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Atypical staple prices and below-average dry harvest led to high food assistance needs

  • Key Message Update
  • Nigeria
  • May 2024
Atypical staple prices and below-average dry harvest led to high food assistance needs

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In May, conflict persisted at high levels in the Northeast, characterized by the imposition of illegal vehicle checkpoints (IVCPs), improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and high levels of kidnappings, driving persistent displacement from inaccessible areas into nearby garrison towns such as Bama, Banki, Monguno, Damboa, and Gamboru. In early May, the Nigerian Government Forces (NGF) rescued over 380 people that had been abducted earlier in the year during a clearance operation in the Sambisa Forest. Restricted access to floodplains for the dry season harvest in April-May and to local water bodies for fishing activities has reduced food and income earning opportunities for most households, leading to an early depletion of household food stocks. An early onset to the lean season is expected in May, leading to sustained food consumption gaps for many poor households who will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Poorer households in Abadam, Guzamala, Bama, and Marte LGAs that remain inaccessible have no access to humanitarian assistance, face constrained access to market, and poor health facilities are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes and are mainly reliant on foraging, bartering, and begging for food.
    • Conflict related to banditry, kidnapping, and communal conflict continues to intensify in the northwest and northcentral regions, leading to increased population displacement, limited dry season harvests, and restricted access to farmland for the upcoming main season activities. In addition, the use of illegal vehicle checkpoints along major routes across the regions disrupts trade flows from surplus to deficit producing areas, limits livelihood activities, and occasionally leads in abductions along the roads. In mid-May, following bandits attacks in Maradun and Zurmi LGAs in Zamfara State bandits conducted attacks in Maradun LGA, Zamfara State, over 130 and 500 people were abducted, respectively. Similar attacks and abductions also occurred in Plateau, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi states in the northwest and northcentral regions of Nigeria as well as in Bwari council, FCT-Abuja. While there is typically a seasonal decline in the intensity of conflict during the rainy season due to decreased mobility, fear of attacks and abductions will likely limit farming activities for the upcoming main season from June to September. As such, labor demand and agricultural production will both be below average and many households in these regions will continue to face food consumption gaps and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through the lean season.
    • The Nigerian Naira (NGN) has slightly appreciated in value relative to the USD in the past month, in a similar trend to other macroeconomic indicators. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, the foreign reserve slightly increased to 32.72 billion USD as of May 20, 2024, though remains 7 and 15 percent lower than last April and April 2022, respectively. However, annual inflation has maintained its upward trend at 33.69 percent in April 2024 relative to 33.2 percent in the previous month and 22.22 percent recorded in April 2023. Food inflation continues to reach record-levels, reaching 40.53 percent in April 2024, representing a 65 percent increase compared to April 2023. The crude oil production in April 2024 slightly increased to 1.28 mbd from 1.23 mbd the previous month, still lower than Nigeria's OPEC+ allocation quota of 1.8 mbd. The poor macroeconomic situation will continue to constrain household purchasing power and access to food, increasing food consumption deficits and deteriorating livelihoods for poorer households.
    • Staple food prices remained atypically high across the country due to ongoing conflict in mainly food surplus-producing areas; the delayed onset of rainfall in 2024, which led to traders/farmers holding back stocks; the high cost of transportation; and the atypically high reliance on market purchases. In Maiduguri, the price of maize increased by 7 percent between March and April, representing a 163 percent and 247 percent increase compared to last year and the 5-year average, respectively. Similarly, maize prices are 181 percent above last year and about 244 percent above the April 2023 price level in Kaura Namoda in Zamfara state and 122 and 211 percent higher than in April 2023 and the 5-year average, respectively, in Dawanau market, Kano state. Gari, a cheaper staple food in southern parts of the country, recorded a 15 percent increase compared to the previous month and is 218 percent higher than last year in Bodija market, in Oyo State. With the increased level of inflation, poor macroeconomic conditions, and the impending lean season characterized by decreased market stocks and increased market purchases, the atypical staple price trends will likely continue through the lean season, constraining food access for most poorer households across the country.
    • The rainy season started normally during February/March in the bimodal zones of the southern states and normal activities are underway. However, in the central and northern zones, the beginning of the season has been characterized by erratic and below-average rainfall, despite forecasts for a generally average season. Land preparation for the main season cultivation has continued in most northern states. However, the persisting conflict has constrained access to farmlands further away from the garrison towns in the northern regions. Consequently, agricultural labor opportunities will further constrain income and food access for market-dependent households through the lean season.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Nigeria Key Message Update May 2024: Atypical staple prices and below-average dry harvest led to high food assistance needs, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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