CONGO, REP OF (9 February)

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment team, which visited the country as part of an inter-agency mission from 18 to 30 January 1998, found that livestock production has suffered to a greater extent from the consequences of the civil strife than crop production, as cassava, the main staple, is an enduring crop. On the other hand, urban dwellers of Brazzaville who have lost their jobs in the private sector following the destruction of the business centre will experience great difficulty accessing adequate food. Food prices are high because of transport and marketing constraints.

On the basis of an estimated total population of 3.124 million at mid-1998 and after allowing for waste and other food uses, total food production in cereal- equivalent terms will fall short of utilisation requirements in 1998 by an estimated 118 000 tons. Normally, such a deficit would be covered commercially as the country has the requisite import capacity. However, due to the disruption of trading activities particularly in Brazzaville, it is assumed that for 1998, commercial food imports will reach only 80 percent of the 1995/96 level which amounts to 72 000 tons. This leaves an import gap of 46 000 tonnes. This is expected to be filled by a variety of coping mechanisms (increased fishing and hunting, short-cycle crops, etc.) and food aid targeted at vulnerable groups such as IDPs, refugees, victims of floods, unaccompanied children and others.