FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.3, June 2000


BURUNDI* (5 June)

Harvesting of the 2000 second season foodcrops has started. Prospects are uncertain reflecting a late start of the rainy season and a dry spell in April/May that may have resulted in reductions in planting and yields. Following a reduced first season foodcrop, harvested early in the year, the outturn of this season is crucial for the food security in the country.

The political situation is volatile, with occasional violent incidents between government and rebel groups, particularly around Bujumbura city. The food situation continues to be tight for a large number of people affected by a reduced harvest and for displaced people in regroupment camps. The Government has started the dismantling of these camps, where the food and nutritional situation of the population is extremely poor. However, it is estimated that some 317 000 people are still living in the camps. Emergency food assistance is being distributed to more than 250 000 affected people.

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is planned to visit the country from 19 June to 1 July 2000.

ERITREA* (3 June)

Prospects for the 2000 main season crops, about to be planted, are unfavourable following the displacement of a large number of farmers from major producing areas by the border conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia. The spring rains in March and April were also inadequate for soil moisture replenishment. The main rains are not expected until July/August. Grain production in 1999 was well below the bumper crop in 1998 due to drought and delayed sowing. The drought in coastal areas was particularly severe affecting crops and pasture. In addition, in areas affected by the armed conflict, production was seriously affected by population displacement.

The food situation is very tight for more than a million people displaced by the war with Ethiopia and severe drought conditions in three Administrative Zones of Anseba, North Red Sea and South Red Sea. Earlier in the year, total cereal import requirements in 2000 were estimated at 290 000 tonnes of which food aid amounts to 100 000 tonnes. However, with the escalation of the conflict, food assistance requirements are expected to increase.

In January 2000, the UN Country Team appealed for US$42.7 million to assist some 372 000 war-affected and over 211 000 drought affected people. Total pledges by end-May amounted to about 53 000 tonnes, of which 23 000 had been delivered.

ETHIOPIA* (3 June)

Prospects for the 2000 secondary "Belg" crop, for harvest from June, are unfavourable reflecting delayed rains and erratic precipitation in some areas. The Belg crop accounts for around 8 to 10 percent of annual grain production, but in some areas it is the main harvest. Rains, which normally start in February, did not establish until late-March. Precipitation was fairly abundant in April and beginning of May in central and northern parts. However, despite heavy rains, which caused localised flooding, the severe drought conditions over southern and south-eastern Ethiopia have yet to improve. The failure of last year's Belg season has severely affected the food supply situation of large numbers of people and were exacerbated by the continued drought through the 1999 main season in these areas.

Planting of the main 2000 main "Meher" season crops is about to start. Early prospects improved with recent good rains that favoured land preparation. The 1999/2000 Meher season grain harvest was estimated by an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in November/December at 10.7 million tonnes, some 6 percent below the previous year's outturn. The most important factors affecting production were the poor Belg rains and the late start of the Meher rains.

The food supply situation in pastoral areas of the east and south, particularly the Somali Region, which have had three consecutive years of little or no rainfall, remains precarious. Large numbers of livestock have perished due to drought and a number of starvation-related deaths, particularly among children, are reported. People are congregating in towns and feeding centres in search of water and food. In the country as a whole, more than 8 million people, including 400 000 displaced by the border war with Eritrea, are facing severe food shortages. With the intensification of the war with Eritrea and bleak prospects for the Belg crop in 2000, the number of people in need of assistance is anticipated to increase. Relief food aid requirement in 2000 is estimated at 652 000 tonnes but is likely to increase with the poor prospects of the Belg season. An Emergency Operation worth US$136.8 million was jointly approved by FAO and WFP in February 2000 to assist some 2.3 million people for a period of nine months. Total pledges by the end-May amounted to 823 000 tonnes of which 298 000 tonnes has been delivered.

KENYA (3 June)

Prospects for the 2000 main "long rains" cereal crop, to be harvested from October in the main growing areas, are unfavourable due to continued drought in most parts of the country. Rainfall that began as usual in early March in south-western parts of the country has been erratic. By late May most parts of the country recorded well below average rains and as a result, sowing of crops was delayed and area planted was considerably below average.

Output of the 1999/2000 secondary "short rains" cereal crop, harvested earlier in the year, was estimated at a reduced 315 000 tonnes, compared with the previous five year average of about 410 000 tonnes. Overall, the 1999/2000 maize output is now estimated at about 2.2 million tonnes compared to 2.44 million tonnes in 1998 and 2.5 million tonnes average over the previous five years due to drought, inadequate input supply and armyworm infestation in parts.

The food supply situation is critical in the northern, eastern and north-western pastoral districts and parts of Central, Coast and Rift Valley provinces as a result of successive crop failures due mainly to drought. Worst affected districts include Turkana, Mandera, Moyale, Garissa, Kajiado, Machakos, Mbeere, Kitui, Wajir, Mwingi, Tana River, Marsabit, Isiolo, Baringo, Samburu, West Pokot, Makueni, and Tharaka Nithi. Prices of maize, the key staple, increased sharply in most parts affecting access to food for a large number of people. Increased malnutrition and health problems were also reported in the affected areas.

In May, the Government appealed for international food assistance amounting to US$134.2 million, reflecting the large numbers of people faced with severe food shortages. The long drought has also drained reservoirs in dams, prompting the Government to take measures of rationing power for the next six months.

RWANDA* (5 June)

Harvesting of the 2000 B season is underway. The outlook is uncertain. Erratic and irregular rains during the season with prolonged dry spells in mid- January and mid-May are likely to have negatively affected yields, particularly of sorghum and beans. These crops are reported in poor condition in central areas, particularly in hilly areas. By contrast, more resistant sweet potatoes and cassava are reported to be good.

Despite an overall satisfactory food supply situation, following an increased first season foodcrops harvest, serious nutritional problems persist in different areas of the country. In late April, local authorities of Kigali Rural Province launched an appeal for food assistance for people suffering from malnutrition in the food-deficit Bugesera region. This region has been affected by successive poor harvests. In the communes of Kanzenze, Ngenda, Gashora and Gikoro the number of malnourished people is estimated between 30 percent of the population (Gikoro) and 80 percent (Kanzenze). Malnutrition related deaths have already been reported. Emergency food assistance is urgently required in these areas.

SOMALIA* (13 June)

Although good rains were received between mid-April/early-May, little or no rains were received since, adversely affecting the growing conditions for the 2000 "Gu" season. Poor rains were also received in the more vulnerable rainfed crop areas of Bakool and Gedo, while below average rains were recorded in Hiran and Bay. Some flooding was also reported in some central and southern parts due to heavy rains. Overall, plantings and productivity of cereal crops remain constrained due to insecurity and shortages of seeds and other agricultural inputs.

Despite some improvement of the food supply situation in parts of southern Somalia with a better Deyr harvest in February 2000, more than 650 000 people are facing severe food shortages. Hardest hit are Bakool, Gedo, Bay and Hiran Regions where the Deyr harvest failed. With an uncertain prospect for the main "Gu" rainy season, which accounts for about three-quarters of annual crop production, the overall food supply situation is remains precarious.

Elsewhere, in north-western Somalia (Somaliland) and north-eastern Somalia (Puntland), food supply and pasture conditions are anticipated to improve following good and well distributed rains in April and May. However, some 200 000 poor pastoralists are reported to be facing food and water shortages.

Food aid distributed in southern Somalia in May 2000 amounted to about 1 560 tonnes.

SUDAN* (13 June)

Harvesting of the 2000 wheat crop is complete. A recent FAO/GIEWS Crop Assessment Mission estimated wheat output at 214 000 tonnes, some 24 percent above last year's reduced crop but about 60 percent below the previous five year's average of about 532 000 tonnes. Despite near optimal weather conditions, area planted to wheat declined drastically due to the liberalisation of wheat production and the removal of Government support programmes to encourage wheat production in the Gezira, Rahad and New Halfa irrigation schemes. In 1999, Government directives for farmers to commit a proportion of their land under wheat cultivation were removed. This, together with the abolishing of the repayment arrangements for seeds and fertilizer, prompted many farmers to either drastically reduce wheat cultivation and switch to more lucrative cash crops, such as vegetables and oil seeds, or leave land fallow. As a result, area planted under wheat declined further from the reduced 355 000 feddans (149 000 ha) in the 1998/99 season to merely 243 000 feddans (102 000 ha) this year - representing a decrease of some 32 percent. However, a combination of favourable weather conditions during the growing season and relatively low incidence of pest attacks have resulted in a substantial increase in yields.

The Mission also revised down the final estimate of sorghum production for 1999/2000 to around 2.35 million tonnes compared to 3.11 million tonnes estimated by the FAO/WFP mission late last year, mainly due to lower yields and pest damage, especially sorghum midge, rats, grasshoppers and birds. At this level, the sorghum crop is some 45 percent below the previous year's bumper harvest and about 24 percent below the average for the previous five years. Final estimates of the millet production remain unchanged from the preliminary estimates of the FAO/WFP mission at 499 000 tonnes. The aggregate production of cereals in 1999/2000 is, therefore, estimated at 3.14 million tonnes, including small quantities of maize and rice. This represents a drop over last year and the previous five years of some 39 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Reflecting lower cereal harvests in 1999/2000 and the drawing down of stocks due mainly to a surge in exports during 1999, cereal prices have risen sharply since November 1999.

With an estimated cereal production of about 3.14 million tonnes, commercial cereal imports forecast at 912 000 tonnes and food assistance of about 104 000 tonnes, the country's cereal utilisation requirement estimated at about 4.7 million tonnes in 1999/2000 would require heavy draw-down of stocks. It is estimated that cereal stocks will need to be drawn down by 538 000 tonnes, resulting in their virtual depletion by the end of the current marketing year.

The food supply situation remains highly precarious in southern Sudan, mainly due to insecurity, and in some pockets in the states of Kordofan, Darfur, and Red Sea and Kessela in the north where crop losses and population displacements have affected large number of people. The conflict between the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Eritrea has also resulted in tens of thousands of refugees crossing the border into Sudan adversely affecting the food supply situation in these bordering areas. The Government of Sudan has already appealed to the international community for relief and emergency assistance to the refugees.

Early prospects for the 2000/01 coarse grains, planting of which is about to start, are promising. Current high cereal prices in the country and growing export opportunities to neighbouring Eritrea and Ethiopia have prompted farmers for early preparation of land and likely increase in area sown which were also helped by early start of rains in some parts. The Government has also embarked on a strategy of early delivery of necessary agricultural inputs, including seeds, fertilisers, fuel and pesticides.


Harvesting of the 2000 main season cereal crops in the unimodal areas is underway. Poor rainfall in the last three months in Dodoma and Singida Regions is expected to severely reduce maize output. By contrast, good rains in the grain-basket southern highlands and in western Tabora and Kigoma Regions favoured crops. In the bi-modal rainfall areas of northern coastal belt and north-eastern areas, cereal crops are scheduled to be harvested from next month. Delayed plantings in Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga Regions due to late onset of rains is anticipated to affect yields. However, favourable rains were recorded in Mara, Mwanza and Shinyanga Regions.

The 1999 cereal crop, mainly maize, is estimated at 4 million tonnes (including paddy), about 16 percent below last year's output due to erratic rains, reduced use of inputs and an outbreak of armyworms. By contrast, production of other food crops, including beans, potatoes, cassava and plantains has increased by nearly 13 percent to 3.3 million tonnes.

Overall, despite lower cereal production in 1999/2000, the food supply situation is stable reflecting large maize imports in the latter half of 1999 and the maize export ban imposed by the Government. Maize prices in several markets of the country were below the five years average. However, food assistance is required for nearly 800 000 people identified as food insecure, mainly in the regions of Dodoma, Mara, Shinyanga, Singida, Tabora, Tanga and southern Mwanza, all of whom have now suffered their third consecutive poor harvest.

UGANDA (3 June)

Prospects for the 2000 main season cereal crops improved with favourable rains recently. However, in the eastern districts, including Katakwi, Kumi, Lira and Soroti, late and erratic rains delayed planting. The rains also improved pasture and livestock conditions in pastoral areas in the north-east.

The output of the main season crop in 1999 was below average due to a prolonged drought experienced in various parts of the country. Cereal production in 1999 is estimated to be about 9 percent below average at 1.7 million tonnes.

The food supply situation is adequate in most parts of the country. Prices of maize and beans in April and May have followed normal seasonal trends. Nevertheless, the food supply situation remains precarious in Kotido and Moroto districts, with nearly 215 000 people needing urgent food assistance, mainly due to last season's poor harvest and loss of cattle due to raids. Also, the food supply situation in Gulu and Kitgum has deteriorated due to civil unrest. Furthermore, food assistance continues to be needed for nearly 112 000 people in Bundibugyo District displaced by civil unrest.

Table Of ContentsBack to menu