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Press Release 99/50 Joint WFP/FAO

FOOD PRODUCTION IN KOSOVO DOWN BY 65 PERCENT; UN FOOD AGENCIES WARN OF SERIOUS NUTRITIONAL AND ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES


Rome, 10 September 1999 --- The Rome-based United Nations food agencies today said Kosovars living in rural areas in the Kosovo province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have lost 65 percent of this year's agricultural and livestock production due to the recent conflict and warned of serious nutritional and economic consequences in the coming months.

With incomes from agricultural activities sharply down, "the rural population will be very heavily reliant on remittances from abroad," according to a joint report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

An estimated 60 percent of rural cash income came from the sale of crops, livestock and livestock products before the hostilities erupted in the province. The balance of income was made up largely by remittances from abroad.

Wheat production in 1999, forecast at 113,000 tonnes, will meet only 30 percent of the province's requirements. The number of cattle has been reduced by roughly 50 percent of 1997 levels. Small livestock and chickens now amount to almost 25 percent of 1997 levels.

Import requirements for wheat, which is the staple food in Kosovo for the marketing year (July 1999/June 2000) is 228,000 tonnes, according to the report. Against this requirement, the report says 143,000 tonnes of food aid deliveries, or pledges of food aid, are scheduled up to the end of 1999, leaving an uncovered import gap of about 85,000 tonnes.

The report says the level of food aid in Kosovo will depend on the pace of economic recovery in the region, which suffered massive destruction from the recent conflict and many years of economic stagnation preceding it.

Agricultural production in the province has also been affected by a decline in fertilizer use and the stagnation of seed improvement over the past decade . This resulted in cereal yields in Kosovo at around mid-1980s levels, the report says. "At 3 tonnes per hectare, this is substantially lower than yields achieved elsewhere in Europe."

The report also warns that persistent civil unrest and the recent exodus of a large part of the rural Serb population has undoubtedly meant that many of the maize crops may now be unattended and harvesting may prove difficult because of a lack of hired labour.

On a brighter note, the report said: "Although the food supply situation for the population in Kosovo was reported to be getting critical towards June 1999, the high level of preparedness of the international community assured that flows of food aid into the Province quickly started after the end of the conflict on 10 June. This rapid response with relief food deliveries prevented serious shortages."

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For further information, please contact:

Francis Mwanza
WFP/Rome  
John Riddle
FAO/Rome    
tel: 39 06 6513-2623 tel: 39 06 5705 3259

The full report is available on FAO's web site at: http://www.fao.org On the left side of the home page click on Economic, then GIEWS and then click on reports.


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