Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture Foodcrops and shortages
Global Information and Early Warning System on food and agriculture
March 2001


AFRICA: Despite improved harvests in parts, the food supply situation in eastern Africa remains precarious, with about 18 million people still in need of food assistance. The number of refugees and internally displaced people due to civil strife continues to increase, particularly in Central and Western Africa. The situation of Sierra Leone and refugees in Guinea gives cause for serious concern. Localized food shortages have emerged in Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger, while a prolonged dry spell and floods in several locations in southern Africa could adversely affect the current season's food production.

ASIA: A grave food crisis has emerged in Afghanistan, the result of successive droughts, harsh winters and incessant civil strife. Substantial food and other humanitarian assistance is urgently needed. In Mongolia, another extremely cold winter has killed large numbers of livestock, aggravating the food insecurity of nomadic herders who lost millions of their livestock last year. Elsewhere, the food supply situation remains tight in DPR Korea due to drought, economic difficulties and the coldest winter in decades and in Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan due to drought last year.

LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN: In El Salvador, a succession of earthquakes in January and February caused many deaths and extensive damage to housing and infrastructure. Although major food crops had already been harvested, the damage to the infrastructure will affect agricultural activities in 2001. Emergency food and other assistance is being provided to the affected population. In South America, wheat harvest is completed, while prospects for the coarse grain crops in the field are favourable.

EUROPE: Winter grain area in the EC is likely to decline from last year due to somewhat unfavourable weather last autumn. Persistent drought and high temperatures in central and eastern Europe, particularly in Hungary and the Balkan Peninsula in the south, will negatively affect the 2001 cereal harvests. In the Russian Federation, displaced people in Chechnya and surrounding republics continue to need food assistance. In the Baltic countries, the early outlook for 2001 winter cereals is satisfactory.

NORTH AMERICA: Although weather conditions in the United States remain generally satisfactory, an extremely cold winter, one of the coldest on record, may have caused higher than normal winterkill, negatively affecting wheat yields. Also, official estimates indicate that the winter wheat area has declined by 5 percent to the lowest level since 1971. Dry conditions at sowing time in the main growing areas are reportedly the major reason. In Canada, early planting intentions for wheat and coarse grains point to similar areas as in the previous year.

OCEANIA: Wheat output in Australia is estimated to be some 4 million tonnes below last year's bumper crop. Early prospects for the summer 2001 coarse grain crops, recently planted, are somewhat unfavourable due to dry weather and the final area sown is likely to be reduced. A series of earthquakes hit Papua New Guinea last December, but damage is reported to be limited. Despite the peace agreement last October, the security situation remains volatile in the Solomon Islands.

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