Gambia: FOA says access to food constrained by high prices of imported commodities

Gambia: FOA says access to food constrained by high prices of imported commodities

Though predicting a favorable crop season, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization said The Gambia needs continued assistance to address food crisis with high prices of goods restricting access.

The Gambia, in a normal year, relies on imports for nearly half of its cereal consumption requirements (mostly rice and wheat) and domestic cereal prices are strongly affected by world prices and the exchange rate of the Dalasi (GMD), the national currency.

The depreciation of the dalasi over the past few years made food prices to spike making access to food difficult for most people.

The UN says prospects for the 2016 cereal crops, to be harvested from September, are favorable in most regions following regular and widespread precipitation since the beginning of the season this summer.

At least 239,000 tons of cereal is expected to be produced, a 37% increase from 2014 and 9% above the five-year average.

The Gambia’s main export is peanuts and yield is expected to increase by 13%.

In 2014, The Gambia was hit by food crisis due to poor rains. At least a third of the country is food insecure. About 200,000 people have already crossed the emergency threshold and need urgent food assistance. Across the country, 50,000 children are acutely malnourished, 8,000 of them in the highest category of severity.

The UN said despite major crises unfolding around the globe and in the region, the needs of vulnerable Gambians must not be overlooked.

The combined effects of the recent Sahel food crises, localized heavy flooding in 2012 and 2013, and drought in 2014 have eroded vulnerable households’ coping mechanisms and resulted in protracted food insecurity in pockets of the country and persisting acute malnutrition.

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