Good rainfall and relative peace resulted in a sharp increase in area planted and an above-average cereal harvest of some 300 000 tons is expected, much over last year's poor crop. However, yields may be affected by input shortages in some regions as a result of continued transportation difficulties.
Despite favourable crop prospects, the food supply situation remains very tight as domestic production is expected to cover less than half the country’s food needs in the 1996/97 marketing year. Due to prolonged civil strife, there are a large number of internally displaced people, including a significant portion of the agricultural labour force. This contributes to the country’s heavy dependency on external assistance including both food aid and the supply of required seeds and tools to sustain the current recovery process. Of 291 200 tons of food aid pledged by donors for the 1995/96 marketing year, 232 000 tons were delivered. For the 1996/97 marketing year, 60 000 tons have been pledged and 22 000 tons delivered so far.
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently visiting the country to review the outcome of the 1996 harvest and evaluate the food supply situation for 1996/97.
BOTSWANA (2 April)
Despite a late start, the 1995/96 season has received above- normal rainfall in most parts. This has generally been favourable, though continuous rainfall in January delayed ploughing and planting of coarse grains in some northern areas. Maize production is forecast at 14 000 tons, more than double last year’s drought-reduced crop.
The food supply situation for the 1995/96 marketing year remains satisfactory as commercial imports cover cereal requirements. Deliveries have also been generally on time. Relief programmes are reported to be progressing well with adequate food available for targeted beneficiaries and some 570 000 vulnerable people benefiting from supplementary feeding programmes. Pledges of food aid by donors amounting to 7 200 tons have been delivered.
LESOTHO (2 April)
Rainfall has been abundant, above normal and well distributed this year leading to a substantial increase in area planted. Crops are generally reported to be in good condition. The current forecast points to an above-average maize harvest, nearly double last year’s output of 72 000 tons.
The food supply situation remains tight, but has been eased substantially as a result of larger commercial imports than initially anticipated at the beginning of the season. Food aid pledges during the 1995/96 marketing year, amounting to 61 500 tons, have also all been delivered. Progress of the Drought Relief Programme is reported to be adequate but distribution has been constrained by heavy rains which restricted access to some rural areas and increased the need for storage.
MADAGASCAR (2 April)
The rainy season continues to be favourable in most crop producing areas. However, unusually heavy rainfall and cyclones in January resulted in floods that may have damaged crops in some eastern areas. As a result, harvest prospects remain uncertain.
The food supply situation remains tight despite a relatively good crop in 1994/95. The price of rice, the main staple, remains high due to continuous problems of distribution and speculation by traders. To date, food aid pledges amount to 34 000 tons and deliveries to 21 000 tons
MALAWI* (2 April)
Despite a slow start to the season, rainfall was generally good from January to March, benefiting crops in most growing areas. If favourable conditions persist up to harvest, beginning in the next few weeks, an above-average crop is expected.
The first official crop estimates indicate a rise in maize production to 1.8 million tons in 1996 compared to 1.6 million tons last year. Other crops like rice and sorghum are also expected to increase significantly. However, there is some risk of crop damage by a recent plague of locusts and other insect pests in several areas. Early treatment has been made which may reduce overall damage.
The food supply situation has improved significantly, following the arrival of substantial commercial imports, largely from the European Union. However, an increase in the price of maize announced by the government in March, is likely to make the current lean period very difficult for poor, rural households who usually face hardship at this time of the year when stocks are low. Total cereal food aid delivered amounts to about 215 000 tons. For the 1996/97 season 8 000 tons have been pledged so far.
MOZAMBIQUE* (3 April)
Above-normal rainfall in February and March has been generally favourable for crop development in most parts of the country. However, Zambezia, Sofala, Gaza and Maputo provinces were affected by floods and cyclone Bonita, damaging crops, particularly in some districts of Gaza and Maputo. Elsewhere, conditions are favourable.
Crops are at vegetative, flowering and maturing stages in central and southern provinces. In the north, vegetative and flowering stages are reported. Favourable rainfall and a larger planted area are expected to result in an increase in maize output over last year. A surplus of maize and cassava is anticipated in the northern provinces where cassava is the main staple food.
The food supply situation remains relatively tight but has improved substantially. Although commercial imports have been slow to arrive, total cereal food aid pledges of 398 000 tons fully cover relief requirements of which almost all were delivered during the 1995/96 marketing year. For 1996/97, pledges amount to 50 000 tons so far, of which 15 000 tons have been delivered. However, as a result of recent floods, the government launched an international appeal on 28 February, requesting U.S.$ 14 million for assistance to some 200 000 affected people. The country continues to have many internally displaced people, a large portion of which are farmers and agricultural labourers. As a consequence, the country continues to be heavily dependent on external assistance for both food aid and supply of inputs to sustain recovery. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently visiting the country to appraise the 1996 harvest and evaluate the food supply situation for 1996/97 including food needs.
NAMIBIA (3 April)
The 1995/96 agricultural season has been marked by erratic weather conditions. After a delayed start and below-normal rainfall, widespread rains in the first three weeks of January benefited crops and pasture. However, this was followed by an acute dry-spell in late January/early February. Cumulative rainfall from October 1995 to March 1996 has been below normal in most cropping areas and more is needed in the remainder of the season to enable crop recovery to average levels. In particular, late planted crops in the north will still need four to six weeks of precipitation to mature.
As a result of the erratic rainfall, outlook for the 1996 cereal harvest is uncertain. In Caprivi, which receives well distributed, though generally below-average rainfall, a close to normal harvest can be expected. Elsewhere in the communal areas, despite a larger area planted, yields are likely to be negatively affected by the late onset of the rains and intermittent dry spells in late January/early February. In the commercial sector, the area under rainfed crops has also increased substantially compared to last year but with below normal and poorly distributed precipitation, very low yields are forecast. First provisional estimates of coarse grain harvest point to an output of 100 000 tons, which is below average but still much better than last year's drought- affected crop.
The national food supply situation is satisfactory with commercial imports arriving on schedule and cereal stocks at safe levels. The Government Drought Relief Programme for 163 200 vulnerable people has been greatly consolidated by the arrival of some 10 000 tons donated by the European Community. As a result, food aid pledges amounting to 11 000 tons have now all been delivered.
SOUTH AFRICA (3 April)
Rainfall this year has been normal/above normal in each month of the growing season which runs from October to April. Continued rainfall in February and March has maintained adequate to excessive moisture for filling crops. These heavy rains have resulted in floods and kept large sections of the eastern corn belt and the Kwazulu-Natal too wet for normal crop development. However the rains were generally favourable in the Orange Free State and other areas of coarse grains.
Due to excellent summer rains and increased plantings, official estimates put production of white maize and yellow maize at 5.28 million tons and 4.28 million tons respectively. This is more than double last year's crop of 4.4 million tons comprising 2.1 million tons of white maize and 2.29 million tons of yellow maize. At the forecast level, the country will have a surplus of about 2.5 million tons for potential exports.
The 1995 wheat crop is officially estimated at 2.1 million tons, some 300 000 tons higher than the previous year. However, generally wet and cold conditions during the harvest period delayed harvesting, leading to deterioration in quality.
SWAZILAND (3 April)
Rainfall has been above normal since the beginning of the season in most areas. With an increase in area planted this year, maize output is expected to be higher than last year's crop and may exceed 90 000 tons assuming favourable conditions persist until harvest in May/June.
The food supply situation remains tight, though there has been some improvement as a result of further donor pledges and recent deliveries of maize. The country, however, still faces a shortage of maize in the current 1995/96 marketing year. Total pledges now amount to 14 100 tons and deliveries to date stand at 6 000 tons.
ZAMBIA (3 April)
At the end of the second dekad of March, most areas of the country had received normal to slightly below-normal seasonal rainfall. Moderate to heavy rainfall is persisting in many areas, particularly in northern and eastern provinces where waterlogging and yellowing of maize leaves have been reported. More than half of the maize crop is reported to have reached physiological maturity in some areas. Other crops such as sorghum, millet and sunflower are reported to be also doing well.
After three years of shortages caused by drought, preliminary reports point to an above average maize crop, more than double last year’s reduced harvest. The country could even have a maize surplus in 1996, as a result of favourable rainfall and an increase in area planted. However, output may be affected in some areas by damage caused by the large grain borer, a relatively new pest introduced into the country in 1993. The extent of infestation is currently unclear.
The food supply situation continues to be tight, with stocks at critically low levels, commercial trade constrained by high cost, transportation difficulties and low purchasing power of many households. A total of 117 600 tons of food aid have been pledged by donors, but deliveries so far stand at 37 400 tons.
ZIMBABWE* (3 April)
Rainfall continued to be generally good and widespread in most parts of the country in March. Crops are in good to excellent condition in most areas and initial indications are that the country may, for the first time in years, not only produce enough maize for its domestic market but may also resume exports.
Large scale commercial farmers are expected to produce about 800 000 tons of maize this year, compared to 250 000 tons last year. The smallholder sector, which benefited from the government's free seed and fertilizer programme, is expected to produce over 2 million tons, of which 1 million tons could be sold.
The current food supply situation remains tight. Maize stocks held by the Grain Marketing Board reached alarmingly low levels in February as a result of the slow arrival of grain imports and increased sales to millers. Some improvement is reported with the arrival of imported grains but the lean season is likely to be difficult for low income households until the new crop is harvested in April/June as expectations for a bumper crop may discourage commercial imports.