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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 20-July-2016


  1. Crop prospects uncertain due to persisting rainfall deficits in many parts of the country

  2. Coarse grain prices continued upward trend of previous months, driven mostly by depreciation of local currency

  3. Food security situation deteriorated significantly in Borno State, due to impact of civil conflict

Crop prospects uncertain due to rainfall deficits in parts of the country

In the southern part of the country, planting of the 2016 main maize crop was completed in June. According to remote sensing analysis, the onset of the cropping season was delayed and characterized by irregular precipitation, resulting in rainfall deficits in several areas. Harvest prospects remain uncertain in spite of increased precipitation in recent weeks.

In the North, which has only one rainy season, planting of coarse grains is underway. The Boko Haram conflict has had a significant impact on the agricultural sector in the northeast due to livestock losses and reduced agricultural production, destruction of irrigation and farming facilities, and collapse of extension services, including veterinary health facilities. There is a need to provide livelihoods support for IDP populations, recent returnees and local populations in areas that have seen conflict over the past several years. In order to respond to the immediate needs of the affected people, the Government and partner organizations, including FAO, are providing targeted farmers with seeds and a wide range of agriculture based activities aimed to quickly generate food production.

Above-average harvest was gathered in 2015

In spite of the late onset of the 2015 rainy season in the middle and northern parts of the country, above‑average and well‑distributed rainfall from mid‑July benefited crop development in the major producing states of the country. Although civil insecurity and population displacement continued to disrupt farming activities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, official estimates indicated an above average 2015 cereal production. The country’s cereal output in 2015 was estimated at about 24 million tonnes, close to the previous year’s level and 6 percent above average.

Food and fuel prices soar due to depreciation of the Naira

The Central Bank of Nigeria decided to allow the Naira to float against the US dollar as of mid‑June 2016. The change in policy is aimed at harmonizing the official and parallel exchange rates. The measure follows critical foreign currency shortages and a significant depreciation of the Naira on the parallel market caused by the decline in international oil prices. According to the IMF, international crude oil prices fell by 25 percent over 2015, leading to a 40 percent drop in Nigerian exports and doubling the Government deficit. Domestic fuel prices increased by about 67 percent. Prices of imported and local foods also rose significantly.

Coarse grain prices increased steeply from January to May in several markets, including the northern Kano market where millet prices were nearly 80 percent higher than a year earlier, while those of sorghum were more than double their values in May last year and at record highs. Prices of rice were also reportedly high. Increasing prices of both domestic and imported foods were mainly the result of the depreciation of the Naira. Increased fuel and transport costs provided additional support.

High import dependency persists

In 2012, the Government launched the Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA) to reduce the country’s reliance on food imports by increasing production of the five key crops, including rice, sorghum and cassava. A number of import substitution measures were introduced to support domestic production, including the mandatory inclusion of 10 percent of cassava flour in bread. Input availability and access were also supported in the framework of the ATA, which aims to make Nigeria self‑sufficient in rice. The Central Bank of Nigeria also banned importers from accessing foreign exchange markets in 41 categories of items, including rice. The ban was partially lifted in October 2015, when imports through the land borders were once again allowed after the payment of appropriate duties and charges. However, these measures amplified informal cross border imports from neighbouring coastal countries resulting in the Nigerian Customs Service to reintroduce the policy to restrict rice imports through land borders as of 25 March 2016.

Nigeria remains a food deficit country with cereal imports (mostly rice and wheat) forecast to exceed 7 million tonnes in 2016. The country is still the largest rice importer in Africa.

Food insecurity reaches extreme level in pockets of Nigeria’s Borno State1

The continued conflict in the northern part of the country has resulted in widespread disruption in agricultural and marketing activities and has caused massive displacement. According to OCHA, about 2.4 million people have been internally‑displaced. In Borno, about 124 000 new Internally‑Displaced Persons (IDPs) were discovered earlier this year in the following difficult to reach Local Government Areas (LGAs): Dikwa (52 000), Mongonu (35 000), Bama (25 000) and Damboa (9 500). In addition, as of May 2016, about 138 000 people are estimated to have left Nigeria for Niger, nearly 65 000 people have taken refuge in Cameroon and about 7 300 in Chad. The conflict has disrupted commodity movements leading to higher price levels and volatility in the northeast.

The conflict has left a significant portion of the population without access to adequate food, water and health services. The Nigerian Minister of Health has declared a “nutrition emergency” in Borno State. Acute food insecurity is widespread in northeast Nigeria, with the March 2016 Cadre Harmonisé estimating that more than 3 million people are in CH/IPC Phase 3 “Crisis” or worse and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Available information, though limited, suggests two areas of particular concern: Local Government Areas (LGAs) adjacent to the Sambisa Forest and LGAs in northern Borno. Areas of concern near the Sambisa Forest include: Bama, Damboa and Gwoza, and parts of Kaga and Konduga in eastern Borno State and Madagali LGA in northern Adamawa State. Between 15 and 21 June, five rapid assessment missions (Government of Nigeria, WFP, IOM, joint UN and MSF) visited the town of Bama, where approximately 25 000 displaced people have concentrated after being liberated from Boko Haram‑controlled areas. The visits confirmed visible malnutrition among adults and children, an extreme scarcity of food and water, very limited health facilities and a lack of functioning markets.

In northern Borno State, Abadam, Gubio, Guzamala, Kukawa, Mobbar, Nganzai and parts of Dikwa, Marte, Mafa, Ngala and Kala/Balge, LGAs remain largely inaccessible to humanitarian agencies. The severity of the food insecurity is unknown, but could be at critical levels given the impact of movement restrictions and ongoing conflict.

Additional areas of concern include greater Maiduguri and southern Yobe State. In April 2016, a joint UN assessment estimated that over 500 000 people required immediate food assistance in and around Maiduguri. In Yobe, the Boko Haram conflict has limited access to parts of Gujba, Gulani and Geidam LGAs. Though these areas are somewhat more accessible than those in Borno, households in more remote areas are likely to be in urgent need of assistance.

Improved and sustained humanitarian access to IDP populations, as well as populations located in active conflict zones, is urgently needed. This improved access should be accompanied by a substantial increase in the provision of life‑saving food, health, nutrition and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) assistance already provided by national and state emergency management agencies, NGO partners and other stakeholders. Beyond the immediate needs, livelihoods support is needed for the affected populations both within areas of limited accessibility, as well as other zones in the northeast that have seen conflict over the past several years.


1 This section draws heavily on a recent joint alert by FAO, FEWSNet, CILSS and WFP.