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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 02-August-2018


  1. Planting of cereal crops ongoing under favourable weather conditions

  2. Cereal production in 2017 estimated at above-average level

  3. Prices of coarse grains remained at high levels due to weak local currency

  4. Despite continued assistance, acute food insecurity persists for over 3 million people, mostly in northeast

Favourable weather conditions allow normal progress of 2018 cropping season

Following the timely onset of seasonal rains, planting of maize and yams in the south started in February/March. Harvesting operations are expected to start in August for yams, while the newly-harvested green maize has reached some markets since June. Rice, to be harvested from October, was planted in March. Planting operations for millet and sorghum, to be harvested from September, were completed in July. Weeding activities are normally progressing in most cropped areas. Land preparation for the 2018 minor season maize crop is ongoing and planting activities are expected to be finalized in September 2018. The crop will be harvested between December 2018 and January 2019. The total rainfall amounts as at 10 July were average to above average in most areas and advanced tilling stages are already observed for cereals.

The cumulative rainfall amounts since February also generally improved pasture and water availability. However, the conflict in northeast Nigeria continues to limit the access to normal grazing land for the pastoralists in the affected areas.

Above-average cereal harvest gathered in 2017

The 2017 agricultural season was characterized by a timely onset of the rains and their good distribution and amounts in most states. Despite some localized floods, the early cessation of the rains in September 2017 and substantial outbreaks of pests (including Fall Armyworm), the country’s aggregate cereal output in 2017 is estimated at about 26 million tonnes, about 2 percent higher than the last season’s output and 12 percent above the five-year average. The 2017 harvest included 11.1 million tonnes of maize (15 percent above the average), 6.3 million tonnes of sorghum (equivalent to the average) and 7 million tonnes of rice (21 percent above the average).

Slightly above-average import requirements forecast

The country is still the largest rice importer in Africa, importing on average about 2.6 million tonnes per year. Despite the above-average 2017 production, import requirements for the 2017/18 (November/October) marketing year are set at 7.8 million tonnes, with an increase by about 7 percent compared to the previous year and about 6 percent above the average due to higher demand for human and industrial use. However, field reports indicate that the country’s capacity to import cereals (mostly rice and wheat) will be limited due to insufficient foreign exchange availability.

Prices of food remain high in northeast

Wholesale prices of coarse grains increased seasonally between May and April. In Kaura market, prices of millet increased by 13 percent due to strong demand during Ramadan and prices of maize increased by 9 percent due to sustained demand from the poultry industry. Prices of rice and sorghum were relatively stable in May, with some declines of up to 8 percent for sorghum in Lagos. However, cereal prices in May 2018 remained generally lower than one year earlier, up to 25-30 percent lower in Lagos and Kano markets due to the good performance of the 2017 season. In the northeast, prices were more elevated than in the other markets of the country due to the persisting conflict. In some markets, including Marte, Abadam and Guzamala in Borno State, most trade activities remain interrupted.

Strong economic growth projected, food price inflation decreasing

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the economy is forecast to grow by about 2 percent in 2018 due to the sustained growth in agriculture, industrial investments and services, including communications. The inflation rate, year-on-year, was estimated at about 12 percent in 2018, down from 16 percent in 2017 due to a slowdown in the prices of food, housing and utilities.

Although most macro-economic indicators continue to improve and foreign exchange reserves continue to grow as global crude oil prices increase, the depreciation of the Naira against the regional and international currencies continues to affect the trade flows with neighbouring countries. This situation is causing a reduction of imports from neighbouring countries, in particular for livestock and cash crops including cowpeas, sesame and nutmeg.

Despite some improvements in security conditions, about 3 million remain food insecure

As of May 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) identified over 1.8 million people that have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in the northeast, including Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba states. The most displaced households are heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance, as market disruptions, restricted agricultural activities and above-average staple prices have severely limited their coping strategies.

According to the March 2018 ‘’Cadre Harmonisé’’ analysis, about 2.3 million people were estimated to be in need of food assistance in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states between March and May 2018 compared to the 3 million in October-December 2017. The reduced caseload is largely due to a sustained delivery of food assistance by humanitarian actors to a monthly average of 2.25 million people in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states since March 2017 and increased livelihood activities in some liberated communities in the North East arising from FAO’s agriculture livelihood support assistance to the returnees and IDPs. Nevertheless, the caseload is projected to return to 3 million during the June to August period if mitigation measures are not taken.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.