FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.1, April 2001 5

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The harvesting of the 2000/01 cereal crops has started in southern Africa. In eastern Africa, the main season crop is maturing in Tanzania, while elsewhere in the sub-region planting of the main season crops is underway except in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan, where sowing is not due to commence for one or two months. In central Africa and the coastal countries of western Africa planting has started, but in Sahelian countries it will not begin until June.

Cereal Crop Calendar

Sub-Region 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 2000/01 secondary season cereal crops is completed, except in Ethiopia, where the "belg" crops are harvested from June. Latest FAO estimates indicate an aggregate 2000/01 cereal production of 20.4 million tonnes, 4 percent higher than the previous year. However, the outcomes at country level are mixed. In Ethiopia, cereal production is forecast to increase by 19 percent to 8.9 million tonnes. A good main "meher" crop was gathered, mainly due to higher yields. In Tanzania, despite an improvement in the recently harvested secondary cereal crop, the main season harvest was poor due to erratic rains. The aggregate 2000 cereal output is estimated at about 3.7 million tonnes, about 4 percent below the previous year and about 13 percent below the average for the previous five years. Prospects for the 2000/01 main maize crop in the unimodal rainfall areas are favourable, reflecting sufficient rains since the beginning of the season. In Sudan, the 2000/01 cereal harvest was reduced by drought, and the output is estimated at 3.4 million tonnes, about 20 below average. Harvesting of the wheat crop is underway and production is forecast at 330 000 tonnes, 54 percent higher than last year. In Kenya, reflecting severe drought in most parts, the aggregate 2000/01 cereal production is provisionally estimated at 2.1 million tonnes, 22 percent and 28 percent below the previous year's crop and the previous five-year average respectively. Planting of this year's main season coarse grains is underway. In Uganda, despite a recovery in the recent secondary season output due to favourable rains, the main season crop was reduced due to localised drought conditions. The 2000/01 aggregate cereal output is, therefore, estimated at 1.6 million tonnes, 8 percent below the previous year's crop and 13 percent below the average of the last five years. In Eritrea, the 2000 cereal crop was sharply reduced due to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers by war. Total cereal output is estimated at 71 000 tonnes, a decrease of 66 percent from the previous five years' average. In Somalia, the output of the recently harvested secondary ("deyr") season cereal crops is forecast at 96 000 tonnes, significantly above the post-war average of 78 000 tonnes, reflecting abundant rains during the season. Furthermore, the main ("gu") season was above average at 224 000 tonnes. Latest estimates put the aggregate 2000/01 cereal production at 320 000 tonnes, about 31 percent above the previous year.

The aggregate cereal import requirement of the sub-region in 2000/01 is estimated at 5.9 million tonnes. With commercial imports anticipated at 3.9 million tonnes, the food aid requirement is estimated at 2 million tonnes. Against this requirement, pledges as of late March amount to 0.9 million tonnes of which 0.3 million tonnes have been delivered.

In southern Africa, overall prospects for the 2001 cereal crop are poor. This reflects a decline in the area planted from last year's level and lower yields due to a mid-season dry spell in January, followed by excessive rains. The heavy rains resulted in severe flooding that displaced thousands of people and caused damage to infrastructure and crops in several areas. Latest FAO's forecast point to a decrease of one-quarter of the maize crop, compared to last year. Maize accounts for three-quarters of total cereal production in southern Africa. In South Africa, the largest producer in the sub-region, plantings of maize declined by 17 percent while yields were affected by prolonged dry weather in January and early February; subsequent abundant rains allowed only partial recovery of the crop. Maize output is forecast to decline by around 34 percent from last year's good level. In Zimbabwe, plantings were also sharply reduced due to the resettlement of commercial farms, while yields were adversely affected by dry weather and floods in parts. Maize production is forecast to decline by 41 percent from the level of 2000. In Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, serious floods resulted in crop losses in localized areas while excessive rains negatively affected yields. Maize outputs are expected to decline substantially compared to last year but to remain at average or above average levels. By contrast, in Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia, cereal production is anticipated to be reduced due to dry spells. In Angola, production is likely to decrease from last year as a result of planting reductions following the intensification of the civil conflict at planting time, as well as erratic rains during the season.

Cereal import requirements during marketing year 2001/02 (April/March) are forecast to increase significantly in several countries, including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho. A major impact of the reduced harvests in countries such as South Africa and Malawi will be to reduce their exportable surpluses to deficit countries in the sub-region.

In western Africa, seasonably dry conditions prevail in the Sahel where recession or off-season crops are now being cultivated. Prospects are less favourable than last year in Mauritania and Senegal due to a lower water level in the Senegal river. A series of joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions in the 9 CILSS member countries of the Sahel estimated aggregate 2000 cereal production at 9.5 million tonnes. Following the release of final production figures for Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Niger and revision of rainfed production figures for Mauritania and Senegal, the aggregate output of cereals has been revised to 8.9 million tonnes, which is some 21 percent below the record production in 1999 and 8 percent below the previous five-year average. Production was below average in Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger, close to average in Mali and Mauritania, and above average in Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Senegal. A record crop was harvested in The Gambia.

In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, the rainy season has just started, with rains during the last dekad of February in the south of Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. Cereal harvests in 2000 were generally good but in Guinea and Sierra Leone, fighting in border areas affected agricultural and marketing activities and caused new population displacements. Relief programmes have also been hampered. An FAO crop and food supply assessment mission to Liberia in December estimated the 2000 paddy production at 144 000 tonnes, compared to a pre-war (1988) output of 259 000 tonnes. The aggregate 2000 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 27.1 million tonnes compared to 26.2 million tonnes in 1999. Liberia and Sierra Leone remain heavily dependent on international food assistance despite some improvement in food production.

The cereal import requirement of the sub-region during the 2000/01 marketing year is estimated at 6.7 million tonnes. Commercial imports are forecast at 6.3 million tonnes and the food aid requirement at 406 000 tonnes, mainly in wheat and rice. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of late March amount to around 177 000 tonnes, of which 58 000 tonnes have been delivered so far. Local purchases are recommended to cover ongoing or planned food aid programmes or for the replenishment of the national security stocks in several countries.


The Desert Locust situation remained calm during March. Insignificant numbers of locusts were present in Mauritania, Sudan and in northern Somalia. Very little rain was reported and dry conditions prevailed in most regions and the situation is expected to remain calm in all countries.

Locust numbers continued to decline in central and western Mauritania during February for the second consecutive month. Isolated hoppers and adults were present throughout the month in a few locations where breeding previously occurred near Atar and Zouerate. Control was carried out at one place on 18 hectares. In Mali, there were unconfirmed reports of low densities of hoppers and adults in the northern Adrar des Iforas. No significant changes in the current situation are anticipated in the months ahead.

Scattered adults persisted in a few places on the Red Sea coastal plains of Sudan and south-eastern Egypt. Small scale and localized breeding occurred on the coast of Sudan, south of Suakin where low numbers of hoppers are present. Isolated adults were also seen on the central coast of northern Somalia.

In central Africa, crop prospects are generally favourable in Central African Republic and Cameroon. In the Republic of Congo, the security situation has improved following a peace agreement, but food production has not yet recovered; food assistance is being provided to refugees and internally displaced persons. The food situation remains critical in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to persistent civil war. The number of internally displaced people is currently estimated at 2 million.

For the 2001 marketing year, the cereal import requirement for the seven countries of the sub-region is estimated at 825 000 tonnes, with commercial imports anticipated at 808 000 tonnes and food aid requirement at 17 000 tonnes. Food aid pledges and deliveries reported to GIEWS as of late March amount to 16 000 tonnes.

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

Sub-Region 2000 Production 2000/01 or 2001
Cereal import requirements Anticipated commercial imports Food aid Requirements  
Eastern Africa 20 383 5 877 3 926 1 951
Southern Africa 24 219 4 419 3 950 469
Western Africa 35 537 6 655 6 249 406
Central Africa 2 858 825 808 17
TOTAL 82 997 17 776 14 933 2 843

FAO/GIEWS - April 2001

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