SENEGAL (8 February)
The FAO/CILSS/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission estimated the 2004 cereal production at some 1 132 700 tonnes, which is 22 percent lower than last year’s record crop of about 1.4 million tonnes, but close to the five-year average. The important millet crop is estimated to decrease by 40 percent to some 379 166 tonnes, while sorghum production is 30 percent down from the previous year. This decline is due to inadequate rainfall combined with severe Desert Locust infestations in several areas in the north and centre, including Matam, Saint-Louis, Thiès, Diourbel and Louga regions. By contrast, production of groundnut, the main cash crop, will be up by 28 percent due to the substitution of millet and sorghum with groundnut by farmers and renewal of several government agricultural programmes including subsidizing maize and groundnut seeds and fertilizers. Moreover, the main groundnut producing areas were spared by both desert locusts and inadequate rainfall.
Millet prices have been increasing steeply since September in affected regions. Although the total cereal import requirement, estimated at 952 000 tonnes (mainly wheat and rice), is anticipated to be covered on commercial basis, millet prices are likely to remain high. In addition to food assistance to the most affected populations, many farming families will need seeds and other inputs for off-season agriculture, and even for the next main growing season. Pastoral and agro-pastoral groups have been especially hard hit. With scarce pasture and water, the early southern movement of livestock herds has already started, which may lead to confrontations. Urgent action is needed to establish safe passage areas for livestock and to vaccinate animals on their way to southern pastures.