Africa report

ERITREA

Area: 124 320 sq.km
Climate: Highland areas: tropical wet/dry with unreliable rains. Lowlands: semi-arid to arid
Population: 2.978 million (1996 estimate); G.N.P. per caput: n.a.
Specific characteristics of the country: Low-income food-deficit country
Logistics: Roads inadequate, gateway to northern Ethiopia
Major foodcrops: Sorghum, teff, millet, maize, pulses
Marketing year: January/December; Lean season: August-November
Share of cereals in total calorie intake: 73 percent


CURRENT SITUATION

A recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission provisionally estimated the cereal and pulse production in 1995 at about 149 000 tons, which is 42 percent less than in 1994 and 25 percent below the last 3-year average. The cropping season started with low moisture levels during the short rainy period between March and May which did not permit the successful planting of early sown crops. Despite this set back, generally favourable rainfall during July and August revived production prospects, although in some areas the short and intense rainfall resulted in some damage to crops. The dry spell in June and the sudden cessation of rains in September resulted in low soil moisture levels during critical stages of crop development, thus reducing the potential yields, particularly for the long season varieties. Although maize and sorghum planted between March and May suffered from unfavourable rainfall, the short season cereals such as barley, wheat and finger millet performed well in the highlands. The tall stalked sorghum and maize varieties suffered moisture stress during June and in September. In order to offset the likelihood of a poor long season sorghum and maize crops, farmers increased the areas planted under short season crops such as barley, wheat or mix of both in the highlands and teff, short season sorghum and sesame in the lowland areas. Localized infestation of grasshoppers, desert locust, stem borers and other insects further reduced yields.

The food supply position is expected to be tight in 1996. Rising cereal prices in the immediate post-harvest period, point to impending supply difficulties with serious implications for large groups of vulnerable population with limited resources.

The 1996 cereal and pulses import requirement is estimated by the Mission at 291 000 tons. With anticipated commercial imports of approximately 100 000 tons, a deficit of some 191 000 tons will remain to be covered by food aid. Of this total, some 78 750 tons of relief food aid will be needed to assist an average of 750 000 vulnerable population over a nine month period, leaving some 112 250 tons to be provided through programme food aid.



CEREAL SUPPLY/DEMAND BALANCE FOR THE 1996 MARKETING YEAR (in thousand tons)

Wheat Rice Coarse grains Total
1995 Production 9 - 133 142
1995 Utilization 179 - 254 433
Food use 1/ 164 - 234 398
Non-food use - - 20 20
Stock build up 15 - - 15
1996 Import Requirement 170 - 121 291
Anticipated commercial imports 70 - 30 100
Food aid needs 100 - 91 191
Current Aid Position
Food aid pledges 18 - - 18
of which: Delivered - - - -
Estimated per caput consumption (kg/year) 55 - 79 134
Indexes
1995 production as % of normal:
1996 import requirement as % of normal:
1996 food aid requirement as % of normal (including refugee needs):

1/ The food needs of 100 000 returnees from Sudan in 1996 are not included.


TOC