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The relative contributions of cereal production, imports, and aid to somali food security

R. Gavin
H. Haji
P. Porter


Somalia is among the poorest countries on the planet. Since the fall of Siad Barre’s regime in 1991, the country has been in a near-constant state of food insecurity and suffered two officially declared famines. In order to address the issue of food insecurity in Somalia, a greater understanding of each of the components that contribute to the Somali food supply is merited. Cereal crops make up a third to half of the Somali diet by calories and are among the most important food crops produced by the country. This study investigated the historic trends in domestic cereal production, cereal imports, and food aid (reported in cereal equivalents) in Somalia by exploring secondary data publicly available from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the World Food Programme. These data were related to World Bank population data in Microsoft Excel and average per capita production, import, and aid figures were calculated. Median changes over time and their associated interquartile ranges were reported. The data demonstrated that Somali cereal production levels have not improved since the 1960’s, and since that time, they have been characterized by an extreme amount of year-to-year volatility. Moreover, maize and sorghum are the only meaningful fractions of Somalia’s domestic cereal production, and recent total production of each crop is well below the levels observed in the 1980’s. When combined, per capita production of maize and sorghum has decreased precipitously over time (falling from a high of 91 kg per capita in 1972 to just 30 kg per capita in 2012). This is likely due to a combination of stagnant production and rapidly increasing Somali population (up over 350% since 1961). This has increased the importance of cereal imports and aid to Somalia and has made the country vulnerable to disruptions in international cereal markets and foreign government policies. Improving domestic cereal production in Somalia should be part of any future food security strategy for the country. Recent agricultural research in Somalia suggests that the implementation of simple agricultural best management practices can increase cereal production in the country.

Keywords: Somalia, Population Growth, Cereal Production, Cereal Imports, Food Aid

Afr. J. Food Agric. Nutr. Dev. 2019; 19(3): 14587-14601

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358