Rainfall started in early March over the south, moved towards the north during the second and third dekads, allowing the planting of the main maize crop. Rains remained abundant and widespread in April, May and June. Cumulative rainfall as of the end of June is reported above average over the whole country. Planting of rice, millet and sorghum is drawing to an end in the north, while the main maize crop is being harvested in the centre.
The cereal import requirement for 1997/98 (July/June) is estimated at 260 000 tons of wheat and rice and 10 000 tons of coarse grains.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (8 August)
Rainfall started in early March over the south, moved towards the north during the second and third dekads, and remained abundant and widespread in April, May and June. Rice is being planted in the south, while planting of millet and sorghum is drawing to an end in the north. The main maize crop is being harvested.
Following a ceasefire in the local conflict, around one- quarter of the nearly 100 000 people displaced by the civil disturbances in Bangui had returned to their homes in July. However, fighting restarted in early August and the security situation is very volatile. In addition to the more than 35 000 refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo who arrived in the Central African Republic in late May/early June, there are 27 400 assisted Sudanese refugees in the country. Approximately 5 000 Chadians also receive food assistance. For the 1997 marketing year (January/December), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 39 000 tons, mainly wheat and rice.
CONGO (8 August)
Rainfall was abundant and widespread in March and April over the whole country, started to decrease in mid May and stopped in late May in the south. Precipitation is widespread in the north. The harvest of the second maize crop is underway. From July 1, the government has increased the export taxes on cocoa, cotton, sugar and rubber from 13.5 to 15 percent.
Civil disturbances erupted in early June in Brazzaville, where they have affected the food supply situation. More than half of the 900 000 people living in the capital have been displaced and almost 5 000 foreigners, who were providing income to many people, have been evacuated. Humanitarian agencies have temporarily suspended their assistance. Fighting resumed in early August and the security situation remains very volatile. An FAO Food Supply Assessment Mission is planned as soon as the security situation permits it. Before the fighting, the overall food supply situation was satisfactory. Production of staple foodcrops (roots, tubers and plantains) amounts to about 650 000 tons. Markets are well supplied with these crops. Cereal production in 1996 was estimated at some 27 000 tons, mainly maize. For the 1997/98 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 113 000 tons, mostly wheat, including a structural food aid requirement of 2 000 tons. About 20 000 Rwandan refugees have arrived in Congo in May and June.
CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF * (4 August)
There was abundant precipitation over the entire country since the beginning of the year. Rainfall moved towards the north in May, decreased and stopped in the south and the centre but remained widespread over the rest of the country. In the north and south, the second maize crop is being harvested while the main maize planting is underway in the centre. Millet and sorghum are growing satisfactorily in the east. In Rutshuru, near Goma, the current sorghum, maize and coffee crops are reported to be poor, due to intermittent rains, lack of basic inputs as well as delayed plantings due to civil strife and population displacements. This is also likely to be the case in many other areas, particularly in eastern, central and southern areas, although the main foodcrop, cassava, can be stored in the ground and is less affected by a lack of inputs. Distribution of seeds and tools would be especially useful in the centre and the south, where the next planting season is starting now.
The food supply situation is still critical in the east where severe malnutrition is reported among the remaining refugees and the security situation is still tense. In addition to about 190 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), of whom some 95 000 in Masisi, humanitarian sources estimate the number of remaining refugees at more than 20 000. UNHCR reports that as of 6 July, a total of 54 500 Rwandan refugees had been repatriated. However, some 50 000 Rwandan refugees were also reported around Mbandaka, near the Congolese border, with an unknown number in forests. Many refugees were suffering from severe malnutrition. In addition, there are an estimated 50 000 assisted and 119 000 unassisted Angolan refugees in the south of the country. While most of the unassisted population is expected to return spontaneously following the improvement of the situation in Angola, repatriation of the assisted refugees has started. Around 92 000 Sudanese and 37 000 Ugandan refugees also remain in the country.
The 1997 cereal import requirement (January/December) is estimated at 180 000 tons of wheat and rice and 60 000 tons of coarse grains.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA (4 August)
Rains started in early March in the south and moved towards the north. Rainfall was abundant in April and the first half of May, decreased in the second half of the month and resumed in June. The staple foodcrops are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains. Some 10 000 tons of wheat and rice are imported annually. The food aid requirement in 1997 is estimated at 2 000 tons of wheat.
GABON (30 July)
After limited rainfall in February, rains increased in March, became abundant over the entire country in April and early May and decreased from mid May and June. The staple foodcrops are cassava and plantains, the production of which is estimated at about 330 000 tons. Production of cereals in 1996, mainly maize, is estimated at around 25 000 tons. The country imports the bulk of its wheat and rice requirement which is estimated at 76 000 tons. No food aid is necessary.