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Despite new harvests, staple cereal prices remain high, particularly in conflict zones.

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Central African Republic
  • October 2023
Despite new harvests, staple cereal prices remain high, particularly in conflict zones.

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Projected Outlook through May 2024
  • Key Messages
    • The security situation remains volatile in certain regions despite the drop in the number of incidents in the country, notably in the prefectures of Haute-Kotto, Haut Mbomou, Vakaga, and Ouham, where the latest clashes between rebel groups and government forces continue to claim many civilian victims. Poor households in these areas are struggling to develop their typical livelihood strategies, including gathering wild foods, handicrafts, hunting, and selling game and gathering products. These households face food consumption deficits exacerbated by high food prices, exposing them to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions.
    • The maize, groundnut, and bean harvests have been completed in almost all regions. Sorghum, millet, manioc, and rainfed rice, which are currently being harvested, will be average or above-average yields due to good rainfall levels during the winter season. Additionally, the increase in agricultural land following the reduction of insecurity in several areas (particularly in the south, center, and west of the country), has enabled several thousand internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to their places of origin. The most significant returns have been reported in the prefectures of Ouham-Pendé, Ombella M'Poko, and Ouaka.
    • Despite the maize, groundnut, and manioc harvests, commodity prices remained high. A comparison of August prices with the five-year average reveals substantial increases in the prices of basic foodstuffs. The price increases are most pronounced in the areas most affected by the conflict. Cassava prices rose by 98 percent in Birao, 99 percent in Bangassou, 130 percent in Zemio, and 131 percent in Obo, respectively. Maize price increases have been particularly high on markets in Yaloke (81 percent), Carnot (86 percent), Boda (118 percent), and Bossemptele (140 percent), respectively. Rice price increases were seen in almost all markets, with the largest increases reported in Bouca (82 percent), Bozoum (91 percent), Bria (102 percent), Paoua (192 percent), Obo (108 percent), and Zemio (153 percent), respectively.
    • The lean season, when food stocks will run low in the south of the country starting in April, will force households to rely on the market for their food. However, high prices will force poor households to develop their typical coping strategies, in particular resorting to gathering, hunting, and fishing activities, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. They will be able to meet their minimum kilocalorie requirements but will probably have difficulty meeting their essential non-food needs.

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar for the Central African Republic.

    Source: FEWS NET

    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    National
    • The security situation remains precarious in certain prefectures, notably Bamingui-Bangora, Haut-Mbomou, Ouham-Pende, and Vakaga, where sporadic clashes continue to cause numerous civilian casualties and create new IDPs.
    • An increase in the number of IDPs returning to their places of origin due to the lull in fighting.
    • Prices remain high (Figure 1 and Figure 2), and demand for food products on the markets is increasing.
    • The end of the rainy season means that the road network is more fluid and markets are better supplied.
    • Clashes between rebel groups and government forces in the Central African Republic (CAR), supported by their international partners, are likely to continue with a relative increase at the start of the dry season in November.
    • The increase in farmer-herder conflicts during transhumance (particularly in the south-east and north-west), and the persistence of security incidents linked to the presence of armed groups, will continue to limit access to typical sources of household income and food, particularly for IDPs. 
    • The depletion of family stocks will lead poor households to turn to the market for their food from February onwards, against a backdrop of high prices.

    Projected Outlook through May 2024

    Figure 1

    Rice prices in August 2022, August 2023, and the five-year average (FCFA/kilogram)
    Shows various rice prices over time in several markets in CAR.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from WFP

    The period from October 2023 to January 2024 will be marked by harvests of millet, rice, sorghum, and manioc, which will improve access to food for poor households and reduce their dependence on the market. In addition, gathering, hunting, and fishing activities, as well as artisanal diamond and gold mining, will provide a source of income and food for some poor households, enabling them to live with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. The poorest people, whose livelihood assets have been severely undermined by several years of conflict, are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. However, in areas with high insecurity linked to the presence of armed groups, such as the sub-prefectures of Haut Mbomou and Haute Kotto, households can only access their fields, gathering, hunting, or fishing areas within a 10 kilometer (or less) radius of their villages. Poor households are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. As a result, they will be forced to exhaust their livelihood assets or use crisis coping strategies. These strategies could include selling productive assets or their means of transport, or depleting their seed stocks because they lack the money to buy food.

    The period from February to May will be marked by the depletion of farmers' stocks and the increasing dependence of households on the market for their staple foods and seeds. Households will rely on gathered products such as mushrooms, and hunting and fishing products for their food. This is also the period when field activities begin: the preparation of plots for cultivation and the start of sowing. These farming activities will provide agricultural employment opportunities for poor households, who will be able to earn income in order to cope with increasing food and diesel prices. 

    Figure 2

    Cassava prices in August 2022, August 2023, and the five-year average (FCFA/kilogram)
    Shows various cassava prices over time in several markets in CAR.

    Source: FEWS NET using data from WFP

    However, the lean season (starting in April in the south) will force poor households to further reduce their consumption and adopt crisis adaptation strategies.

    The period from December through April will also be marked by the return movements of transhumant herders from the south to the north, as they move to their home territories in Sudan and Chad. As these movements often give rise to intercommunal farmer-herder conflicts, there is a risk clashes will occur during this period.

    The resurgence of rebel activity in certain areas, particularly in the east and north-west of the country with the end of the rainy season, will also have a negative impact on cross-border trade and transhumance. However, the presence of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), along with Rwandan forces and Russian fighters, should continue to deter rebel groups from carrying out large-scale operations against the national armed forces (FACA). Armed groups will, however, continue to carry out spontaneous and disruptive actions that will affect civilian populations and cause new population displacements, but likely on a smaller scale than in the past.

    According to OCHA, the total number of IDPs in CAR, as of August 31, 2023, was estimated at 488,866, of which 25 percent were living in dedicated sites and 75 percent with host families, respectively. This estimate is 5 percent lower than that of July 2023 (estimated at 514,547 people). Unfortunately, further displacements occurred in August in areas affected by violence perpetrated by armed groups, particularly in the Ouham, Lobaye, and Ouaka prefectures. However, spontaneous returns due to the improved security situation were also reported, the most significant of which occurred in the prefectures of Ouham-Pendé, Ombella M'Poko, and Ouaka.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Central African Republic Remote Monitoring Report October 2023: Despite new harvests, staple cereal prices remain high, particularly in conflict zones., 2023.

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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