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The official final gross cereal production figures for 2021/22 were close to the December 2021 projections, closing a little over 73 million metric tons (MT) for the whole region, a contraction of two percent from last year (2020/21), and an increase of three percent compared to the five-year average (2016/17 to 2020/21). However, unlike most Coastal areas, production dropped significantly in the Sahel due to poor climatic conditions, high input prices, and insecurity. Sorghum and millet production particularly declined (Figure 1). Moreover, the official above average production for roots and tubers and cash crops was revised slightly upwards.
West Africa maintained its gross self-sufficiency with coarse grains (maize, millet, sorghum, and fonio) in the 2021/22 marketing year, but the estimated gross marketable surplus will be significantly lower than average. Moreover, regional reliance on international rice and wheat imports will be above average (Figure 2). Regional exposure to the global supply disruptions and price spikes will deepen further for those commodities.
Staple food prices increased sharply above average, nearing or surpassing record levels in most countries. These trends, observed prior to the Ukraine crisis, are due to several factors, including below-average production in much of the Sahel, faster than normal depletion of stocks and subsequent intensified domestic and export demand, insecurity hindering trade in numerous conflict hotspots, lingering COVID-19 impacts on shipping, currency depreciation, cross-border trade
restrictions, and surging transport costs. Moreover, soaring prices of fertilizers could affect the upcoming main rainfed crop season in major producing countries and aggravate tensions on the markets. As a result, a difficult lean season with new record price levels is expected, constraining food access for poor and very poor households.
The Ukraine crisis poses moderate to high food security concerns to countries of the region, as it has resulted in a fraught rise in global commodity, fuel, and fertilizer prices, inducing additional and generalized inflationary trends. The region has also been dealing with political instabilities and stalemates from coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Chad.