FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report - November 1997:

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MAURITANIA


Area: 1 030 000 sq.km
Climate: Mostly a Saharian country; semi-arid fringe in extreme south with rains in June-September
Population: 2.42 million (1996 estimate); G.N.P. per caput: U.S.$ 460 (1995)
Specific characteristics of the country: Low-income food-deficit country; coastal country
Logistics: Port capacity adequate, though storms during January-March sometimes cause difficulties
Major foodcrops: Wheat, rice, millet and sorghum
Marketing year: November/October; Lean season: July-September
Share of cereals in total calorie intake: 54 percent


CURRENT SITUATION

Prospects for rainfed ("dieri") crops are very poor due to dry weather in July and early August while prospects for recession and irrigated crops are much more favourable following heavy rains in late August/early September which filled water reservoirs and improved prospects for production below dams and in low-lying areas. The dry weather which occurred in July and early August following first early rains in June has severely affected "dieri" (rainfed) crop. Dieri production represents about one third of total cereal production in a normal year. Replanting undertaken in mid-August, when rains resumed, was limited by insufficient seed availability and these plants have low yield potential. Therefore, prospects for dieri production are very poor, except in Guidimaka. By contrast, prospects for production in low-lying areas, below dams and for recession crops are more favourable following abundant and widespread rains in late August and early September which filled the reservoirs. Planted areas will increase significantly although some dams collapsed. Water releases from the Manantali dam started in early September and will continue up to late October, allowing the planting of an estimated 20 000 hectares area under "walo". Irrigated rice is now in the heading/maturation stages. Pastures benefited from improved rains in September. They are less developed in Brakna, Gorgol and Trarza. An FAO/WFP/Government assessment mission was organised in early September to visit the affected regions and confirmed the very poor prospects for dieri production and improved prospects for other types of production and pastures.

Infestations of grasshoppers are reported in some areas of Assaba and Hodh El Gharbi. Grain eating birds are present in Trarza. Treatment is underway. Isolated maturing and mature Desert Locust solitarious adults were seen between Akjoujt and Atar indicating that adults may be moving out of the summer breeding areas. Similar populations continued to persist during September and October at a few places near Kiffa and R’Kiz. Low numbers of solitarious adults will continue to appear in the north as numbers decrease in the south. Limited breeding may occur if rains fall.

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission visited Mauritania from 23 to 30 October. Composed of experts or consultants from FAO/GIEWS and the DIAPER Programme of CILSS, this Mission worked closely with the national services involved in the monitoring of rainy season (meteorology, hydrology, plant protection, agricultural statistics) as well as the FAO/UNDP "Projet Informations Rurales" and USAID/FEWS. Preliminary information indicates that 1997 cereal production increased significantly from that of 1996 and reached a level close to the average of the past five years. Production of rainfed "dieri" crops remains very limited, while production of recession crops ("walo") and those below dams and in low-lying areas ("bas-fonds") increased substantially. Irrigated rice production is also anticipated to increase.



CEREAL SUPPLY/DEMAND BALANCE FOR THE 1996/97 MARKETING YEAR (in thousand tons)


Wheat

Rice

Coarse grains

Total

Normal Production

-

53

105

158

Normal Imports

150

85

20

255

of which: Structural food aid

20

2

10

32

1996/97 Domestic Availability

1

50

65

116

1996 Production (rice in paddy terms)

-

67

55

122

1996 Production (rice in milled terms)

-

45

55

100

Possible stock drawdown

1

5

10

16

1996/97 Utilization

151

140

135

426

Food Use

116

132

125

373

of which: local purchase requirement

-

-

(6)

(6)

Non-food use

25

8

9

42

Exports or Re-exports

10

-

1

11

Possible stock build up

-

-

-

-

1996/97 Import Requirement

150 1/

90

70

310 1/

Anticipated commercial imports

130

85

20

235

Food aid needs

20

5

50

75

Current Aid Position





Food aid pledges

20

6

8

34

of which: Delivered

15

6

7

28

Donor-financed local purchases

-

-

6

6

Estimated Per Caput Consumption (kg/Year)

48

54

52

154

Indexes





1996 production as % of normal:




77

1996/97 import requirement as % of normal:




122

1996/97 food aid requirement as % of normal:




234


1/ Including 10 000 tons for re-export.

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