A recent FAO/WFP Mission found that the second season crops, which in 1996 accounted for 36 percent of the aggregate food production, benefited from improved security, increased supply of fertilizers and better weather conditions compared to the same season last year. However, the amount of quality seeds distributed were not sufficient and no pesticides were available. The Mission estimates the 1997 B season food crop production at about 1.7 million tons some 4 percent over the same season last year. The cereal production is estimated at 138 000 tons, that of pulses at 185 854 tons, roots/tubers at 714 039 tons and bananas at 662 512 tons Total food production in 1997, including the A season crop harvested earlier in February, is estimated at 3.5 million tons. The cereal harvest increased by an estimated 10 percent while that of roots and tubers rose only marginally. By contrast, the output of pulses dropped by 4 percent while that of bananas and plantains decreased slightly. As a consequence total production is about the same as in 1996, thus resulting in increased import requirements.
Food import requirements in 1997 are estimated at 20 000 tons of cereals and 56 000 tons of pulses. Commercial imports of cereals and pulses are currently forecast at 3 000 tons and 12 000 tons, respectively. Food aid needs are estimated at 17 000 tons of cereals and 44 000 tons of pulses. Available estimates put the country’s population at 5 980 000. Of these, some 11 percent are considered displaced persons living outside their homes, mainly in camps. A large number of them have limited access to land to carry out agricultural production activities. This situation calls for the continuation of food assistance support until these affected people become self reliant.