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The main harvest brings an end to the lean season in most areas across the country

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Nigeria
  • October 2015 - March 2016
The main harvest brings an end to the lean season in most areas across the country

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • The main harvest is underway across the country, increasing food availability, access, and diversity for most households. Livestock terms of trade for pastoral and agropastoral households are also improving. With the increased availability of market and household food stocks, food availability and access will remain good for most though at least March 2016. As such, much of the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October 2015 and March 2016.

    • Boko Haram conflict continues to strongly affect food security in the northeast. While new harvest stocks will improve food availability, production is well below average. Many rural, resident households and IDPs will continue to face difficulty meeting their minimal food needs. Much of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, as well as informal settlements in greater Maiduguri, will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through March 2016.

    • IDPs and households less directly impacted by the conflict in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa still experience restrictions to their normal livelihoods. Conflict is also contributing to reduced market activity. Households in these areas continue to forgo essential non-food needs in an effort to meet their basic food needs, and as such will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through the March 2015.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    The March to November main cultivation season this year has been characterized by a late onset of rains with intermittent dry spells early in the season. Since July, however, average to above-average precipitation with good temporal and spatial distribution has been recorded across most of the country, particularly in the Sahel (Figure 1). While the strong rains were generally beneficial in making up rainfall deficits experienced earlier in the season in most areas, they also contributed to heavy flooding in localized areas of Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara (northwest), Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi (northeast), Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara, Kogi, Niger (central), Edo, Rivers, and Cross River (south) impacting cropped area and leading to large losses of productive assets. Some localized areas in the east (in and around Niger State), as well as the bi-modal south, continue to experience atypical dryness, though, even after the pickup in rainfall beginning in July.  The seasonal decent southward of the West Africa rains has been timely to slightly later than usual, which has been leading to a typical to slightly later than normal end of season in October for the Sahelian north. In central and southern regions, rainfall continues seasonably in October.

    The main harvest for major staples (primarily yam, cassava, and maize) continues in central and southern regions, while the main harvest of staples cereals in the north (primarily maize and millet) has recently begun in September/October. Because of the delayed onset of the season, the harvest for staple cereals began a couple of weeks late in many areas. Other main crops, such as groundnut, cowpea, melon seed and other tubers, are also being harvested across the country. Harvest prospects for major staples in most areas across the country are for average to slightly below-average production for the 2015/16 main harvest. The joint NAERLS/FEWS NET/Government and partners’ pre-harvest assessment conducted in September indicated that for staple cereals the decline in production compared to last year is expected to be three percent for maize, six percent for sorghum, and three percent for millet. Rice production, however, is expected to be up by 15 percent compared to 2014/15. Similarly, production for cash crops is also expected to be up against last year by 21 percent for sesame, 13 percent for soybean, seven percent for cowpea, and four percent for groundnut.

    The poor start to the season, Boko Haram conflict, and localized flooding are the main drivers of the below-average cereal production in affected areas. Farmers also found fertilizer from the government through the Growth Enhancement Scheme was largely unavailable during the cropping season. Open market fertilizer costs were between NGN5,000 and NGN6,000/50kg bag, reducing access for most farmers who have limited capacity to purchase. Government subsidized fertilizers had usually sold for NGN1,000 to NGN3,500/50kg.

    Continued rains in the center and south of the country are providing adequate rainfall for second season plantings of maize and cassava. In the bi-modal south, however, these plantings are occurring late in many areas due to the late arrival of the second season. Wage labor activities for agricultural households across the country are currently largely dependent on harvest work, though farmers in the center and south of the country are also employing assistance for planting and crop tending activities for the second season. At the national level wage labor incomes are generally near-average owing to adequate labor demand resulting from a near-average agricultural production season.

    Although national-level production is expected to be average to slightly below average, the ongoing harvests are resulting in seasonal increases in food availability for staple cereals (millet, sorghum, maize), tubers (yams, cassava) and cash crops (cowpea, groundnuts) across most markets. Market prices in September remained relatively stable against previous months, though they are expected to have begun to decrease in October in both surplus and deficit producing areas. In September, millet prices remained relatively stable on Dawanau, Gombe, Bodija, Damaturu, and Maiduguri markets against August. Similarly, millet and sorghum also remained stable on Maiduguri market within the same period.  A bag of millet, the major staple in Maiduguri, sold for NGN6,260/100kg in September, and although that price is relatively lower than last year at the same time (NGN6,800/100kg), it remains much higher than in neighboring markets - Dawanau (NGN4,976/100kg), Gombe (NGN4,500/100kg), Damaturu (NGN4,700). Due to delayed harvests in the southwest, maize prices did increase from NGN7,500/100kg in August to NGN8,300/100kg in September on Bodija market, while the price of gari remained stable. Gari, which sold for NGN73/kg on Bodija market at the same time last year, now sells for NGN87/kg. This is attributable to the prolonged dry spells and late onset of the season, impacting cassava production and delaying the harvest.

    Pastoral conditions for livestock remain largely typical. The good rainfall beginning in July contributed to good pasture growth in most areas and water availability for animals. Livestock prices are generally near average and pastoral and agropastoral households are earning typical incomes from livestock sales. Continued cattle rustling and intercommunal conflict in the Middle Belt region, however, affects impacted household’s access to income and markets for food purchase. Poultry farmers continue to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of avian influenza, which has spread to 21 states and FCT Abuja, and has led to the depopulation of more than 1.5 million birds.

    Northeast Nigeria

    While food availability and access remains good throughout most of the country, food security in northeast Nigeria continues to be significantly impacted by ongoing Boko Haram conflict. Conflict has once again this year significantly impacted area planted and reduced farmers ability to tend their crops. Although production estimates are not yet available for the 2015/16 season, production is expected to be down against last year due to the increasing displacement and persisting conflict throughout the cultivation season. Although harvests, which begin in October, are expected to improve food access for rural, resident households, production stocks will be very significantly below normal, particularly for households that remain in worst-affected areas.

    Households continue to flee rural areas of northeast Nigeria, with many going to neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Most, however, are moving to urban centers in the northeast. According to the most recent IOM/NEMA report on displacement there were more than two million people displace by conflict in northeast Nigeria as of August 31st. In Maiduguri alone, there were more than one million IDPs. Yobe State is hosting nearly 200,000 IDPs and Adamawa State is hosting nearly 120,000 IDPs. The June report from IOM/NEMA identified just more than 1.3 million people displaced by conflict. Displaced households still face difficulty accessing food as their access to income earning opportunities remain strained. The August IOM/NEMA report noted that less than 10 percent of IDPs have access to formal camps. The vast majority of IDPs are in informal settlements or with host families.

    Humanitarian actors and government have intensified their efforts in providing support to the affected populations in the northeast. The Federal and State Governments through NEMA, PINE, VSF and SEMA have been providing some food and non-food support to IDPs. Similarly, humanitarian organizations are also assisting IDPs with food, WASH, and non-food assistance. The current level of support, however, is not able to target all displaced families, particularly those residing outside of official camps.

    Market activity and trade flows in northeast Nigeria and neighboring regions in Niger, Cameroon, and Chad also remains disrupted (Figure 2). In addition to direct and indirect impacts the conflict has on market activity, the government has also been advising some major markets close as they have become targets for attacks. While staple food prices in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, remain high compared to markets in neighboring states less affected by the conflict, prices in Mubi, in Adamawa State, are even higher. In September, millet sold for NGN84/kg on Mubi market against NGN60/kg on Monday market in Maiduguri. The price of millet on Monday market in Maiduguri was NGN6,300 in September, higher than all neighboring markets in the region, except on Mubi market where it was NGN10,760/100kg.

    From September 3-30, 2015, FEWS NET conducted a food security survey in three contiguous, rural Local Government Areas (LGAs) of northeast Nigeria in the North-Central Maize, Sorghum, and Cotton Livelihoods Zone that have been affected by prolonged conflict. Approximately 25 households were surveyed in each of the 21 villages in Chibok, Askira/Uba (Borno) and Michika (Adamawa) visited during the assessment, for a total of 520 households. Although sufficient population data was not available to design a representative random sample for the assessment, FEWS NET made every effort to design a sampling framework that would minimize selection bias. Results from the Household Hunger Scale (HHS) survey found 41.48 percent of households experiencing Moderate to Severe hunger in the household and the average the Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) was 5.50, with 18.47 percent of households experiencing an HDDS of less than four. Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) among the sample was found to be 32.40 percent (95% CI: 28.03-36.77) for children with mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) < 12.5 cm, and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) among the sample was 3.02 percent (95% CI: 1.36-4.69) for children with MUAC < 11.5 cm. Although the food consumption indicators do not present a situation as dire as previously expected, they do demonstrate restricted access to food in the household. The high levels of acute GAM do reveal a very concerning nutrition situation, far exceeding the WHO Critical threshold for acute malnutrition.

    Both FAO and the Nigeria INGO forum have conduct recent surveys in the northeast with food security components. Food consumption and nutrition indicators from the FAO FSLA and the INGO survey demonstrated high levels of food insecurity remain a concern for many throughout the northeast.


    The most likely scenario for the October 2015 to March 2016 period is based on the following national level assumptions:

    • Main season harvest production: Crop growth and development was delayed due to the late onset of the season and intermittent dry spells across many areas of the country. This, coupled with severe flooding in some areas, Boko Haram conflict impacting cropping in the northeast, and limited access to inputs, will likely lead to below average harvests in many areas. The forecast typical end of the season in central and southern Nigeria is expected to contribute to making up for rainfall deficits experienced during the beginning of the second season, favoring good crop development.
    • Agricultural labor: Labor opportunities will peak during the harvest period between October and December. Agriculture related labor wages will follow normal seasonal trends in most areas. In conflict prone areas of the northeast, labor supply will be above average in many areas due to the increase in the number of IDPs in search of labor work. Labor demand in the northeast will be below average due to limited agricultural activities in the area, further contributing to reduced total incomes.
    • Pastoral resources/transhumance: Pastoral resources will be readily available through at least March 2016. Pasture availability will likely be longer due to restricted migrant pastoralists from neighboring countries as the conflict and cattle rustling activities persist in some parts of the country.
    • Off-season cropping: Water availability for the dry season activities will be adequate and off-season activities are expected to begin normally in December.
    • Staple food and livestock demand: Household food demand will decline substantially as usual through December owing to new harvest stocks. Agricultural households’ food stocks will be replenished, reducing market purchase needs through at least March 2016. Livestock demand will decline in October and November after the Tabaski holiday. However, livestock demand will peak again in December during the Christmas holiday, contributing to higher sale prices for pastoralist. Normal seasonal trends will be observed from January through March 2016 for livestock prices.
    • Staple food and livestock supply: Market stocks between October and December will improve gradually as the harvest reach markets. However, the rate of replenishment will be slower than normal due to below-average harvest production in many areas. Livestock supply will follow normal seasonal trends.
    • Regional carry-over stocks: Carry-over cereal stocks within the region will be average to above average due to consecutive years of good harvests most areas within the region.
    • Price trends: Staple food prices between October and December will continue to decline seasonally as new harvests reach markets and households purchase needs are seasonably low. This will continue through March early 2016 as most households still consume own food stocks. Food prices will begin to increase again in March as traders will begin to restock and institutional purchases begin, increasing market demand.
    • Conflict and displacement: Boko Haram conflict is expected to continue to restrict household livelihoods, limit market activity, and contribute to continued displacement.
    • Intercommunal conflict and cattle rustling: Intercommunal conflict in the central states will continue to disrupt livelihoods, particularly in the Middle Belt region.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    The main harvests will lead to increased food availability and diversity for most households across the country through at least March 2016. Poor households will have increased access to income through agricultural labor work, contributing to increased food access relative to the lean season, which ended in most areas in September. Favorable pastoral resources will also improve livestock body conditions and contribute to seasonably good incomes for the pastoralists. Most areas in Nigeria will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October 2015 and March 2016.

    Northeast Nigeria, however, still troubled by Boko Haram conflict, continues to face high levels of acute food insecurity. Ongoing main season harvests, although well below average, are expected to improve food availability for rural, resident households through early 2016. Owing though to the below-average household production, households are expected to smooth their consumption of own stocks in the expectation stocks will not carry them as far through the consumption year as usual. Displaced households, largely in urban areas, will also continue to face difficulty meeting their basic food needs as their access to income earning opportunities remains limited. Food access through market purchase for households throughout the northeast will remain limited as continued conflict restricts market functioning. Between October 2015 and March 2016, rural, resident households in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States worst-affected by conflict, as well as IDPs in informal settlements in greater Maiduguri, will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. Most other areas in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).


    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

    Figure 1. ARC2 3-Month Percent of Normal Rainfall, July – September 2015

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: NOAA/CPC

    Figure 2. Northeast Nigeria market and trade route activity – week of October 12, 2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 2

    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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