The food situation in the eastern Kivu province of Zaire gives cause for serious concern. Heavy fighting around the main towns has forced about 1 million refugees from Rwanda and Burundi to leave camps and seek security in surrounding areas or cross over to their countries of origin. The food situation in the area is becoming extremely grave and urgent food assistance is required. However, as a result of the upheaval, roads remain blocked causing serious disruption of relief distributions.
Good harvests are in prospect in most Sahelian countries of western Africa, as confirmed by a series of FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions. Cereal production is anticipated to be average or above average in all countries except Cape Verde, Chad and Guinea Bissau, where reduced crops are forecast due to adverse weather. Elsewhere in western Africa poor harvests are anticipated in Liberia and Sierra Leone, largely due to past civil strife.
Overall prospects for the 1996 cereal crops remain favourable in Eastern Africa, notwithstanding widespread floods in several areas. Despite an expected increase in this years aggregate cereal output, production remained below average in Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia, and is forecast to be reduced in Kenya. The outlook is uncertain in Eritrea. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently reviewing the harvest and food supply prospects in Kenya. Similar Missions are scheduled to visit Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan in November/December 1996.
A good winter wheat crop is in prospect in southern Africa as a result of abundant rainfall during the season. Above-average outputs are expected in most countries of the region. Following a good coarse grain harvest earlier in the year, the food supply situation for the 1996/97 marketing year remains satisfactory. However, Angola and Mozambique continue to need substantial amount of relief assistance.
In Mongolia, the 1996 crop production declined for the fifth consecutive year as a consequence of reduced rains during the season and a decline in plantings following disruption associated with the transition to a market economy. Food assistance is required for large numbers of vulnerable populations. Elsewhere in Asia, widespread monsoon rains have generally favoured crops, and average to record crops are forecast in major producing countries. In India, a record kharif rice crop is expected. In China, despite extensive floods earlier in the season, a good early rice crop has been harvested. However, flood damage during the season in Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam damaged main season rice, whilst in Korea DPR, serious floods in July resulted in large crop losses, dashing hopes for a recovery of cereal production this year.
In Cuba, a recent hurricane has caused serious damage to food and cash crops. In Central America, overall crop prospects in the region are favourable and cereal production is expected to be considerably above-average. In South America, near record wheat crops are anticipated in Argentina and Brazil, while the early outlook for planting of the 1996/97 maize crop is also favourable.
In the CIS, aggregate cereal production increased for the first time in four years. The 1996 grain harvest is forecast to reach 133 million tons, 3 million tons more than last year, despite a smaller area sown. Markedly better harvests were gathered in Kazakhstan and Russia, while poor crops occurred in the Ukraine and Moldova.
In Europe aggregate cereal output in 1996 has risen by 4 percent, mostly reflecting larger wheat and coarse grains crops throughout the EC. Winter grain planting has begun throughout the region under generally normal conditions.
A sharp recovery in coarse grain production is in prospect in the United States. Latest official forecasts put output at 260.5 million tons, 22 percent up from last years reduced crop. However, as harvesting is still in the early stages, the final outcome will depend on the weather in the coming weeks.
In Australia, prospects for the 1996 cereal crops remain favourable. Aggregate cereal production is forecast to increase by 5 percent from last years already good harvest.