WEATHER AND CROP SITUATION 1997
and Early Warning System on food and agriculture
Report No 5
- 10 October 1997
IMPROVED HARVEST PROSPECTS IN
THE WEST OF THE SAHEL, MIXED PROSPECTS IN THE CENTRE AND THE EAST
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consult the situation of this country
In the western part of the Sahel, harvest prospects have improved following abundant
and widespread rains in September, which partly compensated for earlier drier
conditions. After an early start of the rainy season in May/June, precipitation
was well below normal from mid-July up to mid-August over most parts of Senegal,
The Gambia and Mauritania,
severely affecting early planted crops and rainfed “dieri” crops in Mauritania.
Abundant precipitation in late August/early September replenished soil moisture
reserves in these countries and filled dams in Mauritania, improving prospects
for recession or irrigated crops. Abundant rains in September also benefited crops
in Guinea Bissau. In the central part of the
Sahel, reflecting generally favourable growing conditions, harvest prospects are
mostly favourable in Mali and western and northern
Burkina Faso but unfavourable in eastern Burkina
Faso. In the eastern part of the Sahel, prospects are mixed in Niger
with pockets of poor anticipated harvests. In Chad,
generally widespread and regular rains benefited crop development but African
Migratory Locusts are threatening crops in the north-west. In Cape
Verde, the maize crop is growing satisfactorily in the humid zones. The
latest Météosat satellite image for the first days of October shows
that cloud cover disappeared over most parts of Mauritania, northern Senegal,
northern Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger and eastern Chad, marking the end of the
rainy season. Precipitation remained quite abundant in Guinea Bissau, more limited
but widespread in southern Senegal, southern Mali, southern and central Burkina
Faso and south-western Chad.
Grasshoppers are reported in most countries. Large swarms of African
migratory locusts have been reported in Chari-Baguirmi in Chad where they
have caused some crop damage and are threatening crops in the south west
as well as in neighbouring countries. No significant Desert Locust activity
is reported. Only isolated adults persisted in a few places in southern
Mauritania while a few adults may appear in the north-west.
A series of joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions are scheduled during
the second half of October in all countries of the region. They will work
closely with national services and early warning systems to review the
evolution of the growing season and prepare first estimates of 1997 cereal
SITUATION IN THE COASTAL COUNTRIES
In these reports, reference will be made to four different eco-climatic zones
based on the average annual precipitation and agricultural features, i.e. Sahelian
zone, Sudano-Sahelian zone, Sudanian zone and Guinean zone. They are shown in
the map and described below:
Sahelian zone: Where average annual precipitation ranges between
250 and 500 mm. This zone is at the limit of perennial vegetation. In parts
where precipitation is less than 350 mm, only pastures and occasional short-cycle
drought-resistant cereal crops are grown; all cropping in this zone is
subject to high risk.
Sudano-Sahelian zone: Where average annual precipitation ranges
from 500 to 900 mm. In those parts of this zone where precipitation is
less than 700 mm, mostly crops with a short growing cycle of 90 days are
generally cultivated predominantly sorghum and millet.
Sudanian zone: Where average annual precipitation ranges from
900 to 1 100 mm. In this zone, most cereal crops have a growing cycle of
120 days or more. Most cereals, notably maize, root and cash crops are
grown in this zone.
Guinean zone: Where average annual precipitation exceeds 1 100
mm. Guinea-Bissau and a small area of southern Burkina Faso belong to this
zone, more suited to root crop cultivation.
Reference will also be made to the Intertropical Convergence Zone
(ITCZ), also known by its trace on the earth's surface, called the
Intertropical Front. The ITCZ is a quasi-permanent zone between
two air masses separating the northern and southern hemisphere trade winds.
The ITCZ moves north and south of the equator and usually reaches its most
northerly position in July. Its position defines the northern limits of
possible precipitation in the Sahel; rain-bearing clouds are generally
situated 150-200 km south of the Intertropical Front.