Reference Date: 28-June-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Planting activities affected by irregular rainfall at beginning of cropping season
Rice production increased by 11 percent in 2015 compared to previous year
Number of food insecure people estimated at about 22 400
Early prospects uncertain for 2016 cereal production
Planting of the 2015 paddy crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country, began in April and is still underway. Seasonal rainfall started on time in March; however, during April and May, irregular rainfall over northwestern and central areas of the country slowed down planting activities. According to satellite imagery, abundant rainfall in some areas in mid‑June have helped diminish deficits.
Three newly‑confirmed cases of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) were reported in early April in Monrovia. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the most recent outbreak of EVD in Liberia on 9 June 2016, The resurgence of Ebola is unlikely to have any major impact on the 2016 agricultural season.
Agricultural production recovered in 2015 following the previous year’s Ebola‑affected harvest. Official estimates put the 2015 aggregate cereal production at about 296 000 tonnes, 11 percent above the previous year’s output and 6 percent above average. Cassava production is estimated to have increased by 9 percent. The recovery was supported by the intervention of the Government and its partners in supplying improved seeds, fertilizer and purchasing paddy rice from farmers.
In 2014, the EVD outbreak 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 recovered significantly and prices of imported rice generally stable
During the peak of the Ebola outbreak (June‑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. Due to good supplies from the 2015 harvest, 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 402 000 tonnes, about 14 percent above 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. As the economy continues to recover, household livelihoods and incomes are returning to the levels observed prior to 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 24 900 people were projected to be in Phase 3: “Crisis” and above and in need of urgent assistance across the country, according to the latest “Cadre Harmonisé” analysis. Moreover, according to UNHCR, Liberia is hosting more than 20 000 registered refugees as of 31 May 2016, 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 was resumed in mid‑December 2015 following the agreement among UNHCR and the Liberian and Ivorian governments.