FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook, November 1997

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Although in developing countries, cereal production in 1997 is forecast to decline only slightly from last year’s good level, the number of countries facing food emergencies in 1997 has increased to 31 countries compared to 25 in 1996. Of the affected countries, 20 are in Africa, 5 in Asia, 5 in eastern Europe/CIS and 1 in Latin America.  

In Africa, food supply difficulties have been caused mainly by weather adversities in eastern Africa, although civil strife continues to play a significant part. In Ethiopia, the short rains failed in several areas resulting in a poor "belg" harvest and prospects for the main "meher" crops in the same areas are unfavourable. In Uganda, a smaller crop than last year is being harvested and maize and bean prices have substantially increased. The situation is particularly difficult in the eastern and north-eastern part hit hardest by a severe drought early on in the year and in the northern and western parts affected by civil strife. In Somalia, the recently harvested "Gu" crop was reduced for the third consecutive year, while in Tanzania the 1997 cereal crop declined by one-third from last year’s and food assistance is needed in many districts. In Rwanda and Burundi, production showed some recovery but continues to be well below pre-crisis levels. In Sudan, the first season harvest in the war-torn south was down and the food situation remains precarious. In western Africa, harvest prospects are mixed. Below-average harvests and localized food shortfalls are anticipated in Burkina Faso, The Gambia and Senegal, due to mid-season unfavourable weather. A poor crop is also foreseen in Cape Verde. Above average harvests are anticipated in Chad, Guinea-Bissau and Mali while cereal output is close to average in Mauritania and Niger. Elsewhere in western Africa, the already precarious food situation in Sierra Leone has continued to deteriorate and is likely to deteriorate further with the recently imposed embargo. In Liberia, some recovery in production is evident but the country will continue to need food assistance for some time. In the Republic of Congo, the recent civil strife led to large-scale urban population displacement and disruption of the food supply system. In southern Africa, while the overall food supply situation is satisfactory, shortages have developed in Malawi due to reduced harvest. There is also general concern about the possibility of an El Niño-induced drought during the just-started cropping season.  

In Asia, a severe drought in Korea, D.P.R. last summer, coupled with a destructive typhoon, both occurring against a backdrop of two successive years of floods in 1995 and 1996, resulted in a most desperate food situation. Elsewhere, food supply problems persist in Mongolia, particularly for vulnerable sections of the population. In Iraq, while the food supply situation has eased with the implementation of the oil-for-food agreement (SCR 986), malnutrition remains a serious problem throughout the country. A recent FAO/WFP Mission observed that while the food rations provided under SCR 986 will provide a significant proportion of overall energy and protein needs, the provisions are low or deficient in a number of other essential nutrients which can only be supplied by a more balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables as well as animal products.  

In the Caribbean, food supply situation remains tight in Haiti, reflecting substantially reduced main season cereal output caused by a prolonged drought.  

In the CIS, targeted food aid to vulnerable populations continues to be required in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and particularly Tajikistan, where over 16 percent of the population need assistance to survive. 

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