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Main season progressing well, Stress persists in the north

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • July - December 2012
Main season progressing well, Stress persists in the north

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  • Key Messages
  • Most Likely Scenario (July to December 2012)
  • Key Messages
    • The 2012 growing season is progressing favorably across the country. Yam and cassava (major crops in the south), and millet, sorghum, and maize (main staples in the north), are developing well. In localized areas of Lagos, Cross River, Ogun and Oyo states, as well as in other parts of the north and south, floods resulted in fatalities, displacement of populations, and damage to farmlands in July.

    • Persistent civil insecurity in Borno and Yobe states, and inter‐ communal violence in Plateau state, have intensified leading to internal displacement of increasing number of populations in localized urban and rural areas. Similarly, in the Niger Delta region kidnapping and militant attacks are ongoing, disrupting the activities of the oil companies, damaging oil pipelines and limiting fishing activities. The increased insecurity across the country is hampering agricultural activities and threatening several livelihoods.

    • The lean season is underway across the country. Food insecurity is most severe in the northeast and northwest where a combination of seasonal issues, high cereal prices, and conflict have resulted in Stress (IPC Phase 2).  

    • Food security Stress (IPC Phase 2) is expected to continue until the main harvest in October when increased household and market food supplies and a decline in prices are expected to improve poor household food security.

    Most Likely Scenario (July to December 2012)

    The lean season is ongoing across the country and will intensify until the main harvest occurs. This is due to normal seasonal declines in market and household food stocks, a normal seasonal increase in household dependence on market purchases, and relatively high food prices, partially due to increased food demand from the Sahel as the food and nutrition crisis intensifies in this region.

    The 2012 growing season is progressing favorably across the country. Yam and cassava (major crops in the south), and millet, sorghum, and maize (main staples in the north), are developing well. In localized areas of Lagos, Cross River, Ogun and Oyo states, as well as in other parts of the north and south, floods resulted in fatalities, displacement of populations, and damage to farmlands in July. 

    As of mid‐July, market food supplies have declined normally. Prices have stabilized on some markets and increased on other markets across the country. However, in general food prices remain higher than at this time last year and the 5‐year average due to the 2011 production shortfalls and significant, atypical market demands related to the Sahel food Crisis. On Illela market, Sokoto State, a major cross‐border cereal market, mid‐ July prices of millet and sorghum have increased to NGN 7,500 and NG N8,500 respectively, as compared to NGN 6,000 and NGN 7,500, respectively, in May. These price levels are higher than the 5‐year average and same time last year, and are inconsistent with normal seasonal trends.

    The inflation rate increased from 12.7% in May to 12.9% in June due mainly to increased prices of some food items and the hike in electricity tariffs. In the subsequent months the inflation may further increase due to the increased demand for foreign currency as Muslims embark on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in July/August, high domestic food prices, and the impact of increased tariffs on rice and wheat imports.

    The most‐likely scenario for the July to December period incorporates the following information and assumptions:

    • The consensus forecast from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), the International Research Institute (IRI) and the European Center for Medium‐Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) suggests average rainfall between July and September over most parts of the country.
    • Pastoral resources will improve normally in the north and the south during the July to September period as the rainy season evolves favorably, increasing pasture availability, improving livestock body conditions and milk availability and reducing farmer/pastoralist conflicts. 
    • The costs of transportation are likely to ease, particularly in the northeast and northwest, as diesel imports from Niger which began in June, continue. A liter of diesel imported from Niger is about 6 percent cheaper in the northeast and northwest, relative to diesel imported through Nigerian seaports.
    • The rice import tariff has been increased from 32 percent to 50 percent in July and will lead to increased price of rice. There is also an additional levy on wheat importation and complete removal of tariffs on cassava enhancing enzymes from 10 percent to zero percent effective, July.
    • The government policy to improve the value chains for six food commodities namely; rice, cocoa, sorghum, cotton, oil palm and soybeans, and timely delivery of fertilizer and improved seeds through the private sector led growth enhancement support (GES) scheme may lead to increased productivity. Fertilizers are supplied to smallholder farmers at 50 percent subsidy. The scheme is currently targeting 4.5 million farmers across the country.
    • Civil insecurity persists in parts of Borno, Yobe, Plateau, and the Niger Delta regions, and may escalate to other areas in August/September displacing more people and disrupting market and agricultural activities.  

    In the South

    The 2012 growing season is progressing favorably in most parts of the south as yam and cassava (the major staple crops) are at advanced stages of growth, while rice is being planted in July. The favorable conditions are attributable to the generally average rain in most areas. Presently, farmers are intensifying weeding and fertilizer application for yam, maize, and cassava. The early green harvest of yam and maize is ongoing, gradually improving food supply at both market and household levels, increasing food access during the peak of the lean season and maintaining stable food prices in mid July. 

    Yam and gari, the major staple foods in the south, are selling for NGN350/Kg and NGN95/Kg respectively on Bodija market in Oyo state, in mid July as against NGN265/Kg and NGN63/Kg, respectively, at the same time last year, reducing access to food by poor and very poor households. This condition is exacerbated by the low household food stocks during the peak of the lean season. However, two factors are mitigating the impact of these high prices. First, the early green harvest of yam and maize is ongoing, gradually improving food supply at both market and household levels, increasing food access during the peak of the lean season, maintaining stable food prices in mid July. The price of major staple foods, such as gari may decline in August. Second, a major food substitute, cocoyam, is widely available and accessible to the poor, at this time of the year, tempering difficult lean season food access by the poor households. The combination of stable food prices, cheaper substitutes, and increased income generating activities such as agricultural and non agricultural wage labor and the sale of firewood, have improved farming households’ purchasing power and their access to food. However, the poor households, who lost their assets to flooding and the Niger Delta violence, will resort to indebtedness and remittances from relations to access food.  

    In the coastal areas, fishing activities will be hampered as water levels rise in August and September, reducing fish availability and fish catch. This will reduce household income and purchasing power will be compounded by typical lean season food shortages and high than usual food prices, limiting food access to the poor. The poor households will depend on remittances, wild food, and loans from the rich and some will intensify labor work to earn income. Others will shift to oless preferred protein sources, like snails. Water levels will recede in November/December, and normal fishing activities will peak, increasing household income.

    The increased energy tariff in June by the Nigeria Energy Regulatory Commission (NERC) will impact negatively on industrial production costs, leading to low production capacity and subsequent reduction in workforce, reducing income of affected labor force, leading to reduced food access. Affected households will resort to agricultural labor work, less preferred food and lower dietary diversity between July through December.

    Overall, less than 20% of the population will be food insecure between July and August. In September the main harvest will begin and food will be readily available. During October‐December, fishing activities will peak as the water recedes, increasing income and food access by poor households. Therefore, food insecurity in the south is classified as Minimal (IPC Phase 1) throughout the Outlook period.

    A population of particular concern will be poor households who lost their productive assets following normal flooding  in Lagos and Ibadan in mid July. The affected households will relocate to shelters, and will have limited access to potable water and food through September. The recovery process of flood‐affected households will be gradual. In October, high food availability at seasonably low prices due to the main harvest and seasonably high labor demand will enable these households to meet their basic food needs.

    Northern Nigeria  

    The rainy season started normally in the north and is evolving favorably with good distribution over space and time in most areas. Farmers are engaged in normal agricultural activities.  

    The major food security determinants in the north, during the inception of the lean season in July, are food and livestock prices, the level of conflict, the performance of the cropping season, and derived agricultural labor opportunities. As the lean season peaks in August and September, sale of small ruminants, loans from the rich, and remittances will become increasingly important. The favorable progress of the growing season has impacted positively on market conditions, as cereal prices remain stable on some markets, though at high levels relative to last year and to average on most markets in the north. Staple food prices are highest in the northeast and northwest areas relative to the north central zone, ranging between NGN6,500 to NGN8,500/100Kg. The abnormally high food prices in the northeast and northwest are impacting household purchasing power, limiting food access by poor and very poor households in mid July.

    The 30‐day Ramadan fasting that begun on Friday July 20th is normally accompanied by increased food demand for consumption and gifts. The fasting will occur during the lean season, implying that food prices that are already at their peak will increase further. Of concern are the prices of cereal crops such as maize and millet, as well as those of vegetables and fruits. Prices will likely increase substantially by late July and early August. This will further limit food access for poor households.  

    The food security conditions across the north during the July‐December period are based on the following assumptions:

    • Average rainfall from July to September as forecast by NIMET, IRI, and ECMWF across the northern region.  
    • Normal rains in localized areas along major river catchment such as the Hadejia valley, Lake Chad basin, and the Sokoto‐Rima River basins will likely lead to flooding during July and September.  
    • The growing season is evolving favorably across the northeast, northwest and the north central zones, with prospects for good harvest in October.  
    • Cereal food prices such as millet, sorghum, maize and cowpea will rise during the lean season (July‐September) compared to their current levels, constraining food access by poor households. Ramadan, increased demand from the Sahel, and seasonal deterioration in road transport, due to the rains, will contribute to these increases.
    • Food gifts to the poor, a common practice during the fasting period, will partially mitigate high household food insecurity in the north.
    • The civil insecurity in the north will decline during the Muslim fasting period (July to August) and will escalate thereafter, leading to displacement of additional population.
    • Household access to cash will improve substantially as agricultural and off‐farm income earning opportunities intensify due to high water resources, market related employment, and high livestock prices as the season progresses favorably between August/November.
    • Government will release grains from the strategic reserves to sale at subsidized rates between August/September, as food insecurity intensifies and peak food prices persist.

    Northeast and Northwest

    In the northeast (Borno, Yobe and Jigawa states) the growing season is evolving favorably as of mid–July. The likelihood of prolonged dry spells (as forecast by NIMET) is low, though the onset of the season was later in the northeast than in the northwest. Planting and weeding activities for millet, sorghum, maize and legumes–cowpea and groundnut are underway in mid July, while some farmers are engaged in fertilizer application in localized areas. Some flooding has occurred in Maiduguri–Borno state.  

    Food insecurity among agro–pastoral households is intensifying in most northern parts of the northeast (Borno, Yobe and Jigawa). These states were affected by the prolonged dry spells during the 2011 growing season with significant production shortfalls in millet, sorghum, cowpea and groundnut. The situation is exacerbated by ongoing civil conflict in Borno and Yobe states, which has displaced significant populations and limited food flows, exposing poor households to increased difficulty accessing food during July to September period. Additionally, staple food prices are currently at high levels on most markets monitored by FEWS NET, limiting food access to the poor households. Market prices for most cereal crops are higher than last year same time and to 5‐year average on most markets monitored by FEWS NET, such as Maiduguri market–in Borno state, and Gujungu market–in Jigawa state.

    In the northwest (Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states), the growing season is evolving favorably as of mid‐July, as forecast by NIMET. Planting and weeding of millet, sorghum, maize, cowpea, and groundnut are underway. Fertilizer applications have also started for major staples in the area. October harvest prospects are good as NIMET predicts average rainfall for the region through September.

    In Borno, Yobe and Jigawa states, food insecure households are concentrated within six livelihood zones: NG11  ‐ Hadejia Valley mixed economy, NG12  ‐  NE fishing dominant, NG13  ‐  NE rice and chilli peppers, NG14  ‐  NE fishing, maize, and cowpeas, NG15  ‐ NE wheat and chilli peppers, and NG17  ‐ NE Yobe lowland rice. These households are minimally able to meet their basic food needs in mid‐July but unable to afford some essential non food needs due to combined impacts of high staple food prices, food flow restrictions due to conflict and the 2011 food production shortages in the area. Therefore this area is classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In the northwest, food insecurity is currently most severe among poor farmers and pastoral households in the extreme northern parts of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states, mainly within the four livelihood zones: NG01 ‐ NW fishing and rice; NG02 ‐ Rimasokoto irrigated rice, millet and vegetables; NG03 ‐ NW millet, cowpeas, and groundnuts, and NG04  ‐ NW millet and Sesame, in Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Zamfara states. Poor households in these areas are also currently classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    There is high demand for millet (the major staple food for the poor) and its major substitute (sorghum) due to the ongoing Muslim fasting in July/August. Price of cereals, such as millet, sorghum and maize ranged between NGN6, 700/100kg to NGN8, 500/100Kg in mid July on Gujungu market–Jigawa state and Maiduguri market–Borno state. According to the traders association in Gusau market, maize, sorghum and millet wholesale prices have continued to increase relative to previous months, reaching NGN6,500, NGN6,500, and NGN8,200 for sorghum, maize and millet respectively, in mid July, about 10 percent higher than June. The price levels are higher than last year same time and 5‐year average. Similar high price trend of staple cereal foodstuffs were observed on most markets in the northwest and northeast. The situation will worsen between August and September, the peak of the lean season, normally associated with low market and household food stocks and high food prices, further reducing poor household food access. Subsidized cereal sales by the government will partially offset high prices between July and September.

    Most poor households in the northeast will rely on wage labor, sale of small ruminants, and credit to access food until October. Others will rely on remittances, sale of charcoal and petty trading for food access. These coping strategies will partially mitigate food insecurity and poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September/October. Poor households affected by seasonal flooding will be in shelters, and these households will be dependent on short term assistance from government (NEMA/SEMA) and NGO for food, water and sanitation. Once the main harvest begins in October, household and market food stocks will improve and in November/December, off‐season cultivation and fishing activities will peak, further increasing income and access to food. Thus during the post harvest period poor household food insecurity in these areas will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    The civil insecurity attributable to Boko Haram persisted in Yobe and Borno states in mid July, disrupting market activities, fostering traders’ speculation, reducing market stocks, and contributing food price increases. If the conflict persists and escalates beyond August, some poor households, especially the displaced in Borno and Yobe states, may not be able to meet their basic food and non food needs through September, and could face Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The government has intensified security measures in the affected areas to manage the conflict.

    Pastoralists are another population to monitor, as conflict will restrict them to the pastoral areas along the Hadejia‐ Jama’are and Sokoto‐Rima basins to access pasture and water resources for their livestock. The high concentration of livestock in these basins may lead to early exhaustion of pastoral resources in the area, deterioration of animal body conditions and livestock value, and declining terms of trade, especially next year.

    North Central

    In the north central zone, weeding and fertilizer application activities for maize, sorghum and cowpea are underway seasonably. The rainy season is evolving favorably and the crop performance is good as of mid July. The early green harvest of maize, yam and potatoes is ongoing. In Nasarawa, Benue and Kaduna states there was flooding, and in Kaduna, farmlands cropped with maize, rice, vegetables and cassava, worth NGN300 million were damaged.

    In addition to the regional assumptions listed above, the most‐likely scenario in the north central, during the July‐December period, is based on the following assumptions:

    • The lean season is ongoing and will be normal due to good market functioning, available labor opportunities, relatively cheaper food prices compared to the northwest and northeast.
    • The early green harvest of maize, yam and potatoes is ongoing, increasing market food supply and household food access. This will impact food prices as the early green harvest peaks in August.
    • The recent upsurge of inter‐communal violence in July is restricting access to pastoral resources in the north central states of Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, Taraba, and Plateau.

    In the north central zone, the surplus production area for sorghum, maize, and tubers, food prices are relatively lower than in the northeast and northwest. Market and household food stocks have depleted seasonably as of mid‐July as the lean season starts normally. Food prices in the area are tempered by the ongoing early green harvest of yam, maize and potatoes. If favorable cropping conditions persist, the lean season will be normal in the north central areas through September. As a result, food insecurity in these areas is Minimal and is expected to remain so through December.

    However, one area of concern is Plateau state. In Riyom and Barkin Ladi local government areas, conflict persisted in mid‐ July, disrupting market and agricultural activities, and limiting household food access in localized urban and rural areas. The civil insecurity has recently intensified, leading to the loss of over 130 lives, destruction of property, and displacement of about 5,500 people from over 25 villages in this area. This has been compounded by the recent flooding in Jos which resulted in significant population displacement and several infrastructures and houses were destroyed. Poor households displaced or affected by the conflict and flooding are in shelters, and are dependent on food and non food assistance by government through NEMA and SEMA, NRCS and other NGOs. If the conflict persists beyond August, farming households will not cultivate their farmlands, putting them at‐risk of increased food insecurity during 2013.

    AreaEventImpacts on food security outcomes
    Extreme North

    Prolonged dryness in the extreme north.  


    Massive pests’ infestation in the extreme north.


    Government succeeds in curbing the persistent civil insecurity in the north in July/August.  

    Poor households will face increased difficulty in accessing food. Low own food stocks, early return to market than usual. Inadequate pastoral resources leading to early transhumance of the pastoralists in January/February 2013 against March in a normal year.   Will impact negatively on food production, demand and prices during the 2012/2013 consumption year.


    Impacting negatively the projected good harvest in October, reduced poor household own food production and increased risk of food insecurity.  



    Agricultural activities and food flow will be unhindered and food production will be higher than expected. Cost of commerce will reduce significantly in affected areas, impacting positively food prices and food access.



    The complete deregulation of petroleum subsector by government.

    Significant increase in fuel price leading to hike in transportation costs and food prices.


    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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