Rising prices on the international market have had a devastating impact on West African markets. Prices of commodities such as rice, sugar and wheat have risen by 30% – 50% since December 2021, according to the United Nations (UN).
“The situation is even more worrying for local food products which, because of the drought that the Sahel experienced during the 2021/2022 agricultural season, have seen significant drops in production (-75% compared to the five-year average in some regions of Niger),” the organisation said via a statement.
“The prices of these commodities, which were already scarce on the markets during the harvest period, are between 30% and 150% higher than the five-year average in December 2021.”
Aside from rising international market prices and falling production, other factors driving up consumer prices include the deteriorating security situation in some countries, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria. The weakness of local currencies against the US dollar in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia is another factor driving prices sky-high.
Taking into consideration a 2.2% increase in world inventories in January 2022 compared to the same period last year, world cereal production is expected to increase by 1.8% in 2021 compared to 2020. This will reach a total of 2793 million tonnes. However, due to demand for animal feed, industrial use, human consumption and grain utilisation – projected at 2805 million tonnes – continues to rise.
“Uncertainties on the volumes of these productions and the coming one are linked to the increase in the price of inputs (fertilisers, fuel, electricity, pesticides), rising labour costs and more frequent climatic hazards, due to drought in North America, Western Europe and Africa, and floods in South America,” the UN said.
“Transport costs remained very high even if they stabilised by the end of 2021. The combination of all these factors is resulting in record levels of food prices on the international market.”