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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 12-October-2023


  1. Cereal output in 2023 forecast at above‑average level

  2. Prices of coarse grains higher year on year

  3. Over 412 000 people acutely food insecure during 2023 lean season

Cereal output in 2023 forecast at above average level

In southern bimodal rainfall areas, harvesting of the 2023 main season maize crop and rainfed rice was concluded by the end of September. Weather conditions were overall conducive between March and July 2023, supporting good yield expectations. Planting of the second season maize crop was completed by the end of September.

In northern unimodal rainfall areas, rainfall amounts were generally below average between March and July 2023. Abundant rainfall in August and September improved soil moisture conditions in most producing areas, supporting the establishment and development of the 2023 millet, sorghum and maize crops. However, rainfall amounts were below average during these two months in parts of Alibori Region, with a negative impact on crop development in localized areas. Harvesting operations have just started and will finalize in November.

According to the latest weather forecast by the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), average to above average rainfall amounts are expected between October and November over most cropping areas, benefitting the establishment and development of second season maize crops, but also heightening the risk of flooding at harvest time in the country’s northern areas.

The 2023 aggregate cereal production is forecast at 2.4 million tonnes, 6 percent above the previous year’s level and 9 percent above the five‑year average, reflecting an increase in the planted area as well as good yields due to overall conducive weather conditions.

Prices of coarse grains higher year-on-year

Retail prices of locally produced maize remained generally stable between January and May 2023, while prices of local sorghum declined by up to 15 percent during the same period. During the 2023 lean season, between June and August, prices of both maize and sorghum increased by about 15 to 25 percent across the country. In August, prices of maize were between 10 and 20 percent higher year‑on‑year, while prices of sorghum were 25 percent above their year‑earlier levels.

The high prices of cereals reflect the elevated prices of fuel and agricultural inputs, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, inflating production and transport costs. In addition, transport costs have increased due to the high cost of informal imports of fuel from Nigeria following the removal of the fuel subsidy in that country last May.

Over 412 000 people acutely food insecure during 2023 lean season

According to the latest Cadre Harmonisé (CH) analysis, over 412 000 people were estimated to face acute food insecurity during the June to August 2023 lean season period, including nearly 10 400 people in CH Phase 4 (Emergency). This shows a substantial decrease in the number of acutely food insecure people compared to the previous year, when about 830 000 people were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance. However, this improvement may be partly due to variations in the geographical coverage between the 2022 and 2023 analyses.

In February 2022, the government implemented several measures with the aim to improve the food access of vulnerable households, including the adoption of export taxes on basic food commodities, exemption of the Valued added tax (VAT) for imported and locally produced basic food products and reduction of custom duties on imported food products. These measures are still in place and are expected to remain until further notice.

The spread of violence by non‑state armed groups from central Sahel into northern areas of the country, mainly the regions of Atacora and Alibori, remains a cause for serious concern for the security situation of these areas. Insecurity also poses a threat to economic activities as the northern regions are the primary producers of cotton, Benin’s main cash crop.

New CH estimates of the number of people facing acute food insecurity in the last quarter of 2023 are expected to be released by the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) in late November 2023.

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.

This brief was prepared using the following data/tools:

FAO/GIEWS Country Cereal Balance Sheet (CCBS) .

FAO/GIEWS Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Tool .

FAO/GIEWS Earth Observation for Crop Monitoring .

Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) .