Reference Date: 12-January-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Farming activities and food markets have recovered significantly across the country
Preliminary estimates for 2015 harvest indicate that rice production increased by 11 percent compared to previous year
Number of food insecure people estimated at about 17 000
An above-average rice harvest was gathered in 2015
Harvesting of the 2015 paddy crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country, was completed in December. According to the Liberia Hydrological Service (LHS), adequate rainfall was received last year, allowing for sowing activities and satisfactory crop development. Moreover, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which significantly affected rice production in 2014, has been largely controlled. Liberia was declared free of the Ebola virus transmission in the human population in September 2015. With the intervention of the Government and its partners in supplying improved seeds, fertilizer and purchasing paddy rice from farmers, preliminary estimates put the 2015 aggregate cereal production at about 295 000 tonnes, 11 percent above the previous year’s output and 6 percent above-average. Cassava production is estimated to have increased by 9 percent.
In 2014, the EVD outbreak has had a serious impact on the agriculture and food sectors. Rice production in 2014 was estimated at about 266 000 tonnes, about 4 percent below average. In particular, cereal production in Lofa and Margibi counties was substantially affected by the EVD outbreak that started to spread when crops were already being planted and expanded during the whole crop-growing season until the critical harvesting period.
Food markets have recovered significantly and prices of imported rice are generally stable
During the peak of the Ebola outbreak (June to August 2014), trade activities declined significantly. Border closures, quarantine measures and other restrictions seriously disrupted marketing of goods, including agricultural commodities. There has been a significant recovery of marketing activities. Prices of imported rice have remained mostly stable in recent months.
Liberia normally depends heavily on food imports. Cereal import requirements for 2016 are estimated at about 432 000 tonnes, similar to the previous year’s level.
EVD outbreak severely affected economy and food security
Beyond its impact on the agriculture and food sector, the EVD outbreak seriously affected all other sectors of the economy. According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) revised estimates, GDP growth is estimated at 0.9 percent in 2015, owing to the low output for Liberia's main exports and reduced harvests in 2014. A stronger rebound of 4.8 percent growth is forecast in 2016, well above the growth of only 0.5 percent achieved in 2014, but still well below the 6.8 percent forecasted before the Ebola crisis. The EVD outbreak had a substantial impact on employment activities throughout the country on all livelihood groups. Although the Ebola outbreak has ended, about 17 000 people are currently estimated to be in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above and are in need of urgent assistance across the country, according to the latest “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis. Moreover, Liberia is hosting about 36 041 refugees as of end December 2015, most of them from Côte d’Ivoire. Voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees was suspended by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire at the beginning of the Ebola epidemic, but it has been resumed in mid‑December 2015 following the agreement among UNHCR and the Liberian and Ivorian Governments.