Press Release 97/65
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO) SAYS FOOD SHORTAGES GRIP 29 COUNTRIES
AND WARNS THAT EL NIÑO THREATENS DAMAGE TO 1998 HARVESTS IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
RELEASES ANNUAL REPORT ON THE GLOBAL STATE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE FOR 1997
Rome, November 12 -- Food shortages continue to grip 29 countries worldwide, mostly
in Africa, according to a special edition of FAO’s Food Outlook released today
in connection with the on-going 29th session of the Organization’s governing Conference.
“Although in developing countries, cereal production in 1997 is forecast to decline
only slightly from last year’s good level, the number of countries facing food emergencies
in 1997 has increased to 29 countries compared to 25 in 1996,” Food Outlook
reported. “Of the affected countries, 18 are in Africa, five in Asia, five in eastern
Europe/CIS and one in Latin America.”
The countries affected in Africa are: Angola, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic
of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger,
Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. In Asia, Afghanistan,
Iraq, North Korea, Laos and Mongolia are affected; Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Georgia and Tajikistan in eastern Europe/CIS; and Haiti in Latin America. FAO said
adverse weather is the main cause of supply difficulties in most cases, but civil
strife and economic reforms continue to play a significant part.
With effects from the El Niño phenomenon expected to peak over the next few
months and into 1998, FAO experts say El Niño may pose a threat to the crops
planted in the coming months for harvest in 1998.
In Southern Africa, Food Outlook said “there is considerable concern over
the possible adverse impact of El Niño on the 1998 coarse grain crop. Experts
predict a strong possibility of poor rainfall for the planting season which is soon
to start. Accordingly, most governments have prepared comprehensive contingency plans
for mitigating the impact of a possible drought.”
In many Asian countries the impact of El Niño “could lead to a delay in rice
planting operations resulting in a switch to early maturing but lower yielding varieties.
Preliminary indications point towards reduced rice acreage in some of the southern
The FAO report analyzes the possible impact of El Niño on such important crops
as cereals, cassava, oil crops, cocoa, coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, tropical fruit,
citrus fruit, grapes and horticultural products. It also looks at how the fisheries
and forestry sectors may be affected. It says, global supplies of cotton and jute
do not appear likely to be affected, but says production of some hard fibres may
be expected to decline in the event of continued drought in some southern hemisphere
FAO’s annual report on The State of Food and Agriculture - 97 ( SOFA - 97),
released to delegates at the Conference and made available to reporters at today’s
technical briefing, contains data which FAO experts say documents growing gap between
those with access to sufficient food and those who suffer from hunger. “This widening
gap between have and have nots is a most disturbing trend and must be reversed to
comply with the commitments and objectives of the World Food Summit,” said an FAO
expert at the briefing.
SOFA -97 devotes one of three special sections to global climate change abatement
policies and their implications for some developing countries. The 265-page round-up
of global agriculture, forestry and fisheries issues, says the impact on the agricultural
sector of global abatement policies is likely to vary between regions and countries.
It says “constraints on methane and nitrous oxide emission could impact negatively
on agricultural growth.”
Among the report’s recommendations are “reducing deforestation” and increased use
of improved livestock and crop management practices to reduce carbon dioxide, methane
and nitrous oxide emissions. Improving “land management practices through better
use of water, fertilizer and fuel and through the conservation of organic matter”
are also encouraged.
The SOFA-97 Special Chapter on Agroprocessing Industry and Economic Development
calls on governments to encourage the industry “by providing a stable macroeconomic
foundation and removing market distortions and rigidities through policy reforms.”
FAO calls the Agroprocessing industry a driving force in agricultural and rural
development. It creates employment and rising incomes, while supplying consumers
with safe wholesome food.
SOFA -97 can be purchased from the FAO’s Sales and Marketing Group, Information
Division (fax: (396) 5705-3360) -- E-mail: Publications - Sales at http://www.fao.org.)
The Special Food Outlook issue, including the chapter on the impact of El Niño,
is available on the FAO website at: