FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.2, August 1998 -

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Area: 627 000 sq.km
Climate: Semi-arid in the south; rest arid
Population: 5.9 million (1998 estimate); G.N.P. per caput; n.a.
Specific characteristics of the country: Low-income food-deficit country
Logistics: Inadequate port facilities; serious shortage of fuel and spare parts
Major foodcrops: Maize, sorghum, sesame
Marketing year: August/July; Lean season: June-August
Share of cereals in total calorie intake: 45 percent


Prospects for the 1998 main Gu cereal crops, now being harvested, are poor. The area planted to maize and sorghum is estimated to be one-third below the already reduced level of last year. This reflects insufficient rains since the beginning of the season, combined with a number of negative factors associated with last year’s floods. These factors varied from region to region but in general include and overlap with the off-season crop harvesting and the planting of the Gu season crops; excessive weeds, rodent and pest infestations at planting; destruction of canals and river embankments, loss of pumps, lack of quality seeds; lack of cash for hiring tractors due to loss of employment opportunities and household labour constraints. Insecurity in parts of the country also contributed to the reduction in the area planted. Yields are expected to be reduced following a prolonged dry spell from the second dekad of May to the first dekad of July, only temporarily interrupted by heavy rains and floods on 24 and 25 June in some areas, as well as because most of the sorghum consists of lower yielding "ratoons" from crops of the previous season.

Preliminary forecasts point to a cereal output half the previous year’s "Gu" production and just one-third of the pre-war average. Most affected regions are Lower and Middle Shebelle, Lower Juba, Hiraan and the Northwest, where plantings are extremely reduced.

While livestock is reported in general good conditions because of abundant pastures, the current ban on livestock and meat imports from Somalia by Saudi Arabia, one of the main markets for Somali’s exports, is severely affecting incomes of large numbers of pastoralist population. As livestock is the main source of foreign exchange, lower exports are resulting in the depreciation of the national currency and higher prices of imported cereals. Prices of sorghum and maize have also increased sharply in the past month in anticipation of a poor Gu harvest.

The reduced 1998 "Gu" production will be the fifth successive poor harvest. This, coupled with the disruption of all economic activities due to the prolonged civil conflict, is likely to aggravate the already precarious food situation of the majority of the population. Increased food assistance will be required until the next harvest in December to avoid a food crisis.


Wheat Rice Coarse grains Total
Normal Production - 13 550 563
Normal Imports 70 60 10 140
of which: Structural food aid 40 20 10 70
1998/99 Domestic Availability - 1 231 232
1998 Production (rice in paddy terms) - 2 229 231
1998 Production (rice in milled terms) - 1 229 230
Possible stock drawdown - - 2 2
1998/99 Utilization 130 91 351 572
Food Use 130 91 326 547
of which: local purchase requirement - - - -
Non-food use - - 25 25
Exports or Re-exports - - - -
Possible stock build up - - - -
1998/99 Import Requirement 130 90 120 340
Anticipated commercial imports 70 75 70 215
Food aid needs 60 15 50 125
Current Aid Position

Food aid pledges - - - -
of which: Delivered - - - -
Estimated Per Caput Consumption (kg/year) 21 15 53 89

1998 production as % of normal:

1998/99 import requirement as % of normal:

1998/99 food aid requirement as % of normal:


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