MAURITANIA (8 August)
Reduced precipitation in July severely affected crops planted following good early rains of June. The first significant rains which reached the centre-south in early June and progressed in the south and the east in mid and late June, permitted an early planting of coarse grains. However, mostly dry weather persisted in July in the south-west while precipitation decreased significantly in mid and late July in the south-east. Dry weather was persisting in early August. As a result, most “dieri” rainfed crops plantings failed. Replantings are necessary but seed availability is limited. By contrast, prospects are more favourable for the irrigated sector where it is anticipated that larger areas can be sown.
Aerial and ground treatments against grain eating birds have been undertaken in several areas. During surveys carried out in the first half of July, solitary Desert Locust appeared in the summer breeding areas of the south, at a few places between Kiffa and Tidjikja. By the end of the month, isolated adults were also present between Nema and the Malian border to the east and south-east. Locust numbers will increase slightly in the central and eastern areas of the south as a result of solitary breeding which is expected to be on a small scale and patchy. Adults may also appear in the south- west and lay if rainfall occurs. These small locust numbers are unlikely to affect the food supply situation.
The overall food supply situation is reported to be tight for sections of the population affected by a poor crop in rainfed areas in 1996, especially in Brakna, Gorgol and Tagant regions. Cereal prices are much higher than in previous years in the same period. A multi-agency assessment of the needs of the affected populations recommended food assistance amounting to 16 500 tons for 200 000 persons for 6 months. An Emergency Operation has been jointly approved by FAO and WFP to cover these needs. The government and NGOs have also undertaken or scheduled food distributions in Nouakchott, Nouadhibou and other wilayas not covered by the WFP project. For the 1996/97 marketing year (November/October), the cereal import requirement, including re-exports, is estimated at 310 000 tons and the food aid requirement at 75 000 tons.