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West and Central Africa: Markets situation for 2022 first quarter (May—2022)

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• World cereal trade for 2021-2022 suffered a contraction of 2% compared to its 2020 -2021 level. However, the use of cereals stood at 2.789 million tons, or 12.4 million less than the previous forecast. This decrease is due to the downward review of the use of wheat in animal feed, which should be less than expected.

• FAO food price index climbed and increased by 12.6% in March 2022 compared to February 2022 and reached its highest level since it was developed in 1990. This increase is driven by the increase in sub-indices of food products namely vegetable oils, cereals, meat, sugar, and dairy products.

• In West and Central Africa, the 2021 agricultural season did not perform well compared to last year. An average drop of 2.2% of cereal production in the Sahel has been recorded with a significant decrease of -39% in Niger compared to the five -year average. This situation increases tension in the markets where the highest variations of price are recorded and current prices higher than those usually observed during the lean season. The rapid depletion of stocks and increased household dependence on markets herald an early and tense lean season in the Sahel region. The month of Ramadan has pushed further up the demand of cereals, cooking oil, and dairy products.

• The security situation remains tense in the tri-border area in the Central Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, and the north-western and southwestern regions of Cameroon and north-western and center-north Nigeria. Insecurity strongly disrupts the functioning of markets reducing food availability and limiting access to market. In 2021, a study of the functionality of markets conducted by WFP in the G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad) showed that respectively 22, 21, 54, 60 and 54% of the markets assessed in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger were less functional and only in Burkina 27% of markets were functioning properly.

• On top of this fragile food security condition, the crisis in Ukrainian has consequences on the food production systems, at macroeconomic level and on a dire exiting humanitarian context. West Africa imports around 22 million tonnes of cereals, of which 46% of wheat come from Ukraine and Russia. In addition to wheat,
Russia, and Ukraine export sunflower seeds. The conflict has disrupted the supply chain and shortages for these two products are observed with a significant increase of prices. As a result, the price of vegetable oil increased across the region, between 30 and 60% in March 2022.

• The next agricultural campaign seems to threaten by the rise of agricultural inputs prices, in particular fertilizers, of which Russia and Ukraine are a large exporter and constitute the first sources of imports for several countries in the region.