Food Coalition

Humanitarian response Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Liberia

Following the first cases of COVID-19 in Liberia, the Government progressively put in place a series of urgent and essential measures to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, including the closure of schools, businesses and borders (both internal and with other countries), and movement restrictions for people and the transportation of goods. While critical, these measures have had indirect negative impacts. Although certain exemptions were made in May regarding measures linked to production, distribution and marketing of food, medicine, essential staff and fuel stations, overall the agriculture sector has been significantly affected. Land preparation and planting of rice (during AprilJune) require labour and access to inputs, which were both affected by the containment measures. Moreover, scarcity of seeds, fertilizers and machinery in several counties have delayed planting and will likely affect production. To overcome these shortages, many farmers managed to cross borders, but with the risk of higher exposure to the virus.

Moreover, the import of animals from neighbouring countries, as well as animal feed, was suspended due to health-related border closures, leading to a shortage of meat and increase in prices. Poultry farmers suffered particularly from the lack of feed, usually imported from Guinea, as well as day-old chicks also usually imported from neighbouring countries.

Prior to the pandemic, market prices had already increased due to the depreciation of the exchange rate. In March 2020, cereal prices were nearly 65 percent higher than the five-year average.

From March to May, food prices increased further for all key food commodities monitored due the restrictions in place, as well as farm gates prices from the beginning of May. Despite efforts to ease the transportation of food commodities, prices have not yet stabilized. The marketing of cash crops, which are essential to farmers’ livelihoods, cocoa coffee and rubber, was also significantly disrupted.

Populations’ income and purchasing power have thus been affected, in particular for vulnerable farming households. With the economic deterioration reported in early 2020, the effects of COVID-19 restrictions, the start of the lean season (June–September) and the limited expected outcome of the main agricultural season, food insecurity is expected to significantly deteriorate.

Priority Areas of work: Global Humanitarian Response Plan
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Level: Country
Country: Liberia
Budget: USD 5.8 million

Action Sheet:  Lib_cb0314en.pdf

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