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Food supply difficulties are emerging in several parts of eastern Africa, mainly due to the impact of the unfavourable weather. In Ethiopia, the short rains failed in several areas resulting in poor "belg" crops. In Kenya, the food supply situation remains tight with prices at high levels following the reduced 1996/97 grain production. In Uganda, a smaller crop than last year is being harvested and prices of maize and beans have risen significantly. The situation is particularly difficult in the eastern part hit hardest by the drought and the northern part affected by civil strife. In Somalia, the recently gathered "Gu" crop is estimated to be the third consecutive reduced harvest. In Tanzania, the 1997 cereal crop, still being harvested, is expected to be substantially below last year’s. In Burundi and Rwanda production is larger than last year but still sharply down from pre- crisis levels. In Sudan, the food situation remains precarious in several states of Darfur and Kordofan, affected by two successive poor harvests.

Drought conditions affected crops in the western parts of the Sahel. After an early start of the rainy season, a long dry spell in July affected recently planted crops in Senegal, The Gambia and Mauritania. Growing conditions are more favourable in eastern Sahel with rains above normal and widespread in Chad and generally adequate in the countries of the centre of the Sahel. Elsewhere in western Africa, recent political upheaval in Sierra Leone is likely to affect agricultural activities and limit 1997 rice production. In Liberia, the food situation is gradually improving.

Southern Africa’s food supply situation remains stable. Total cereal output is expected to be above average, but some 11 percent below last year’s volume. With large carryover stocks from last year’s harvest in several countries, the overall food supply situation is expected to be generally stable for the 1997/98 marketing year. Locust damage to crops has been reported from Madagascar

Drought damage to crops is set to aggravate the already grave food supply situation in DPR Korea. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently making an on-the-spot evaluation of the crop damage. A severe drought has also damaged the maize crop in northern parts of China. Elsewhere, heavy rainfall and floods have affected crops in southern China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia and Laos.

In Iraq, the food supply situation has eased with the implementation of the oil-for-food deal, but malnutrition still remains a serious problem throughout the country. A recent FAO/WFP Food Supply and Nutrition Assessment Mission has estimated that additional food (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, fruits and vegetables) costing about U.S.$ 1 000 million per year, and not included under Security Council Resolution 986 (oil-for-food deal), will be required to provide a more balanced diet to the population. The Mission also stressed the need for a substantial flow of resources directed into the rehabilitation of the agriculture sector and the economy as a whole.

In Central America, growing conditions have deteriorated for the 1997 first season cereal crops in some countries as a consequence of dry weather attributed to the early effects of "El Niño". In the Caribbean, cereal outputs are expected to be significantly reduced in Haiti because of drought and in Cuba due to the continuing shortage of farm inputs. In South America, sowing of the 1997/98 wheat crop is delayed in Argentina because of excessive moisture as a consequence of a wetter than normal winter season also attributed to "El Niño".

In Europe, heavy rains and flooding have damaged crops and delayed harvesting in several countries. Another above-average crop is still forecast in the EC, but in several eastern countries output is likely to be lower than earlier expected. In the CIS, the outlook for the 1997 grain harvests is generally good and output is expected to be larger than last year in most States.

A bumper wheat crop is in prospect in the United States, but the outlook for coarse grains has deteriorated. In Canada, adverse weather has also reduced the yield potential of the 1997 grain crops.

In Australia, excessive dry conditions have stressed winter grains. The latest official forecast for the 1997 wheat crop remains well below earlier expectations at about 16 million tons.

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