Disturbing food situation in West Africa:

In West Africa, the lean season can start earlier than usual due to insufficient grain stocks. To make matters worse, market prices can be historically high.

Sorghum, millet, maize, local or imported rice, the price of all cereals in West Africa is on the rise and exceeds the average for the last 5 years. Stocks are also much lower than usual. Result: the lean season should be early and, above all, cost more for households, warns the grain market’s economic bulletin N’Kalo.

The corn market is particularly critical. It is the first cereal grown in the sub-region, but production fell during the last campaign due to the lack of fertilizers, and the price only increased. And for the same reason, the harvests of the small harvest that will come this summer should not be exceptional. Just like those of the great autumn harvest whose sowing begins in certain regions. However, the low yield should be partially offset by an increase in surface area.

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Rice to replace maize In addition to the lack of fertilizer that weighs on all crops, insecurity is added to the Sahel zone. Especially in Mali, which historically was the sub-region’s breadbasket and which today hardly generates any surplus to export to neighboring countries. Rice is the grain that stands out and could benefit in the plates in the coming months: stocks are comfortable, world production looks very good this year , a record 515 million tonnes, according to the International Grains Council. And although shipping costs have increased, rice has increased less than corn.

► Read also: Rice, an alternative to replacing wheat in sub-Saharan Africa?

Other products from the region, such as yams, cassava or plantain leaves, could also act as a substitute, but there are circulation difficulties: several ECOWAS countries have introduced export bans. “Demagogic measures that have the effect of wiping out trade flows and exacerbating the crisis,” laments one expert.

The crisis has been going on for several months. And if the war in Ukraine is not the direct cause, it has exacerbated the situation.

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