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Atypical increases in staple food prices likely in West Africa; limited impact on food security in most areas

  • Special Report
  • West Africa
  • May 31, 2013
Atypical increases in staple food prices likely in West Africa; limited impact on food security in most areas

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  • Summary

  • Summary


    • Flood-related crop damage during 2012/2013 resulted in below-average crop production in Nigeria. These deficits have substantially offset production surpluses seen elsewhere in the region and have contributed to atypically low market food supply and high consumer demand within Nigeria. Boko Haram-related conflict in northern Nigeria has also reduced market activity and trade flows in affected regions, and in southeastern Niger and west central Chad. 
    • These market disruptions have had regional impact, resulting in atypical market supply and demand behavior. The marketing system currently relies less on trade flows from surplus maize and millet producing areas of Nigeria and more on atypical trade flows from Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
    • Above-average income from cash crop (cotton and cow pea) sales over the last year has also contributed to belownormal trader cereal stocks as many households focused on marketing cash crops, rather than cereals, during the postharvest period.
    • National Security Stocks held by most West Africa governments were depleted over the 2011/12 consumption and marketing year. To date, SSNs in most countries are less than 50 percent replenished due to inadequate financing and poor SSN management. These stock levels are very atypical for this late in the marketing year.

    FEWS NET price projections 

    • Prices are likely to increase atypically across most of the region as market demand outpaces supply. The areas most likely to be impacted include northern Nigeria, northern Benin, southeastern Niger, and central Niger. In the most affected areas, millet and maize prices are likely to be higher than 2012 levels and the five-year average. 
    • Other parts of the region will become atypical grain and livestock source areas for structurally deficit zones of the region. As a result, prices in these areas will increase more than usual between now and August, but to a smaller degree than in the directly affected areas.

    Food security impacts

    • Throughout most of West Africa, above-average household food stocks from last year's harvests and relatively good incomes from cash crop sales will enable households to offset the effects of high food prices. As a result, poor households in most of the region will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through September.  
    • In Borno and Yobe states of Nigeria - the epicenter of the Boko Haram conflict - high staple food prices, coupled with conflict-related declines in crop production, cash incomes, and market trade flows, are expected to result in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September. In other affected areas (north central and central Nigeria, west central and southwestern Chad, and southeastern Niger), Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security is expected during this same period. 

    Policy Implications

    • Marketing conditions are atypical at a regional level and not well suited for a single, generalized policy response. Rather, response should be very well targeted and address very specific and localized food access and availability concerns.  


    Please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report. 

    Occasionally, FEWS NET will publish a Special Report that serves to provide an in-depth analysis of food security issues of particular concern that are not covered in FEWS NET’s regular monthly reporting. These reports may focus on a specific factor driving food security outcomes anywhere in the world during a specified period of time. For example, in 2019, FEWS NET produced a Special Report on widespread flooding in East Africa and its associated impacts on regional food security.

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