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Minimal food insecurity expected through at least next June

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Liberia
  • January 2013
Minimal food insecurity expected through at least next June

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Rice production during Liberia's 2012/13 cropping season was 2.6 percent higher than last year's levels and 2.9 percent higher than the four-year average. This slightly above average harvest, coupled with normal levels of rice imports, will be sufficient to meet Liberia's food needs during the 2012/13 consumption year. 

    • In January 2013, the government of Liberia extended the executive order that suspended rice import tariffs. As a result, imported rice prices will likely remain stable with little variation over the upcoming months.

    • The Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) reports that, as of January 2013, approximately 66,871 Ivorian refugees are living within Liberia (38,494 in refugee camps). This refugee population has remained stable since July. Despite engaging in various income-generating activities, refugees living within camps will remain partially dependent on food assistance while in Liberia.

    • This season's good harvests, coupled with normal livelihood strategies, will allow households to meet essential food and non-food needs. Households are expected to be food secure (IPC Phase 1) through at least June 2013.

    ZONECURRENT ANOMALIESPROJECTED ANOMALIES
    National
    • Attacks in southern Cote d’Ivoire in December continue to discourage Ivorian refugees from returning to their country. Despite being involved in crop production and local labor and trade activities, refugees living in camps are partially dependant on food assistance. 
    • The majority of the 66,871 Ivorian refugees living within Liberia (38,494 in refugee camps) will likely stay in Liberia through at least next June. Refugees in camps will continue to remain partially dependent on food assistance.

     


    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    In the southeastern counties of Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and Maryland, rice harvests ended in October, replenishing household food stocks and leading to lower levels of market food purchases. In these areas, land preparation activities have been ongoing since November for the next upland rice and vegetables planting season, which starts in April. In other counties of the country, rice harvests were completed in December and land preparation has begun in January at low levels. National 2012/13 paddy rice production levels have been estimated at 298,178 MT, which is a 2.6 percent increase compared to last year and a 2.9 percent increase as compared to the four-year average. In addition, the ongoing harvests of plantains (in central and southern Liberia) and other tubers (throughout the country) are improving household food access and incomes. Food stocks from this season's harvests are expected to last a normal, five months.

    In Lofa and parts of Bong counties, which are major rice producing areas of the country, markets are currently dominated by locally-milled rice. Meanwhile in the rest of the country, markets are primarily supplied with rice imports. Reduced market demand as households currently consume their own food stocks and improved market supply as farmers sell a portion of their local rice production to earn cash income, have caused imported rice prices to decline below their November levels. These price declines have ranged from 3 percent in Monrovia and Voinjama to 15 percent in Foya. Compared to last year's levels, imported rice prices in December remained 2 to 14 percent below 2011 levels. However, two exceptions are Pleebo and Buchanan where rice prices displayed a 23 and 41 percent annual increase, respectively. Given that the government of Liberia recently extended an executive order suspending import tariffs on rice, imported rice prices are expected to remain at normal and stable levels during this consumption year.

    In general, gasoline prices in December were about 3 to 15 percent lower than in November and were 4 to 15 percent higher than last year. However, higher annual price increases were noted in Foya (28 percent) and in Zwedru (32 percent). As of December, gasoline price increases have not translated into higher staple food prices since most households are relying on their own production at this time.

    According to the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), there was 66,871 Ivorian refugees living in Liberia as of January 3, 2013. Of this population, 38,494 are living within camps. There has been no significant variation in the refugee population since November 2011 (36,188 refugees in camps in November 2011 compared to 38,494 refugees in January 2013), suggesting that the voluntary repatriation which started in early 2011 has been compromised by continued insecurity in western and southern Cote d'Ivoire. Many refugees in Liberia are improving their basic shelters to semi-permanent concrete structures provided by UNHCR and other partners, and are improving their food security conditions through income-generating activities such as crop production, agricultural labor, petty trade, the selling of forestry products, mining, and transportation services. However, these refugees will remain at least partially dependent on food assistance while in Liberia. According to the WFP, its food assistance pipeline will be sufficient to meet refugees and host communities' needs through next May. Market functioning and agricultural production in areas hosting refugees are near average levels, and pressure on host communities is likely to be less this year than in 2011/12.

    At this time, Liberian households are selling charcoal, palm nuts/oil, bush meat, and plantains to generate income. In December, the price of charcoal was 4 to 22 percent higher than last year, improving poor households' income levels. Palm oil is generally produced between the months of February and June and as a result, market supply of palm oil is now at seasonally low levels. This low supply, coupled with high consumer demand, has lead to palm oil price increases of about 5-55 percent in December compared to last year. The highest annual price increases were observed in Foya (40 percent) and Voinjama (47 percent), which are both markets close to Guinea where demand is strong, and in Zwedru in the southeast (55 percent).

    This season's good harvests, coupled with normal livelihood strategies, will allow households to meet essential food and non-food needs. Households are expected to be food secure (IPC Phase 1) through at least June 2013.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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