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Minimal food insecurity expected despite below-average local rice production

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Liberia
  • November 2013
Minimal food insecurity expected despite below-average local rice production

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected outlook through March 2014
  • Key Messages
    • The joint CILSS/FEWS NET/FAO/WFP/Government mission conducted in September estimated that 2013/14 crop production would be below average. However, ongoing imports of parboiled rice from international markets will offset the effects of this below-average production and will ensure a continuation of normal market supply. Food prices on local markets are expected to remain stable.

    • Relative price stability, coupled with normal livelihood strategies, will enable households to meet their essential food and non-food needs. Poor households are expected to be food secure (IPC Phase 1) through at least March 2014.

     

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Southeast

    • 57,724 Ivorian refugees are residing within Liberia. Of this refugee population, approximately 21,000 are living in camps and remain partially dependent on food assistance.
    • Refugees living with host families in local communities will continue to improve their living conditions by participating in cropping and/or income-generating activities. However, those in camps will continue to partially rely on food assistance.

     


    Projected outlook through March 2014

    While a harvest assessment was not conducted in Liberia this year, production estimates from the joint CILSS/FAO/FEWS NET/WFP/Government pre-harvest assessment, conducted in late September, have recently been updated based on new information from the field. These updated estimates indicate 2013/14 rice production to be approximately 269,550 MT, representing a 9 percent drop compared to last year and a 7 percent drop compared to the five-year average. Several factors contributing to this below-average production include poor temporal rainfall distribution during the rainy season, a reduction in fertilizer distributions by FAO compared to 2012/2013 levels, and a decline in labor availability as many laborers have turn towards mining activities. Production for cassava, another staple crop that is generally more drought tolerant, was estimated to be 492,470 MT, which is 1.5 percent above last year’s levels and similar to the five-year average. While during a normal year, local rice production covers approximately 35 to 40 percent of Liberia’s total rice needs, local production this year will only cover 32 percent of needs. However, the expected food gap will be sufficiently filled by rice imports from international markets.

    With harvests of upland rice nearly completed in southeastern counties, such as Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and Maryland, land preparation activities for off-season vegetable production, whose harvests will occur in March/April 2014, have begun. In other rural counties, upland and lowland rice harvests are ongoing and will continue through January. For poor households who normally earn income from either rice sales or from working as laborers on better-off households’ farms, this year’s decline in rice production likely caused a reduction in household incomes. However, other typical livelihood activities, including hunting/trapping, charcoal and palm oil sales, and casual labor work on rubber plantations, are continuing and are providing households with normal levels of food and income.

    The national average retail price for a 50kg bag of imported parboiled rice (L$364) was relatively stable between August and September. However in southeastern and central areas, rice prices fell 14 to 15 percent as harvests in these areas occur slightly earlier than in other areas of the country, reducing local market demand. Compared to September 2012 levels, imported rice prices fell 10 percent, on average nationally, but up to 22 percent on certain markets. This decline is due to decreasing rice prices on international markets and the government’s decision to suspend rice import tariffs at the beginning of 2013. The value of the Liberian dollar against the US dollar and the Euro has been steadily falling since July 2013 but so far, does not appear to be impacting imported rice prices within the country.

    The majority of Ivorian refugees, who are residing outside of camps and within local communities, are active in crop production and other income-generating activities, and are not facing any major difficulties meeting their consumption needs. However, refugees residing in camps are less able to participate in these types of activities and will, in general, continue to rely partially on humanitarian food assistance.

    Despite below-average rice production this year, stable prices for imported rice and relatively normal incomes from most sources will enable poor households to continue to meet their essential food and non-food needs. Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) is expected through at least March 2014.

    Figures Figure 1. Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Price of 50kg bag of parboiled rice on markets in Liberia

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Price of 50kg bag of parboiled rice on markets in Liberia

    Source: WFP Liberia

    Figure 3

    Source:

    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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