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

WESTERN AFRICA

BENIN (5 June)

The first rains started in mid-March in the south, allowing planting of the first maize crop. Rains covered the entire country in late April. Rainfall was above average during the last dekad of May, benefiting planting and emergence of millet and sorghum crops in the north.

Following a well above-average cereal harvest in 1999, estimated at 925 000 tonnes (including paddy), the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Cereal imports, for domestic use and re-exports, during the 2000 marketing year are estimated at 145 000 tonnes and food aid requirements at 10 000 tonnes.

BURKINA FASO (12 June)

The rainy season started with generally above normal rains. The first significant rains were registered in early April in the south-west and the south-east. They progressed northwards in May and were generally above normal during the first and the third dekad but the weather remained mostly dry in the north. Rains covered almost the entire country during the first dekad of June but decreased significantly, notably in the east where they were below average. Land preparation and planting of millet and sorghum is now underway in the south and the centre. More rains are needed in the east and the south in the coming weeks to avoid water stress.

Seed availability is adequate following the two successive 1998 and 1999 record harvests. No pest activity is reported.

The final 1999 production estimates released by the statistical services indicate that 1999 aggregate production of cereals reached a record of 2.7 million tonnes (including paddy), some 13 percent above the five year average. Millet and sorghum production showed a decrease, while maize and rice production increased. Following this record crop, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Markets are well supplied and prices of local millet and sorghum are significantly lower than in previous several years. Traders are importing cereals from Mali in Soum, Sourou and Yatenga provinces. However, some populations will remain vulnerable during the lean season following successive below-average harvests, notably in the provinces of Boulkiemdé, Samnatenga and Sanguié. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year (November/October) is estimated at 155 000 tonnes, mainly wheat and rice. Emergency food assistance has been distributed in the provinces of Boulkiemdé, Kouritenga, Passoré, Poni, and Yatenga to 12 000 Burkinabe returnees from Côte d'Ivoire.

CAPE VERDE (12 June)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Planting of maize normally starts in July with the onset of the rains on the main islands. Following a record harvest in 1999, the availability of seeds should be adequate.

1999 maize production has been estimated at a record 25 700 tonnes which is about 5 times higher than in 1998 and the last five-year average. Following this record crop, the overall food supply situation has improved in rural areas affected by several successive poor crops. With normal cereal imports, markets are well supplied and prices are stable. However, the bumper 1999 production will cover only about a quarter of consumption requirement, but available stocks and planned commercial imports or food aid for the year 2000 will be sufficient to cover the deficit. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 70 000 tonnes of which 50 000 tonnes are expected to be received as food aid. About 405 000 tonnes of food aid have been received so far.

CHAD (12 June)

The growing season has started on time in the Sudanian zone. Following first sporadic rains in late March, significant rains were registered in mid-April in the extreme south. The rainy season really started in mid and late May in the south, in the Sudanian zone. Planting of coarse grains is underway in the south. Land preparation is starting in the Sahelian zone. Pastures remain good.

Seed availability is adequate following 1999 above average harvest. Grasshoppers attacks have been reported in Batha and Ouaddaï. No Desert Locusts activity is reported.

Prospects for off-season crops are favourable. Harvest of the recession berbere crop is complete and production is above average.

Following release of final production estimates by the national statistical services, the aggregate 1999 cereal production is estimated at 1 230 000 tonnes (with rice in paddy), which is 5 percent below the 1998 record but 16 percent above the five-year average. The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Prices of cereals remain stable and are lower than previous years in both Sudanian and Sahelian zones. Farmers have replenished stocks for the second consecutive year or sold cereals to compensate for low cotton incomes and poor groundnut production. Some areas were flooded in Moyen Chari and Logone Oriental prefectures. Food supply difficulties could be experienced in northern Lac province and in some areas of Batha, Biltine, Kanem (notably in Mao and Nokou sub-prefectures) and Tandjilé. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 67 000 tonnes, including 12 000 tonnes of food aid.

COTE D'IVOIRE (5 June)

Rains have started in the south and the centre in mid-March allowing planting of the first maize crop. Abundant precipitation covered the entire country during the first dekad of May. It decreased in mid-May but was well above average countrywide during the third dekad, benefiting planting and emergence of millet and sorghum crops in the north.

Production of rice in 1999 increased compared to 1998 due to good rains and larger plantings. Following a good cereal harvest in 1999, estimated at almost 1.8 million tonnes (with rice in paddy), the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 655 000 tonnes, mainly rice and wheat. Some 100 000 Liberian refugees and 1 500 Sierra Leoneans are present in the west.

THE GAMBIA (12 June)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. The rains have not yet started and farmers are currently preparing their fields. Planting is expected to start in the weeks ahead with the onset of the rains.

Following 1999 record harvest, the seed availability is adequate for cereals. However, there are indications that shortages of groundnut seeds might occur, since at least part of the stored seeds are infested.

Following release of final production figures by national statistical services, aggregate 1999 cereal production is estimated at a record 155 600 tonnes (with rice in paddy), 36 percent above 1998 and 48 percent above the five-year average. The overall food supply situation is satisfactory and markets are well supplied. However, some areas were affected by substantial flooding, especially in Lower, Central and Upper Baddibous, Fulladu West in the Central River Division and in Sandu, Wulli and Kontora in the Upper River Division. Cereal imports for domestic use and re-export during the 1999/2000 marketing year are estimated at 114 000 tonnes.

GHANA (5 June)

First rains started in the south and the centre during the second dekad of March, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. They progressed to the north in April, decreased significantly during the second dekad of May but were widespread and above average during the third dekad, allowing plantings and emergence of millet and sorghum crops in the north.

The aggregate output of cereals in 1999 is estimated at 1 686 000 tonnes (with rice in paddy) which is slightly below the output in 1998 and the average. The food supply situation is tight for populations affected by floods in 1999 in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions. WFP provided emergency assistance to some vulnerable people. About 10 000 Liberian refugees remain in the country. Cereal imports for domestic use and re-export during the 2000 marketing year are estimated at 485 000 tonnes and the food aid requirement at 46 000 tonnes.

GUINEA (5 June)

First rains have been registered in the extreme south in March. Rains covered the entire country and were generally above average in April. Precipitation decreased in the centre and the north in early and mid-May but improved in late May. Planting of rice and coarse grains is underway.

Following a record cereal harvest in 1999, estimated at a 1.04 million tonnes (with rice in paddy), the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Markets are well supplied both in urban and rural areas. Surpluses are available in the Guinée Maritime and Guinée Forestière regions. Some 488 000 refugees remain in the country (120 000 from Liberia and 366 000 from Sierra Leone), located mainly in Gueckédou (360 000), Forécariah (60 000) and N'Zérékore (60 000). They are receiving food assistance and are considered at moderate nutritional risk. The cereal import requirement for the 2000 marketing year is estimated at 350 000 tonnes of wheat and rice.

GUINEA-BISSAU (5 June)

The rainy season has started in the east and the south. The first rains were registered in mid-April in the east and the south. The weather remained mostly dry in late April and during the first and second dekads of May. Precipitation resumed in the east and the south during the third dekad of May and the first one of June. Land preparation for coarse grains is underway in the east and the north. Planting of rice in seedbeds has also started. Transplanting will start in July/August after desalination of swamp rice fields with more rains.

Seed availability problems are likely in some areas following the reduced 1999 harvest. However, input distributions have been undertaken with support from FAO, UNDP and the Government of Sweden, and 120 tonnes of rice seeds have been produced and distributed in the framework of an FAO emergency project.

The 1999 cereal production, estimated at 138 700 tonnes (with rice in paddy), is 5 percent above 1998, but below the 1997/98 pre-crisis level and below average. The overall food supply situation has improved. However, some population groups are still facing food supply difficulties, notably in urban areas and in Catio, Fulakunda and Bambadinca areas.

LIBERIA* (5 June)

First seasonal rains were received in early March in the south, becoming widespread and abundant only in late March. Rainfall remained generally abundant and above average, except in late April in the centre. Planting of the rice crop is underway. As in previous years, input distribution has been undertaken by several NGOs in various areas. Crop production should increase in 2000 if climatic conditions are favourable. However, the main constraint faced by farmers is marketing, as processing facilities and transport infrastructure are very poor. Post-harvest losses are also reported to be high.

With the exception of Lofa County, relative peace in most areas has exerted a positive influence on farming activities. The cultivated area and therefore rice production, the staple crop, should increase. In Lofa County, several thousands farmers have been displaced from Voinjama and Kolahum camps in upper Lofa to Tarvey and Sinje in lower Lofa and have not been able to plant crops.

Food aid distributions continue but the quantities received are decreasing significantly. The two agencies providing food aid in Liberia are WFP and CRS. WFP food aid decreased from 34 120 tonnes in 1998 to 28 730 tonnes in 1999 and only 3 410 tonnes have been received so far in 2000. Similarly, CRS food aid declined from 35 000 tonnes in 1997, to 24 000 tonnes in 1998, 8 900 tonnes in 1999 and 4 000 tonnes in 2000 (+2 000 tonnes for monetisation). Activities are evolving from emergency distributions and food for work towards development programmes. WFP is also distributing food aid to Liberian returnees and to 36 000 Sierra Leonean refugees (out of the 90 000 present in Liberia before the recent civil strife upsurge in Sierra Leone). Liberian refugees are returning from Côte d'Ivoire. Their total number since 1 January now stands at 2 620. Some 32 000 Liberian refugees in Guinea have also registered with UNHCR to return home.

MALI (12 June)

The growing season has started in the south. The first significant rains were registered in the extreme south in April. They progressed northwards and were above normal during the first dekad of May but they decreased during the second dekad. Precipitation resumed during the last dekad. Rains improved and progressed northwards during the first dekad of June. Land preparation is underway and first planting of millet and sorghum has started in the south. Pastures are generally adequate.

Seed availability is good following the two successive record crops in 1998 and 1999. Low numbers of Desert Locusts may be present and are likely to persist in a few wadis in the Adrar des Iforas. Limited laying could occur once the seasonal rains commence.

Production of irrigated rice in Ségou and Mopti Regions reached record levels. Production of recession sorghum and maize is also good.

Following two successive bumper crops, the overall food situation is satisfactory. Markets are well supplied and cereal prices are much lower than previous years. They were still decreasing in March, when they normally start to increase with the arrival of the lean season. However, these very low prices, due to large cereal surpluses, may cause economic difficulties for farmers in some areas, notably in some irrigated rice areas. There are good opportunities for local purchases and transfer of surplus cereals to neighbouring countries or even outside West Africa. The national early warning system (SAP) estimated that only 2 arrondissements out of the 173 it monitors in the centre and the north (namely Baye in the Bankass cercle and Diankabou in the Koro cercle), are moderately at risk of food shortages following floods which destroyed rice crops. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 100 000 tonnes of wheat and rice. No food aid is required.

MAURITANIA (12 June)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Planting will start following the onset of the rains in June/July. Dry plantings are underway in the south-east (Hodh El Chargui). Seed availability is generally adequate following good rainfed crop harvests in 1999 in most areas.

During the first week of May, there was an unconfirmed report of a few flying Desert Locusts groups in Adrar, east of Oudane. No other locust activity was reported during the month. Scattered residual populations may persist in the remaining green patches of vegetation along the wadis in the Bir Moghrein and El Hank areas. As the vegetation dries out, these populations are expected to move south towards the summer breeding areas in Tagant and the two Hodhs where they are expected to mature and lay with the onset of the rains.

Recession walo crops have been severely affected by pest attacks. Aggregate cereal production in 1999/2000 was estimated at 250 900 tonnes (with rice in paddy) which is 28 percent above the 1998/99 production and well above average.

The food situation improved in rural areas following a favourable harvest in rainfed areas in 1999. Food distributions have been undertaken for populations affected by large floods in late 1999 in Brakna, Gorgol, Tagant and Trarza. Markets are well supplied and prices of cereals declined substantially following harvest. Some areas of Aftout and Affolé, Tagant, southern Assaba and the two Hodhs are also vulnerable. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 260 000 tonnes (excluding re-exports) and the food aid requirement at 25 000 tonnes.

NIGER (12 June)

The start of the rainy season was delayed. Following first rains in the extreme south-west in late April, the weather remained mostly dry until the third dekad of May, when rains progressed northwards in the south-west, allowing land preparation and first plantings to start. Satellite imagery indicates that cloud coverage progressed significantly northwards in the west and the centre during the first dekad of June. It is estimated that only 10 percent of the villages in Dosso department and 7 percent in Tahoua department had done their plantings as of late May. Dry plantings are also underway countrywide.

Seed availability is adequate following 1998 and 1999 bumper crops. During April, scattered Desert Locusts were seen during surveys carried out in south-eastern Aïr. Control operations treated 710 ha. Untreated adults may persist in the limited areas of green vegetation. These could have moved west towards Tamesna and lay if rainfall occurs.

Following release of final production figures by national statistical services, the aggregate production of cereals in 1999 is estimated at 2.87 million tonnes (with rice in paddy), about 4 percent below previous year's record crop but 25 percent above average. The overall food supply situation remains satisfactory. Markets are well supplied and prices of cereals are lower than average. Assessments by the National Early Warning System indicate that no emergency assistance is needed by the country. However, some areas in Aguié, Guidan Roumdji, Illéla, Keita, Matameye and Mayahi as well as some urban populations may be somewhat vulnerable. The national security stock has been reconstituted at a level of 14 577 tonnes of millet and 2 132 tonnes of sorghum.

NIGERIA (5 June)

First rains started in the south during the second dekad of March, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. Rains progressed northwards in April. Precipitation remained well below average during the first dekad of May. Rainfall improved in the south in mid-May and in the west and the centre in late May. Seasonably dry conditions persist in the extreme north-east.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Some population, however, remain vulnerable following flooding in late 1999 in five States (Sokoto, Adamwara, Borno, Kwara and Niger). New recent flooding inundated hundreds of hectares of farmland in Sokoto area in the north-west. The government decided in February to remove import duties and value-added tax on all agricultural inputs, including fertilizer. The government will no longer be involved in the importation and distribution of fertilizer.

SENEGAL (12 June)

Rains are progressing in the south-east and the centre. Early rains were registered in the extreme south-east in mid or late May. They progressed towards the centre and the southwest during the first dekad of June. Land preparation and plantings of coarse grains are starting in the south. Plantings will progress northwards following the onset of the rains.

Seed availability is generally adequate following 1999 record harvest. No significant pest activity has been reported.

The national statistical services released new production figures. Aggregate cereal production in 1999 is now estimated 1 256 000 tonnes (with rice in paddy equivalent), which is 63 percent above 1998 level and 34 percent above the five-year average. The overall food situation is satisfactory. Following substantial imports of rice in late 1999 and in January 2000, markets are well supplied and the price of rice is stable. Import taxes were reduced from 15.7 percent to 12.2 percent in early 2000. Prices of local cereals remain stable. However, in Casamance, in some areas of the departments of Diourbel, Kaffrine, Gossas, M'Backé and in the flooded areas of the Sénégal river valley (Dagana, Podor, Matam and Bakel), localized food supply difficulties are likely. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 760 000 tonnes, including 450 000 tonnes of rice. The food aid requirement is estimated at 10 000 tonnes.

SIERRA LEONE* (12 June)

During the first week of May, rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) fighters killed several UN peacekeepers and took hostage approximately 500 in a series of attacks in the north and east of the country. This dealt a serious setback to the Lome Peace Accord, which had been signed in July 1999 to formally end eight years of civil war. A rebel advance on Freetown over the weekend of May 6 and 7 created panic in the capital and caused the evacuation of most of the UN, embassy and international NGO personnel to neighbouring countries. The situation is now calm in the capital but hostilities between pro-government and rebel forces continue in the east and the north.

These civil disturbances spread out at a critical period for agriculture as planting of the rice crop, the main staple, normally takes place in May/June. Due to insecurity, input distribution was suspended and on-going relief operations were seriously disrupted, notably in the north, including Kambia, Lunsar, Makeni, and Kabala. Humanitarian assessment missions, which had recently reached as far as Kailahun and Kambia, have been blocked by rebels. Despite the current unrest, food distributions to IDPs and other vulnerable groups are continuing in accessible areas, mainly in Freetown, Bo and Kenema, in the Southern Province. However, WFP had to stop food distributions to approximately 200 000 beneficiaries and to curtail school feeding to about 30 000 children in Makeni, Lunsar and Magburaka. There are reports that civilians in towns under rebel control, such as Makeni, Lunsar, Magburaka and Fadugu, have been subjected to arduous food levies. Even if security improves in Northern and Eastern Provinces, poor road conditions, recurrent fuel shortages and inadequate logistical facilities continue to hamper humanitarian assistance. During the rainy season, road conditions worsen, impeding the delivery of relief commodities. In addition, many bridges are destroyed, and there are no operating ferries for river crossings; food commodities are currently ferried across rivers in small canoes. With the rainy season, the food supply situation is likely to deteriorate. The country will continue to suffer a chronic food deficit and to be dependent on external aid.

A total of approximately 220 000 IDPs have been registered by aid agencies. Estimates of the total number of non registered IDPs are widely divergent, ranging between 500 000 and 1.2 million. Fighting has displaced an estimated 64 000 people in May, notable from northern areas. Thousands of civilians have sought refuge in forests in nearby Kabala due to fighting. New IDPs arriving in Freetown and Port Loko have been absorbed into existing camps or housed by relatives. An estimated 490 000 Sierra Leonean refugees also remain in neighbouring West African countries : in Guinea (360 000), in Liberia (96 000) and in other West African states (34 000). Some Sierra Leoneans have fled on foot or by boat to neighbouring Guinea to escape the recent renewed fighting. However, RUF forces are reportedly blocking many more people from crossing the border into Guinea. Liberia has not reported any significant new influx of refugees. Between November 1999 and March 2000, an estimated 10 000 refugees returned from Liberia to major towns in the Southern and Eastern Provinces of Sierra Leone. Reports indicate that most of the recent returnees are from Kenema or Kailahun Districts. UNHCR also estimated that as many as 25 000 refugees returned to Kambia District in early 2000 based on a re-registration of refugees in Forecariah Province, Guinea.

TOGO (5 June)

First rains were received in the south and the centre during the second dekad of March, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. They progressed to the north in April and permitted planting of millet and sorghum. Precipitation decreased significantly over the northern half of the country during the first dekad of May but became widespread and abundant countrywide in late May.

Following a record cereal harvest in 1999, estimated at 748 000 tonnes (with rice in paddy), the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, some population affected by floods in the regions of Kara (in the north), Plateaux (in the west), Maritime (in the south) and Savanes (in the extreme north) remain vulnerable.


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