Africa report

MAURITANIA

Area: 1 030 000 sq.km
Climate: Mostly a Saharian country; semi-arid fringe in extreme south with rains in June-September
Population: 2.29 million (1995 estimate); G.N.P. per caput: U.S.$ 510 (1993)
Specific characteristics of the country: Low-income food-deficit country; coastal country
Logistics: Port capacity adequate, though storms during January-March sometimes cause difficulties.
Major foodcrops: Wheat, rice, millet and sorghum
Marketing year: November/October; Lean season: July-September
Share of cereals in total calorie intake: 54 percent


CURRENT SITUATION

An FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in late October estimated the total cereal production at 192 600 tons (inlcuidng rice in paddy equivalent). This represents a 3.9 percent decrease compared to the record output of last year. This decline can partly be explained by a change in the methodology for estimating planted area in Dieri.

The 1995 rainy season started early in June in the south-west but was delayed by one month in the south and the south-east. Precipitation became abundant over the producing areas in late July and in August. Rains continued up to late September. Rainfall has been good in quantity but has not been well distributed in time and space. Thus, until the second dekad of July, cumulative rainfall for 1995 was much lower than in 1994. From the first dekad of August, all agro-pastoral zones received abundant rains. In September, precipitation became less abundant but was well distributed for the whole month. Abundant rains during the season allowed a satisfactory replenishment of water reserves in dams and dikes. Therefore, a good output for recession crops is expected. As rains started late, planting of rainfed crops only began in late June in the south-east and expanded in late July to the whole agro-pastoral zone. The water balance remained satisfactory during the rainy season up to the second dekad of September. Nevertheless, excessive rains, notably in August, affected fieldwork in low lying areas. The rains ceased early in September. Millet and sorghum in the Dieri area, which were flowering/maturing, suffered from water stress in October, as a result of an substantial decrease in soil moisture reserves. Generally good yields can be expected for rainfed crops, notably in the wilayas in the south, which have not been affected by floods or water stress. For irrigated crops, the first watering occurred in Trarza in early July. Growing conditions remained favourable, following abundant rains in August. Contrary to the previous year, the SONADER (Societe Nationale de Developpement Rural) irrigated areas were cultivated in 1995.. Throughout the pastoral zones, abundant fodder production is expected this year. This should cover the livestock needs until May 1996. After this period, herds will have to migrate in some zones to find sufficient feed.

Desert Locust infestations built up in south-western Trarza throughout the summer. Control operations were undertaken over more than 35 000 hectares. During October/November, several swarms started to move north towards the winter breeding areas. A high concentration of Senegalese grasshoppers was reported in October in the Senegal river valley and in the dunes of the Dieri region. High concentrations of nesting birds have also been reported in some places.

In the 1995/96 marketing year (November/October), cereal imports for domestic use and re-export are estimated at 250 000 tons and the food aid requirement at 50 000 tons. The national food supply situation is generally satisfactory following two above average harvests in succession. Food assistance is being distributed to Tuareg refugees in the camps in the east of the country. Their number is currently estimated at 38 000 (against 80 000 in November 1994).



CEREAL SUPPLY/DEMAND BALANCE FOR THE 1995/96 MARKETING YEAR (in thousand tons)

Wheat Rice Coarse grains Total
Normal production - 37 88 125
Normal imports (incl. re-exports) 170 75 8 253
of which: Structural food aid 40 10 8 58
1995/96 Domestic availability - 46 139 185
1995 Production - 36 139 175
Possible stock drawdown - 10 - 10
1995/96 Utilization 170 126 139 435
Food use 125 120 112 357
of which: Local purchase requirement - - 5 5
Non-food use 30 4 22 56
Exports 10 2 5 17
Possible stock build up 5 - - 5
1995/96 Import Requirement 170 1/ 80 - 250 1/
Anticipated commercial imports 130 1/ 70 - 200 1/
Food aid needs 40 10 - 50
Current Aid Position
Food aid pledges 7 3 2 12
of which: Delivered - - - -
Donor-financed local purchases - - 3 3
Estimated per caput consumption (kg/year) 54 52 49 155
Indexes
1995 production as % of normal: 140
1995/96 import requirement as % of normal: 99
1995/96 food aid requirement as % of normal (including refugee needs): 86

1/ Including 10 000 tons of re-exports.


TOC