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GIEWS Country Brief: Nigeria 14-April-2020

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  • Planting ongoing in south under normal conditions

  • Above‑average cereal production estimated in 2019

  • Cereal import requirements forecast at below‑average level

  • Higher food prices in northeast due to persisting conflict

  • Increased external assistance needs in 2020

Start of 2020 cropping season in south follows timely onset of rains

Following the timely onset of seasonal rains in the south, planting of maize and yams started in early March 2020. The harvest of maize is expected to start in June, while harvesting operations for yams will start in July. Planting of rice, to be harvested from October, is underway. The cumulative rainfall amounts since early March were average to above average in most planted areas and supported the development of the maize crop, which is at sprouting and seedling stages. In the north, seasonal dry weather conditions are still prevailing and planting operations for millet and sorghum, to be harvested from September, are expected to begin in May‑June with the onset of the rains. Persisting insecurity conditions and large scale population displacements continue to severely affect agricultural activities and hinder access to fields and agricultural inputs in the conflict‑affected areas of the North‑East, North‑Central and North‑West. In these areas, it is likely that most farming households will not be able to cultivate in 2020.

In April, despite the ongoing pastoral lean season, forage availability was overall satisfactory in the main grazing areas of the country. The domestic livestock seasonal return movement from the south to the north started in early March due to the normal onset of the rains in the south. The animal health situation is generally stable. FAO-Nigeria is supporting the Government to contain the prevalence of seasonal livestock disease outbreaks, including Trypanosomiasis in northern parts of the country (Plateau and Bauchi States).

Above‑average cereal production harvested in 2019

Harvesting activities for the 2019 rainfed and irrigated crops was completed by end-January. Favourable rainfall across the country and the adequate supply of inputs by the Government and several NGOs benefited the 2019 national cereal production, estimated at 30.9 million tonnes, about 16 percent above the five‑year average. The 2019 harvest included 12.7 million tonnes of maize (18 percent above average) and 9.6 million tonnes of paddy (22 percent above average). However, despite the above‑average aggregate production, several localities experienced production shortfalls due to pockets of drought during June‑July, flooding in September as well as Fall Armyworm infestations on maize crops.

Below‑average import requirements forecast

Despite trade restrictions introduced since 2015 by the Government, the country remains the largest importer of rice in Africa. Rice import quantities fluctuated substantially in recent years, reaching 1.8 million tonnes, while wheat imports reached 5.4 million tonnes in 2019. Following the above‑average 2019 production, cereal import requirements for the 2019/20 (November/October) marketing year are forecast at a below‑average level of 7.1 million tonnes.

Food prices at extremely high levels in northeast

Markets remain well supplied due to the commercialization of the recently harvested crops and substantial carryover stocks from the previous year. However, prices of locally produced cereals were generally higher in March 2020, supported by the increasing demand from the households in deficit areas as well as local processing factories as land borders remained officially closed. In particular, the extreme high levels of prices were reported in the northeast due to persisting insecurity and its impacts on trade activities and market availabilities. Prices of staple cereals are expected to decline in the coming months in most markets as a result of the decline in petrol prices from NGN 145 to NGN 125 per litre, which will probably lower transportation costs.

Over 5 million people remain food insecure

According to the March 2020 "Cadre Harmonisé" analysis, the aggregate number of severely food insecure people (CH Phase 3: "Crisis" and above) is estimated at about 5 million, up from the 2 million estimated in March 2019. If appropriate measures and responses are not implemented, this number is projected to increase to nearly 7 million people during the next lean season between June and August 2020, well above the about 5 million food insecure people that were estimated for the June ‑ August 2019 period. Urgent food assistance is needed for 1.4 million people in Borno and 1 million people in Yobe states. The main drivers for the significant deterioration in the food security situation and the expected increase in the number of people in need of assistance are localized cereal production shortfalls and the escalation of armed and community conflicts.

In addition, the repeated attacks by armed groups in the northwest and central states have contributed to an increase in population displacements, with new arrivals mainly from the districts of Shiroro, Rafi, Munya and Wushishi. As of February 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) identified over 2.5 million people that have been displaced, over 90 percent due to the insurgency in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, and the rest due to communal clashes in North‑West/North‑Central and to natural disaster. Most displaced households have limited income and rely on humanitarian assistance, but access is limited by the persisting insecurity.