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Post-Ebola economic recovery promotes good food security conditions

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Guinea
  • February - September 2016
Post-Ebola economic recovery promotes good food security conditions

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • The increased rice production during the 2015/2016 season, an estimated 11.75 percent above the five-year average, indicates that poor households have larger than normal available food stocks. The nationwide growth in crop production and good market supplies will promote good food availability and maintain food prices in line with normal seasonal trends.

    • The post-Ebola recovery in agriculture, livestock-raising, and fishing activities and the resuming of trade on local and export markets will generate normal income levels for poor households. With good food access, most of the country’s population will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between now and September 2016.

    • However, certain households who lost family members or who are still coping with the residual effects of Ebola (stigmatism surrounding affected households and affected areas, rebuilding livelihoods disrupted by the Ebola outbreak such as the sale of bush meat, etc.) risk being in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity during the lean season (June to the beginning of September). However, their numbers will not reach the 20 percent threshold in any area.

    National Overview
    Current situation
    Agricultural conditions

    Cereal production for the 2015/2016 growing season has increased 15 percent from last year and 28 percent from the five-year average. All types of crop production experienced sizeable gains during the 2015/2016 season. Cassava, peanut, fonio, and maize production increased 7.14 percent, 16.6 percent, 5.57 percent, and 4.13 percent, respectively, from the same period in 2015.

    Rice production, the mainstay of Guinean households, was estimated at 2,047,365 metric tons by ANASA (the National Food and Agricultural Statistics Bureau), which is 3.90 percent above the previous season and 11.75 percent above the five-year average. This improvement in rice production was achieved despite predators’ (particularly agoutis) devastation of rice fields. Their numbers multiplied during the Ebola crisis given that their consumption was prohibited.

    Accordingly, household income from cash crop sales are average. The resuming of agricultural activities for the 2015/2016 growing season, reinforced by assistance from the government and its partners, and the renewal of marketing activities for cash crops (potatoes, palm oil, kola nuts, coffee, cacao, market garden produce, etc.) at the end of 2015 are enabling poor households to meet their food needs.

    Agricultural labor

    Agricultural production activities (the rice harvest and off-season market gardening activities) have concluded and, consequently, a large portion of the workforce has returned to the mining areas (Dinguiraye, Siguiri, Mandiana, and Kérouane) to look for gold or diamonds. The peak of the Ebola crisis saw a sharp increase in the already heavy flow of labor migration to gold mining areas (Dinguiraye, Siguiri, and Mandiana), which were less affected by the Ebola outbreak and afforded good income-earning opportunities during the disruption of other livelihoods. The scarcity of labor compared to its demand is due to urbanization, which worsened  during the Ebola crisis as rural laborers fled. As a result, rural labor costs have doubled in the last three years.

    Pastoral conditions

    The regular rainfall during the 2015 rainy season restored pastures and prompted the physical recovery of livestock. Despite the reduction of livestock services during the peak of the Ebola crisis when certain diseases were no longer controlled for, animal health conditions are currently stable. Prices for small ruminants have normalized with marketing activities resuming on major livestock markets. Livestock prices are on par with price levels in an average year such as 2013 during the same period.

    Fishing conditions

    Fishing activities in certain communities were limited during the Ebola crisis, particularly in prefectures in Guinea’s forest zone following a mass out-migration of Guinean fishermen from other regions and foreign fishermen from Mali, Gambia, Ghana, and Senegal. Both maritime and inland fishing activities normally resumed for households engaged in small-scale fishing after Ebola dissipated at the end of 2015, although certain foreigners are reportedly slow to return to these areas. Fishing from maritime as well as inland fishing activities have been plentiful in rivers and major streams across the country during the current dry season. These levels of fish are in line with a normal year.

    Market supplies and prices

    The nationwide Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015 caused crop prices in rural areas to decline due to the restrictions on the movement of people and goods. Crop prices in all parts of the country have currently diminished slightly due to the plentiful market supplies compared with last year. Market supplies are superior to the same period last year and in line with an average year due to average crop production and significant stocks of rice imported by importers. For two consecutive years (2014 and 2015), rice imports achieved record-high levels (500,000 metric tons) driven by extremely good international market prices, favorable customs treatment, and, in particular, the need to prevent possible shortages during the peak of the Ebola outbreak.

    Accordingly, as of February 2016, prices for locally grown rice on the Conakry market were stable at 5000 GNF/kg compared to 5500 GNF/kg in 2015 and 5000 GNF/kg in 2014 during the same time period. Prices for both local and imported rice on other markets across the country are also currently stable (Figure 1). The same holds true for prices of palm oil, whose harvest season began in February 2016. Maize, millet, sorghum, and fonio are symbolically present on all markets, although there is not much demand except in Upper Guinea where these crops are dietary staples.

    Current market supplies of cassava are reportedly better than last year. Market supplies of yams are currently low, which is normal for this time of year since it is not the marketing season for this crop. Plantain supplies are near-normal, particularly on markets in the country’s forest zone.

    Both rural and urban markets are well supplied in fish. Fish prices are in line with a normal year and were only slightly affected by the Ebola outbreak.

    Livestock prices are currently relatively stable. Despite their slight decline during the Ebola crisis with the restrictions on domestic trade and the disruption in trade with Mali (one of the main suppliers of small ruminants for the city of Conakry), prices for cattle, sheep, and goats are similar to price levels in a normal year such as 2013. On the other hand, the scarce market supplies of animal by-products in 2014 and 2015 drove their prices up by more than 15 percent, and the continued high demand for the past several years is maintaining them at this level.

    Domestic and cross-border trade

    Though still below-normal, domestic food trade flows are more significant than in 2015, driven by the renewal of economic activity following the dissipation of Ebola. In addition, the Guinean government has recently taken important steps to facilitate commodity shipments around the country by limiting roadblocks and checkpoints to a strategic number to prevent harassment, major time losses, and the perception of excessive user charges.

    During the Ebola crisis, cross-border trade was extremely limited following border closures of all neighboring countries except Mali. However, all borders have been officially open since the end of 2015, and cross-border trade in crops between Guinea and its neighbors is slowly expanding.

    Nutritional situation

    Based on the SMART survey conducted in June 2015 (during the lean season), the breakdown of global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates by administrative region was as follows: Boké 8.3 percent; Labé 7.4 percent; Kindia 7.9 percent; Mamou 7.1 percent; Faranah 8.7 percent; Kankan 9.3 percent; and N’Zérékoré 6.8 percent. These rates are similar to figures from the same period in 2012. The normal supply and availability of cereals, livestock, and fish during the current post-harvest period in 2016 are improving the nutritional situation of households in both rural and urban areas. During the same period in 2015, these products were rare in markets and more expensive. In addition, the more frequent usage of health services since the end of the Ebola crisis is improving health and nutrition.

    Other important factors

    Food security situation

    The increased crop production, the good opportunities for agricultural labor, the stable food prices that are near pre-Ebola levels, the post-Ebola recovery in farming, livestock-raising, and fishing activities, and the renewal of trade on local and export markets will maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in most of the country.


    The most likely scenario for February through September 2016 is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • Rainfall:  According to an analysis of NOAA, ECMWF IRI, and UK MET seasonal forecast models, below-average levels of total rainfall for the start-of-season (between March and May 2016) and average rainfall levels for the rest of the season are expected. Thus, rainfall will be sufficient for normal crop growth and development with a normal distribution throughout the growing season.

    • Crop production for 2016/2017: Despite the rapid proliferation of crop predators (particularly agoutis) with the potential to limit rice yields, the good weather conditions and the assistance provided by the government and its partners in the form of inputs and farm equipment are raising expectations for an average overall 2016/2017 crop production. As usual, market garden production for the Liberian and Sierra Leonean markets will be intensified between February and May 2016.

    Sources of food and income
    • Food stocks: This year’s increased local crop production, particularly rice, will give farming households average food stocks through the month of May, similarly to a normal year.

    • Livestock production: The resuming of livestock activities and cross-border markets disrupted by the Ebola crisis indicate average income levels from the buying and selling of animals on livestock markets.

    • Fishing activities: The resumption of fishing activities will allow an improved fishing season compared to 2015 although it will remain slightly below-normal. Fishing levels by poor households engaged in small-scale fishing activities will be above-average given the proliferation of fish ponds around the country in the last few years, particularly in the forest zone, which had been abandoned during the Ebola crisis. As usual, fishing activities will slow with the beginning of the heavy rains (at the end of June until September), which will limit the size of catches and increase prices during that period.

    • Migration: As in a normal year, a large part of the labor force will head to mining areas (Kéroune, Siguiri, Mandiana, and Dinguiraye) to look for gold or diamonds during the dry season (from December through the end of April). Compared to 2013, migration rates will be higher but will be less than in 2014/2015 given the restart of economic activity in the workers’ areas of origin. As usual, the migration will continue through March/April 2016 until the start-up of farming activities. Income-generation from diamond or gold mining activities will be near normal.

    • Farm labor: After doubling over the last three years as a result of urbanization and worsening from the flight of labor during the Ebola crisis, labor costs will remain high as able-bodied workers continue to be drawn to large cities. In addition, market gardening activities will be average during the dry season (between December to the end of May). These activities remain an important income source, particularly in the country’s forest zone where many different farming activities exist.
    • Wild plant products: Income levels from wild plant sales (shea nuts, African locust beans, etc.) will increase from last year’s levels when these activities were virtually suspended. They will also be higher than usual as these products continue to gain popularity in large cities, which will help improve household income. 

    • Humanitarian assistance: The continued assistance from the government and its development partners in the form of seeds, fertilizer, plant protection products, inputs for livestock activities, and small farm equipment after the Ebola crisis will furnish poor Ebola-stricken households with more assistance than usual.

    • Loans: As usual, certain poor households will resort to cash or in-kind loans during the lean season (June through August) repayable in kind at harvest time (end of September to December), incurring near-normal levels of debt.
    • Market supplies: Markets will be well stocked with foodstuffs during the outlook period (February to September 2016) from a steady stream of massive rice imports and existing household stocks of other cereal crops such as sorghum and millet (which are more widely consumed in Upper Guinea). These stocks will be reinforced by harvests of fonio, maize, cassava, and short-cycle rice crops in September. A steady influx of rice imports will be driven by the highly advantageous world market prices and favorable customs treatment.

    • Crop Prices: Crop prices will remain stable through September given the stability of imported rice prices with slightly upwards tendencies between July and August at the height of the lean season.

    • Livestock Prices: Livestock prices will approach normal levels with the renewal of trade on domestic markets. Livestock prices with rise normally with the approach of religious celebrations in July/September 2016. Meat prices will range from 18,000 to 20,000 GNF/kg in rural areas and will be approximately 33,000 GNF/kg on markets in the capital. These prices will remain stable for the entire year.

    • Fish prices: The large availability of fresh and dried fish will keep prices stable through the end of May 2016. Prices will rise between June and September 2016 with the normal heavy rains and strong sea winds during this period, which will limit fishing activities.

    • Cross-border trade: Cross-border trade in crops will continue to slowly resume throughout the outlook period (February to September). The resumption of trade with neighboring countries will help households sell their crops on domestic and cross-border markets.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    At present, households still have food stocks from recent harvests, which could last for two to three months, or through the end of May 2016. This crop production should enable households to meet their food needs and sell their surplus crops to meet other basic needs until the next round of harvests. Accordingly, most households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. Households infected by the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015 who lost their manual labor workforce members, those whose livelihoods were destroyed by the stigma surrounding the Ebola outbreak or those who need to rebuild their disrupted livelihoods (bush meat vendors, etc.) will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity during the lean season (June to September) despite receiving assistance. However, their numbers will not reach the 20 percent threshold in any area of the country.


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, February 2016

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, February 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1: Price of a sack of local rice and imported rice compared to previous years (in GNF)

    Figure 3

    Figure 1: Price of a sack of local rice and imported rice compared to previous years (in GNF)

    Source: FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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