SENEGAL (20 November)
Following above-average early rains in May in the southeast and in June in the rest of the country, rains stopped during July except in the north west, where there was some precipitation in the last dekad. Regular rainfall resumed in mid-August, resulting in some improvement in the growing conditions in the northeast of the country. Rains in September and October were generally satisfactory and timely. However, cumulative rainfall was reported to be below average in most areas. The early heavy rains in May and June permitted earlier-than- usual land preparation and first sowing, particularly in the centre and south. Crop emergence was satisfactory but the long interruption in rainfall from early July to mid-August wiped out the first sowings in most of the centre and north. It was mostly in the northern lowlands and in the centre-north that some crops managed to survive and grow normally. While there is no major concern about sorghum which can reach maturity with little moisture, lack of rain in October in the north and centre-north will adversely affect millet yield. The state of the late-sown crops is particularly worrying in the regions of Saint-Louis, Louga and Thiès, and to a lesser extent in the departments of Kaffrine (region of Kaolack) and Tambacounda (region of Tambacounda).
The water level of the Senegal River has been higher than last year but below that of 1995. Water was released from Manantali dam from 27 August for 45 days, but the time allowed for flooding the fields was sometimes insufficient to ensure the proper growth of flood recession crops in some trough areas of Matam and Podor.
As a result of the long dry spell, there were localized outbreaks of pests such as caterpillars and grasshoppers, which destroyed some crops, particularly in the region of Fatick. Out of a total 294 600 hectares infested by pests, mostly grasshoppers, treatment has been applied to 171 500 hectares. Close monitoring is necessary to spot the presence of solitary individuals and take control measures to prevent damage to late- sown crops.
A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in October estimated, on the basis of the national production survey, rainfed cereal production for 1997 at 774 000 tons. This is about 25 percent below average and 20 percent lower than 1996. An anticipated additional off-season output of 37 100 tons would bring total cereal production to 811 100 tons, 20 percent down from 1996 and 21 percent below average. Millet and maize are the most affected crops.
Following this below average crop, the overall food supply situation will be tight during 1997/98 marketing year. The most at-risk areas are located in the regions of Fatick (notably Tattaguine, Niakhar, Colobane Djilor, Fimela and Wadiour areas), Louga, Thiès (Tivaouane, Méouane, Niakhène and Médina Dakhar), Tambacounda (Koumpentoum, Koutiaba, Fadayacounba and Missirah areas) and Saint Louis. In September, the government started food distributions in the drought affected areas. In the north, the impact of the poor harvest can be partly compensated by recession or irrigated crop production. External assistance is required for off-season production activities and the mobilization of cereals in surplus areas of the south and transfer to northern deficit areas. Currently, markets are generally well supplied. Prices of cereals have declined in August and September before the harvest, except for maize.