010-2014 average production, to reach 892 000 tonnes.

Increased import requirement forecasted

Imports account for more than half of the country’s total cereal requirements. Cereal import requirements for 2017 are forecast at over 457 000 tonnes, about 3 percent above the previous year’s level and 9 percent over the five-year average. Rice makes up for over 80 percent of the imports, while wheat and maize account for about 13 and 6 percent, respectively.

Food price inflation increased in August 2017, but remains below the peak in November 2016

During the peak of the Ebola outbreak (June August 2014), trade activities declined significantly. Border closures, quarantine measures and other restrictions seriously disrupted the marketing of goods, including agricultural commodities. Since then, there has been a significant recovery of marketing activities. However, the continued depreciation of the Liberian dollar (around LRD 120/USD in early November 2017 compared to around LRD 90/USD a year earlier) and higher average oil prices in 2017 are reported to be raising prices of imported commodities. According to the Central Bank of Liberia, year-on-year food inflation was 5.4 percent as of August 2017, up from 3.8 percent reported in July 2017, but well below the high level of about 14 percent reached in November and December 2016.

Number of food insecure declines, but humanitarian assistance still needed

The Ebola outbreak in 2014 seriously affected all sectors of the economy. The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) forecasts a stronger rebound of 3.4 percent growth in 2017, well above the growth rates of the last two years, but still well below the 8.7 percent forecasted before the Ebola crisis. As the economy continues to recover, household livelihoods and incomes are returning to the levels observed prior to the Ebola crisis. The Ebola outbreak had a substantial impact on employment activities throughout the country on all livelihood groups. The latest “Cadre Harmonisé” exercise conducted in the country estimated that around 15 000 people were in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above between June and August 2017 across the country, down from about 21 000 a year before. According to UNHCR, the number of registered refugees in the country, most of them from Côte d’Ivoire and residing in Grand Gedeh, Nimba, River Gee and Maryland counties, was around 12 000 as of end-September, down from about 19 000 at the end of 2016. Voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees was suspended by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire at the beginning of the Ebola epidemic, but it was resumed in mid‑December 2015 following the agreement among UNHCR and the Liberian and Ivorian governments.

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