04 Jun 2003 -- ROME - A joint Special Report on the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Timor-Leste, the world’s newest independent country, was released today. The joint FAO/WFP mission visited Timor-Leste from 15 April to 5 May 2003 to review and analyze the food supply and demand situation in the context of the country’s macro-economic situation, and to forecast import requirements including potential food needs in marketing year 2003/04 (April/March), with particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable groups.
• Cereal production in 2003, including cassava in cereal equivalent, is forecast at 123 000 tonnes, 21 percent lower than last year.
• Production of maize, the most important crop in Timor-Leste, is estimated to decline by about 34 percent to 70 000 tonnes from 106 000 tonnes last year.
• The main factors responsible for the decline include delayed onset of rains, below normal rainfall and reduced maize area due to shortages of seeds.
• Part of the shortfall in maize production will be offset by a forecast 12 percent increase in rice production, primarily due to an increase in the area under irrigation in 2003.
• Cereal import requirements in 2003/04 (April/March) are estimated at 62 000 tonnes, while commercial imports are anticipated at 48 000 tonnes of rice. This leaves an uncovered national food deficit of 14 000 tonnes.
• Based on vulnerability analysis, the mission provisionally estimates the number of vulnerable people requiring food at 150 000. The amount of food needed is estimated at 14 000 tonnes, to cover their needs over the lean period from October 2003 until March 2004.
• Close monitoring of key food security indicators (agricultural, health and nutrition) will be necessary to ascertain if at a later stage emergency food assistance is warranted.
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