ETHIOPIA* (11 February)
A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Assessment Mission that visited the country late last year estimated the cereal and pulse production from the 2004 "meher" season at 14.27 million tonnes, 24 percent above the previous year's revised estimates and 21 percent above the average of the previous five years. Extended rainfall, increased fertilizer use (up by 20 percent) and a 30 percent increase in use of improved seeds, especially maize and wheat, boosted average yields in key production areas.
Despite the good harvest, some 2.2 million acutely food-insecure people will require emergency food assistance to meet minimum food requirements in 2005. In addition, some 683 000 people in Somali Region and 250 000 people in Afar Region, who will eventually be covered under the safety-net programme, will require emergency food assistance for the first half of 2005. Total emergency food needs in 2005 are, therefore, estimated at 387 500 tonnes. Targeted supplementary food distributions to 700 000 children under five and 300 000 pregnant and lactating women will require 89 000 tonnes of fortified blended food and vegetable oil.
What is unique and first in the history of food aid appeals for Ethiopia this year is the separation made between addressing the needs of chronically food-insecure people and acutely food-insecure people. The Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) will target about 5 million chronically food-insecure people in rebuilding their livelihoods through public and community works through cash and food transfers while the acutely food-insecure people will be targeted for emergency food distributions.
Timely marketing and transport of produce will be critical issues in 2005. Local purchase of food aid needs is recommended, as far as possible, to assist domestic markets.