Africa report 05/96 Individual countries


Area: 96 000
Climate: Southern half tropical wet, northern half tropical wet-dry; one rainy season: March- November
Population: 2.42 million (1995 estimate) (about 741 000 Liberian refugees in neighbouring
countries. G.N.P. per caput: n.a.
Specific characteristics of the country: Low-income food-deficit country; coastal country
Logistics: Ports and roads adequate
Major foodcrops: Rice, roots and tubers, oils
Marketing year: January/December; Lean season: July-August
Share of cereals in total calorie intake: 48 percent


Recent resurgence of civil strife in Monrovia after a brief spell of peace is set to aggravate the already precarious food supply situation in the country. On 6 April, serious fighting between various factions spread to the capital, Monrovia, from the Sinkor suburb in the northeast. Thousands of civilians fled their homes. It is the first time since the Abuja peace agreement in August 1995 between seven Liberian factions, that fighting is again affecting Monrovia. The present disturbances will severely undermine the fragile peace process and are likely to cause a fresh wave of population displacement. Emergency and project operations, which were generally monitored from Monrovia, will be hampered, and the planned return of refugees from neighbouring countries will be delayed.Expectations of a slight recovery in domestic production in 1996 will not be realized if fighting spreads from Monrovia to rural areas, where rice planting is underway. Even before the present disturbances, extensive and continuous population displacement had left large tracts of agricultural land deserted and insecurity in settled areas outside the ECOMOG controlled zone made it difficult for farmers to store seed for planting, and most were dependent on emergency seed distribution programmes. Insecurity also discouraged weeding and crop protection activities in several high potential settled areas. As a consequence, rice and cassava production in 1995 declined by as much as 77 percent and 50 percent respectively from levels before the civil war.Before the recent upsurge in fighting in Monrovia, although access to counties in the extreme west, the north and the east was still very insecure, roads into the interior of the country were gradually opening up and it was anticipated that people would begin to have access to market and relief food supplies and to outlets for their goods, reflecting promising signs of a growth in commercial activity and in trade in food commodities across faction lines. However, the formal export sector remained paralyzed and the country carries a heavy international debt. There is little chance of significant public sector imports in 1996. Continued large scale emergency assistance will be required throughout 1996.


Wheat Rice Coarse grains Total
Normal production - 88 1 89
Normal imports (incl. re-exports) 10 150 15 175
of which: Structural food aid 5 100 15 120
1996 Domestic availability 13 42 2 57
1995 Production - 37 1 38
Possible stock drawdown 13 5 1 19
1996 Utilization 33 222 32 287
Food use 31 219 31 281
Non-food use 2 3 1 6
1996 Import Requirement 20 180 30 230
Anticipated commercial imports 8 20 - 28
Food aid needs 12 160 30 202
of which: Exceptional - - 30 30
Current Aid Position
Food aid pledges 92 2 43 137
of which: Delivered 66 - 29 95
Estimated per caput consumption (kg/year) 7 73 8 88
1995 production as % of normal: 43
1996 import requirement as % of normal: 131
1996 food aid requirement as % of normal (including refugee needs): 168
FAO/GIEWS - April 1996