FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.1, April 2000 7

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In southern Africa and some countries in eastern Africa, the 2000 cereal crops will be harvested from April, while planting is underway in some eastern African countries. Planting has also started in central Africa and the coastal countries of western Africa, but in Sahelian countries of western Africa it will not begin until June.

Cereal Crop Calendar

Cereal Crops
Planting Harvesting
Eastern Africa 1/ March-June Aug.-Dec.
Southern Africa Oct.-Dec. April-June
Western Africa    
- Coastal areas (first season) March-April July-Sept.
- Sahel zone June-July Oct.-Nov.
Central Africa 1/ April-June Aug.-Dec.

1/ Except Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo which have two main seasons and Tanzania whose main season follows the southern Africa planting calendar. For Sudan, the planting period for the staple coarse grain crop is June-July and the harvesting period is October-December.

In eastern Africa, harvesting of the 1999/2000 secondary season cereal crops is completed, except in Ethiopia where the "Belg" crops are harvested from June. Prolonged drought and erratic rainfall reduced crop production in several countries. This follows a poor 1999 main season cereal forecast in most of the sub-region. Pastoralists have been particularly affected by successive droughts that killed large number of their livestock. Latest FAO estimates indicate an aggregate 1999/2000 cereal production of about 22 778 million tonnes, about 5 percent below the previous year.

In Ethiopia, the 1999 main "Meher" cereal and pulse production is estimated to have decreased by 6 percent from the previous year to 10.7 million tonnes, due mainly to drought. A below-average 2000 Belg crop is also anticipated, reflecting continued drought, shortages of oxen and seed. In Eritrea, the 1999 coarse grains production is anticipated to decline due to drought and population displacement. In Kenya, reflecting late and insufficient rainfall, the aggregate 1999/2000 cereal production is provisionally estimated at 2.5 million tonnes, 18 percent below the previous year and the average of the previous five years. In Somalia, the output of the recently harvested secondary "Deyr" season cereal crops is forecast at an above average 130 000 tonnes, reflecting favourable conditions in some main growing areas. However, poor rains in Bakool Region have severely affected production. In Sudan, the 1999 cereal harvest was reduced by lower plantings, mainly due to a shift to more profitable crops, and the output is estimated at about 3.7 million tonnes, substantially lower than the record production of the previous year. Harvesting of the 2000 wheat crop is underway and production is forecast at 288 000 tonnes, substantially higher than in 1999 but well the below average output. In Tanzania, the recently harvested secondary "Vuli" season cereal crop was drastically reduced due to poor rains, and current estimates suggest a reduction of about 70 percent compared to the previous five years' average. However, production of non-cereal foodcrops has been satisfactory. In Uganda, well distributed rains resulted in satisfactory harvest of the recently harvested secondary season coarse grain crops. However, the output of the main season crop, harvested from late last summer, was below average due to prolonged drought. The 1999/2000 aggregate coarse grain output is estimated at a below average 1.6 million tonnes.

The aggregate cereal import requirement of the sub-region in 1999/2000 is estimated at 4.9 million tonnes. With commercial imports anticipated at 3.2 million tonnes, the food aid requirement is estimated at 1.7 million tonnes. Food aid pledges reported as of mid-March amount to 0.6 million tonnes of which 0.2 million tonnes have been delivered.

In southern Africa, prospects for the 2000 cereal harvest remain uncertain, torrential rains and floods in early February, Cyclone Eline in late February, and erratic and insufficient rains in several areas earlier in the season. Despite extensive damage in several countries, the major cereal growing areas have not been affected by the floods. In some countries, however, abundant rains in February benefited cereal crops stressed by previous dry weather. In particular, in South Africa, which accounts for half of the sub-region's coarse grain output, a bumper maize crop is still forecast despite crop losses in some provinces. In Mozambique, the severe crop damage in southern and central parts, coupled with below average precipitation in February in the main northern growing areas, have dampened prospects for this year's harvest. In Zimbabwe, despite severe crop losses in the south, good growing conditions prevail in the main maize areas. However, this year's production is anticipated to decline due to lower plantings. In Botswana, precipitation in February in the eastern sorghum growing areas benefited the sorghum crop. However, floods caused damage to crops and infrastructure. In Swaziland, harvest prospects are unfavourable due to crop losses caused by floods in early February. In Zambia, despite recent floods in the Zambezi valley, the outlook for the cereal harvest remains satisfactory. Elsewhere in the sub-region, good rains in February improved crop prospects in Lesotho, Malawi, and Namibia. By contrast, in Angola, rains in February were insufficient in several parts and the outlook for this year's cereal crops has deteriorated.

The sub-region aggregate cereal import requirement in marketing year 1999/2000 (May/April) was estimated at 4.9 million tonnes. Most of this was anticipated to be covered commercially, with 0.3 million tonnes required as food aid. However, following the recent flood emergency situation in several countries of the sub region, the cereal import and food aid requirements in the marketing year 2000/01 are likely to increase. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of mid-March amount to 0.3 million tonnes.

In western Africa, seasonably dry conditions prevail in the Sahel while the first cropping season is starting in the countries along the Gulf of Guinea. Reflecting generally favourable growing conditions in 1999, particularly during the critical months of August and September, above average to record crops have been gathered in the main producing countries of the Sahel. Rains started generally on time and only limited replantings were necessary. Rainfall was generally widespread, regular and abundant, even though it caused substantial flooding in The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad. The abundant rains also permitted satisfactory regeneration of pastures and adequate replenishment of water reserves, thus providing excellent conditions for recession and off-season crops.

A series of FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment missions in October 1999 estimated aggregate cereal production for the nine CILSS countries in 1999 at a record 10.9 million tonnes. Following release of final production figures by several countries, the production figure has been revised upward to 11.6 million tonnes, which is 8 percent higher than in 1998 and 23 percent above the average of the last five years. Record crops were harvested in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, while above-average output is anticipated in Chad and Niger. Output is estimated to remain below average in Guinea-Bissau due to civil strife and population displacement in 1998.

In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, the rainy season has just started with substantial rains registered during the second dekad of March in the south, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. Cereal harvests in 1999 were generally good in Benin, Nigeria and Togo but less favourable in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. An FAO crop and food supply assessment mission to Sierra Leone in December estimated paddy production at around 45 percent of pre-civil war production and 60 percent of 1997 production, when the security situation improved. The aggregate 1999 cereal output for the eight countries along the Gulf of Guinea (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo) is estimated at around 29.8 million tonnes compared to 29.3 million tonnes in 1998 (including rice in paddy). Liberia and Sierra Leone remain heavily dependent on international food assistance despite some improvement in food production, notably in Liberia.

The cereal import requirement of the sub-region during the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 5.6 million tonnes. Anticipated commercial imports are estimated at 5.18 million tonnes and the food aid requirement at 470 000 tonnes, mainly in wheat and rice. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of mid-March amount to around 170 000 tonnes, of which 70 000 tonnes have been delivered so far. No imported food aid in coarse grains is necessary for Guinea, Mali and Niger. Local purchases are strongly recommended to cover ongoing or planned food aid programmes or for the replenishment of the national security stocks.


The Desert Locust situation needs careful vigilance in West and North-West Africa. Breeding of scattered populations has been reported in the extreme north-west of Mauritania where favourable conditions for laying developed at the end of February. Elsewhere in northern Mauritania, scattered populations were observed. In Niger, and probably in Mali, locust populations were present in the mountainous areas of Adrar des Iforas and Aïr. Breeding will continue in north-western Mauritania. No significant developments are likely elsewhere in the region.

In Sudan, scattered adults and solitary hoppers were reported in the southern part of the Red Sea coastal plains during February. Isolated immature adults were reported in a few places on the western coastal plains of Somalia. No locusts were reported in Ethiopia during February. Small-scale breeding will continue locally in the coastal areas of these countries. Elsewhere, the situation remains calm.

In central Africa, production was favourable in the Central African Republic and Cameroon. Civil strife in both the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, however, continues to hamper agriculture and marketing activities. In the Republic of Congo, floods affected the north and the capital Brazzaville in November/December. There are concerns regarding the nutritional situation of displaced people.

For the 2000 marketing year, the cereal import requirement for the seven countries of the sub-region is estimated at 800 000 tonnes. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of mid-March amount to 14 000 tonnes, of which 12 000 tonnes have been delivered.

The table below summarizes sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import and food aid requirements by sub-region.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Cereal Import and Food Aid Requirements by Sub-Region (in thousand tonnes)

Sub-Region 1999 Production 1999/2000 or 2000
Cereal import
commercial imports
Food aid
Eastern Africa 22 778 4 898 3 187 1 711
Southern Africa 1/ 19 858 4 918 4 596 322
Western Africa 38 577 5 649 5 180 469
Central Africa 2 998 800 770 30
TOTAL 84 211 16 265 13 738 2 532

1/ Data on cereal import and food aid requirements refer to the current marketing year which ends on 31 March for most southern African countries. Requirements for the new marketing year 2000/01 will be provided in the next issue of this report.

FAO/GIEWS - April 2000

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