The heavy rains that persisted until early January adversely affected the 1997/98 secondary "Deyr" crops, normally accounting for some 20 percent of the annual cereal production, which had been planted just before the floods occurred. Worst affected areas are the main southern agricultural parts, along the Juba and Shebelle rivers, particularly Baidoa, Q/dhere, Dinsor, Bardere, Jilib, Jamame, Sablale, K/Warey, Brava, Kismayo, Xagar and Afmadow where crop losses are estimated to be around 80 percent. With the recession of the water levels, extensive replanting has taken place from December but the outcome is uncertain. For the country as a whole, preliminary estimates indicate a decline in production of one-third of the expected normal level. This is the fourth year of below-average harvest. A more detailed assessment of the "Deyr" output is currently being undertaken. The floods also resulted in losses of household cereal stocks from the 1997 main "Gu" season. Production of that season was also poor due to dry spells. The 1997/98 aggregate cereal production is provisionally estimated at 290 000 tons, close to the previous year’s below-average level. Import requirements for the 1997/98 marketing year (August/July) have been revised upward to 310 000 tons, of which about 110 000 tons will need to be covered by food aid.
While the floods alone resulted in losses of livestock estimated at
35 500 animals, an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever combined with other animal
deseases, occuring since December 1997 in north-eastern Kenya and southern
areas of Somalia is reportedly causing losses of large numbers of animals,
mainly camels and goats.
The rains also adversely affected the 1997/98 maize crop, the main staple of the country. Torrential rains in October/November, at the time of the harvest of the main season crop, which accounts for some 80 percent of the annual output, reduced yields of maize already affected by a dry spell at the critical grain-filling stage. Yields of wheat were also affected by heavy rains at harvest. However, the worst effect of the floods was on the second season crops, grown in the bi-modal rainfall areas of Western, Central and Eastern provinces from mid-October to February. The maize output of this season is estimated to have declined by one-third from normal levels, while the bean crop was sharply reduced due to both adverse weather and lack of seed. In aggregate, the 1997/98 maize production is estimated at 2.3 million tons, slightly above the reduced level of 1996/97 but below the average of the past five years. The food supply situation is anticipated to be tight in the months ahead. Maize import requirements, expected to be covered mostly commercially, are estimated at 800 000 tons. This is, however, lower than in the previous year when maize imports reached 1 million tons. Total cereal imports, including wheat and rice in which the country has a structural deficit, in 1997/98 (October/September) are provisionally forecast at 1.2 million tons.
While the abundant rains of the past months improved pastures for livestock,
an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in October, as a result of the flooding
that has caused an explosion in the mosquito population that carries the
culprit virus, has resulted in the deaths of many people. These conditins
have also favoured the appearance of a complex of animal diseases causing
the loss of thousands of cattle, sheep, goats and camels.
The heavy rains resulted also in localized crop losses and damage of the 1997/98 "Vuli" crop, grown from October to February. The worst affected areas are the low-lying parts of Mara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Tanga and Shinyanga regions, as well as southern parts of Mwanza where heavy clay soils predominate. However, as crop cultivation is also practised in highland areas production here will be favourable due to higher rainfall. Overall, losses in low lying areas will tend to be compensated by gains in highland areas. The Vuli crop, which is the least important of the country’s three annual crops, is expected to be good and production is anticipated to recover from a succession of drought-affected harvests .
Following a destructive drought in 1996/97, and in addition to crop losses, a large number of livestock were lost in pastoral areas. The heavy rains in the last few months have had a very beneficial effect on pastures, which will result in recovery in the livestock sector. From a household food security point of view, such recovery has important implications for some sections of the population, such as the Masai, who rely heavily on livestock.
In central and southern parts, where cereal crops of the 1998 main season
are at developing stage, crop losses to floods in low-lying areas of Iringa
and Mbeya regions may be significant. However, the abundant precipitation
of the past months has been generally beneficial and, providing favourable
weather prevails in the remainder of the growing season, production may
recover from the poor level of 1997. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment
Mission has just returned from the country and is finalizing its report.
Prices of maize and beans, which by December 1997 had doubled in a year,
are anticipated to decline with the arrival of the new crop in the markets;
the previously tight food supply, following two consecutive reduced harvests,
is expected to ease. Nevertheless, the food situation will remain difficult
for the large number of displaced people in northern parts, affected by
persistent civil conflict.
The heavy rains, which followed erratic precipitation earlier in the
season, coupled with a lower use of fertilisers, resulted in a one-quarter
decline in the 1997 grain production from the record level of the previous
year. Following two years of self-sufficiency, the grain import requirement
in 1998 is estimated at 530 000 tons, to be covered mainly by food aid,
for over 5 million vulnerable people, including those affected by a reduced
Cereal prices, which normally decline at harvest time, registered a sharp increase in November reflecting the anticipated poor output. With a below-average cereal harvest for the third consecutive year and a sharp reduction in grain export availability from neighbouring Ethiopia, the food situation will be tight in the year ahead.
Elsewhere in the sub-region, crop yields were adversely affected by a one month delay in the onset of the rains in Rwanda and Burundi, followed by heavy rains since mid-October that resulted in floods and localized crop losses in low-lying areas. However, because of significant increases in plantings, food production in these two countries is estimated to have increased from the reduced levels of the previous year. Nevertheless, civil strife in these countries continues to constrain food production. In the Sudan, the 1997 coarse grains production was negatively affected by below average precipitation in parts, mainly in the South where the harvest was sharply reduced, but also in areas of the Western regions of North Darfur and North Kordofan. The output is estimated 15 percent down on the bumper harvest of the previous year but still above average. While overall, food supplies are expected to be adequate due to high levels of carryover stocks, relief food aid is needed for 2.4 million displaced and drought-affected people.
FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System is continuously monitoring
the effects on crops of weather anomalies attributed to El Niño
and their impact on food supply situation in various parts of the world
and will issue periodic updates as necessary.
|This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO Secretariat with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, ESCG, FAO, (Telex 610181 FAO I; Fax: 0039-6-5705-4495, E-Mail (INTERNET): GIEWS1@FAO.ORG) for further information if required.|
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