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Market and livelihoods disruptions continue in northeast Nigeria

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • January - June 2015
Market and livelihoods disruptions continue in northeast Nigeria

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Conflicted affected households in northeastern Nigeria continue to experience difficulty in meeting their essential food and nonfood needs. Main and dry season cultivation is significantly impacted and households are not able to off-set their low harvests through market purchase. Areas worst affected by conflict will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least June.

    • Many households in the conflict affected northeast have fled their homes and are in urban centers in the northeast, in neighboring states, or have fled to neighboring countries. The number of IDPs in Nigeria is expected to continue to increase as conflict persists across the region.

    • At the national level, though, the main 2014 harvest is expected to have been average to above average, contributing to increased food availability and access. With most households also earning typical seasonal incomes and market purchase prices for key staples relatively average to below-average, most of the country is expected to be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity through at least June.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    The main harvest for the major staples and cash crops, including cereals, tubers and legumes, concluded in January across the country. Both FEWS NET seasonal monitoring and NAERLS annual production performance survey report indicate that this year’s harvest is average to above average at the national level.  Generally, harvests from the main season are ensuring continued availability and access to household food needs as most households are consuming their own stocks, while depending less on markets for their needs. Poor households in the north of the country have their stocks of major staples which include new millet, maize and sorghum. Stocks for poor households in the south are made up of maize, cassava and yams. The generally good national harvest has also been contributing to increased staple food and cash crop supplies on both rural and urban markets, impacting staple food prices as they are at their seasonal low. New harvest stocks for agricultural households and low staple food prices for households that are more market dependent are leading to improved food availability, diversity and access throughout most of the country.

    Activities for the dry season continue across the country. Households in the south are engaged normally in land preparation activities for maize and cash crop vegetables. As is typical for this time of the year in the north, households are either planting or have crops (mainly rice and vegetables) already at the vegetative stage, depending on the area. In addition to increasing food stocks through harvest, dry season farming activities also contribute significantly to seasonal incomes through crop sale and wage labor revenues.

    This year there is generally an increase in dry season farming for much of the country compared to past years due largely to sustained support from the national government in terms of media advocacy and farm inputs. Programs are mainly driven by the Growth Enhancement Support project (GES), a component of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Policy (ATAP) and implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. There is a marked increase in dry season farming activities in the north of the country (excluding the northeast) of about 40 percent in land under cultivation compared to previous years. Though the support is skewed in favour of rice production, many farmers are also engage in vegetable production.

    In northeast Nigeria, however, the persisting Boko Haram conflict continues to limit agricultural activity and access to income. Insurgents are operating a cross-border territorial control which extends across Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Across Borno, southern Yobe, and northern Adamawa main season harvests at the end of 2014, which would have typically contribute significantly to household food stocks, were very below-average. Parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa that are less affected by conflict also registered cropping deficits. Information gathered during FEWS NET assessments to Borno, Yobe and Adamawa and to neighboring areas, and key informant interviews have indicated that poor households that remain in areas highly affected by conflict would have very little harvest stocks. Households were unable to fully exploit their land and/or not able to harvest because of fear of attack. In northeastern Borno, below-average rainfall also contributed to below-average cultivation.

    Dry season agriculture and fishing is being similarly impacted by the conflict in northeast Nigeria. Households, particularly those in Borno, southern Yobe and northern Adamawa more significantly impacted by the conflict, are not participating at

    the levels they would normally in dry season activities. This is contributing to a further decrease in seasonal incomes and will also lead to low dry season harvest yields.

    While a significant number of people remain in the northeast exposed to the conflict, many households are displaced both inside and outside the region. In northeastern Nigeria, IDPs reside settlements or with the host communities in major urban areas. Other displaced households have fled to neighboring states in Nigeria or to neighboring countries.

    The actual population of IDPs is unknown for a combination of reasons, including how spread across the region they are, security challenges in the northeast, and difficulties with registration. In mid-January 2015 the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMA) indicated they are tracking more than 850,000 IDPs from conflict in the northeast. Estimates from partner agencies indicate the actual number of internally displaced may be much larger. NEMA currently manages 20 officially protected camps in the northeast hosting more than 100,000 IDPs, with the remainder of IDPs in host communities. IDPs currently rely on food assistance from government and donor agencies, but community assistance still significantly supports IDPs across the northeast.

    Cattle rustling and communal conflicts in part of the north central states of Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa and Benue continues in January. This has forced many pastoralists to move southwards earlier than usual and has impacted the local livestock trade. Affected pastoralists are likely to see a decline in their seasonal revenues.

    At the national level, the seasonal increase in supply of staple foods to markets and correspondingly low market demand continues to maintain lower prices of food items on most markets monitored. For example, in December, prices of white gari reduced by about 8 and 35 percent, respectively compared to previous November and same time last year on Bodija market in Ibadan. The price of gari is also down against the five-year average by about 28 percent on the same market. Yam price also are also low, down by 15 and 72 percent, respectively on Ibadan and Lagos markets, relative to the same time last year. In the north on Dawanau market, in Kano state, millet and sorghum prices reduced by 5 and 19 percent, respectively when compared to November. Similar price trends are observed on most markets in surplus production areas.

    However, in the conflict prone areas in the northeast, particularly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, markets are strongly impacted by the conflict (Figure 1). Major assembly and cross border markets, including Gamboru Ngala, Banki, Baga and Damasak in Borno State are not functioning. Similarly, markets such as Gujba, Buniyadi, Goniri, Mbarero (Yobe state) and Michika, Madagali, Uba, Garkida (Adamawa state) are also not functioning. In addition several other markets within the three states are functioning at below normal levels. Consequently, staple food and livestock trade flows within and outside these states have been significantly restricted. Markets stocks are further limited by the significantly below-average local production. This is leading to above-average food prices which are also high relative to neighboring areas. On Monday market in Maiduguri, millet and sorghum (key staples) sold for NGN6,875/100 kg and NGN6,625/100 kg, respectively in December, while on Gombe market the same commodities sold for NGN5,075 and NGN4,150/100 kg respectively.

    On January 21st the government through the Minister of Agriculture confirmed an outbreak of bird flu in an original seven states across the country, which further increased to a total of 11 states. The states include Kano, Lagos, Ogun, Plateau, Delta, Edo, Oyo, Jigawa, Gombe, Imo and Rivers. Kano state is worst affected and five local governments have been identified to have birds infected with the H5N1 virus. However, measures by the government in collaboration with major stakeholders have been put in place to curtail the spread of the virus.


    The most likely scenario for the January to June 2015 Outlook is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • Civil insecurity: The Boko Haram conflict in northeast Nigeria continues and will likely be further aggravated by coming elections in February. Elections in past years have seen associated outbreaks of violence. Regional efforts by ECOWAS, AU and neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon are growing to deploy troops and intensify surveillance against the insurgents.
    • Dry season production: For most of the county, dry season crop production is expected to be at least average. In northern parts of the country impacted by communal/cattle rustling or Boko Haram conflict, though, dry season production and associated revenues will be significantly below-average. In these areas in the north, dry season activities would contribute heavily to food access in a typical year. In The Lake Chad Basin, low water levels following poor 2014 rainfall will also limit dry season activities in the northeast.
    • Cash crop sales: Cash crops sales (e.g. cowpea, soybeans, melon seeds, groundnut) will increase between January and March, with expectedly average seasonal incomes for most households due to favorable sale prices. For households that participate dry season farming, market vegetable sales (e.g. onions, tomatoes, peppers) will also contribute typically to seasonal incomes with harvests beginning around March. Rice and maize will also continue to be sold throughout the dry season. Dry season crop sales are expected to peak as they typically do in April/May.
    • Wage labor: Agricultural labor incomes in the north will continue to be low because of the limited labor opportunities in the northeast. In the rest of the country, labor demand will increase normally in March/April when dry season harvest peaks and land preparation commences for the main cultivation season.
    • Market food supply/demand: Food supply levels are generally expected to be normal due to the relatively good local harvests and good trade flows between deficit and surplus producing areas. Food availability will increase again with dry season crops harvests, particularly from April to May. Traders will continue to replenish their stocks between January and March. Also through March, Poultry farmers are expected to continue their purchases for maize as malting companies continue to procure sorghum. The national government will be replenishing its security stocks between January and March as well. Beginning in May/June, markets will be supplied in a large parts by traders and less by farmer stocks.  Household market demand will also begin to increase around this time as own production stocks are depleted. In areas of the country that are typically deficit producing for cereals and tubers, the return to market purchase can occur as early as January. In northeast Nigeria, however, markets will remain disturbed by the conflict, limiting the available supply for household staple food purchase for IDPs and those who remain in areas affected by conflict.
    • Food prices: Staple food prices are expected to behave normally during January to June period in most areas across the country. Between February and March prices will increase due to trader and industrial demand. In April prices will be tempered by the dry season harvest, which will contribute to increasing market supply. During May/June prices will increase more sharply as more households depleted their own production stocks and return to market purchase for their food needs. However staple food prices will remain significantly above average and high compared to neighboring areas in the northeast due to below-average local production and disrupted market functioning.
    • Livestock market supply: Livestock supply is expected to decline across the country compared to average. The typical livestock trade flow from and through the northeast are impacted by the civil insecurity. Livestock prices are expected to increase above their seasonal norms through June.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Average to above-average harvest stocks from generally good main and dry season harvests will contribute to improved food access and diversity for agricultural households in this post-harvest period through June in most areas. Average to above-average incomes from crop sales and wage labor opportunities will support households with their market purchase needs. Although some pastoral households in the north are greatly impacted by cattle rustling, communal conflict or Boko Haram conflict, most pastoral and agropastoral households’ livelihoods will be well supported by average livestock sale incomes. Average prices for staple foods are and will continue to facilitate good food access for households who rely on market purchase for their food needs. As such, most of Nigeria will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between January and June 2015.

    In contrast, households in the northeast of the country will continue to be impacted by the Boko Haram conflict. Households in areas relatively less impacted by the conflict in parts of Borno, northern Yobe and southern Adamawa States will still have limited own production stocks and limited market access. Particularly the poor households in these areas will face at least Stress (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through June, with many experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) starting in April as they begin to face food consumption gaps. Those who remain in southern and eastern Borno, southern Yobe and northern Adamawa and are worst affected by conflict have very limited own production stocks and extremely limited market access. They rely heavily on community and family assistance and some external assistance that makes to the area. These households have been experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity and will continue to through at least June as there are limited prospects for any increase in food access during the dry season. Additionally, most IDPs displaced throughout the region and to neighboring states in Nigeria are in need of continuing assistance to meet their essential food and nonfood needs.


    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 for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3


    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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