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Minimal food insecurity due to above-average harvests and normal livelihood strategies

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Liberia
  • October 2012
Minimal food insecurity due to above-average harvests and normal livelihood strategies

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Forecasts are predicting that paddy rice production levels this season will be 2.6 percent higher than last year, which was itself a good year. Rice harvests are expected to meet approximately 36 percent of Liberia's consumption needs, and imports are estimated to be sufficient to make up the gap. As a result, rice prices will remain at normal levels.  

    • As of August 2012, approximately 42,800 Ivoirian refugees remained in Liberia, with 29,000 of these households living in six camps. Refugees in camps will remain partially dependent on food assistance while in the country.

    • 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 March 2013.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • Civil insecurity in Cote d’Ivoire continues to slow voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees to their home country. Despite being involved in crop production, local labor, and trade, refugees living in camps are partially dependant on food aid.

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) initially planned to decrease the refugee population by 35,000 by the end of December 2012. However, this plan now appears unlikely to occur due to civil insecurity in Cote d'Ivoire. Refugees in camps will continue to remain partially dependent on food aid.

    Toe Town and Zwedru

    • Poor road conditions during the rainy season have led to gasoline shortages and sharp gasoline price increases of over 100 percent.
    • As the rainy season ends, gasoline prices are expected to drop. In addition, households will be less impacted by gasoline prices as the new harvests replenish their stocks and households become less dependent on the market. Gasoline prices are not projected to remain an anomaly.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013

    Across the country, cumulative rainfall totals this season have been average, resulting in a good harvest. In the southeastern counties of Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and Maryland, the harvest of upland rice is almost complete.  In other counties, the upland rice harvests are just beginning now and will end in December/January.  Current harvests are replenishing household food stocks and are resulting in lower levels of market food purchases. This coincides with the end of the lean season. The ongoing harvest of vegetables and the start of general rice harvests (October through December) continues to improve household incomes.  Food stocks from this season's harvests are expected to last approximately five months.

    The joint CILSS/FAO/FEWS NET/WFP/Government pre-harvest assessment conducted in late September estimates the 2012/13 paddy rice production at 298,178 MT, which is a 2.6 percent increase as compared to last year and 2.9 percent increase as compared to the four-year average.  Cassava production is estimated at 512,200 MT, which is 4.7 percent higher than last year and 3.8 percent above the four-year average. Liberia's national rice production accounts for about 36 percent of the country's total population needs during the 2012/13 consumption year. The food gap will be filled by normal levels of rice imports, which will reportedly be sufficient to meet local demand through next April.

    Markets are well supplied with imported rice but reduced demand due to current harvests is pushing prices below their August levels. Exceptions are Foya, Toe Town, Voinjama, and Pleebo, where prices have increased by 4-14 percent since August. Poor road access due to the rains, as well as the fact that rice harvests have not yet been marketed, are contributing to these localized price increases. In general, imported rice prices in October remain 10-28 percent higher than 2011 prices. This is partly due to China’s restrictions on rice exports in 2011, which resulted in a consumption shift over the year from predominantly Chinese butter rice to mainly parboiled rice imported from Vietnam, Brazil, Thailand, India, Pakistan, USA, and Uruguay. Due to the current harvests, prices are expected to decline through December/January and then remain stable from January through March/April.

    Gasoline prices increased slightly (3-7 percent) from August to September. However, sharp price increases of over 100 percent have been noted in Toe Town and Zwedru where poor road conditions during to the rainy season have led to gasoline shortages. So far, this has not translated into increased food prices, although it may impact imported food prices in the future. However, as households become more reliant on their own food stocks due to the harvests, the impact will be less significant. In addition, gasoline prices will likely drop once the rains stop and road conditions improve.   

    Many households also sell charcoal and palm oil to generate income. The price of charcoal on markets across the country is relatively stable. However, the market supply of palm oil, which is generally produced between February and June, is now at low levels. This low supply, along with high consumer demand, has lead to increased palm oil prices. 

    As of August 2012, approximately 42,800 Ivoirian refugees remained in Liberia, with 29,000 of these households living in six camps. By engaging locally in crop production, agricultural labor, petty trade, and mining, many refugees are improving their food security conditions. However, these refugees will remain at least partially dependent on food assistance during their stay in Liberia. Civil insecurity in Cote d’Ivoire continues to slow voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees to their home country, and the initial plan by UNHCR to decrease the refugee population by 35,000 by the end of December 2012 appears unlikely. Market functioning and agricultural production in areas hosting refugees are near average levels, and pressure on host communities is likely to be less in 2012/13 than in 2011/12.

    In general, household incomes remain average to good due to forestry product sales (ex. charcoal, wood, wild fruits, mushrooms, bush meat), farm product sales (ex. cassava, cowpea, and plantain), and by engaging in normal levels of casual labor (ex. agricultural labor, mining). This has enabled poor, market dependant households to meet essential food and non-food needs. In addition, households will continue to have access to food, due to the good harvests, through the first quarter of 2013.  Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) is expected through at least March 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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