FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops and Shortages
Good rains in October prompted early planting of winter grain along the coastal areas in the Northeast. Sowing of the 1998 wheat and barley crops will continue until mid-January next year, but the bulk is usually planted in November/December.
Isolated adult desert locusts were observed during October in the extreme south near the Niger. Scattered adults are likely to be present in few places in central and southern Sahara. These may breed in areas of recent rainfall.
Following unfavourable weather conditions, production of cereals in 1997 dropped to a 20-year low of about 1.08 million tons from a record 4.6 million tons in 1996. Wheat output in 1997 is estimated at 750 000 tons, about 73 percent lower than in the previous year. The production of barley is estimated at 300 000 tons compared to 1.7 million tons last year.
Cereal imports in 1997/98 (July/June) are estimated to rise to about 5.5 million tons reflecting the drop in 1997 domestic production.
EGYPT (28 November)
Planting of the mainly irrigated wheat crop, to be harvested from mid-April 1998, is underway. The official agricultural plan aims at adding new land for agriculture to be planted with improved varieties of wheat, rice and maize. Isolated mature adults of desert locusts were present at several locations near the Nile River Valley south of Aswan and on the coastal plains near Halaib and Wadi Diib at the end of September. Breeding is expected to occur in the south-east along the coastal plains and sub-coastal wadis which could lead to the formation of hopper groups and small bands. There is a risk that locust numbers could increase significantly since breeding this year is expected to occur earlier than in previous years.
Production of wheat in 1996/97 declined by some 4 percent to about 5.5 million tons, due to lower yields as a result of strong dust storms and high temperatures at the end of the growing season. The output of maize in 1996/97 is estimated at 5.4 million tons.
Imports of wheat and wheat flour in 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast at 7 million tons, whereas coarse grains imports are forecast at 3.2 million tons.
MOROCCO (28 November)
Following dry conditions in October, above-normal rains in November allowed widespread planting of 1997/98 crop in northern parts of the country. In southern areas, light to moderate rainfall in November provided sufficient topsoil moisture for land preparation and planting of winter crops. The emergence and establishment of early planted crops is reported to be satisfactory. The planting of winter crops will continue until December.
Isolated solitary adult desert locusts may appear in the extreme south-west during periods of warm southerly winds.
Following unfavourable growing conditions, production of cereals in 1997, mainly wheat and barley, estimated at 4 million tons, was 60 percent lower than in 1996. As a result, imports of wheat in 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast at 2.4 million tons, up from 1.1 million tons in 1996/97.
TUNISIA (28 November)
Widespread light to moderate rainfall was received in October and provided sufficient moisture for land preparation and may have prompted some early planting of the winter grain. Light rains with excess in some localized areas continued in November, maintaining enough topsoil moisture for winter grain emergence and establishment. Sowing of the 1998 wheat and barley crops continues until mid-January, but most of the crop is usually planted from mid-November to mid-December.
Production of cereals in 1997, estimated at 1.1 million tons, was drastically reduced by shortage of rainfall which halved the total area sown to cereals last season. Only about 1 million hectares, representing half of the cropped land was sown, due to severe drought.
Imports of wheat and barley in 1997/98 are forecast at 1.2 million tons and 300 000 tons respectively.
BENIN (17 November)
The rainy season started in late March and was generally favourable. However, a dry period, which usually occurs in late July/early August, lasted much longer than usual, delaying the second season planting in the south. The vegetation index from satellite imagery shows normal to above normal vegetation in October. Millet and sorghum are currently being harvested in the north. Food supply prospects for 1997/98 are good in Atacora province, mixed in Borgou due to irregular rains, and about normal in the southern part of the country. Areas planted during the first growing season are below normal for maize, but well above normal for other crops, notably millet, sorghum, rice and yams. First production estimates point to about 916 000 tons of cereals and 2.5 million tons of roots and tubers, which is well above average.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Following the harvest of yams and the first maize and sorghum crops, prices have decreased on the markets which are adequately supplied. The Government is setting up a security stock of about 1 000 tons of maize and assisting with the establishment of on-farm stocks. There are about 11 000 Togolese refugees remaining in Benin. The cereal import requirement for 1997 (January/December) is estimated at 190 000 tons (including re-exports), mostly wheat and rice, including 16 000 tons of food aid.
BURKINA FASO (2 December)
The 1997 rainy season began relatively early at the beginning of April in the southwest of the country. The rains then moved northwards in May and covered the entire country in June. Rainfall in July was characterized by pockets of drought in the centre, east and north. There was little rainfall in August compared to previous years, especially in the first dekad. Sowing and resowing were staggered until late August, particularly in the centre, centre-north and east, where incidences of drought required replanting until mid-August. The situation improved during the first dekad of September but then degenerated somewhat in the last two dekads of the month, damaging the still young and flowering crops, particularly in the north and centre. The rains in October arrived too late to remedy the situation in many parts of the country.
The pest situation has been calm throughout the growing season, except for some grasshopper infestations of millet, sorghum and maize.
Cereal production for the 1997/98 year has been estimated by a joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in late October/November at 2 275 000 tons, which is 8 percent down from 1996 and 7 percent below the five-year average. This is in fact the lowest level since 1990 and is the result of declines in the output of millet, sorghum and rice by 9 percent, 13 percent and 12 percent respectively. Maize and fonio, on the other hand, have posted increases of 13 and 18 percent. In comparison to average production levels for 1992/93 to 1996/97, rice is expected to be up by 39 percent and maize by 14 percent, while millet, sorghum and fonio should register decreases of between 9 and 14 percent. Only six of the 30 provinces will increase production over last year, and many provinces might register sizeable falls - in some cases more than 40 percent down from 1996.
Reflecting the below-average harvest, the overall food supply situation will be tight in the areas which gathered reduced crops. Markets are generally well supplied except for maize. Cereal prices remain stable and lower than last year except in Ouagadougou and Fada N’Gourma. The Government has planned a meeting with donor representatives in early December to present a plan of action in order to provide assistance in the affected areas. The emergency food aid needs have been estimated at 67 200 tons to cover consumption requirements of 800 000 people for 7 months. Deficits in affected areas can be covered by transfer of cereals from surplus provinces, for which external assistance is required. Cereal needs for ongoing food aid programmes can also be covered by local purchases. Tuareg refugees from Mali are receiving food assistance.
CAPE VERDE (20 November)
Rainfall was poorly distributed in 1997. The rains arrived at the end of August, one month later than normal and stopped in early October when the maize was at flowering stage. Most of the crops planted in July on Santiago and Fogo Islands were lost and resowing was undertaken on both islands. The first two dekads of September were very wet on all the islands and favoured maize growth. However, the lack of rainfall beginning in the second dekad of October coincided with the flowering phase and adversely affected the maize crop in the archipelago.
The pest situation was relatively calm, though locust infestation on Santiago, Maio and Boavista, caused some damage to the maize crop and pasture. Heavy rains of August and September replenished groundwater, thus extending the irrigated area and improving livestock nutrition and health in pastoral areas.
The improved rainfall on Santiago and San Nicolau and seed availability enabled planting of a larger area to maize: 33 311 hectares this year against 32 127 hectares in 1996/97, an increase of 3.7 percent. This represents an increase in planted area of 2 percent relative to the five-year average. However, the lack of rain in October wiped out the maize crop everywhere except on the islands of Santiago and Fogo, where the harvest prospects are slightly better. National maize output is estimated at 1 137 tons against 1 304 tons in 1996/97, a drop of 13 percent. This is the worst harvest since 1987 and is 84 percent below the five-year average.
Despite the two successive reductions in harvest, the overall food supply situation will remain satisfactory as the country imports the bulk of its consumption requirement. However, rural populations, notably in the semi-arid or arid zones, will be severely affected and may need assistance.
CHAD (20 November)
The rains in 1997 were irregular and unevenly distributed. Except for sporadic rainfall in late March in the extreme south of the Sudanian zone, precipitation in this zone was generally good through September. In the Sahelian zone, the first rains came in the first dekad of June. Rainfall was generally good in June and July in all production areas, but in September rains were mostly sporadic, uneven and insufficient. Cumulative rainfall by late July, at the end of the rainy season, was close to the average and only slightly down from 1996.
In the Sudanian zone sowing started in the third dekad of April and sowing and resowing continued until July/August. Crops were relatively healthy in this area, despite slight damage to the millet and sorghum from insect infestation and localized withering due to dry spells. In the Sudano-Sahelian zones, first seeding took place in June, but the millet and sorghum crops withered when the rains ceased in the third dekad of June. This necessitated resowing in July and August. The very low rainfall of September caused further withering and some fields were abandoned.
The Desert Locust situation has been relatively calm throughout the season. In contrast, the African migratory locust has been reported since early September in the Dourbali zone (Massenya) and along the Mandalia-Guelendeng axis (Mayo-Kebbi), in a 10 km band each side of a line between Logone and Chari Rivers, as well as in Doum-Doum (Lac). There has been staggered reproduction and the population is in all stages of growth. Hoppers have been reported in the canton of Madiago and along the Linia-Dourbali axis to the southeast of N’Djamena. There have also been some severe attacks which caused localized destruction of sorghum nurseries and transplanted recession crops. Some damage to rainfed millet and sorghum has also been observed. Unless timely control measures are taken, the African migratory locust poses a threat to crops not only in Chad but also in northern Cameroon. Elsewhere, grasshoppers have been reported in the late millet and sorghum crops in the prefectures of Ouaddaï, Biltine, Lac, Kanem, Batha, Guera, Chari-Baguimi and Mayo-Kebbi. Their presence has caused some farmers to harvest their cereals before full maturity.
A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated total cereal production for 1997/98 at 993 300 tons which is 13 percent up from 1996 and 9 percent above the five-year average. The increase is mainly due to maize and rice, which increased by 36 percent and 47 percent respectively. In contrast, pearl millet is expected to be down by about 7 percent. This assumes that control measures are taken against the African migratory locust, particularly in areas where flood recession sorghum and long- cycle cereals are grown.
The overall food supply situation is anticipated to be better in 1997/98 than in 1996/97, except in the areas affected by African migratory locusts attacks on recession crops. Markets are generally well supplied and millet prices are declining in the Sahelian zone reflecting good harvest prospects. The national security stock is exhausted, and this will impede possible interventions in vulnerable areas. Its recommended level is 22 000 tons, as estimated by an FAO mission in 1995. Donors are urged to assist with local purchases for the reconstitution of the national security stock.
COTE D'IVOIRE (17 November)
The rainy season started in early March in the south, and in late March in the north and rains were abundant and widespread until late June. A significant reduction occurred in July, August and early September over the south and the centre, where precipitation has been well below normal. Rainfall resumed and remained widespread from late September to early November. In the north, the harvest of millet and sorghum is drawing to an end and a good output is expected following favourable growing conditions. In the south, rice is being harvested. Following poor rains from mid July to mid September in the south, the main maize and rice production is expected to be reduced compared to previous years. Upland rice, which accounts for the bulk of the Ivorian rice production has been severely affected by the dry period. The planting of the second maize crop, which usually takes place in late August/early September could not start before late September, due to a lack of rain. As a result, the second maize crop output might be poor if the rainy season stops before maturity.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory and markets are adequately supplied. However, rice prices are higher than last year during the same period, probably due to reduced crop output and an increase in import taxes. The cereal import requirement for 1997 (January/December), is estimated at 505 000 tons, mostly wheat and rice.
About 305 000 Liberian refugees are present in the western departments. Their nutritional status is reported to be adequate. Most of them are expected to repatriate in 1998, following improved security in Liberia. Food assistance is provided to 50 000 vulnerable people, and 30 000 children through school feeding.
THE GAMBIA (20 November)
Rains in May in the east and in June in the rest of the country permitted early planting of coarse grains and upland rice. The rains continued until the first dekad of July when they were interrupted by a dry spell. The cessation of rains in mid-July stressed early maize and millet crops, which were then at a critical stage of development. Grazing conditions were also affected adversely, particularly in the North Bank Division, where farmers were forced to move herds southwards. However, abundant rains in August improved grazing conditions. There was extensive resowing, particularly in the North Bank Division (NBD), the region most affected. The lack of rains also delayed the transplanting of rice. Despite the resumption of rainfall in mid-August, virtually all the maize crop was lost, as well as part of the early millet and sorghum crops. Replanting of upland rice was undertaken but seed shortages prevented its completion. The mangrove rice which was transplanted in early August is growing under good conditions. The early millet was harvested in late September, one month later than usual. The groundnut harvest should be good despite a seed shortage, provided that the rains continue through October. Precipitation was ample in most areas during the second dekad of August until early October. Only in the southern part of the Lower River Division (LRD) was precipitation low. Overall, cumulative rainfall was close to normal and higher than last year.
Crops were also affected by caterpillar infestation. Aphid attack has also caused damage to the millet and groundnut crops. Maize and millet also suffered from downy mildew in late September in the Upper River Division (URD). An upsurge of striga has been reported in several divisions of the country.
A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated aggregate cereal output for 1997 at 84 750 tons, some 24 percent lower than last year and substantially below average. This is largely due to the sharp decline in the outputs of maize and upland rice.
As a consequence, the food supply situation is anticipated to be tight. The most affected areas are Badibou and Jokadou in the North Bank Division (NBD), Saloum in the northern part of Central River Division (CRD); Wulli and Sandou in the north of the Upper River Division (URD). However, good prospects for groundnut production are likely to ease the income situation of farmers in some areas.
GHANA (18 November)
The rainy season started in mid March and rains remained widespread until the third dekad of June when they decreased significantly. Rainfall remained very limited in the south and the centre during July and the first half of August, and resumed from late August to late October. Although August is usually a dry month in the south, the dry period was longer than usual this year, and is likely to have affected the rice and maize crops in this area, and also delayed the planting of the second maize crop. Millet and sorghum are currently being harvested in the north and the prospects are favourable. In the south, cereal output is expected to be about or below average due to erratic rainfall. Like in 1996, the production of roots and tubers is likely to be higher than average, and to compensate for the decrease in cereal production. First estimates point to a 1997 production of 1.724 million tons of cereals, which is below last year’s level and about 13 million tons of roots and tubers.
The food supply situation is satisfactory. Some Togolese refugees still remain in Ghana after large repatriations in 1996. About 30 000 Liberian refugees are also receiving food assistance. The 1997 cereal import requirement is estimated at 387 000 tons, mostly wheat and rice.
GUINEA (17 November)
Rains started in late March in the extreme south-east, increased in the south in April and became abundant over the entire country from May to September. Cumulative precipitation as of early November is above average. Planted areas for the 1997 growing season are slightly larger than last year, normal to above average for rice, cassava and peanuts, and below average for maize and fonio. The main food crops are currently being harvested and are expected to be about normal. However, the large number of refugees in some of the main producing areas is causing substantial damage, including soil degradation and deforestation.
Latest estimates put the total number of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea at 545 000. Food assistance is provided to 60 000 Sierra Leoneans and 105 000 Liberian refugees. New refugees have arrived from Sierra Leone, notably in Maritime and Forest Guinea. Although some of the Liberian refugees are expected to return to Liberia in 1998, the presence of refugees is increasing the demand for food which results in rapid depletion of stocks available and price increases. The cereal import requirement for 1997 is estimated at 375 000 tons.
GUINEA-BISSAU (20 November)
Rainfall throughout the country has been good this year. Early sowing was undertaken in May and rains in subsequent months were regular and abundant. In August and September, there was localized flooding in the mangroves of the south and in lowlands in the east. Cumulative rainfall as of 30 September was higher than last year but lower than normal levels. However, the heavy rains in October could impact negatively on harvest levels, particularly lowland rice in the north and east.
There has been a substantial caterpillar infestation of rice, millet and fonio. Some 5 000 hectares have been infested, resulting in an estimated 15-20 percent damage. Good rainfall has favoured pasture growth and replenished water points, ensuring adequate feed for livestock.
A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission visited the country in late October. The planted area is estimated at 156 300 hectares, slightly up from last year and 26 percent higher than the 1992- 1995 average. In comparison to the 1996/97 growing season, the area under rainfed cereals has increased by 4.6 percent while rice has fallen by 0.6 percent, mainly because of a marked reduction in mangrove rice cultivation due to a labour shortage. Preliminary assessments indicate an aggregate cereal output of 186 600 tons, 29 percent higher than last year and above the average for the last five years.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Markets are generally well supplied and prices remain mostly stable. Following entrance of Guinea-Bissau into the UMOA (Union Monétaire Ouest Africaine) and the Franc zone, food prices have somewhat increased, notably for rice which will limit its accessibility for the poor section of the urban population. Therefore, the nutritional situation remains somewhat worrying, particularly in the urban areas. While non-cereal crops, such as cassava, sweet potato, haricot bean and cashew, will help cover a large proportion of food needs in rural areas, the low purchasing power in towns and galloping inflation could seriously undermine urban access to food supplies.
LIBERIA* (17 November)
Rainfall decreased in July and August in the west, stopped in the east, and resumed in early September, becoming widespread over the entire country at the end of the month. Cumulative rainfall as of early November is reported to be normal but rains have been rather irregular during the growing season. Rice is currently being harvested. Relative peace and stability continue to prevail throughout the country and have encouraged farming activities. Agricultural activities during the growing season have been close to normal in Lofa, Bong and Nimba counties considered to be the grain basket of the country. Although a shortage of hand tools and rice seed were limiting factors, this was alleviated by a massive seed and tool distribution programme. Preliminary reports show that some 118 000 vulnerable families, or some 55 percent of the total, should have been reached by the seed and tool distribution programme. No major climatic constraint or pest have been reported. Rice and cassava yields should be similar to the estimates for the 1996 growing season and the current FAO estimates for 1997 point to about 170 000 tons of paddy and 280 000 tons of cassava, which is substantially higher than last year.
Following the return of thousands of refugees from neighbouring countries, the price of rice is rising rapidly. Most people have turned to cassava as a substitute, but prices are also increasing. The food supply situation is improving following recovery of commercial activities. Food aid is being distributed to about 250 000 displaced people, 165 000 vulnerable people, 125 000 children through school feeding, and 94 000 in food for work programmes. Food supply on the urban market is stable although most of the available food is coming from humanitarian assistance. The food supply situation in rural areas is easing as the main crop is being harvested. Overall, Liberia remains heavily dependent on food aid, especially the counties with a high number of returnees.
MALI (20 November)
Rainfall in 1997 has on the whole been regular and evenly distributed. This has made up for localized late rains and pockets of drought that occurred throughout the season. The onset of the rainy season in May was normal, with rain-gauge readings normal to high in most stations. The June rains were unevenly distributed but generally higher than last year. The different agricultural zones received ample rains in July and cumulative amount was higher than or equal to normal in most of the stations of the south and centre. Rainfall throughout the country was also abundant in August, with a cumulative amount on 31 August reaching normal values. Rains were generally normal throughout September and in the first two dekads of October in most of the country.
Rainfed sowing started in May and June in the Sudanian zone and in part of the Sahelian zone. By July this activity was widespread. Although planting this year in the Sahelian zone started earlier than normal because of the early rains in May and June, the interruption of rainfall in late June hampered seeding and necessitated resowing in several areas. However, the main cereal crops (maize, sorghum, millet and rice) were not affected except in the regions of Tombouctou, Gao and Mopti where rainfall caused flooding before rice germination leading to lower-than-normal yields.
The locust situation was on the whole calm, except for an occasional adult Desert Locust in Adrar des Iforas in the north. Large numbers of grain-eating birds caused damage to the rice crop in Segou. Aerial and ground operations helped to prevent bird attacks and minimize losses, but vigilance is required as nests have not been destroyed. Prospects for livestock are satisfactory, as grazing conditions have generally been good, except in Nara, Tombouctou, Menaka and in the north of the Kayes and Mopti regions.
A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated 1997/98 aggreate cereal production at 2.4 million tons which is 7 percent higher than last year and above the five-year average. The increase is largely due to an increase in area under maize and sorghum and good yields of rice, maize and sorghum. The output of millet is also expected to exceed the five-year average. The impact of a slight drop in the area planted had been offset by a rise in yields. Sorghum is down by 14 percent from the average of the last five years, but output of secondary crops such as wheat and fonio have increased. Overall, while the major agricultural regions (Koulikoro, Sikasso, Ségou) are expected to achieve increased cereal production, shortfalls are anticipated in the regions of Mopti and Tombouctou.
Following the good harvest, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Markets are well supplied and cereal prices decreased since August/September, reaching levels generally much lower than those of 1996 at the same period. The national security stock is at 29 500 tons of millet or sorghum, which is higher than last year and will facilitate interventions during next marketing year, if needed. Stocks are available in the most at-risk areas, notably in Tombouctou and Gao regions. Food assistance is given to the Tuaregs who have returned from neighbouring countries. Exportable surpluses are available for triangular transactions with neighbouring countries affected by deficits, notably northern and central Senegal, Mauritania and some areas of Niger and Burkina Faso.
MAURITANIA* (20 November)
The season began with low and scattered rainfall in May in the agricultural parts of the country. Rains in June in the centre- south, south and east were heavy. However, the interruption in rainfall in July-August in the southwest caused wilting of the rainfed crops. There were insufficient seeds for resowing when the rains resumed in late August. These rains filled the dams and reservoirs in most of the country and even caused check dams and soil bunds to burst in the south and southeast. The good water reserves enhanced cropping in upstream areas of dams and on the lowlands. The Senegal River high-water flow has been above that of 1996 following the discharge of waters from Manantali dam which began on 27 August and lasted 45 days. Most regions received light rains in September. Rainfall in the first dekad of October was heavy but significantly lower than last year in Maghama, Timbedra, Kiffa and Ould Yengé.
The locust situation remained calm. There were significant grasshopper attacks that required repeated resowing and even leading to the abandonment of fields in the Diéri area. Aerial and ground treatment is under way to deal with the large number of grain-eating birds. A few isolated adult Desert Locusts were reported in the south during the summer and more recently in the north. The situation is under constant monitoring by field teams positioned throughout the country.
A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated in late October aggregate 1997/98 cereal output at 153 400 tons. This is 26 percent higher than in 1996/97, and 5 percent below the average of the last five years. Substantial increases are expected for lowland and irrigated crops in several areas. In contrast, production of rainfed crops, which have suffered the most from the uneven and irregular rainfall and grasshopper attack, will remain low again this year.
The overall food supply situation is anticipated to be tight for farmers affected by poor rainfed crop production, notably in the two Hodhs, Gorgol and Guidimaka. Following substantial imports, wheat and rice prices remain stable or have even decreased. By contrast, local coarse grain prices have increased, reflecting poor harvest prospects for rainfed crops.
NIGER (20 November)
The first significant rains of 1997 arrived in late April in the southwest and centre-south. The amount declined in the southwest during the first two dekads of May. Rainfall in June was low and sporadic, although localized downpours had been received. Heavier rainfall was recorded in early July over most of the country, particularly in the departments of Dosso and Maradi, in the southern part of Zinder department and in the districts of Bouza and Birni N’Konni (department of Tahoua). The rains in the second dekad of July became light but improved at the end of the month in the west and southwest. However, the amount of rainfall remained below average in the centre and east in August despite localized torrential rains in the northern strip.
Sowing began with the arrival of rains in April in the south of Dosso and Tahoua departments and in May in the departments of Maradi, Zinder and Tillabéri. Millet and sorghum planting became widespread in June and July. Because of the uneven, irregular rainfall, sowing progressed along a south-north axis from April to July. Early sowing failed in parts of the departments of Tillabéri (Ouallam), Dosso, Tahoua, Zinder and Diffa, requiring significant resowing. Lack of adequate rains in the first two dekads of August restricted crop growth in most departments. There are risks of localized water stress for the late crops, particularly in the departments of Tahoua and Maradi.
Heavy infestation of millet by grasshoppers and flower-eating insects, stem-borers and cereal leaf beetles has been reported. Sorghum and cowpea may be affected, but due to timely control measures damage to crops is not expected to be great. As of 24 October, some 293 000 hectares out of a reported infested area of some 800 000 hectares had been sprayed from the air.
A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated cereal production for 1997/98 at 2.25 million tons, marginally down from 1996 but 4 percent above the average for the past five years. Despite this average harvest, the food supply is anticipated to be tight in several deficit areas which gathered poor crops, some for the second or the third successive year. The most affected areas are, from west to east: Tera, Tillabery, Ouallam, Filingué, Kollo, Tahoua, Bouza, Keita, Tanout, Myrriah, Gouré, Maina, Diffa and N’Guigmi. The government has estimated the cereal deficit at national level at 151 000 tons and has launched an appeal for international assistance to cover the needs of the affected populations in the vulnerable areas. It has requested especially that ongoing projects in affected areas organize in the coming weeks activities for off season production in order to prevent population movements. The national early warning system will organize a national workshop in early December to determine more precisely the affected areas and populations which will need to be monitored during the next year. In addition, the national security stock is almost exhausted. Its level is now at about 2 500 tons plus 1 500 tons in financial reserve. The marketing board, the Office des Produits Vivriers du Niger (OPVN), is planning to buy about 10 000 tons and 15 000 tons are expected to be received from a donor contributions for the reconstitution of the national security stock. Millet prices are relatively high, possibly due to strong demand for the OPVN or donors local purchases.
NIGERIA (17 November)
Apart from the continuing fertilizer shortage that has hampered crop production such as rice, growing conditions were favourable during the whole growing season and the output should be normal to above normal, excepted in the south-west, where some maize growing areas had very limited precipitation in July and the first half of August. The dry period, which usually occurs in July, lasted much longer than usual. In large areas, no rains occurred between mid July and late September, delaying the planting of the second season crops. Satellite imagery as of the end of October, shows about average vegetation in the south and above average in the north, and the overall crop prospects are good. In the south and the centre, the second maize crop is growing satisfactorily while irrigated rice is being harvested. African migratory locusts infestations are likely to develop in north-eastern Nigeria, from recently reported swarms in southern Chad, and could damage the millet and sorghum crops that are currently harvested.
Food supply is still constrained by high levels of post-harvest losses and high distribution costs. Shortages of fertilizers, improved seeds and pesticides were reported during the whole growing season. As a result, many farmers have switched from rice and maize to millet, sorghum and groundnuts, which are less fertilizer dependent. A decrease in rice and maize production is expected for 1997, but might be compensated by a higher output of millet and sorghum depending on the development of the locust infestation. This is likely to have an impact in the neighbouring countries, notably Niger and Chad, which usually import coarse grains from Nigeria to cover their needs. It might also increase the need for rice imports. The cereal import requirement for 1997 is estimated at 1 250 000 tons, including 900 000 tons of wheat and 250 000 tons of rice.
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.
SIERRA LEONE* (17 November)
Following the political upheaval of 25 May 1997, the security situation remains fluid but some food aid deliveries are still underway. The overall food supply situation is improving as the main staple, rice, is currently being harvested. Rains have remained widespread during the growing season and the analysis of vegetation coverage (NDVI) using satellite imagery shows normal vegetation during this period. Due to good weather conditions and substantial agricultural input distribution by NGOs, food production is expected to be higher than last year's. Harvest of rainfed rice is well underway in the main growing areas, while swamp rice is growing satisfactorily. Cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, groundnuts and vegetables have also been widely planted and are providing a substantial part of the food supply before the main rice harvest. The major constraints on agricultural activities are the poor or lack of infrastructure, insecurity, the small number of traders remaining in the country, and the embargo that will not allow any exports. As a result, the income generation capacity of households is extremely limited.
In the main towns, the food supply situation is tightening, following the embargo imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Although humanitarian supplies are to be exempt from the embargo, the poor and vulnerable are expected to be badly affected by the decrease of trading activities and high market prices for food. Prices of foodstuffs are very high in Freetown and the supply of food and water is deteriorating. Daily food consumption is estimated to have been reduced by about 20 percent from normal. An acute fuel shortage is also reported and severely affects all economic activities. Only a limited number of shops and markets have re-opened as many traders have left the country. Due to poor security conditions, very limited trade takes place between rural areas and Freetown. Nevertheless, significant quantities of rice had been imported into Sierra Leone before the embargo, but are sold at very high prices.
The number of displaced persons is currently estimated at around 100 000. Food aid has been distributed to 26 000 displaced people in Kenema, 15 000 in Makeni and 22 000 in the Bo area, from stocks that were in the country before the embargo but which are now exhausted. Humanitarian assistance is very limited due to poor security conditions. About 60 000 Sierra-Leonean refugees are also receiving food assistance in neighbouring Guinea.
The national cereal balance sheet constructed in early 1997 following an FAO/GIEWS Crop and Food Assessment Mission in December 1996 had indicated a cereal import requirement for 1997 of 260 000 tons. Commercial imports were estimated at 180 000 tons and the food aid requirement at 80 000 tons. It is estimated that from January to late August, about 120 000 tons of commercial imports had been received, and as of late September, reports from donors indicate that about 115 000 tons of food aid had been pledged for Sierra Leone. Thus, assuming that no additional commercial imports are possible up to the end of the year, only 230 000 tons will have been received by the end of 1997, leaving an uncovered gap of 30 000 tons. The revised balance sheet indicates that cereal consumption is likely to decrease from 114 kg/person/year to 101 kg/person/year. Sierra Leone’s cereal import requirement for 1998 is currently estimated at about 300 000 tons, virtually all of which would need to be provided as food aid if the embargo stops commercial imports,.
TOGO (17 November)
Rains were abundant from mid August to late October, and decreased in early November. As a result of good climatic conditions, cereal output in 1997 is expected to be above average. Some areas, notably in the centre, experienced dry periods in July and August and might have delayed the planting of second season crops. Millet and sorghum are being harvested in the north. Rice is being harvested and the second maize crop is growing satisfactorily in the south. Preliminary production estimates for 1997 point to about 755 000 tons of cereals, 1.2 million tons of roots and tubers, and 102 000 tons of pulses, an aggregate output well above average.
Markets are well supplied with foodstuffs. About 10 000 refugees from Ghana remain in the country.
Rainfall was abundant and above average from mid-August to early November. Cumulative rainfall as of the end of October, and the vegetation index are above average over the whole country. Harvesting of millet and sorghum is drawing to an end in the north, while the second maize crop is growing satisfactorily in the centre. The prospects for the 1997 output are good. However, African migratory locust infestations have developed in the north, from recently reported swarms in southern Chad, and could damage the millet and sorghum crops. They are also threatening recession crops currently being planted. Control operations have started in the affected areas.
The cereal import requirement for 1997/98 (July/June) is estimated at 260 000 tons of wheat and rice and 10 000 tons of coarse grains.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (17 November)
Growing conditions have been favourable during the whole growing season. The harvesting of millet and sorghum is drawing to an end while the second maize crop is growing satisfactorily. First estimates for 1997 cereal production point to about 120 000 tons which is above average. Cassava production is estimated at 580 000 tons.
In addition to the more than 35 000 refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo who arrived in the Central African Republic in late May/early June, there are 27 400 assisted Sudanese refugees in the country. Approximately 5 000 Chadians also receive food assistance. For the 1997 marketing year (January/December), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 39 000 tons, mainly wheat and rice.
CONGO, REPUBLIC OF (17 November)
Rainfall started in mid-August, became abundant over the north and the centre in late August, and reached the south in early October, allowing the planting of maize. As the main growing season starts in September in the north and the centre, agricultural activities and particularly the planting of maize, might have been affected by insecurity, the presence of high numbers of refugees, and the lack of seeds and other inputs usually coming from Brazzaville or Pointe Noire. This might affect the cereal output, but only marginally as regards root and tuber production which forms the bulk of foodcrops production. Fishing activities on the Congo river, which represent a substantial part of household income, are also hampered by the decrease of trading activities with these two main cities.
It is estimated that about 600 000 people left Brazzaville during the civil disturbances, of whom some 450 000 went into rural areas and have substantially increased the demand on the available resources. This may hamper normal agricultural activities in many areas and could limit the output of the main growing season which is starting now. Food assistance is being provided in Brazzaville to about 55 000 refugees from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as displaced Congolese. In Loukolela and Bilolo, close to 10,000 Rwandan refugees continue to receive food assistance. About 40 000 Congolese people fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and are being housed in a refugee camp near Kinshasa. Before the fighting, the overall food supply situation was satisfactory, with production of staple foodcrops (roots, tubers and plantains) amounting to about 650 000 tons. Markets were well supplied with these staples. For the 1997/98 marketing year (July/June), the cereal import requirement is estimated at 113 000 tons, mostly wheat, including a structural food aid requirement of 2 000 tons.
CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF * (28 November)
Seasonal rains started in August over the north and moved towards the south. Abundant rains occurred over the whole country in October and early November. The main maize crop has been planted following the onset of rains. Millet and sorghum are currently being harvested in the east. In Rutshuru, near Goma, the current sorghum, maize and coffee crops are reported to be poor, due to intermittent rains, lack of basic inputs, as well as delayed plantings due to civil strife and population displacements. This is also likely to be the case in many other areas, particularly in eastern, central and southern areas, although the main foodcrop, cassava, can be stored in the ground and is less affected by a lack of inputs. Distribution of seeds and tools would be especially useful in the centre and the south, where the planting of the main season crops is underway now. The Democratic Republic of Congo has also started to buy large numbers of cattle from Sahelian countries to restock the country's livestock sub-sector.
The food supply situation is still critical in the east where severe malnutrition is reported among the remaining refugees and the security situation is still tense. In addition to about 190 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), of whom some 95 000 in Masisi, humanitarian sources estimate the number of remaining refugees at more than 20 000. Increased civil strife in North and South Kivu has resulted in considerable population movements and disorder, while it also had a negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance. UNHCR has suspended its operations related to Rwandan refugees as well as rehabilitation activities in this region and food aid monitoring and distribution remains very limited. In the West, following the fighting in Brazzaville, about 40 000 Congolese were reported to have sought refuge in Kinshasa. In addition, there are an estimated 50 000 assisted and 119 000 unassisted Angolan refugees in the south of the country. While most of the unassisted population is expected to return spontaneously following some improvement of the situation in Angola, repatriation of the assisted refugees has started. Around 92 000 Sudanese and 37 000 Ugandan refugees also remain in the country.
The 1997 cereal import requirement (January/December) is estimated at 180 000 tons of wheat and rice and 60 000 tons of coarse grains.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA (17 November)
After limited rainfall in July and August, rains increased in September and became abundant over the entire country in October and early November, allowing the planting of the second maize crop. The staple foodcrops are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains. Some 10 000 tons of wheat and rice are imported annually. The food aid requirement in 1997 is estimated at 2 000 tons of wheat.
GABON (17 November)
After limited rainfall in July and August, rains increased in September and became abundant over the entire country in October and early November, allowing the planting of the second maize crop. Vegetation index for October shows above normal vegetation in the whole country. The staple foodcrops are cassava and plantains, the production of which is estimated at about 330 000 tons. Production of cereals in 1996, mainly maize, is estimated at around 25 000 tons. The country imports the bulk of its wheat and rice requirement which is estimated at 76 000 tons. No food aid is necessary.
Prospects for the 1998 first season crops, to be harvested from late December, are uncertain. A three week delay in the start of the rainy season reduced plantings and left crops vulnerable to an early cessation of rainfall. Precipitation was abundant during the second half of October in western parts but remained insufficient in south-eastern areas. Above average rains in the first dekad of November in these areas improved soil moisture conditions for the crops but are likely to have been too late to avoid yield reductions, particularly in Ruyigi and Cankuso provinces.
A reduced 1998 first season crop could aggravate the already precarious food supply situation, arising from a below pre- crisis average food production in the previous season and disruption in marketing activities due to the embargo from neighbouring countries. Prices of food continue to be at high levels. The situation is particularly difficult for people in regroupment camps without access to land. The Government has recently announced a programme to close all camps, requiring those housed there to return home. It is reported that the nutrition situation continues to be alarming in several areas, particularly in prefectures affected by insecurity, which hampers relief interventions by international agencies, and in several sites for displaced populations.
Increasingly violent incidents were reported during October in the provinces of Cibitoke, Bubanza, Rural Bujumbura, Bururi and Makamba.
ERITREA* (14 November)
The 1997 main season cereal harvest is underway. Preliminary forecasts point to a crop slightly above the reduced level of last year. The rainy season started well and the area planted to cereals increased by 11 percent from 1996. However, an early cessation of the precipitation in September, when the crops were at the critical maturing stage, adversely affected yields. In pastoral areas, abundant rains in October improved conditions for pastures and water supplies. However, with the rains there is a risk that locust numbers will significantly increase on the Red Sea coastal plains.
Market prices for the major food staples, which have risen steadily since June reflecting diminishing supplies, continued to increase in September in anticipation of a reduced harvest.
With an expected below-average cereal harvest for the third consecutive year and sharp reduction in export availability from neighbouring Ethiopia, the food situation will tighten in the year ahead. The food security of large sections of the population, who even in normal years do not cover their subsistence requirements, is likely to deteriorate.
ETHIOPIA* (1 December)
Above-normal rains in November in the south-eastern parts bordering Somalia and Kenya, resulted in extensive flooding causing hundreds of deaths, displacement of a large number of people and severe damage to housing. Over 12 000 domestic animals are reported lost and 30 000 hectares of land inundated. Food and non-food assistance is being distributed by the Government in the affected areas, mainly the communitites around Kelafo, Mustahil and Ferfer which are isolated by the rising water levels. A detailed assessment of the flood damage is underway.
Elsewhere in the country, widespread abundant rains in October and November have affected yield potential of the 1997 main “Meher” season cereal and pulse crops being harvested. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Ethiopia from 2 to 26 November 1997 to estimate the production of the 1997 Meher (main) season cereal and pulse crops and estimate import requirements for 1998 including food aid needs. The Mission forecasts a 1997 Meher harvest of 8.786 million tons of cereals and pulses, which is 25.6 percent below last year’s level. The reduction in production is primarily the result of poor Belg rains and late, low and erratic rainfall during the Meher growing season, particularly in lowland areas, exacerbated by unusually heavy rains at harvest time. A 20 percent reduction in fertilizer use in key surplus areas due to the removal of subsidy and credit restrictions on slow repayers was another factor contributing to the decrease. Army-worm, the main migratory pest this year was efficiently controlled by Ministry of Agriculture supported spraying teams. Non-migratory pests and diseases though present were not considered to be beyond the usual levels of tolerance in most zones. Livestock production was threatened by mid-main season droughts in all agro- pastoralist areas, causing a 60-70 percent fall in prices, premature migrations and increased morbidity and mortality. Fortunately, the late rains reversed the situation in all respects in October and November and a normal state pertains despite localized losses.
Prices of all major cereals by October 1997 were above last year’s level reflecting tighter supplies and traders’ expectations of a reduced harvest in comparison to the bumper crop of 1996.
KENYA (27 November)
The heaviest rains in 30 years in coastal and north-eastern
areas since mid-October, associated with El Nino phenomenon,
resulted in floods and landslides causing loss of life, serious
damage to infrastructure and housing, and displacement of
population. The Government has declared the affected Coast,
North Eastern and parts of Eastern Provinces Disaster Zones.
Localized agricultural damage is also reported. However, since
most of these provinces are marginal agricultural areas, the
crop losses are not expected to have a significant impact at
national level. Several towns in the disaster areas have
remained isolated by flood waters for more than a month. Food
supplies have been exhausted and food prices have tripled,
particularly in villages along the Tana river. The Government is
distributing relief assistance to some 60 000 affected
population in these areas by helicopter and by sea, and has
launched an appeal to the international community for supplement
its efforts with food and non-food assistance. About 2 000
refugees from Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia from camps
around the village of Dadaab have also been displaced.
Overall, despite the localized crop losses, abundant rains
since the beginning of the 1997/98 "short rains" in the bi-modal
areas of the Western, Central and Eastern provinces favoured an
increase in the area planted to maize and pulses and benefited
crop establishment. However, the prospects for the harvest from
mid-January could deteriorate if the heavy precipitation
continue into December. The abundant rains have also benefited
pastures and livestock conditions which have not fully recovered
from the severe drought of the previous "short rains" season.
Harvest of the 1997 main "long rains" season cereal crops
continues in the main uni-modal growing areas of the Rift
Valley. Prospects have deteriorated as a result of continuous
above normal precipitation during November, which has delayed
harvesting operations and adversely affected yields. Yield
potential was earlier affected by dry spells in May and
September, notwithstanding the overall abundant precipitation
during the growing season, while a late start of the rainy
season resulted in plantings reductions of the main maize crop.
Production forecasts have been revised downward and point to a
maize crop of 1.9 million tons, around the reduced crop of
1996. Production of wheat is forecast at 320 000 tons, below the
good level of the previous year, with an expansion in the area
planted partially compensating for lower yields. Harvesting of
beans, mainly produced in the bi-modal areas, is completed. The
output is estimated one-third below the average level as a
result of seeds shortages. This is the second consecutive poor
harvest of beans.
As a result of the lower than expected 1997 main season cereal
production, and assuming a good secondary season crop, imports
of cereals in marketing year 1997/98 (October/September) are
expected to remain at the high level of the previous year.
Prices of food staple maize started to decline from September
reflecting record imports in marketing year 1996/97
(October/September) and the arrival of the new harvest into the
markets. However, they remain at very high levels well beyond
the reach of large sections of vulnerable population.
RWANDA* (14 November)
Normal rains in the first dekad of November which followed
abundant rains since mid-October, benefited 1998 first season
foodcrops. However, prospects for the harvest, from late
December, are uncertain. A delay of three weeks at the start of
the rainy season resulted in a reduction in plantings and left
crops vulnerable to an early cessation of precipitation, while
insecurity in the north-western provinces of Ruhengeri and
Gisengi continues to disrupt normal agricultural activities.
The food supply situation is tight. The output of the 1997 B
season was higher than in the previous year but lower than the
pre-war average. The small 1997 C “marshland” season was also
reduced. In aggregate, production in the second half of the year
remained below needs of an expanded population following the
massive returns of December 1996 and early 1997. Prices of basic
food staple continue to increase, except for beans which have
stabilized at high levels. Serious food shortages are reported
in the Gikongoro, Butare and Kibungo prefectures.
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is planned
for January 1998 to appraise 1998 A food production and estimate
import requirements for the first half of the next year,
including food aid.
SOMALIA* (28 November)
Persistently heavy rains since mid-October caused serious
floods, at least 1 500 deaths and extensive damage to
infrastructure and property. Large numbers of people have been
displaced. Important crop and livestock losses in agricultural
areas are also reported, particularly in southern areas along
the Juba and Shebelle rivers.
The 1997/98 “Deyr” crops, which normally account for some 20
percent of annual cereal production, were planted just before
the heavy rains started. Following torrential precipitation over
a month, the maize and sorghum crops have been adversely
affected in the regions of Lower and Middle Juba, Lower and
Middle Shebelle, but also in the sorghum belt area of Bay,
Bakool and Hiraan regions, and in growing areas of the North-
west. A detailed assessment of agricultural losses is not yet
possible, but preliminary estimates indicate that at least half
of the cereal crop in southern growing areas have suffered
serious flood damage. Prospects for the harvest from January
are, therefore, poor and 1997/98 “Deyr” cereal production is
anticipated to be reduced for the fourth consecutive time.
Household food reserves, seeds and agricultural inputs have also
been destroyed by the floods. Losses of livestock are
provisionally estimated at 21 000 head.
The flood has exacerbated an already precarious food supply
situation in several parts of the country, resulting from a
succession of bad harvests and the disruption of agricultural
and marketing activities due to persistent civil conflict and
insecurity. Prices of basic food, which were already at high
levels, have increased three-fold since the floods started in
affected areas in the south. The situation is particularly
critical along the Juba river, from Jamame to Buale, where
serious food shortages have developed as towns are isolated by
For the country as a whole, the deterioration of crop prospects
for the 1997/98 “Deyr” crop will result in a much larger deficit
of food grains than previously estimated. An FAO/WFP Crop and
Food Supply Assessment Mission, fielded in August this year,
estimated an import requirement of 247 000 tons of cereals for
the 1997/98 marketing year (September/August) of which 215 000
tons were expected to be covered commercially and 32 000 tons by
food aid. This estimate was based on the assumption of a normal
secondary “Deyr” crop of about 95 000 tons. With current
indications pointing to another reduced “Deyr” crop, the cereal
deficit has been revised to 280 000 tons and the food aid
requirement to 60 000 tons.
Food and non-food relief is currently being provided to around
112 000 people but persistently bad weather and insecurity are
hampering relief operations. Further food aid pledges and
assistance with transport for relief distributions, mainly by
helicopters and boats, are also urgently required.
SUDAN* ( 3 December)
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission has just
completed its field work in Sudan and has concluded that cereal
production is significantly down on last year's record harvest.
Most of the reduction is in sorghum and is due to lower areas
planted and the effect of a dry September across much of the
country. Irrigated sorghum is comparable to last year. The
millet crop is higher than last year's very poor harvest, but
winter wheat is expected to be similar to 1996/97. Considerable
carryover stocks from 1996 should ensure adequate food supplies
overall, but severe food deficits will occur in North Darfur and
parts of North Kordofan.
In Southern Sudan, the season was dominated by a long dry period
which followed good planting rains in April. Much of the first
season crop was lost in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Bahr El Jebel
and Bahr El Ghazal. Some long season sorghum crops survived but
yields will be reduced by heavy infestation of stalk borer.
Insecurity caused much disruption of farming in Bahr El Ghazal
and, in parts of Jonglei States. Severe food shortages will be
faced in Bahr El Jebel, Bahr El Ghazal, Eastern Equatoria and
TANZANIA (27 November)
Planting of the 1997/98 short “Vuli” rains crop season is
complete in bi-modal northern areas, while that of the 1998 main
“long rains” season in the uni-modal central and southern parts
is well advanced. Widespread above-normal rains in November,
which resulted in localized floods in northern and eastern
parts, generally favoured planting operations and maintained
adequate soil conditions for crop establishment.
Following a sharp decline in the 1997 aggregate cereal and non-
cereal production, the overall food supply situation is tight.
Prices of maize, rice, sorghum and cassava have more than
doubled since last year and the country faces a cereal deficit
in 1997/98 (June/May) of 851 000 tons. Most of the deficit is
expected to be covered commercially and the Government has
announced measures to facilitate imports by the private sector.
However, food aid requirements, for 1.4 million most affected
persons, are estimated at 76 000 tons of cereals. The food
supply situation is particularly difficult in areas where the
harvest was poor, mainly in the bi-modal areas of the north
affected by two successive reduced crops. The outcome of the
1997/98 “Vuli” crop will be crucial for the food security of the
population in these areas. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply
Assessment Mission is planned to visit the country in January
1998 to appraise the “Vuli” crops at harvest and prospects for
the main crop season in the south.
UGANDA (14 November)
Abnormally heavy rains in November in eastern parts, associated
with El Nino phenomenon, resuted in floods and landslides
causing loss of life, displacements of population and serious
damage to property. Most affected area is the district of Mbale
but also Tororo, Bugiri and Pallisa. An assessment of the
agricultural losses is not yet available. Flooding have also
been reported in some western areas.
Prospects for the 1997 second season food crops, to be harvested
from next January, are uncertain. A delay of one month in the
start of the rainy season resulted in plantings reductions,
while the widespread heavy rains of November are likely to have
resulted in localized crop losses due to floods. In northern
areas, affected by civil conflict, agricultural activities
continue to be disrupted. The outlook for the harvest could
deteriorate if the abundant precipitation continues through
The food supply situation is tight following the reduced 1997
first season food crops, which was the second consecutive
reduced harvest. Prices of food staples, maize and beans have
stabilized in the past months but are at record levels. The
situation is particularly serious in the Karamoja district,
where food shortages are reported, but also in other eastern and
north-eastern vulnerable areas affected by a succession of bad
harvests. Serious food difficulties are also expericenced by
over 200 000 displaced persons in the northern districts of Gulu
and Kitgum and by some 80 000 in the western districts of Kasese
and Bundibugyo, affected by civil disturbances.
The heaviest rains in 30 years in coastal and north-eastern areas since mid-October, associated with El Nino phenomenon, resulted in floods and landslides causing loss of life, serious damage to infrastructure and housing, and displacement of population. The Government has declared the affected Coast, North Eastern and parts of Eastern Provinces Disaster Zones. Localized agricultural damage is also reported. However, since most of these provinces are marginal agricultural areas, the crop losses are not expected to have a significant impact at national level. Several towns in the disaster areas have remained isolated by flood waters for more than a month. Food supplies have been exhausted and food prices have tripled, particularly in villages along the Tana river. The Government is distributing relief assistance to some 60 000 affected population in these areas by helicopter and by sea, and has launched an appeal to the international community for supplement its efforts with food and non-food assistance. About 2 000 refugees from Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia from camps around the village of Dadaab have also been displaced.
Overall, despite the localized crop losses, abundant rains since the beginning of the 1997/98 "short rains" in the bi-modal areas of the Western, Central and Eastern provinces favoured an increase in the area planted to maize and pulses and benefited crop establishment. However, the prospects for the harvest from mid-January could deteriorate if the heavy precipitation continue into December. The abundant rains have also benefited pastures and livestock conditions which have not fully recovered from the severe drought of the previous "short rains" season.
Harvest of the 1997 main "long rains" season cereal crops continues in the main uni-modal growing areas of the Rift Valley. Prospects have deteriorated as a result of continuous above normal precipitation during November, which has delayed harvesting operations and adversely affected yields. Yield potential was earlier affected by dry spells in May and September, notwithstanding the overall abundant precipitation during the growing season, while a late start of the rainy season resulted in plantings reductions of the main maize crop. Production forecasts have been revised downward and point to a maize crop of 1.9 million tons, around the reduced crop of 1996. Production of wheat is forecast at 320 000 tons, below the good level of the previous year, with an expansion in the area planted partially compensating for lower yields. Harvesting of beans, mainly produced in the bi-modal areas, is completed. The output is estimated one-third below the average level as a result of seeds shortages. This is the second consecutive poor harvest of beans.
As a result of the lower than expected 1997 main season cereal production, and assuming a good secondary season crop, imports of cereals in marketing year 1997/98 (October/September) are expected to remain at the high level of the previous year.
Prices of food staple maize started to decline from September reflecting record imports in marketing year 1996/97 (October/September) and the arrival of the new harvest into the markets. However, they remain at very high levels well beyond the reach of large sections of vulnerable population.
RWANDA* (14 November)
Normal rains in the first dekad of November which followed abundant rains since mid-October, benefited 1998 first season foodcrops. However, prospects for the harvest, from late December, are uncertain. A delay of three weeks at the start of the rainy season resulted in a reduction in plantings and left crops vulnerable to an early cessation of precipitation, while insecurity in the north-western provinces of Ruhengeri and Gisengi continues to disrupt normal agricultural activities.
The food supply situation is tight. The output of the 1997 B season was higher than in the previous year but lower than the pre-war average. The small 1997 C “marshland” season was also reduced. In aggregate, production in the second half of the year remained below needs of an expanded population following the massive returns of December 1996 and early 1997. Prices of basic food staple continue to increase, except for beans which have stabilized at high levels. Serious food shortages are reported in the Gikongoro, Butare and Kibungo prefectures.
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is planned for January 1998 to appraise 1998 A food production and estimate import requirements for the first half of the next year, including food aid.
SOMALIA* (28 November)
Persistently heavy rains since mid-October caused serious floods, at least 1 500 deaths and extensive damage to infrastructure and property. Large numbers of people have been displaced. Important crop and livestock losses in agricultural areas are also reported, particularly in southern areas along the Juba and Shebelle rivers.
The 1997/98 “Deyr” crops, which normally account for some 20 percent of annual cereal production, were planted just before the heavy rains started. Following torrential precipitation over a month, the maize and sorghum crops have been adversely affected in the regions of Lower and Middle Juba, Lower and Middle Shebelle, but also in the sorghum belt area of Bay, Bakool and Hiraan regions, and in growing areas of the North- west. A detailed assessment of agricultural losses is not yet possible, but preliminary estimates indicate that at least half of the cereal crop in southern growing areas have suffered serious flood damage. Prospects for the harvest from January are, therefore, poor and 1997/98 “Deyr” cereal production is anticipated to be reduced for the fourth consecutive time. Household food reserves, seeds and agricultural inputs have also been destroyed by the floods. Losses of livestock are provisionally estimated at 21 000 head.
The flood has exacerbated an already precarious food supply situation in several parts of the country, resulting from a succession of bad harvests and the disruption of agricultural and marketing activities due to persistent civil conflict and insecurity. Prices of basic food, which were already at high levels, have increased three-fold since the floods started in affected areas in the south. The situation is particularly critical along the Juba river, from Jamame to Buale, where serious food shortages have developed as towns are isolated by flood waters.
For the country as a whole, the deterioration of crop prospects for the 1997/98 “Deyr” crop will result in a much larger deficit of food grains than previously estimated. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, fielded in August this year, estimated an import requirement of 247 000 tons of cereals for the 1997/98 marketing year (September/August) of which 215 000 tons were expected to be covered commercially and 32 000 tons by food aid. This estimate was based on the assumption of a normal secondary “Deyr” crop of about 95 000 tons. With current indications pointing to another reduced “Deyr” crop, the cereal deficit has been revised to 280 000 tons and the food aid requirement to 60 000 tons.
Food and non-food relief is currently being provided to around 112 000 people but persistently bad weather and insecurity are hampering relief operations. Further food aid pledges and assistance with transport for relief distributions, mainly by helicopters and boats, are also urgently required.
SUDAN* ( 3 December)
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission has just completed its field work in Sudan and has concluded that cereal production is significantly down on last year's record harvest. Most of the reduction is in sorghum and is due to lower areas planted and the effect of a dry September across much of the country. Irrigated sorghum is comparable to last year. The millet crop is higher than last year's very poor harvest, but winter wheat is expected to be similar to 1996/97. Considerable carryover stocks from 1996 should ensure adequate food supplies overall, but severe food deficits will occur in North Darfur and parts of North Kordofan.
In Southern Sudan, the season was dominated by a long dry period which followed good planting rains in April. Much of the first season crop was lost in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Bahr El Jebel and Bahr El Ghazal. Some long season sorghum crops survived but yields will be reduced by heavy infestation of stalk borer.
Insecurity caused much disruption of farming in Bahr El Ghazal and, in parts of Jonglei States. Severe food shortages will be faced in Bahr El Jebel, Bahr El Ghazal, Eastern Equatoria and Lakes States.
TANZANIA (27 November)
Planting of the 1997/98 short “Vuli” rains crop season is complete in bi-modal northern areas, while that of the 1998 main “long rains” season in the uni-modal central and southern parts is well advanced. Widespread above-normal rains in November, which resulted in localized floods in northern and eastern parts, generally favoured planting operations and maintained adequate soil conditions for crop establishment.
Following a sharp decline in the 1997 aggregate cereal and non- cereal production, the overall food supply situation is tight. Prices of maize, rice, sorghum and cassava have more than doubled since last year and the country faces a cereal deficit in 1997/98 (June/May) of 851 000 tons. Most of the deficit is expected to be covered commercially and the Government has announced measures to facilitate imports by the private sector. However, food aid requirements, for 1.4 million most affected persons, are estimated at 76 000 tons of cereals. The food supply situation is particularly difficult in areas where the harvest was poor, mainly in the bi-modal areas of the north affected by two successive reduced crops. The outcome of the 1997/98 “Vuli” crop will be crucial for the food security of the population in these areas. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is planned to visit the country in January 1998 to appraise the “Vuli” crops at harvest and prospects for the main crop season in the south.
UGANDA (14 November)
Abnormally heavy rains in November in eastern parts, associated with El Nino phenomenon, resuted in floods and landslides causing loss of life, displacements of population and serious damage to property. Most affected area is the district of Mbale but also Tororo, Bugiri and Pallisa. An assessment of the agricultural losses is not yet available. Flooding have also been reported in some western areas.
Prospects for the 1997 second season food crops, to be harvested from next January, are uncertain. A delay of one month in the start of the rainy season resulted in plantings reductions, while the widespread heavy rains of November are likely to have resulted in localized crop losses due to floods. In northern areas, affected by civil conflict, agricultural activities continue to be disrupted. The outlook for the harvest could deteriorate if the abundant precipitation continues through December.
The food supply situation is tight following the reduced 1997 first season food crops, which was the second consecutive reduced harvest. Prices of food staples, maize and beans have stabilized in the past months but are at record levels. The situation is particularly serious in the Karamoja district, where food shortages are reported, but also in other eastern and north-eastern vulnerable areas affected by a succession of bad harvests. Serious food difficulties are also expericenced by over 200 000 displaced persons in the northern districts of Gulu and Kitgum and by some 80 000 in the western districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo, affected by civil disturbances.
Land preparation and early planting has started in northern parts of the country for the 1997/98 season. As the country is located north of the area presumed to be affected by the El Niño phenomenon, the impact on crops is anticipated to be minor. As in the past few years, NGO, donors and UN agency interventions will be highly needed for the supply of required agricultural inputs (seeds, tools and fertilizers) to internally displaced persons and returnees, and to farmers in main producing areas.
The national food supply situation continues to be tight. Due to the tense security situation of the past few months, access to some 20 to 40 percent of the country is limited and food difficulties are reported in some remote areas affected by drought (Cuanza Sul and Namibe). Food aid pledges by donors amount to 237 000 tons so far, of which 161 000 tons have been delivered.
BOTSWANA (14 November)
Localized rains in southern parts of the country in October improved conditions for land preparation for 1998 cereal crops to be planted in the next few months. In anticipation of a possible El Niño related drought later in the season, national authorities are advising farmers to take advantage of early rains to plant fast maturing crops such as millet or short season sorghum. Estimates of the 1997 coarse grain crop stand at 27 000 tons, including 21 000 tons of millet and sorghum, which is one-third of last year’s crop. Maize production dropped to 6 000 tons against last year's 23 000 tons as a result of adverse weather conditions and pests.
The food supply situation for the 1997/98 marketing year is expected to be satisfactory as cereal import requirements are likely to be met commercially.
LESOTHO (14 November)
Following abnormally dry conditions in September and October , light rains in Late October improved conditions for land preparation and planting of the 1997/98 cereal crops. Some delays in planting summer wheat and maize are reported in mountain areas while in lowland areas, land preparation and early planting of fast maturing varieties are underway. Harvest expectations for the winter wheat now at maturing stage have been revised downward as a result of the lack of rainfall in September. The Government has warned farmers about the likelihood of poor rainfall this crop season as a result of the El Niño phenomenon. Farmers have been encouraged to plant various drought resistant crops and use hybrid seeds.
Reflecting a below-average cereal harvest which was much lower than the record crop in 1996, the national food supply situation for the current marketing year remains tight. The cereal import requirement is expected to be about 260 000 tons, including some 95 000 tons of food aid. Food aid pledged so far amounts to 10 000 tons, which have already been delivered.
MADAGASCAR (18 November)
Rainfall in October and early November was favourable for transplanting of the main season rice crop. However, there are serious concerns for the impact of migratory locusts on the 1997/98 crops, as swarms are reported to be moving out of their traditional outbreak areas in the south-west to major agricultural areas of the north-west and the north. An FAO/WFP Mission visited Madagascar in August/September 1997 to assess the damage caused by locusts to crops in the southern part of the country and to evaluate implications for the food supply situation. The Mission found that the southern coastal zone was the area most affected by the combined effect of locusts and poor rainfall, leading to the loss of most of the maize crop and a sharp reduction in the output of other crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes. However, the production shortfall in southern parts of the country has been offset by good harvests in other parts where over 90 percent of national cereal output is produced. Nationally, the Mission estimated the 1997 total cereal harvest at 2.7 million tons, about the same as in 1996. Cassava and sweet potato production were estimated at some 2.83 million tons, down 1.3 percent.
Cereal import requirements for the 1997/98 marketing year are forecast at 168 000 tons, three-fourths of which is expected to be supplied through commercial channels and the remainder as food aid. The Mission considered the food supply situation as very precarious in southern coastal areas and recommended urgent food assistance in the form of food-for-work to an estimated 472 000 people for an initial period of 3 months.
MALAWI* (17 November)
Little rain has been received over the country so far. Given concerns about a possible El Niño-induced drought in the upcoming crop season, the government has initiated contingency plans and is encouraging the planting of drought-resistant crops (such as cassava, sweet potatoes, millet, and sorghum) as well as water conservation.
Revised official estimates of the 1997 maize harvest indicate an output of 1.5 million tons, down from an initial forecast of about 2 million tons. As a result, the food supply situation during the 1997/98 marketing year is expected to be tighter than anticipated. The country will need to import up to 300 000 tons of maize, part of which could be obtained from neighbouring countries. On 31 October, the Government issued an appeal to the donor community for financial support to import 87 000 tons of maize for commercial sales as well as for support to the distribution costs of a limited relief maize programme and other relief support activities. Pledges amount to 55 000 tons so far, of which 6 000 tons have been delivered.
MOZAMBIQUE* (17 November)
Preparation for the 1997/98 crop season has started amidst serious concerns over a possible El Niño-related drought. The government has initiated an information campaign to raise the population’s awareness, particularly of the need to prepare contingency plans.
Following the good cereal harvest in 1997 of 1.53 million tons, including record maize output of 1.04 million tons, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Cereal import requirements are estimated at 205 000 tons of rice and wheat, compared to over 300 000 tons in the previous years. Food aid, estimated at about 112 000 tons of grain, is primarily for vulnerable people in remote areas and in regions affected by floods earlier in the year. Pledges to date amount to 206 000 tons, of which 82 000 tons have been delivered.
NAMIBIA (14 November)
Namibia is seen as borderline country in the sub-region which may experience reduced rainfall related to El Niño this season. As a result, the Government established an inter-ministerial committee responsible for assessing various aspects of a possible emergency in relation to agriculture, livestock, water shortages, the environment, the budget and the national economy.
1997 cereal production is now estimated at a record 171 300 tons, following a downward revision of forecast of the winter wheat crop, from 6 300 tons to 4 900 tons. Total output is still almost double last year. The food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory during the 1997/98 marketing year. Cereal requirements are expected to be covered by commercial channels.
SOUTH AFRICA (18 November)
Following widespread good rains in late August, little or no rains were received in September and the first decade of October. As a result, the second official forecast of the wheat crop, the harvesting of which is nearing completion, dropped from 2.8 million tons in September to 2.3 million tons. This is slightly below the 1996 above average level but still above the country's consumption needs of around 2.5 million tons. Rainfall has been abundant and widespread since mid-October, providing conditions for farmers to prepare land and start planting in some areas. Producers of maize, the country's most important crop and an important source of foreign exchange, have started preparing for an El Niño related drought, and farmers have been advised to plant only on their most moisture-rich soils.
Total cereal output in 1997 is estimated at 11.9 million tons, 12 percent below 1996, but above the average for the previous five years. Official final estimate of the maize crop indicate an output of 9 million tons, which is some 0.5 million tons higher than anticipated, due to better harvests in Free State, North-west and Gauteng provinces. As a result of the good 1997 harvest, the country may have over 1 million tons of maize to export, with private traders allowed to export any amount of maize for the first time in decades following full deregulation this year. The wheat industry also became deregulated in November following the dismantling of the state-owned Wheat Board. Although a large part of the available maize and wheat may be exported to countries in the sub-region that had reduced harvest this year, some farmers may choose to store more of their grain given concerns over a possible drought later in the year due to the El Niño phenomenon, particularly since South Africa’s maize triangle is among the areas most likely to experience below-normal rainfall as a result of this year’s El Niño.
SWAZILAND (18 November)
Widespread unseasonable rains fell over most parts of the country in September and October, providing sufficient moisture for land preparation and early planting of the 1997/98 maize crop. However, as the country is in an area expected to be severely affected by El Niño, farmers have been warned of the increased likelihood of drought and encouraged to take steps to reduce production risks during the season. The 1997 maize harvest has been revised upward and is now estimated at 85 000 tons, which is slightly above average but well below last year’s crop.
The overall food supply situation for the 1997/98 marketing year is expected to remain satisfactory due to the availability of large carryover stocks from the good maize harvest of 1996. All cereal imports during the year are expected to be covered through commercial channels.
ZAMBIA (18 November)
Localized rains fell over northern and far north-western parts in late October and land preparation is underway for the planting of the 1997/98 cereal crops to be harvested from April. As much of the country is expected to experience below-normal rainfall during the upcoming season as a result of the current El Niño phenomenon, drought warnings have been issued by the Government. Farmers have been advised to plant at different dates using several varieties of short-season maize.
1997 cereal production is estimated at 1.1 million tons, including maize output of 0.96 million tons, 32 percent lower than last year. The output of paddy and sorghum is also forecast to decline by some 14 percent and 6 percent respectively from 1996. In contrast, millet production is forecast to remain unchanged at some 55 000 tons.
Reflecting reduced domestic availability, the food supply situation for the 1997/98 marketing year is expected to be tighter than the previous year. However, cereal import requirements of some 320 000 tons are expected to be covered through commercial channels. Much of the maize imports are expected to originate from countries in the sub-region, particularly South Africa and Zimbabwe.
ZIMBABWE* (17 November)
Relatively good early rains were received in September but widespread planting rains started only in mid-November which may prompt many farmers to start planting coarse grain crops to be harvested from April. As the country is considered to be one of those at risk of below-normal rainfall this season as a result of the El Niño phenomenon, farmers have been advised to plant early and use drought-resistant seeds.
1997 cereal production is estimated at 2.7 million tons, compared to 3.1 million tons in 1996. The maize crop amounts to 2.2 million tons, 16 percent lower than last year’s good harvest but slightly above average. The output of millet and sorghum is estimated at about 220 000 tons, about the same as the above- average crop in 1996.
The national food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory during the 1997/98 marketing year. Maize supply is expected to cover requirements, including the replenishment of stocks, and to leave an exportable surplus of some 400 000 tons.
The sowing of winter grains, mostly wheat and barley crops, is underway and it is too early to give an indication of production prospects for the 1998 crops. However, planting may be hampered in the eight northern provinces, due mainly to ongoing fighting. As these northern provinces together comprise some 40 percent of the country’s irrigated cereal and about 53 percent of its rainfed area, a decline of the 1997/98 production is expected if security conditions do not improve in the coming months. Low to moderate numbers of adults and perhaps a few small groups or swarmlets of desert locusts may appear in the extreme south and lay in areas of recent rainfall. The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country last June/July estimated the 1997 total cereal production at 3.66 million tons, comprising 2.71 million tons of wheat, 0.4 million tons of rice, 0.3 million tons of maize and 0.25 million tons of barley. The 1997 harvest, which is 18 percent higher than the previous year’s, is the largest since 1978. This was mainly due to a good growing season in most areas (including the north). Rainfall was above average and rains were well distributed, although some flooding occurred in localized areas.
The food situation is tight in some localized areas. Food and fuel prices were reported to be very high in the whole Badakshan region since September, mainly due to an extremely difficult access. Bamyan in North-Central of the country, a traditional deficit area, is critically short of basic foods as a result of closure of access routes from the north and the south. This region has been additionally affected by floods in the spring and by frost and heavy rain. WFP has recently issued an appeal to the Taliban to allow food aid deliveries to Bamyan.
Imports of cereals in 1997/98 are forecast at 710 000 tons, the same as last year. Emergency food aid in 1997/98 is estimated at 170 000 tons, including 150 000 tons of cereals. Afghanistan signed a contract to buy 600 000 tons of wheat from Pakistan, and to ease flour price, 50 000 tons of this sale will be transported to Afghanistan each month.
BANGLADESH (17 November)
Generally favourable weather conditions during this year’s monsoon season are expected to boost domestic food production for the second year in succession as the country experienced low levels of monsoon flooding and drought. In addition, output was aided by the timely provision of subsidized agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation. As a result, the shortfall between supply and demand and the need for imports to meet the deficit is expected to decline further. The main import will be wheat. Grain output rose by 6.5 percent to 20.3 million tons in 1996/97 from 19.06 million tons in the previous season. For 1997/98, the target is to increase aggregate output by around 4 percent.
Provisionally, milled rice production for 1997/98 is projected at 18.7 million tons, similar to last year’s record and some 4 percent above average for the preceding five years. The overall food supply situation remains satisfactory. Due to higher procurement, government held rice stocks at the end of August 1997 were estimated at 461 000 tons.
CAMBODIA (17 November)
Average rainfall during October helped ease dry conditions especially in the provinces of Kandal, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Prey Veng and Kampong Cham which had received sharply reduced rainfall since July. Overall, although cumulative rainfall this year is near normal, it is less favourable than in 1996 and the spatial distribution has not been good, with some localities receiving adequate quantities and others not. Coastal areas of the country were also affected by Typhoon Linda at the beginning of November, but the extent of any damage to crops is yet not known. Paddy production has also been affected by below normal availability of essential inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and seeds. As a result of dry conditions and below normal availability of inputs, area under rice this year fell by some 10 percent, to 1.95 million hectares. Paddy production is provisionally forecast at 3 million tons compared to 3.4 million tons last year. Since late September rice prices have registered an increase.
CHINA (17 November)
Official reports indicate that northern parts of the country continue to be affected by a serious drought, which has already seriously reduced maize production this year. Drought conditions are expected to continue into next spring. It is officially estimated that some 33 million hectares have been affected in these parts of the country. About 4.5 million hectares of this are not expected to yield any output and to remain unsuitable for further planting this year.
The revised estimate of maize production is now put at 105 million tons, some 10 million tons lower than earlier forecast. This is about 18 percent lower than last year and 2 percent below the average of the preceding five years. Aggregate grain output, including tubers and roots, is officially forecast to be between 482 million to 499 million tons this year, compared to over 504 million tons in 1996.
Overall, the food supply situation is favourable with satisfactory stock levels in the country, following a bumper crop harvest last year and a large winter wheat crop this year.
CYPRUS (28 November)
Sowing of the 1998 wheat and barley crops is underway. Production of cereals, mainly barley is estimated at 40 000 tons, some 72 percent less than last year. In view of the fact that cereal production normally accounts for less than one-third of total domestic requirements, imports are expected to rise slightly so as to meet the needs of the growing population.
Imports of wheat in 1997/98 (May/April) are forecast at 90 000 tons, unchanged from last year. Aggregate imports of barley and maize are forecast at some 420 000 tons, about 2 percent higher than last year.
INDIA (17 November)
Heavy rain slowed the kharif rice harvest in extreme southern parts of the country, which may lead to some losses. Conditions are reported to be mostly favourable for planting of the rabi rice crop to be harvested in April/May next year. In spite of the possibility of weather anomalies emerging this year due to El Niño, the country reported a normal monsoon for the tenth year in succession. Official estimates put cumulative rainfall for the period June to September this year at 102 percent of the long term average.
Kharif, winter, rice output is expected to reach 73.1 million tons this year, some 2 percent up on 1996. Most of the increase is expected from northern states of Haryana and Punjab where record production of 8 million tons and 2.5 million tons respectively is anticipated, compared to 7.4 and 2.4 million tons respectively last year. Increase in these states to offset decrease in Andhra Pradesh, which was affected by poor rainfall this year. Aggregate rice production for 1997/98, including kharif and rabi, is forecast at a bumper 81.5 million tons, some 500 000 tons larger than last year . National procurement of rice is projected to be somewhat higher than last year, despite some fall back in supplies from Andra Pradesh. In contrast to previous years, prices continued to remain low in September due to adequate availability of wheat in the open market,.
According to recent estimates, foodgrain stocks, with the Food Corporation of India (FCI), fell to 16.51 million tons at the beginning of September 1997 from 17.82 million tons a month earlier, and 22.24 million tons in the same period last year. Current stocks comprised 7.69 million tons of rice and 8.82 million tons of wheat.
INDONESIA (17 November)
The delay in monsoon rains in the country is being attributed to the El Niño weather phenomenon, the strongest this century. The country is in the midst of its most serious drought in decades and rainfall is urgently needed not only for crops but also to extinguish extensive bush and forest fires, which have been exacerbated by this year’s drought. According to some forecasts rains may not come before January next year, with drought conditions possibly persisting up to March. To some extent, the negative impact on production was limited by the fact that rainfall earlier in the year, which did not stop until May-June, favoured the main crop harvested in February-March and also the second crop harvested in July-August. These two crops account for some 80 percent of the country’s production of rice. However the third crop was seriously reduced and unconfirmed reports indicate that about 79 000 hectares were completely lost, whilst yields in other areas were below normal depending on the availability of irrigation. Current official projections put aggregate production at 49.1 million tons of paddy or 31.85 million tons of milled rice in 1997. At this level of production, output would be some 4 percent below last year and 2 percent below the average of the preceding five years. Nevertheless, as this projection had assumed reasonable conditions in the period September to December, the continued lack of rain in September and October suggests that production may be lower still.
There is particular concern regarding the food supply situation in large areas of central Irian Jaya which continue to be severely affected by the drought and serious food shortages. In these areas, it is estimated that, even if rainfall were to begin soon, current food stocks would be near depletion before the next harvest. Reports suggest that the impact of the drought and food shortages is most acute in the remote interior district of Jayawijaya which has a total population of 450 000. Here, the population is almost wholly dependent on the sweet potato crop. Some 90 000 people are considered most at risk to severe food shortages in Jayawijaya district alone.
The Government response to the drought is coordinated by the National Coordinating Board for Disaster Management (BAKORNAS PB), which is providing rice and fuel for transport and has mobilized the army to transport relief goods. A drought response plan has been prepared to cover an 8 month period from October 1997 to May 1998.
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (17 November)
Official reports forecast maize production at 900 000 tons, some 200 000 tons above last year. Annual domestic maize consumption at is estimated at around 2.5 million tons and about 1.1 million tons were imported last year. The country is expected to remain a major importer of wheat in the 1997/98 marketing year. However, recent reports from the country indicate that growing imports are partly attributed to unofficial re-export to neighbouring countries and for use in animal feed.
IRAQ* (5 December)
Land preparation and planting of winter crop should have started. However, the prospects for the 1998 crop are uncertain. As last year, production is likely to be constrained by serious shortages of spare parts for agricultural machinery, fertilizers, quality seeds, agrochemicals, vaccines and the widespread incidence of pests, weeds and animal diseases.
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited Iraq last June/July found that although there has been some improvement in the overall food supply situation following the implementation of Security Council Resolution 986, malnutrition still remains a serious problem throughout Iraq. Although food rations 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 nutrients, particularly Vitamins A and C, calcium, zinc, riboflavin and Vitamin B6. Special attention should therefore be given to actions designed to stimulate the production of animal products, fruits and vegetables, as well to ensure the continuation of an adequate economic incentive for producers of the foods provided under SCR 986. In light of this, the allocation of U.S.$ 94 million for imports of badly needed agricultural inputs in 1997, were considered by the Mission to be grossly inadequate in comparison to rehabilitation and investment needs in the sector. In this regard, it is important to note that the present allocation of U.S.$ 94 million is a mere 20 percent of the U.S.$ 500 million estimated by the 1991 Mission led by the Executive Delegate of the Secretary-General for the 1991/92 cropping season.
Production of main cereals in 1997 was estimated at 2.2 million tons, the lowest since 1991. Crop yields remain low due to poor land preparation resulting from a lack of machinery, low use of inputs, deteriorating soil quality and irrigation facilities, and increased crop infestation.
On 4 December 1997 the Security Council (SCR 1143) renewed the oil-for-food agreement for a third six-month phase on similar terms to the second phase. A possible increase in the amount of oil Iraq is allowed to sell over the six-month period will be considered on the basis of the Secretary-General’s report on Iraq’s humanitarian needs, which is due by the end of January 1998. The SCR 1143 also allows Iraq to continue to buy food, medicine and health supplies until 5 January 1998, pending approval by the Secretary-General of an acceptable Distribution Plan.
ISRAEL (28 November)
Planting of the 1998 wheat and barley crops, to be harvested during April/May next year, is underway. Given normal weather conditions, production in 1998 could be close to last year’s level. Production of wheat in 1997, is estimated at 147 000 tons.
Imports of cereals in 1997/98 (October/September) are forecast at some 2.8 million tons. Purchase of imported wheat by domestic flour millers is linked to the domestic wheat procurement at a higher price than that prevailing in the world market.
JAPAN (17 November)
Japan is the largest importer of agricultural products in the world with total agricultural, seafood and forest product imports reaching $69.5 billion in 1996. To cut rice production and reduce large stocks in the country, following bumper harvests since 1994 and weak domestic rice consumption, various plans are being considered. These include Government schemes to provide incentives to farmers to reduce land area under production. Currently about 30 percent of rice farmland in Japan is set aside and kept out of production. Official estimates indicate that rice stocks were around 3.7 million tons at the end of October, up by 40 percent compared to last year. This year’s harvest of around 13 million tons would further increase stocks to about 4.5 million tons by the end of October next year.
JORDAN (28 November)
Sowing of the 1998 wheat and barley crops is underway and better harvests than last year can be expected provided growing conditions prove to be satisfactory. Weather conditions were unfavourable in the 1996/97 season. Consequently, aggregate output of wheat and barley declined by 18 percent in 1997 to 55 000 tons. Domestic cereal production normally meets about 10 percent of consumption requirements with the balance to be covered by imports, mostly on commercial terms.
Imports of wheat in 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast at 630 000 tons and that of rice at 90 000 tons. Coarse grains imports in 1997/98 are forecast at 910 000 tons.
KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (22 November)
Official reports indicate that the country harvested a bumper rice crop for the second consecutive year, in which production is estimated at 5.35 million tons. At this level, output is the highest in six years, some 28 000 tons higher than last year’s good crop and around 6 percent above average for the preceding five years. Production is also around 10 percent higher than the official target for the year. This year’s good production is attributed to favourable weather and government efforts to encourage land under production.
KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF* (17 November)
Since 1995 Korea DPR has suffered a number of natural disasters which have seriously impeded the capacity of the country to feed its people. In the aftermath of floods in 1996, the country received an unprecedented amount of food assistance through the international community without which undoubtedly the emergence of nutritional and health problems would have been far more widespread within the population. Notwithstanding the importance of such food assistance as a short term measure it is vital that the country address means by which future, and sustainable, food security can be more assured. In this regard the performance of the economy and it’s ability to generate productive employment and vital foreign exchange for purchase of essential inputs and raw materials, for agriculture and food imports in shortfall years, will be essential to any lasting strategy.
Following an interim assessment of this year’s drought in August, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Korea DPR from 21 October to 4 November to assess this year’s harvest and evaluate food supply prospects for the 1997/98 marketing year. In making its assessment the mission held discussions with key Government departments, UN agencies and NGOs and made field assessment visits to main agricultural areas, including north and south Hwangae Province, south Pyongan Province and Kangwon Province. In addition, to assess food distribution and supply the mission made a number of visits, some random, to individual households in urban and rural areas, grain stores and public distribution outlets and schools and nurseries.
The mission found that the negative effect of this year’s prolonged drought resulted largely in a significant decrease in maize production, one of two main cereals in the country. Although output of rainfed maize, which constitutes most of the area under the crop, was severely reduced, reasonable production was still possible in areas with variable degrees of irrigation. The overall output of maize is estimated at around 1.14 million tons, over 50 percent lower than may have been expected under favourable weather conditions this year. The significant drop in maize production is consistent with sizeable reductions in output in main producing areas in north eastern China, which were similarly affected by the drought this year. The adverse affect of the drought on rice, however, was much less pronounced as the crop is largely irrigated. Although the level of irrigation from some reservoirs, mainly those that are rainfed, was markedly reduced the overall affect this had on the crop was not as severe as had been anticipated by the earlier mission in August. Moreover, paddy yields in areas with assured irrigation were assessed to be higher than expected under present input constraints. This phenomenon is attributed to various factors including improved fertilizer efficiency and greater use of labour. Rice in coastal areas was also affected to some extent by the incursion of tidal waves following typhoon Winnie in late August. However in making the final assessment of the harvest this year losses due to the typhoon were not considered to be as high as had been earlier anticipated. Milled rice production in 1997, taking into account losses, is estimated at approximately 1.52 million tons which together with maize brings aggregate production of these cereals to 2.66 million tons in milled rice equivalent or 3.48 million tons in paddy equivalent. The domestic supply of grains this year, therefore, will again be far short of needs for the third year in succession and once more the country will be looking at substantial food assistance to meet demand.
Grain supply constraints in recent years have necessitated major revisions in utilization as part of a coping strategy. Most significant of this has been the reduction in grain use for animal feed and indeed the number of animals itself. Obviously such reduction will have long term consequences as the availability of protein in the diet will fall far below levels considered desirable. Taking into account reduced utilization, though maintaining a minimum stipulation for food use, the import requirement of cereals for 1997/98 will be around 1.95 million tons. Of this it is estimated that commercial imports, including informal cross border trade with China will account for 700 000 tons, whilst pledged food assistance in the pipeline will bring in a further 231 000 tons. The uncovered import deficit with which the country needs food assistance, including programme food aid, amounts to about a million tons.
In assessing the overall issues of food supply and food assistance to the country, the mission has the following observations. The fact that the incidence of chronic malnutrition has not become more widespread is largely attributed to the unprecedented levels of food assistance the country has received in the past two years. Without such assistance there is little doubt that problems would have been more entrenched, especially amongst vulnerable groups like children. The mission notes its disappointment, however, that no acceptable quantitative evidence regarding the present extent of malnutrition in the country has been possible despite a UN nutrition assessment earlier this year. In the interest of transparency, it is vital that a more meaningful study is undertaken. This is especially important as there is growing recognition amongst various humanitarian agencies working in the country that nutritional problems, and related symptoms such as stunting, are as much a result of endemic problems of food supply and health over several (pre emergency) years as in the extreme food shortages of the past few years. There is also mounting evidence that much greater polarity in food consumption exists in the population, than perceived hitherto. Reasons why this is occurring include transport difficulties, geographical differences, where some provinces are better equipped to deal with shortages than others, greater access amongst rural communities than urban and differential access to assets and foreign remittances and the corresponding ability to purchase food from emerging, though relatively insignificant, ‘private’ markets.
LAOS (17 November)*
Unconfirmed reports indicate widespread flooding recently, may have caused serious damage to the rice crop to be harvested this month. This may exacerbate ongoing food supply problems in the country. Following serious flooding in the 1996 season which significantly affected rice production in major rice producing areas in the lowlands of Central and Southern Region, an emergency operation was jointly approved by FAO and WFP in March this year, to raise 30 240 tons of rice for flood victims. In addition, donors provided cash to purchase some 15 000 tons.
LEBANON (28 November)
The planting of wheat and barley is underway. However, domestic cereal production usually covers only about 10 percent of the consumption requirements. Aggregate production of wheat and barley in 1997 is estimated at 63 000 tons, marginally down by 1 percent from last year’s output.
Lebanon is planning to cut food imports by 10 percent. Imports of over 150 agricultural and food items are reported to be banned as a way to protect domestic agriculture from imports of items that could be produced in the country and boost local production. The banned products are mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and animal products.
Imports of wheat in 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast at some 0.53 million tons, virtually unchanged from the previous year.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees has recently issued a special emergency appeal for U.S.$ 11 million to meet the urgent needs of 350 000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
MALAYSIA (17 November)
Planting of the main rainfed paddy crop, for harvest in December- January, is compete as is the harvesting of the irrigated second rice crop, which normally accounts for some 45 percent of annual production. Paddy production this year is estimated at around 2.1 million tons, around average and similar to last year.
MONGOLIA* (17 November)
In recent years, the agricultural sector has been seriously and adversely affected by the transition of the country from a centrally planned to a market economy and by the withdrawal of substantial technical and economic assistance from the former U.S.S.R. Prior to these economic shocks, the country produced sufficient cereals, principally wheat, not only to satisfy domestic demand but also for export. Since 1990, however, the area harvested and yields have declined dramatically. In 1996 grain production was some 70 percent lower than pre-1990 levels. The decline is largely attributed to the break-up and sell-off of state farms to farm companies under the economic reform programme, high indebtedness, reduced access to credit, high interest rates, a critical shortage of inputs and operational farm machinery and poor husbandry practices.
In consequence, the country now faces a serious food deficit and only produces some 60 percent of its estimated cereal needs. As a result, although the country is not facing an emergency of a scale which may result in widespread famine, it does, like other transitional economies, have a growing population of vulnerable, low income people who have been experiencing a dramatic fall in nutritional standards due to a major deterioration in their economic circumstance.
To determine the extent of this year’s deficit an FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, funded by UNDP, visited Mongolia in October to assess wheat production and evaluate the food supply situation for the 1997/98 marketing year. The evaluation is based on discussions with Government, UN, international development agencies, NGOs and crop assessment visits to main agricultural areas.
The Mission forecasts the production of wheat in 1997 at 282 000 tons, some 28 percent above output in 1996. Despite the increase this year, however, production remains only 40 percent of the level in 1990. Moreover, the increase this year compared to last is mainly attributed to improved rainfall in main producing areas rather than generalized improvements in the sector, such as better input supply. Indeed, the provision of credit and agricultural inputs remains a major problem which will have to be addressed if food production is to be restored in future. The agriculture sector urgently needs large scale investments in machinery, chemicals, input supply and marketing channels and training and research programmes. Without such interventions, for the majority of farm companies and the country as a whole, the future of grain production looks bleak.
The livestock sector contributes 88 percent to gross agricultural production. In common with other areas in the economy, the livestock sector has also been subject to radical reforms and the break-up of large state enterprises into smaller units. During its transition phase, there has been a sharp decline in budgetary and service support to the sector. As a result, infrastructure such as wells have broken down, veterinary and other services have been cut back, fodder production has decreased, marketing systems are underdeveloped and investment capital is unavailable or unaffordable to most herders. As the terms of trade turn against livestock, there is growing pressure to increase the number of animals per unit to make it viable. This has created many vulnerable households, whose capacity to absorb economic shocks has already been compromised.
Economic reforms have affected households in a number of negative ways including a significant increase in poverty, loss of employment, reduction in consumption, cuts in safety nets and social sector services. Amongst vulnerable groups of most concern are those that have least access to financial resources for the purchase of food, especially in a situation where purchasing power has been significantly eroded by high inflation. These groups include the unemployed, the elderly, female headed households, children, pensioners and small herders. Without additional assistance these groups, especially a growing population of abandoned “street” children, will face great hardship in the years ahead as their ability to counter food supply problems remains highly constrained. Moreover, as real incomes have fallen households have been forced to cut back on non-food items, leading to substantial welfare costs and increase in expenditure on cheaper and less nutritious food. Recent survey results suggest that the sharp rise in chronic under-nutrition in children to around 25 percent is a direct result of the adjustment made in consumption by households to adapt to a tightening food supply situation. Furthermore, with a substantial fall in the relative price of livestock to other food commodities, strongly negative terms of trade have developed against herders making the earning of their livelihood increasingly precarious.
Economic slow-down and a trade deficit in 1996 further constrained the country’s capacity to import both sufficient quantities of grain to meet needs and essential agricultural inputs to maintain productivity. The Mission estimates an overall cereal requirement for the 1997/98 marketing year of 178 000 tons comprising 175 000 tons of wheat and 3 000 tons of rice. Commercial imports are expected to cover the rice requirement, and, based on cereal imports last year, some 85 000 tons of wheat equivalent. This leaves a deficit of 90 000 tons, for which the country needs emergency and programme food assistance. The Mission recommends that for the most vulnerable sectors of society, the absolute poor who constitute some 6 percent of the population, 23 000 tons of emergency food aid be provided. The remaining 67 000 tons of the deficit should be covered by programme food aid. Both categories of food assistance can be handled by the National Poverty Alleviation Programme.
MYANMAR (17 November)
Serious and recurring flooding this year affected the rice crop in various parts of the country, principally in eastern Bago and central Irrawaddy. Lower yields and production of wet season paddy, which accounts for roughly 85 percent of the total annual rice crop, are expected. Overall, it is officially estimated that some 0.8 million hectares in all eleven states and divisions in the country were damaged, with approximately 298 000 hectares totally destroyed. In spite of the flood damage, aggregate paddy production this year is projected at some 17 million tons similar to the previous year and around average.
NEPAL (17 November)
It is estimated that the area planted to paddy this year increased by some 4 percent and by some 6 percent from the average for the preceding five years. Despite the increase in area, however, rice production this year is forecast to be below the 2.8 million tons harvested in 1996.
PAKISTAN (18 November)
Current estimates indicate that the country is likely to produce around 4.3 million tons of milled rice in 1997/98, some 15 percent above average for the preceding five years and marginally higher than 1995/96. The increase in production is due to a small increase in area under cultivation and higher yields.
In an attempt to stimulate the agriculture sector the Government recently announced a comprehensive package of incentives. This includes increases in support prices for various crops, relief in the prices for key agricultural inputs, improved availability of agricultural credit, better irrigation and drainage facilities and better quality control of fertilizers and pesticides. These steps are expected to lower food imports.
Rice exports this year are projected to rise as supplies from the new basmati crop increase prompted by stronger international demand. Following Government agreement to supply wheat to Afghanistan ,it is estimated that some 500 000 tons will be exported from the country in 1997/98. The agreement makes provision for the export of up to 50 000 tons of wheat per month over the coming year.
PHILIPPINES (18 November)
Recent reports indicate that up to 36 provinces are considered highly vulnerable to El Niño related weather anomalies, particularly prolonged drought, which are forecast to last till next April. Provinces considered particularly vulnerable include South Cotabato, Miasmic Oriental and parts of Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao. As a result of forecast drought, rice and maize production are expected to drop in the first quarter of 1998. Current official projections point to a drop in the output of unmilled rice by 1.7 percent to 2.52 million tons in the first quarter of 1998 (January to March) compared to 2.56 million tons this year. Similarly, maize production is expected to fall to 1.021 million tons in the first quarter from 1.023 this year. Paddy output in the third quarter this year dropped by 15.4 percent to 1.79 million tons from 2.117 million tons in 1996. Overall maize output this year is expected to increase marginally to around 4.3 million tons, while the official estimate of paddy is put at 11.36 million tons compared to an earlier forecast of 11.9 million tons.
The Department of Agriculture has been distributing higher yielding rice seeds and fertilizers to farmers in recent months as part of its programme to improve productivity, which aims to increase rice production to 12 to 12.5 million tons in 1998
Imports of rice and maize in 1998 are likely to increase due to expected weather-related declines in production and continued growth in population and consumption. The National Food Authority (NFA) has already placed orders for 350 000 tons of rice from Vietnam, China, Cambodia and Thailand . Imports are expected to start arriving in January. The NFA also has authority to import up to 650 000 tons of rice to maintain stocks. In 1996 the NFA imported 893 000 tons of rice. So far this year, the country has imported 940 000 tons of maize, mostly for animal feed, compared to 407 000 tons in 1996.
SAUDI ARABIA (28 November)
The wheat crop for harvest in April/May next year is now being planted. To the extent weather conditions are normal, no serious damage from outbreaks of pests and disease, and the government’s intention materializes, a large crop can be expected.
Low to moderate numbers of adults desert locusts are likely to be present on the coastal plains of the Red Sea from Jezan to Wejh where they are expected to lay in areas of recent rainfall. Consequently, there is a risk that locust numbers will significantly increase since breeding this year is likely to occur earlier than in previous years, allowing for several generations if rains continue in the coming months.
A policy aimed at encouraging barley production in the country is being pursued by the government. The five-year development plan targets a cut in water usage, particularly in agriculture, which consumes about 90 percent of all water used in the country. Wheat output in 1997 is estimated at 1.5 million tons, some 25 percent higher than last year; the barley harvest is estimated at around 450 000 tons, similar to the 1996 crop.
Imports of barley in 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast at 5.6 million tons. Barley consumption in the next few years is expected to increase significantly as poultry, dairy and sheep breeding and fattening projects continue to expand. The government has announced a measure to limit vegetable imports as a means of protecting farm products and livestock from imports.
SRI LANKA (18 November)
Rainfall this year from the north east monsoon, the country’s main rainy season, has been generally favourable. In the period 1 October to 4 November , cumulative rainfall was normal or above-normal in seven out of eight provinces monitored, accounting for 83 percent of ‘Maha’ paddy production, the country’s main rice crop. In comparison, in the same period last year, cumulative rainfall was normal or above normal in five out of eight provinces covering 72 percent of production.
The recent increase in the administered price of flour in August has reduced the consumption of flour marginally to about 11 000- 11 500 tons from 12 000 tons per week. However, tight supplies of rice, expected particularly during the period of October to February may prompt some upturn in demand.
SYRIA (28 November)
Good rainfall in September and recent light showers prompted early planting of winter grains. Sowing of the 1998 wheat and barley will continue until mid-January next year. Cereals production in 1997 is estimated at 5 million tons, about 16 percent lower than last year. As a result of unfavourable weather, especially winter frost, wheat output dropped to 3.5 million tons, whilst the output of barley dropped by 35 percent to 1.3 million tons. Maize output is estimated at about 300 000 tons, some 45 percent higher than in the previous year.
Imports of wheat flour in 1997/98 are forecast at some 100 000 tons, whilst maize imports are forecast at 160 000 tons.
THAILAND (18 November)
Official reports indicate that El Niño weather related problems are expected to significantly reduce production of major cash crops, especially rice and sugar, over the next eight months. The reports indicate that approximately 1.12 million hectares of crops have already been damaged by reduced rainfall in various parts of the country, whilst the water level in many dams has run low, causing concern for dry season cultivation. To reduce the possible impact of drought and dry weather, plans are being considered to encourage farmers to cultivate other crops, such as maize, soybean or cassava, than rice in second season as they are lower water demanding. An estimated 36 provinces have been affected, mostly in the north and the northeast. As a result of falling production, the 1998 second rice crop is expected to yield around 2.8 million tons compared with 4.55 million tons this year. In September the official estimate of the main rice crop was revised to 17.84 million tons from 18.18 million tons earlier. Conditions are expected to deteriorate into March and April next year, with continuing rainfall shortages
The country is expected to reach its export target for 1997. In the first 10 months this year, 4.08 million tons were exported. Although the volume of exports fell by around 6.6 percent revenues grew by 3.6 percent. Higher exports are partly due to increased demand by importing countries in preparation for anticipated food shortages due to El Niño.
TURKEY (28 November)
Sowing of the 1998 wheat crop is nearing completion. Given satisfactory weather conditions, production similar to that of 1997 could be achieved. The 1997 wheat production is estimated at 18.7 million tons, 1 percent higher than in 1996. Output from the barley crop which is estimated at 8.2 million tons is 3 percent higher than in previous year. Maize production is estimated at 2 million tons, the same as in the previous year.
Turkey’s state grain board (TMO) which has some 810 000 tons of durum wheat and about 1.5 million tons of barley in its stock, bought from farmers in 1996/97 a record 5.8 million tons compared to 1 million tons a year earlier. TMO plans to sell some 200 000 tons of feed barley and 50 000 tons of durum wheat to international buyers, and another 50 000 tons to local market.
Wheat imports in 1997/98 are forecast at about 1.7 million tons, similar to last year. The 1997/98 corn imports are forecast at 600 000 tons.
VIET NAM (19 November)
In the first week of November, Typhoon Linda killed at least 285 people as it struck southern parts of the country, whilst a further 3 600 are still missing. Most of the dead or missing were fishermen or people living along the coast. An estimated 453 000 hectares of rice was damaged by flooding, much of which had been planted for winter-spring harvest. However, as planting had only just been completed before the typhoon, most areas will be replanted. The Government has launched an international appeal emergency food, medicine, clothing, shelter and sanitation for the homeless. So far United Nations agencies have made preliminary pledges of $255 000, whilst other donors have committed a further $690 000. Economic damage is estimated at $472 million.
Overall this year, official reports indicate that rice production is expected to increase by 1.3 million tons to 27.7 million this year compared to 1996.
In spite of typhoon damage, rice exports are unlikely to be affected by heavy flooding in Mekong Delta provinces as output from the current, minor crop is mainly for the domestic market. The main crops are in summer autumn and winter spring. The export target for 1997 is 3.7 million tons for this year, though an estimated 3.5 million are expected to be exported due to low stocks and strong competition.
YEMEN (28 November)
The harvesting of the 1997 sorghum crop is now underway and both the 1998 wheat and sorghum crops will not be planted until next year. A few isolated immature adults of desert locusts were seen on the coastal plains near Aden on 29 September. Low to moderate numbers of adults are likely to be present on the Tihama and to a lesser extent on the Aden coastal plains where they are expected to lay in areas of recent rainfall. Consequently, there is a risk that locust numbers will significantly increase since breading this year is likely to occur earlier than in previous years, allowing for several generations if rains continue in the coming months.
Aggregate output of sorghum and millet in 1997 is estimated at 0.53 million tons, some 29 percent higher than in previous year. The increase reflects favourable growing conditions in most of areas. Wheat production in 1997 estimated at 165 000 tons, was 11 percent higher than last year.
Imports of cereals in 1997 - mainly wheat - are estimated at some 2 million tons.
Light rains in late October brought relief to the 1997/98 second season cereal and bean crops, which had earlier been affected by dry weather. First season crops were also affected by El Niño- related effects, particularly provinces on the Pacific coast and in the Central Valley region. The output of paddy, the main crop, for both seasons is forecast to decline from last year’s average 200 000 tons to about 185 000 tons. Lesser damage has been incurred by maize and average output is expected. Production losses were incurred to the first season bean crop, an important staple, but some recovery is expected from the more important second season crop, as adequate growing conditions are reported in the main producing areas. A shortfall of some 20 000 tons is nevertheless expected.
Maize imports (mainly yellow maize) in marketing year 1997/98 are provisionally forecast to increase from the previous year’s relatively high receipts of 280 000 tons to about 290 000 tons, in anticipation of steady demand from the animal feed industry. Rice imports in 1998 (January/December) are estimated at 90 000 tons to cover demand of 275 000 tons.
CUBA (20 November)
Irregular and ill-distributed rains, combined with abnormally high temperatures attributed to the El Niño weather phenomenon, continue to be reported. However, more abundant rains are forecast in the next few months. No damage has so far been reported to the 1997 first season maize and paddy crops currently being harvested. Early forecasts indicate that maize output should be about 90 000 tons, which compares to last year’s 85 000 tons and to an average 82 000 tons in the past 5 years. The output of paddy, a main staple, is anticipated to remain close to the 1996 level of 270 000 tons, reflecting continuing finance problems faced by the Government in the import of farm inputs. A satisfactory output of vegetables and roots has been collected so far.
Harvesting of the 1997/98 sugar cane crop, a major foreign exchange earner, has started early to avoid possible El Niño effects which are forecast in the months ahead. Preliminary forecasts point to a level of production close to the low 1996/97 crop of 4.2 million tons.
Wheat imports in the 1997/98 marketing year (July/June) are anticipated at about 900 000 tons. Maize imports should be about 255 000 tons, while rice imports in 1998 (January/December) are forecast to be between 375 000 and 400 000 tons to meet steady domestic demand of approximately 500 000 tons.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (22 November)
Normal to abundant rains since late September, typical of the hurricane season, have brought much needed relief to the 1997 second season rainfed maize and sorghum crops, currently being planted, as well as to other minor food crops, which had been affected by prolonged dry weather. The rains also helped replenish water reservoirs for the second season irrigated paddy crop which is about to be harvested. Additional rains are forecast for the remainder of the hurricane season. The output of maize is nevertheless provisionally forecast to decrease from last year’s above-average 60 000 tons to a low 39 000 tons. The irrigated paddy crop has been only slightly affected in some areas and is expected to be at near-record level.
Wheat imports in 1998 (January/December) are estimated at about 265 000 tons, similar to 1996. Maize imports are forecast to decrease from 690 000 to some 640 000 tons due to high carryover stocks. The Government intends to import about 40 000 tons of rice in 1998 to help keep a stable supply for this important staple and thus prevent any eventual stockpiling and price speculation as it has successfully done during the dry period earlier in the year.
EL SALVADOR (21 November)
Irregular and ill-distributed rains were reported in October but with no relevant effect on the normal development of the 1997/98 second season cereal and bean crops. The first season crops had been seriously affected by El Niño-related dry weather and about 125 000 tons of white maize were lost. Despite a slight recovery in the second season crop, production of maize is forecast to decline from last year’s above-average 630 000 tons to a low 506 000 tons. Sorghum output, by contrast, is expected to be about average as the bulk of the crop is collected from the second season crop. Only minor damage has been reported to the bean crop and an average output is anticipated. Despite losses incurred, supplies and prices of basic grains in the country have remained stable mainly due to the prompt action taken by the Government in the management of strategic reserves and increased imports. In an effort to help the drought affected farmers, technical assistance has been provided and new credit funds and conditions have been granted through the Ministry of Agriculture for the refinancing of crops.
Wheat imports in marketing year 1997/98 (August/July) are expected to increase slightly from the previous year’s receipts of about 195 000 tons. By contrast, imports of maize should increase from 190 000 tons to about 300 000 tons to help cover the deficit in production. Rice imports in 1998 (January/December) should be close to 1997 imports of 23 000 tons.
GUATEMALA (20 November)
Adverse weather continue to affect the developing 1997/98 second season cereal and bean crops. These were affected by seasonal hurricane rains and heavy flooding in the south-central province of Escuintla in late September, and by dry weather again in October. The output of maize, the main crop, for both seasons is expected to decline from last year’s below average 1.1 million tons to 900 000 tons. This is mainly the result of first season crop losses caused by El Niño-related drought. Lesser damage is reported to the modest paddy crop and output should be slightly below-average. Localized losses are reported to the bean crop. In an effort to cope with the continuing effect of El Niño, contingency planning has been adopted by various Ministries and institutions, such as the financing of small irrigation systems, improvements of rural roads, control of strategic grain reserves, improvement in the dissemination of adequate weather information and other protective measures.
Wheat imports in marketing year 1997/98 (November/October) are likely to decline from last year’s receipts of 320 000 tons to some 275 000 tons, mostly as a consequence large carry-over stocks. Maize imports (July/June) should increase from 400 000 tons to about 610 000 tons in order to cover the deficit in production and thus meet the strong domestic demand. Rice imports in 1998 (January/December) should be about 35 000 to 40 000 tons.
HAITI* (18 November)
Harvesting of the 1997 second season irrigated paddy crop has started under adequate weather conditions. The crop was significantly affected during the first half of the year as a consequence of a prolonged drought which affected all crops. Output for the year should decline from the below-average 80 000 tons of the previous year. Planting of the bean crop has just started and a slight recovery is expected. The output of vegetables has been satisfactory.
HONDURAS (20 November)
Harvesting of the 1997/98 second season (main) maize and paddy crops is underway while that of beans has been recently completed under generally dry weather. Localized losses, particularly in the depressed areas of the south, were incurred to the first season crops by the early effects of El Niño, but increases in production were obtained in the main producing areas of the country which helped compensate for the losses reported. Maize output is provisionally forecast at an average 595 000 tons, while average sorghum production is anticipated. In order to cope with the potential impact of El Niño in the next few months, the Government has undertaken some protective measures including the construction of small irrigation systems and temporary water reservoirs, the drilling of wells and the sale of water pumps. Assistance from the international community has been received, mainly in the form of food aid distribution to the affected southern rural population and funds for the purchase of fertilizers.
Wheat imports in marketing year 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast to increase from 175 000 tons last year to about 195 000 tons. Maize imports should remain close to last year’s receipts of 145 000 tons. Rice imports in 1998 (January/December) should also be similar to 1997.
MEXICO (28 November)
Dry weather and warm temperatures in recent weeks have favoured harvesting of the 1997 maize crop currently underway. The crops, particularly those grown in the southwestern states, had been affected by torrential rains and flooding in early October, and formerly by long weeks of scant precipitation. Other cereal, food and cash crops were also affected. Despite damage incurred, latest official forecasts point to a well above-average crop of 18.5 to 19 million tons. The anticipated good results would be mainly due to improved yields caused by a larger use of fertilizers. The sorghum crop grown in the north-eastern states, affected by dry weather in the past 4 years, benefited from normal rains in October, and output is provisionally forecast at an above-average 5.5 to 6 million tons. This principally reflects enlarged plantings.
Planting of the 1998 irrigated wheat crop is underway in the main growing regions of the northwest. Water reservoir levels are reported to be adequate, following normal to abundant rains in late September, and average to above-average plantings are expected.
NICARAGUA (12 November)
Normal rains resumed in October benefiting developing 1997/98 second season (“postrera”) cereal and bean crops currently being harvested. However, prospects of recovery from losses incurred by El Niño-related effects to the first season maize crop are poor. Production increases in the non-affected areas have not been sufficient because of low yields and the anticipated output from the second season is not enough either. Maize output, therefore, is expected to fall from an earlier above-average estimate to a near -average level. By contrast, sorghum and bean production are expected to be satisfactory as the bulk of the output is collected from the second season crops.
Wheat imports in marketing year 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast to increase from the previous year’s receipts of 110 000 tons to some 120 000 tons. Maize imports are anticipated to increase significantly to cover the deficit in production and meet the strong domestic demand. Rice imports in 1998 (January/December) should remain close to 1996 level.
PANAMA (12 November)
Light rains around mid-October favoured the developing 1997 paddy, maize and bean crops, for harvesting from December, as well as other minor food crops. The rains were, however, too late for any significant recovery from losses incurred to first season crops by early El Niño-associated effects. Early prospects are uncertain for planting of the 1998 crops, to be started from March, as dry weather is forecast to continue in the months ahead. A request for international assistance has been recently made.
Drier weather in early November favoured harvesting of the 1997 wheat crop which had been delayed due to above-average rains in October attributed to the El Niño phenomenon. Localized flooding has been reported in northern parts of the country and large producing southwestern Buenos Aires province. No damage, however, has been incurred to the crops, but wheat yields could be affected and a fungus outbreak occur should the excessive rains resume. The abundant rains, by contrast, benefited some areas in Cordoba and Santa Fe that were being affected by severe dry weather. Early forecasts point to a 14 million tons wheat crop, compared to a record 16 million tons in 1996, but production would still be above average.
Planting of the 1997/98 maize crop has also been delayed due to excessive rains and damage to crops in some parts of the Buenos Aires province is reported. By early November, about 70 percent of the intended area planted to maize had been sown. Agricultural activities have been accelerated in anticipation of the unusually excessive rains which are forecast towards the end of the year and due to El Niño.
BOLIVIA (12 November)
Weather conditions in October favoured fieldwork activities in preparation for planting of the 1997/98 main season cereal and potato crops. Intended wheat plantings should be close to last year’s above-average level. The area planted to maize, the main cereal, as well as sorghum, is provisionally forecast at near record levels. Planting of the important potato crop is also anticipated to be satisfactory. No serious damage has so far been reported due to El Niño, as the bulk of the 1997 crops had been gathered before the El Niño impact started to be felt. Localized damage was reported in September, however, when torrential rains and flooding affected the southwestern department of Sucre.
Wheat imports in marketing year 1997/98 are provisionally forecast to increase from last year’s receipts of 330 000 tons to 375 000 tons.
BRAZIL (28 November)
Harvesting of the 1997 wheat crop has just been completed. The crop has been affected in the last few weeks by torrential rains and flooding in the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, particularly in the latter state which accounts for 32 percent of domestic production, with resulting damage to crops as well as severe damage to housing and infrastructure. Wheat yields are possibly affected and the appearance of fungal disease is likely to occur because of the excess humidity. Production is tentatively estimated at about 2.6 million tons, compared to an average of 2.4 million tons in the last five years.
Planting of the 1997/98 maize crop has been delayed because of excessive rains. More rains are forecast in the next few weeks. The area planted to maize is provisionally forecast to decline from the near record in 1996 but still remain above average. However, the outcome of the crop will be principally determined by the impact of El Niño in the months ahead. Technical advice is being disseminated to the rural population by the Government on how to cope with the potential effects of the phenomenon.
CHILE (20 November)
Normal growing conditions are reported for the 1997/98 wheat crop which is about to be harvested. The area planted has increased considerably from last year’s drought affected crop and an above-average 1.6 million tons are provisionally forecast. Planting of the maize crop continues and the area planted should be above average.
Wheat imports in the 1997/98 marketing year (December/November) is expected to remain close to last year’s receipts of 750 000 tons.
COLOMBIA (28 November)
Light rains in the second half of October brought some moisture relief to the 1997/98 cereal crops currently being planted. The rains ended 6 weeks of precipitation shortfall across most of the northwestern part of the country. Prospects are nevertheless poor for maize, the main crop, particularly in the highlands of Nariño and Cundinamarca provinces, which have been affected by prolonged dry weather and elevated temperatures and where forest fires have been reported. The area planted is expected to decrease from last year’s below-average level. The outlook is also poor for the sorghum crop. Production is anticipated to decline for the fourth consecutive year. The intended area planted to paddy is tentatively forecast to stay close to 1996 slightly below-average level, but this will largely depend upon the development of El Niño phenomenon which is expected to reach its peak in the next few months. Fruit and vegetable crops benefited from the rains and prices of some food items which significantly increased fell back to near normal levels in anticipation of larger supply.
Cereal imports in 1998 are forecast to increase considerably from relatively high levels reached in 1997 in order to compensate the deficit in production and meet the steady domestic demand.
ECUADOR (16 November)
The coastal provinces, from Esmeraldas in the north to Guayas in the south, continued to be affected in October by intensive rains and, in some parts, by high tides. Damage to housing and infrastructure is reported, as well as to banana and sugar plantations. A state of emergency has been declared for these areas and assistance is being provided by the international community. Planting of the 1998 maize crop, the main crop, has started and the area planted is tentatively forecast to remain close to 1997 satisfactory level. Despite localized flooding, the area planted to paddy is expected to be about average and production should be sufficient to meet the needs of the population. A contingency plan has been prepared by the Government to help the population cope with the effects of El Niño. This includes technical advice to farmers on protective measures and the use of alternative crops, public works such as the cleaning of canals and country roads, strengthening of bridges, and the repair of the sewage system in some municipalities. Preventive health and sanitary measures have been adopted all over the country.
Wheat imports in the 1998 marketing year (January/December) are expected to be about 485 000 tons, similar to 1997.
PERU (28 November)
Planting of the 1998 main cereal crops has started and intended plantings of wheat are provisionally forecast to be close to last year’s satisfactory level. The area planted to maize is also forecast to be at near record level. Above-average plantings of paddy are expected. But the outcome of the 1998 crops will largely be determined by the development of El Niño phenomenon. The Government actively continues its programme of preventive and emergency measure at national, regional and local levels, in anticipation of the worst impact in the next months. In the north, where intensive precipitation has been reported, near the border with Ecuador, and more abundant rains are forecast, public works are being carried out which include the cleaning of canals, control of river banks, and other infrastructural repair works. In the south and in the highlands, where drought is anticipated, a programme for drilling water wells has been initiated. Risk maps of the areas likely to be affected and educational material, combined with community awareness campaigns, have been prepared and distributed.
Wheat imports in marketing year 1998 (January/December) should be close to 1997 receipts of 1.2 million tons. Maize imports are tentatively forecast at about 800 000 tons which compares to this year’s 750 000 tons.
URUGUAY (12 November)
Abundant rains have benefited the development of the 1997 wheat crop. Harvesting has just started and a satisfactory output is provisionally forecast; however, the outcome of the crop will be significantly determined by the intensity and duration of the rains which are forecast for the weeks ahead as a consequence of El Niño-related effect. Planting of the 1997/98 maize crop continues and the area planted is tentatively forecast to be above average. The intended area planted of the important irrigated paddy crop is also expected to be at near record level, reflecting expanding exports to neighbouring countries.
VENEZUELA (16 November)
Normal rains in October across most of the country benefited the developing 1997 maize crop, currently being harvested, and planting of the 1997/98 paddy crop. Early forecasts indicate that maize output should be at an above-average 1.1 million tons, which compares to 1 million tons in 1996. Production of sorghum, by contrast, is expected to decrease from 440 000 tons to 250 000 tons, mainly because of farmers’ decisions to reduce plantings as a consequence of the strong import competition. The intended area to paddy is provisionally forecast to remain close to the previous year’s average level.
COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES
ARMENIA* (14 November)
The 1997 output of cereals is provisionally estimated by FAO to be at least 330 000 tons, despite localized crop damage by floods and hail. This outcome is close to last year’s good harvest as somewhat lower yields have been offset by a sharp increase in the area sown, which reached 200 000 hectares by official estimation. Winter wheat plantings rose 13 percent in response to price incentives, and the leasing of an additional 16 000 hectares of state land to farmers. FAO’s estimate of production is higher (by 10 percent) than official estimation as a sample survey of production on the private farms in 1996 provided clear evidence of substantial underreporting of the yield of wheat. With regard to other foodstuffs, output of potatoes and vegetables could remain close to last year’s level but that of fruit and grapes has most probably declined due to hail damage.
In 1997/98, domestic cereal utilization is estimated at about 672 000 tons, including 445 000 tons for food consumption for a population of about 3 million, feed (148 000 tons) and seed and other uses (79 000 tons). Against this requirement domestic production of cereals (excluding pulses) is estimated at 332 000 tons, leaving an import requirement of 340 000 tons, mainly wheat. Against this requirement, 54 000 tons of food aid has been pledged to date, and most of the balance is expected to be imported commercially. However, some 400 000 people continue to be in need of humanitarian assistance. Of these, WFP is targeting 140 000 people for take-home relief rations and 80 000 people through food-for-work. For 1998, the needs for these activities are estimated at some 20 000 tons. With carryover stocks estimated at 3 000 tons, donors are urged to make contributions against the 1998 shortfall of 17 000 tons. NGOs are also providing targeted food assistance
AZERBAIJAN (14 November)
FAO estimates the 1997 grain harvest at 1.16 million tons, some 60 000 tons more than last year. This is somewhat higher than the official estimate (1.08 million tons) as with the ongoing privatization process many farmers are producing cereals outside traditional areas and this output is not reflected in official statistics. The area sown to wheat increased by 80 000 hectares, partially at the expense of barley. However, flood damage in July caused some crop damage. Nevertheless average yields on the remaining area was higher than last year. Production of wheat is tentatively estimated at 925 000 tons, compared to 800 000 tons last year. The coarse grain harvest is estimated at about 215 000 tons, 64 000 tons less than last year reflecting the reduced area sown. Production of potatoes in the private sector is increasing.
Per caput consumption of basic foodstuffs has stabilized. Following the successful privatization of the State Bread Corporation earlier this year a Strategic Cereals Reserve is to be created this year with the assistance of the EU. For this purpose the country will receive 35 000 tons of food aid in wheat to provide a revolving fund for imports as well as cash funds (from counterpart funds from past food aid deliveries) for local purchases. The domestic cereal requirement in 1997/98 is estimated at 1.5 million tons, (human consumption needs just over 1 million tons and feed and other uses 0.5 million tons). Given cereal production of 1.145 million tons (excluding pulses) the country would need to import 435 000 tons of cereals. The bulk of this is expected to be imported commercially but relief food aid for targeted distribution to the vulnerable populations will continue to be necessary. Confirmed pledges to date amount to 46 000 tons.
WFP continues supporting 155 000 internally displaced (IDPs) and otherwise vulnerable persons through relief food distributions and food-for-work activities. Whilst pledges are being received, 1,314 tons of cereals, 410 tons of edible oil, 341 tons of pulses and 50 tons sugar are still required to cover the needs until 30 June 1998.
BELARUS (14 November)
The total 1997 cereal and pulse harvest is forecast at 6.2 million tons, clean weight, some 0.4 tons more than last year. The higher output reflects better yields following some 25 percent increase in fertilizer application. The area sown to grains increased by 6 percent, reaching almost 2.9 million hectares. Wheat output is estimated to be about 17 percent higher compared to last year, reflecting a 5 percent growth in sown area and better yields, while coarse grain output is likely to remain fairly stable.
In 1997/98 imports are estimated to increase marginally to 0.9 million tons as the country is expected to take advantage of cheap feedgrain supplies in the neighbouring countries. Imports are likely to be sourced mainly from the Russian Federation, the Ukraine and Kazakstan.
GEORGIA* (14 November)
Agricultural production is recovering strongly as relatively high prices for produce and reasonable crop yields achieved by smallholder farms make this type of farming profitable, despite many constraints. The 1997 cereal and pulse harvest is estimated at a record 820 000 tons including 300 000 tons of wheat, significantly larger than last year. The area sown to wheat increased by 50 000 hectares and despite considerable crop losses due to late frosts, spring hail and excessive rains, yields increased. This was mainly due to better availability of seeds and fertilizers and incentives for farmers. Official reports indicate that maize was planted on 230 000 hectares. Better yields are also expected. Maize meal also forms an important part of the diet. The outlook for other foodcrops is also encouraging but the processing industry remains a major bottleneck to the expansion of output of fruit and vegetables.
Per caput consumption of basic foodstuffs is recovering. The abolition of state-subsidized bread rationing system in 1996 led to a sharp increase in both wheat production and imports by the private sector. In 1997/98 the domestic cereal utilization is forecast at 1.2 million tons, including 0.7 million tons for human consumption and the remainder for feed, seed and other uses. Domestic production of cereals (excluding pulses) is forecast at 0.8 million tons, leaving an import requirement of 0.4 million tons. The bulk of this is expected to be bought commercially. Food aid will continue to be required to meet the needs for relief distribution to the most vulnerable populations. So far, food aid allocations, including those carried forward from last year, amount to 0.12 million tons.
There are still about 300 000 people needing assistance, of which WFP supports 120 000 through relief food distributions and 50 000 who are enrolled in food-for-work activities. The remaining beneficiaries are covered by NGOs. Whilst pledges are being received, a balance requirement of 5 480 tons of cereals, 270 tons of edible oil and 721 tons sugar to cover the needs until 30 June 1998.
KAZAKHSTAN (14 November)
Uncertainty regarding not only yields, but also the area sown to grains casts doubt on the reliability of production forecasts. Based on extensive discussions with grain traders, many of whom also pre-finance inputs for production, FAO tentatively estimates the 1997/98 area sown to grains at 14.6 million hectares - nearly 1 million hectares less than the official estimate. The 1997 grain harvest is officially forecast at 12.2 million tons, 8 percent more than last year’s official estimate. The area sown to grains is estimated to have fallen by 2.5 million hectares but growing conditions have been better than last year in most areas excluding Akmola and average yields are higher. Early indications are that production of potatoes and vegetables, grown mainly on household plots, will remain close to the last year. Good oilseed yields are forecast to offset the 33 percent decrease in the area sown. Domestic production of sugar is expected to fall sharply.
In 1997/98, given cereal and pulse production of 12.2 million tons and a human consumption requirement of 2.4 million tons, cereal exports in 1997/98 are tentatively forecast to remain mainly wheat to other CIS countries. Relatively low cereal opening stocks, low import demand for barley in neighbouring countries and little progress in opening markets beyond the CIS are expected to reduce coarse grain exports to 0.4 million tons. The quality of the grain is generally good and the Russian Federation is already buying aggressively.
Cereal exports in 1996/97 are officially reported at 2.6 million tons; the actual level, however, is higher, due to unregistered exports. The Russian Federation remains the major market, but Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan accounted for almost 30 percent of estimated exports of 3.1 million tons in 1996/97.
KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (14 November)
The area sown to cereals increased by about 12 percent despite shortages of all major inputs. Growing conditions this year were better in the south than in the north. In the south good precipitation in the spring and early summer favoured crops after a relatively dry winter. In the north, unseasonably hot weather in May stressed crops. Nevertheless, the 1997 harvest is officially estimated at 1.7 million tons, 19 percent more than last year and above target. Output of wheat could rise to 1.35 million tons in response to an increase of 100 000 hectares in the area sown at the expense of barley and fodder crops. Production of potatoes and vegetables are expected to increase but the area sown to sugarbeet has fallen sharply in response to shortcomings and difficulties in processing and marketing.
Wheat production has more than doubled since 1991 and the country has an exportable surplus of wheat in 1997/98. Cross border trade with Uzbekistan (for fuel and inputs) is significant but appears to be partially offset by commercial imports from Kazakhstan. In 1997/98 the domestic cereal utilization is estimated at 1.7 million tons including 0.7 million tons for human consumption, 0.7 million tons for feed and the balance for other uses, mainly seed. Imports are estimated at 0.12 million tons, and include 78 000 tons of food aid already pledged to assist Tajik refugees and other vulnerable people in the country. This year also, the country will receive direct budget support from the EU with disbursement conditional to the implementation of specific reforms.
MOLDOVA (14 November)
The 1997 cereal and pulse harvest is expected to increase by one third, reaching 3.0 million tons. The area sown increased 11 percent despite severe financial constraints limiting access to all major inputs. Some inputs are provided as credits in kind often using the upcoming harvest as collateral, but fertilizers remained in short supply. Better weather, particularly in terms of the quantity and distribution of rainfall, was the main factor in the sharp recovery from the drought reduced 1996 harvest (1.9 million tons). Wheat production could increase by 67 percent to 1.2 million tons mainly reflecting better yields. Output of coarse grains is tentatively forecast to increase by 55 percent to 1.75 million tons in response to a sharp increase in both the areas sown and yields. With regard to other foodcrops, production of sugarbeet and potatoes is expected to increase but vegetable and sunflower production were affected by excessive rains in the summer.
The country was a net importer of cereals in 1996/97 but is expected to have an exportable surplus in 1997/98. However, grain may only be exported under licence from the Ministry of Economics, which also sets indicative export prices for grains below which firms are prohibited from exporting. These prices are often set above market prices in the Ukraine and the Russian Federation. As a result, registered exports are expected to remain small, around 0.3 million tons at most and feed use of grains and stocks are likely to increase.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION (14 November)
The 1997 grain harvest is estimated at 85 million tons, including about 44 million tons of wheat (of which less than 20 million tons is food-quality wheat). The area sown to grains remained fairly stable, with slight decreases in the areas sown to winter wheat and barley more than offset by increases in spring sowings. The tendency in the last several years of shifting grain production from feed to food grain is drawing to a close. Though wheat production for food is highly profitable, the proportion of this profitable grain in the harvest is diminishing as a result of inadequate use of pesticides, herbicides, and improved seed. This year this trend has been aggravated by excessive rains in some regions and serious pest infestation in major food wheat producing areas. With regard to other crops, the potato harvest could be somewhat less than the last year given the reduction in the area sown. Production of vegetables will most likely stay at the same level. The area sown to oilseeds has decreased this year by about 7 percent but yields are somewhat better.
In 1997/98 domestic utilization is estimated at 80 million tons, including nearly 21 million tons for human consumption and the balance for feed and other uses. Given the harvest forecast and the large proportion of feed-quality grain therein, it is likely that feed use of grains will increase despite better forage supplies and the continuing cut back in animal numbers. The extent of the increase in feed use will depend crucially on developments in domestic prices for feed and export opportunities. Losses are forecast to grow as a result of a shift to on-farm grain storage.
Cereal exports (including intra-CIS trade) in 1996/97 are officially reported at about 0.9 million tons and imports at 2.9 million tons (including 0.4 million tons of rice)
In 1997/98 the high proportion of feed-quality grain in the harvest implies excess of domestic supply and a large exportable surplus of these grains. However export opportunities of feed grain are limited by ample supplies and low prices on the international markets and by the high domestic costs associated with grain assembling, handling and transportation and also by the limited facilities at the ports. Cereal exports (including intra-CIS trade) in 1997/98 are tentatively estimated at 3 million tons, roughly divided 65/35 between barley and feed wheat unless Polish demand for feedgrains is larger than expected because of its poor harvest. Extra-CIS trade is tentatively forecast at 0.4 million tons of wheat and 1.9 million tons of coarse grains (barley).
Cereal imports are forecast at 2.9 million tons, including 2 million tons of wheat, 0.4 million tons of rice and some coarse grains. Imports are, again tentatively, forecast at 0.9 million tons, including 0.5 million tons of food quality wheat, 0.4 tons of rice and a small quantity of maize.
WFP food distributions for Chechen refugees in the northern Caucasus (including Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Daghestan) were terminated in September.
TAJIKISTAN* (14 November)
Sporadic eruptions of civil strife and the dire economic situation in the country make reliable and systematic information very difficult to collect and data on supply and demand for food remain extremely tentative. The 1997 grain harvest is estimated by FAO and the EC-TACIS in-country staff at about 0.6 million tons, even higher than the good 1996 harvest now officially estimated at 543 000 tons. The area sown to wheat increased further at the expense of coarse grains, fodder crops and to a lesser extent cotton. Growing conditions this year were better than last year. Grain yields vary hugely depending on the quality of the land, (irrigated, salinated or not) and on the farmers’ access to inputs. The average yield of wheat in two project zones where the farmers were supplied with a full package of inputs were 2.95 tons and 2.25 tons respectively this year. However, these zones are not representative of the country and a national average yield of 1.5 tons per hectare has been adopted. Although low, (and likely representing yields after production expenses have been paid in kind), it reflects a situation in which every available piece of non-state owned land, whether suitable for cropping or not, has been sown to wheat. Output of fodder crops and to a lesser extent most other foodcrops is estimated to have declined as an increasing amount of land was diverted to wheat. Output of cotton, the main cash crop, is expected to recover from last year’s poor level but to remain below average.
The food security situation remains precarious as a result of intermittent civil strife and widespread unemployment, underemployment, inadequate land tenure and increasingly ineffective social security provisions. The findings of the first nation-wide food vulnerability assessment - carried out by the EC this year- are that 16.4 percent of the population are food insecure and cannot afford an adequate diet without targeted assistance. This percentage varies somewhat between regions, but is fairly evenly divided between rural and urban areas.
Even with the higher cereal production in 1997, the country could face a foodgrain deficit. The size of this deficit depends crucially on the resident population, estimated by the UN at 5.5 million but possibly 1.8 million lower. Estimating feed and other uses (mainly seed) at 140 000 tons, and per caput cereal consumption of 360 grams per person per day, the requirement for human consumption would be 740 000 tons for a population of 5.5 million. Against this domestic requirement, cereal production (excluding pulses and milled rice) is estimated at 583 000 tons, leaving an import requirement of virtually 300 000 tons. However this requirement would be reduced if a lower population assumption is used. The commercial import capacity is unlikely to exceed last year’s level, estimated at some 160 000 tons, leaving a food aid requirement of 137 000 tons under the higher population scenario. Some 90 000 tons have already been pledged to date. The humanitarian relief needs for the vulnerable population will remain large.
TURKMENISTAN (14 November)
The reorganization of the former state farms into a collection of individual leaseholding farms and somewhat better incentives for individual farmers has contributed to an estimated 38 percent increase in cereal production in 1997. The area actually (as opposed to reportedly) sown to cereals increased by 50 000 hectares to 539 000 hectares. That sown to wheat increased at the expense of coarse grains, fodder crops and cotton. Growing conditions were better than last year, but the input supply situation remained difficult. A major contributing factor to the sharp increase in wheat production to 650 000 tons was the introduction of a contract system of farming for smallholders backed up by credit for essential inputs and services. The cotton harvest has suffered from adverse weather conditions (spring floods and a cool August), shortages of machinery, continued low availability of fertilizers and inadequate maintenance of the irrigation system. Output is likely to remain well below average but better than last year. Output of melons and other fruit is expected to decline, in response to limited marketing opportunities and the loss of export markets.
The food supply situation remains mixed and precarious in disadvantaged areas. Overall, the availability and choice of food has improved but a lack of purchasing power limits access and there are many infrastructural constraints. In urban areas, milk remains in short supply while in rural areas the wheat supply situation remains tight even after the harvest. People in depressed industrial areas and infertile rural areas are experiencing difficulties. Persons having an income below 120 000 manats, or U.S.$ 24 per month, are defined as vulnerable, and total 3.4 million according to official sources. These continue to receive flour, meat, milk, butter, tea on ration cards but the subsidy element is being steadily reduced. A household budget survey has been carried out but the results have not yet been disseminated.
Annual domestic cereal utilization has decreased to about 1.2 million tons including food consumption of 626 000 tons, other uses (mainly seed) of just under 170 000 tons and feed use of around 386 000 tons. Cereal stocks were drawn down in 1996/97 and are to be replenished this year. Against the total requirement of 1.42 million tons, domestic availability (stocks and production of cereals) are estimated at 863 000 tons. Allowing for some stock replenishment this leaves an import requirement of nearly 560 000 tons for 1997/98. This is expected to be covered commercially, mainly in Kazakhstan and the Ukraine but about 100 000 tons could be imported from outside the CIS.
UKRAINE (14 November)
FAO estimates the 1997 cereal and pulse harvest at 35 million tons, substantially larger than the drought reduced 1996 output, the recovery reflecting a sharp increase in the areas sown, better weather and increased use of inputs. This forecast is about 2 million tons higher than current harvest reports indicate to allow for under-estimation of output. The area sown to cereals is estimated to have increased by almost 2 million hectares, rising to 15.3 million hectares. but crops on at least 1.5 million hectares have been lost due to winterkill and persistent rains in the summer and autumn, which led to cut crops germinating and rotting in the field, and to a loss of quality. In addition, there is uncertainty about the proportion of the maize area which will be harvested for grain rather than for silage. The 1997 output of wheat is provisionally estimated at 19 million tons, significantly more than output last year, (estimated by FAO at 15 million tons), mainly in response to markedly better yields for winter grains. That of coarse grains is forecast at 14.9 million tons, 50 percent more than FAO’s estimate for 1996, due to a 24 percent increase in the area and better yields. Output of paddy is expected to increase to 90 000 tons but dry conditions in the spring severely affected pulses and reduced the harvest to about 1 million tons.
Average yields of all grains have remained well below potential due to shortcomings in farm management and crippling shortages of cash and collateral for timely purchase of inputs. Virtually all inputs are obtained via commodity agreements (for grain) with the state or private traders. As farmers give priority to obtaining supplies of fuel and fertilizer and not to herbicides/pesticides, weed and pest infestations are an important reason for the poor yields.
With regard to other crops, excessive moisture in the summer has adversely affected potatoes and vegetables and reduced their storage life. The sugarbeet crop benefited from better precipitation, but shortages of working capital and fuel, as well as poor weather, destroyed the harvest and kept yields low. Output of sunflowers is expected to increase only marginally from last year’s drought reduced level.
The state remains heavily involved in production, trade and marketing and its dominance is bolstered by regional authorities’ freedom to ban the movement of grains until the federal and regional state orders are filled, its control of the grain silos, priority access to the inadequate railway and port facilities and an increasing amount of costly and time-consuming certificates and services which can only be provided by the state. Despite the sizable exportable surplus of grains in 1997/98, estimated at 5-6 million tons, all these constraints coupled with keen competition from the Russian Federation, could limit the country’s exports this year to about 1.6 million tons. To utilize the feed-quality grain surplus, quality standards have been lowered by the government: grade IV wheat has been declared food quality. Waste, stocks and industrial use of grains are all expected to increase. The customs data for 1996/97 indicate that cereal exports totaled 1.6 million tons including nearly 1.3 million tons of wheat. Actual exports are estimated to be somewhat higher in part as flows to Belarus and some official dealings are not included.
UZBEKISTAN (14 November)
The 1997 grain harvest is forecast to reach almost 4 million tons. This is 10 percent above 1996. The area sown remained stable at 1.7 million hectares of which nearly 1 million were irrigated. The average yield on irrigated land increased in response to abundant spring rains and the somewhat better availability of fertilizer, but that on rainfed land was poor as the dry autumn adversely affected crop germination. Shortages of some types of fertilizer and machinery as well as delays and omissions in field work (wheat is planted after cotton is harvested, leaving little or no time for washing the soil) have kept output of small grains (mainly wheat and barley) - nearly 3.4 million tons - well below the target of 4.3 million tons. Whereas the state farms have difficulty in meeting their production target (4 million tons) production of grain on household plots has exceeded the target by one third. Output of vegetables and potatoes are expected to increase. Indications are that the cotton production target of 4 million tons may be met.
Aggregate direct food consumption of cereals and other foodstuffs is limited by low purchasing power. In rural areas grain supplies remain very tight as the cereal delivery quotas have to be met irrespective of whether the production target is achieved. Incomes are also low as only farms that have fulfilled their quotas are allowed to sell any remaining surplus in the open market, where prices are higher than in the state channel and paid in cash. In 1997 40 percent of cotton and 50 percent of grain is subject to compulsory procurement at fixed, low prices. Grain production in excess of the procurement target is purchased at a higher (50-60 percent) contracted price.
In 1997/98, domestic utilization of cereals is estimated at 4.7 million tons, including 3.5 million tons for human consumption, and 0.7 million tons for other uses. Despite the shortage of both concentrated feed and area on which to plant fodder, feed use of grains is estimated to have fallen from 2 million tons in 1992/93 to 0.5 million tons in 1997/98. Given the 1997 grain harvest of 3.75 million tons (rice in milled equivalent) and no change in stocks (which were replenished by 1 million tons between 1 January 1996 and 1 January 1997) cereal imports in 1997/98 are estimated at 0.96 million tons, mainly wheat for human consumption. Some 0.5 million tons are expected to be sourced in Kazakstan and the Russian Federation (to complete a 1996/97 barter contract for cotton), and the balance to come from outside the CIS.
For 1997/98, it is planned to sow 1.65 million hectares to grains, of which 1.4 million to wheat and barley and the balance to rice and maize. The irrigated area sown to wheat and barley is to remain stable at 1 million hectares but the rainfed area is to be reduced further to 310 000 hectares. Aggregate output is targeted to reach 5.1 million tons including 4.2 million tons of wheat and barley. Achievement of this target will depend crucially on more timely and balanced supplies of fertilizers and an upgrading of the irrigation system and the machinery park.
EC (1 December)
Harvesting of the bulk of the 1997 cereal crops is completed. Aggregate cereal output in the Community is now estimated by FAO at 207 million tons, close to the record crop last year. Harvest delays, caused by rain, affected wheat yields in several countries, and aggregate wheat output is estimated at 95.4 million tons, almost 5 million tons down from last year despite an increase in planted area. However, partially offsetting this decline, the coarse grain crop is now estimated at some 109 million tons, slightly up from previous expectations and about 4 percent above last year. With regard to the winter grain crops which have recently been planted, for harvest in 1998, widespread rainfall in November was generally beneficial for germination and plant establishment. Early indications point to a larger winter wheat area, but at the expense of winter barley in some cases. The land set-aside rate for 1997/98 remains at 5 percent.
ALBANIA (19 November)
Latest information confirms earlier indications of an improvement in cereal production in 1997 although output has remained well below potential. Output of wheat is estimated at about 350 000 tons, compared to just 316 000 tons in 1996. Of this amount however, only a small portion is expected to enter the domestic market with the bulk remaining in the hands of the producers for their own consumption, as animal feed, or for seed for the next crop. As a result, the country will continue to rely heavily on wheat imports in the 1997/98 marketing year to meet demand for bread production, especially in urban areas and for upland rural populations. As of mid November, it is reported that the market continues to be well supplied with flour, mostly from imports. There have been some wheat imports, but in small quantities, which has resulted in high landed costs of wheat, putting the cost of any eventual product beyond the reach of the majority of consumers.
As regards the planting of winter grains for the 1998 harvest, rains over the past weeks have ensured adequate soil moisture for fieldwork and germination and early indications point to a further recovery in wheat plantings. However, improving output will rely largely on farmers’ access to high quality seeds.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA* (18 November)
The 1997 wheat crop was less than anticipated earlier due to a 15 percent reduction in the areas sown to wheat. By contrast, both the area sown and average yields of maize and potatoes increased sharply. Although agricultural production is recovering steadily, and the total cropped area has increased, the aggregate area sown to the 1996/97 wheat crop fell sharply in both BiH Federation and the Republika Sprska. This is mainly due to ample availability of imported wheat and flour in the market and the poor profitability of wheat vis-à-vis other crops, notably maize and potatoes, which are also easier to grow by smallholders experiencing shortages of machinery and working capital. In BiH Federation the area sown to this crop is estimated to have fallen by up to 15 percent to 29 000 hectares. Given an average yield of 2.6 tons per hectare output is estimated by FAO at 75 000 tons. In the Republika Sprska, FAO now estimates the 1997 wheat harvest at 210 000 tons, from an area of 60 000 hectares. Localized surpluses of potatoes have emerged.
Wheat remains an important staple but in view of the gradual but steady improvement in the agricultural situation and in particular the increase in the output of potatoes, the dependence on this commodity is diminishing gradually. In 1997/98 the aggregate cereal import requirement is now tentatively estimated at around 275 000 tons, mostly for the BiH Federation. In the Republika Srpska, the lower wheat harvest is reported to be adequate to cover human consumption needs
The World Food Programme is expected to provide about 68 100 tons of food aid in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Most of this food will be used in a general distribution programme providing monthly rations to some 600 000 vulnerable families. The selection of beneficiaries is purely based on household needs and covers the BiH Federation as well as Republika Srpska. An additional 6 700 tons of food will be utilized for a variety of small-scale income generating rehabilitation activities in an effort to help people in the transition from dependence back to self- sufficiency.
BULGARIA (17 November)
Latest information confirms a sharply improved cereal crop in 1997. Aggregate cereal output is now estimated at some 6.2 million tons compared to about 3.4 million tons in 1996 as a result of increased plantings and higher yields after last year’s drought-reduced crops. Wheat output is estimated at 3.8 million tons, about average compared to the early nineties, and well above last year’s reduced crop of just 1.8 million tons. However, as a result of some periods of heavy rainfall during the harvest, there is reported to be a higher-than-normal proportion of low (feed) quality wheat. There is concern that the wheat which is still being held privately by farmers will deteriorate further in the coming weeks due to inadequate storage and drying facilities. The maize harvest is reported to be progressing very slowly, mainly reflecting late maturation of the crop but also due to limited serviceable harvesting machinery and farmers’ lack of storage space due to the large quantities of wheat still being held. Maize output is forecast at about 1.5 million tons, but yields are likely to deteriorate the longer crops are left unharvested.
Autumn sowing of winter grains for harvest in 1998 has been significantly hampered by adverse weather in some parts in October but also by farmers’ lack of funds for inputs and lack of machinery. By 20 October (the end of the optimum planting time) the area planted to wheat was well below that at the same time a year ago. Despite an increase in the pace of planting in early November, by mid-November the area sown to wheat and barley, some 900 000 hectares and 230 000 hectares respectively, was still below the area the Government considers desirable to secure the countries requirements in the coming year (1.2 million hectares for wheat and 300 000 hectares for barley).
CROATIA (24 November)
The 1997 cereal harvest is estimated at 3 million tons, some 12 percent above 1996. This is attributed to an 8 percent increase in the areas sown and better yields. Wheat production rose to 936 000 tons, which is higher than demand. Production of coarse grains is estimated at 2.2 million tons, some 7 percent above last year.
For the 1998 harvest, the area sown to grains is expected to increase sharply as Eastern Slavonia is reintegrated. It is planned to sow some 344 000 hectares to winter grains (1997 :263 000) including 280 000 hectares to wheat ( 206 000 in 1997). Weather conditions have been mostly favourable to date but heavy rains and gale force winds have caused floods and damage to infrastructure in parts of southern Dalmatia.
CZECH REPUBLIC (17 November)
The latest estimate of 1997 aggregate cereal harvest is 7 million tons, which is about 10 percent up from 1996 and above average for the past 4 years. Most of the increase is attributed to a larger barley crop. With regard to autumn sowing of winter grains for harvest in 1998, which was virtually complete by mid- November, early official reports indicate that the area will remain similar to last year.
ESTONIA (20 November)
Latest reports indicate that the 1997 grain harvest could approach 700 000 tons, some 9 percent more than last year’s output now officially put at 642 000 tons. Growing conditions were good overall for both winter and spring crops and the area sown increased marginally. In 1997/98 cereal imports are estimated at 170 000 tons, including 45 000 tons of food quality wheat and rye.
The planting of winter grains, for harvest in 1997 has been completed under satisfactory conditions.
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (19 November)
Output of the 1997 cereal harvest is estimated at 600 000 tons, about 15 percent up from 1996. Output of wheat is estimated at 320 000 tons, that of barley at 125 000 tons and maize at 130 000 tons.
HUNGARY (17 November)
Latest official estimates put the 1997 cereal harvest at about 14 million tons, some 20 percent up from the 1996 reduced level. Output of wheat is officially estimated at 5.3 million tons, compared to 3.9 million tons in 1996, but the quality of the crop is generally poorer than normal due to heavy rainfall in the early summer, and a surplus of feed wheat is expected. With regard to maize, a bumper crop of some 6.5 million tons is estimated, adding to this year’s large surplus of feed grains.
Early prospects for winter grain crops for harvest in 1998 are unfavourable, due to persisting dry weather since August. In many areas where wheat has been planted germination has been delayed, leaving seeds subject to rodent damage, while in other areas the excessively dry soil prevented planting completely. As a result, the winter wheat area is likely to fall significantly from the previous year’s above-average level.
LATVIA (24 November)
The 1997 output of cereals and pulses is estimated at 1.05 million tons, 8 percent more than last year in response to better weather and an increase of 9 percent in the area sown to 492 000 hectares. Nevertheless, output is not adequate to cover the domestic requirements for foodgrains and imports of some 25 000 tons of wheat and rye are officially reported to be necessary. In addition some 75 000 tons of feedgrains are likely to be imported.
Winter grains for harvest in 1998 have benefited from favourable conditions.
LITHUANIA (24 November)
The 1997 grain harvest reached a post-independence record of 3.05 million tons, nearly 0.3 million tons ( or 11 percent ) more than last year. The area sown to grains increased by 8 percent to 1.2 million hectares and growing conditions were good this year. Following two good harvests in succession, the country has ample stocks and an exportable surplus of grain, which, however, is proving difficult to market. Purchases by the government, at determined prices, have been scaled back by 136 000 tons to 304 000 tons. All restrictions on exports have been lifted.
POLAND (19 November)
Latest official estimates put 1997 cereal production at 25 million tons, virtually unchanged from last year, despite heavy rains and flooding in July which led to significant crop losses in some parts. Off the total, wheat is estimated to account for 8.3 million tons, somewhat down from last year’s 8.5 million tons. However, this reduction was offset by increased output of barley.
Latest reports indicate that sowing of winter grains for harvest in 1998 proceeded smoothly this autumn. By the end of September, 4.2 million hectares or some 85 percent of the planned area had been sown and following continued favourable weather conditions in October, it is likely that all intended plantings have been completed on an area similar to the previous year’s.
ROMANIA (19 November)
The 1997 cereal output is estimated at about 19.5 million tons, above-average and some 5 million tons up from last year’s drought-reduced level. Of the total, wheat is estimated to account for 7 million tons, but as in other countries throughout the region, the quality of this year’s crop has been affected by excess moisture during the harvest. Yields in some parts were lower than earlier potential indicated and larger than normal storage losses could be expected due to the high humidity of grain is store.
Planting of winter grains for harvest in 1998 has been severely hampered by adverse weather. The start of the autumn planting season was delayed by about one month due to excessive rainfall and the arrival of snows and freezing temperatures in late October brought sowing abruptly to a halt in most regions. By this time only 1.5 million hectares had been sown compared to the planned area of about 2.2 million hectares. It is reported that an acute shortage of funds and equipment added to the problem. If weather conditions improve in the remainder of November planting may continue but the final winter grain area is likely to fall well short of last year’s.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC (17 November)
The 1997 cereal output is estimated to be about 3.8 million tons, 500 000 tons up from 1996 and the largest crop of the last 5 years, despite damage to some crops due to heavy rains and flooding during the summer. Wheat output is estimated at nearly 2 million tons, and the proportion of high (bread) quality wheat is expected to be sufficient for domestic consumption in 1997/98 despite a generally poorer quality crop this year.
SLOVENIA (17 November)
Cereal output in 1997 has increased by some 10 percent to about 600 000 tons. Early good winter crop potential was cut by spring drought and hail just before harvest in the major producing area, but nevertheless, average wheat and barley yields were about 10 percent up from the poor 1996 levels. Weather conditions in 1997 were particularly good for the summer maize crop; yields are estimated to be some 20 percent up from last year and total output is expected to reach about 400 000 tons.
YUGOSLAVIA, FED. REP. OF (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO)* (24 November)
The 1997 wheat harvest almost doubled to 2.9 million tons in response to a sharp increase in the area sown and better yields. This is enough to meet domestic demand and leave an exportable surplus of up to 400 000 tons. Latest indications are that the 1997 maize harvest could be in excess of 6.7 million tons, also sharply higher than last year.
The early outlook for the 1998 harvest is not good. The target area for wheat, for harvest in the spring of 1998, is 850 00 hectares. Planting progress has been slowed by cold weather and a shortage of working capital and machinery. Only 700 000 hectares had been sown by mid-November, already some 3 weeks beyond the optimum planting time. In addition, there have been problems with the availability of fertilizer.
The main wheat harvest is virtually completed and although drought conditions earlier this summer lowered some yields, crop quality is reported to be good. The exception is northern Alberta where excess rain has delayed harvest and grain quality has been affected. The latest official estimate puts the 1997 wheat crop at some 23.5 million tons, 21 percent down from last year. However, this reflects an 8 percent reduction in area, due to a shift from wheat to oilseed production, as well as the lower yields. Coarse grains production is expected to decrease in 1997 after reduced plantings and drought conditions earlier in the summer which reduced yields. Aggregate coarse grains output is officially estimated at 25 million tons, about 12 percent down from the previous year, but still above the average of the past 7 years.
UNITED STATES (1 December)
The November USDA crop report estimates the 1997 aggregate (winter and spring) wheat output at 68.8 million tons, some 10 percent above the harvest in 1996. Most of the increase is due to a sharp recovery in winter wheat output after last year's poor crop, while the spring wheat harvest output remained virtually unchanged from the previous year. Planting of winter wheat for the 1998 harvest is virtually complete, and early estimates point to an increased area compared to the previous year and the crop is reported to be in generally good condition. Harvesting of the 1997 coarse grains crop is virtually completed, and latest estimates confirm another good crop close to last year’s output. In the USDA's November crop report aggregate coarse grain production was raised slightly to 265.6 million tons, compared to 267.8 million tons in 1996. Maize Output is estimated at 237.7 million tons, virtually unchanged from 1996.
The outlook for the 1997 wheat and coarse grain crops remains generally favourable following timely and abundant rainfall throughout the country’s major producing areas in the past weeks. Average yields are now expected to be somewhat better than earlier anticipated, particularly in southern New South Wales where exceptionally dry conditions were experienced earlier in the season, attributed to El Niño. However, yields will nevertheless be down from last year’s bumper levels, and the overall area seeded to winter grains is estimated to have decreased by about 4 percent. The 1997 wheat crop is officially forecast at 17.6 million tons compared to last year’s record output of 23.7 million tons. Aggregate coarse grain output in 1997 (including the minor summer crop of mostly sorghum and maize harvested earlier in the year) is now forecast at some 8.7 million tons, compared to about 10.5 million tons in 1996. The recent rainfall has also improved prospects greatly for the summer coarse grain crop soon to be planted for harvest in 1998. COOK ISLANDS (28 November)
Cook Islands was hit by Tropical Cyclone Martin on 1 November 1997. Reports indicate that food crops have been destroyed in the three islands of the Northern Cooks (Pukpuka, Manihiki et Rakahanga), Manihiki being the worst affected. The degradation of the lagoon in Manihiki not only threatens fishing but also black pearl cultivation, the main income generating activity and a major export of the Islands. Government Departments are currently assessing rehabilitation needs by sector, and a consolidated project proposal with costs and priorities will then be submitted to the international community, for consideration by potential donors. The Government has initiated a Hurricane Safety Centre to monitor the cyclone’s movements and requested United Nations assistance to field a Disaster Assessment and co-ordination team to the country.
The United Nations DHA has fielded a two-person UNDAC team to arrive on 4 November. In a response to a request from the Crook Islands Government, 9 tons of locally-sourced relief goods (food, water, medical supplies and clothing) was dispatched to Maniiki on 4 November. PAPUA NEW GUINEA (28 November)
The prolonged drought which also resulted in severe frosts has seriously affected many parts of the country, particularly the Western and Southern Highlands where vegetation has dried up. The lack of moisture has made the soil extremely hard for people to plant, even crops such as sweet potatoes. Widespread bush fires resulting from the drought have destroyed crops, grassland and forests. Staple food crops have been wiped out in many areas. Substantial damage to cash crop production, such as coffee and tea has also been reported. Vegetables have been destroyed and people are reported to be starving. The food situation is precarious in the affected areas of the Highlands and other islands. Most of garden food have been wiped out and the remaining forest food is already much reduced by extensive burning of the bush. Reports indicate that more than 500 000 people are seriously affected by the drought and about 90 000 people live in the most severely affected areas with no food, water or income.
An AusAid sponsored Drought Assessment Team, together with representatives from the Government and the IFRC, as well as the PNG Red Cross Society and NGO representatives, have made an assessment and visited more than 500 villages across PNG. Needs for the affected areas include seeds and irrigation-related equipment. The government has made an Appeal for international assistance. A national consultant has recently been recruited by FAO to assess the most urgent needs in the agriculture and livestock sectors. SOLOMON ISLANDS (28 November)
Rainfall has been below average since June. As a result, most areas of the Islands are experiencing serious drought. Unofficial reports from rural areas, especially in Western, Choiseul, Central and Isabel provinces indicate that crops have seriously been affected. The effects on crops have become apparent with crops showing signs of wilting and stunt as a result of insufficient water. Soil has become very dry and has started to crack in some places.
Bellona Island (Rendel province) is reported to be suffering from food and water shortage. According to an assessment team which recently visited Belona, food is expected to run out within 4 weeks. A National Disaster Council (NDC) is monitoring the situation through Provincial Disaster Committees, Provincial Governments and line ministries.