Global Information and Early Warning System on food and agriculture
FAO Rome, December 1998



NB: This document is also available in French.

For further information, please contact Abdur Rashid, Chief, Global Information and Early Warning Service (ESCG), FAO, Rome: Telephone: (39-06) 5705-3099, Facsimile: (39-06) 5705-4495, E-mail INTERNET: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG




This report presents a preliminary assessment of the 1998 cereal harvests in the nine CILSS countries [/ CILSS: ComitÚ permanent inter-Etats de lutte contre la sÚcheresse dans le Sahel. (Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel). The nine Member States are: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.] . It is based on information available to the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) as of early November 1998 and on production estimates provided by the national services and reviewed by Crop Assessment Missions during the second half of October or the first week of November in eight of the nine countries. A Mission to Guinea-Bissau was not possible this year due to the on-going civil conflict. These Missions comprised experts from GIEWS, the CILSS Diagnostic Permanent Project (DIAPER) and the Agrhymet Centre in Niamey. As last year, sahelian experts were recruited under FAO’s Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) Programme to participate in the assessments. FEWS (Famine Early Warning System) Programme of USAID and World Food Programme (WFP) also participated as observers in some countries. These Missions worked closely with the national agricultural statistics services responsible for collecting and arranging cereal production data, meteorological information, crop protection, hydrology and, where they exist, with national early warning (SAP) and food security monitoring systems and/or market information systems (SIM). The Missions also met representatives of the main donors. FAO and CILSS worked closely together, at both field and headquarters level, and the figures in the report are those generally agreed by both secretariats.

These figures were discussed on 9-13 November 1998 in Niamey at a meeting organised by CILSS/DIAPER with representatives of the CILSS countries. They will also be presented and discussed during the annual meeting of the "Network for Prevention of Food Crises in the Sahel" organised by the Club du Sahel and CILSS on 3 and 4 December in Dakar.

At the time of the Assessment Missions, harvesting of rainfed crops was underway or nearing completion in most of the countries. Early millet and maize had generally been harvested, but long-cycle varieties and late-planted crops were not yet harvested everywhere, while irrigated crops were at a less advanced stage. Rice was still being transplanted in swamp and low-lying areas of southern Senegal and possibly in Guinea-Bissau. Planting of flood recession crops was underway in the Senegal River valley and in Chad. The forecasts made in this report are therefore preliminary and subject to revision.




Reflecting generally favourable growing conditions, particularly in August and September, a bumper crop is anticipated in the Sahel with record harvests in the main producing countries of the region. Rains started generally on time, except in Senegal where they were late in the centre and north. Only limited replantings were necessary in localized areas as no prolonged dry spells were registered, except in Cape Verde in October. Precipitation remained widespread, regular and abundant during the entire months of August and September over most producing areas, causing substantial flooding in south-eastern Senegal, western, central and eastern Niger and southern Chad. The pest situation remained mostly calm. The abundant rains permitted satisfactory regeneration of pastures and replenishment of water reserves.

The 1998 aggregate cereal production of the nine CILSS countries has been estimated by the FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions at a record 10.6 million tonnes, which is 31 percent higher than in 1997 and 17 percent above the average of the last five years. Record crops are anticipated in Chad, Mali and Niger. Above-average output is anticipated in The Gambia, while output is close to average in Burkina Faso and Senegal but below average in Cape Verde and Mauritania. Cereal production in Guinea-Bissau is anticipated to be well below average due to civil disturbances which hampered agricultural activities. Output has clearly increased relative to 1997 in all the major producing countries of the Sahel. It is below the 1997 output in Guinea-Bissau and in Cape Verde where a very poor harvest is again expected.

In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, harvest prospects are generally good in Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria and Togo but less favourable in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Liberia and Sierra Leone remain heavily dependent on international food assistance despite some improvement in food production.




(i) Factors Affecting 1998 Production

(a) Rainfall

The 1998 rainy season had an early onset in Burkina Faso where rains started during the month of April. During the same month, light rains were recorded in the southern parts of Niger, Chad and Mali. In May, the first significant rains were received in southern areas of Chad and Mali. Rainy conditions continued in Burkina Faso while dry weather prevailed in the rest of the region. A similar situation was observed in June when the rains reached Guinea-Bissau and southern Senegal.

In July, widespread and abundant rains were recorded in most producing areas of the Sahel. By contrast, low rainfall was received in Mauritania and in the northwest of Senegal. Rainfall was regular and widespread during the month of August over most of the agricultural areas of all Sahelian countries, including southern Mauritania and northern Senegal. Abundant rains were recorded in September over most of the Sahel, benefiting late-planted crops. The rains receded southwards in October and stopped early in the month in Mauritania and northern Senegal. No rains were received in October in Cape Verde.

The map below shows the cumulative rainfall from May through October as a percentage of the long-term average. Above to much-above average rainfall is indicated over most of the crop producing areas of Niger, Burkina Faso, northern Chad and southern Mauritania. Average rainfall was recorded in southern parts of Chad and Burkina Faso, in northern Senegal, in most of southern Mali and southern Mauritania. Rainfall between 70 and 90 percent of average is observed in southern and central Senegal and northern and western producing areas of Mali.

(b) Area Planted and Seed Availability

Preliminary indications are that the aggregate area planted to cereals increased significantly over the 1997 levels in most countries. Marginal areas were cropped as good rainfall permitted sowing on normally uncultivated land.

Overall, seed availability was adequate but supply difficulties were encountered in some areas of Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal, which had poor harvests in 1997. As rains remained generally regular after sowing, replanting was limited. However, in some localized areas irregularity or lack of post-sowing rainfall in June or July made some replanting necessary.

(c) Pest Situation

- Desert Locust

Although good rains fell in the traditional Desert Locust breeding areas in the Sahel, limited and isolated breeding occurred only in southern Mauritania. At the end of summer, there were unconfirmed reports of a slight increase in locust numbers in northern Mali where nomads saw a few small bands and swarms. Limited control operations were undertaken against these. As there were no reports of invasions from neighbouring countries, it is believed that these populations do not represent a major threat. Thus, no significant activity was reported during the summer.

- African Migratory Locusts

During the secong half of 1997, African Migratory Locust infestations were reported in Chad, in the region of the Logone and Chari rivers along the border with Cameroon, as well as in Guélendeng region, where they caused some damage to rainfed or recession crops. In 1998, no significant infestations were reported although there were indications of some remaining isolated hoppers in southern Chad.

- Grasshoppers

Several countries experienced localised grasshopper infestations notably in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde (on Santiago, Santo Antao, Brava and Fogo islands), The Gambia (in Central River and Upper River divisions), Chad, Mauritania (in Assava, Gorgol, Guidemaka and Trarza), Niger and Senegal. Substantial treatments were undertaken in Niger and Senegal. Elsewhere, due to good natural vegetation, the grasshoppers did not concentrate too much on crops.

- Other Pests

Various insect attacks were reported, particularly of cantharides and army worm in eastern Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Mauritnaia and Niger. Grain-eating birds were also reported in the rice-growing areas of Mali (office du Niger, Offices riz of Mopti and Ségou), and in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Senegal.


(ii) Weather Performance and Monitoring of Crop Development in 1998

In addition to its conventional information sources, GIEWS uses rainfall data received from meteorological stations as well as information derived from two types of satellites for its crop monitoring and agricultural production forecasting activities in the region.

Through the ARTEMIS System at its Environment and Natural Resources Service, FAO produces satellite imagery for the whole of Africa indicating 10-day and monthly Cold Cloud Duration (CCD), Estimated Rainfall and Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). The CCD information, which indicates hours of coverage of rain-bearing clouds, is produced from data received in real-time from the European METEOSAT satellite. On the basis of this information, 10-day and monthly charts are prepared on Estimated Rainfall. The NDVI imagery, which gives an indication of the photosynthetically active biomass, is produced from information received from the American NOAA satellites.

GIEWS has access to the ARTEMIS system’s historic archive that includes the NDVIs dating back to 1981. Those indices based on METEOSAT information date from August 1988. With the historic archive, the present situation can be compared with previous years, and a spatially more complete and quicker analysis can be made than from information derived only from ground-based observations.

Figure 1 gives the occurrence of rain-bearing clouds (Cold Cloud Duration, CCD) for the months of April to October 1998. It shows that CCD - and thus the received rainfall - was highest during July and August. The July images illustrate the slight delay in the northward advance of the rainfall over the south of Senegal, while over Chad the rainfall during this month, and also the following months, was much higher than normal. The August and the September images illustrate the farthest extent of the rainfall during the 1998 season, resulting, in general, in above normal conditions, and in particular in the central and eastern part of CILSS.

You can also watch the film of Cold Cloud Duration over Western Africa in 1998

Figure 2 gives an assessment of the 1998 cropping season, based on a classification of the evolution of the NDVI during the season compared to the 1982-97 average. The CILSS area has been divided into six classes. Each class, identified by a colour, indicates one type of behaviour during the 1998 season as compared to the average. Areas are indicated in grey (class 1) where the 1998 season did not differ much from the average. Areas are indicated in green (classes 2 and 3) where the NDVI were generally well above average, indicating a very good growing season. In the yellow areas (class 4), a slight reduction, or delay in the timing of the season, was observed early in the season, but getting higher than normal later in the season, indicating generally favourable conditions. Classes 5 (red) and 6 (blue) indicate areas with a partial below normal behaviour. The areas of Class 5 are clearly below normal during mid-season and this can be the result of drier conditions during July in some areas or, the opposite, of flooding in some other areas. This lower mid-season perfomance is likely to have had a negative effect on some crops. The behaviour of class 6 is rather low, or late, early in the season, but recovering very well later during the season.

The graphics (click here) show the rainfall pattern of different zones of the Sahel for the 1998 season as compared to the average one calculated over the period 1989-95. The values for the 1998 season have been extracted from dekadal images of cold cloud duration images produced by the Agrometeorology Group of Environment and Natural Resources Service of FAO. The graphics depict the dekadal pattern and the cumulative one from 1 March to 10 November, respectively at left and at right of each page.


(iii) Preliminary Cereal Production Forecast for CILSS Countries for 1998

In the second half of October and in early November, joint FAO/CILSS crop assessment missions were mounted to review the 1998 cropping season and examine the preliminary cereal production estimates that had been made by the national agricultural statistics services. A mission to Guinea-Bissau was not possible this year due to on-going civil strife. These Missions comprised experts from GIEWS, the CILSS Diagnostic Permanent Project (DIAPER) and the Agrhymet Centre in Niamey. Sahelian experts recruited by FAO under the Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) Programme also took part. The FEWS (Famine Early Warning System) Programme of USAID and the World Food Programme (WFP) also participated in missions in some countries. These Missions worked closely with the national services responsible for: agricultural statistics, meteorological information, crop protection, hydrology and, where they exist, national early warning (SAP), food security monitoring, and/or market information (SIM) systems. The Missions also met representatives of the main donors. In some countries the Missions undertook field visits in various agricultural areas, including meetings with local authorities, regional statistics or agriculture services and farmers. FAO and CILSS worked closely together, at both field and headquarters level, and the figures in the report are those generally agreed by both organizations.

The 1998 aggregate cereal production of the nine CILSS countries has been estimated by the FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions at a record 10.6 million tonnes, which is 31 percent higher than in 1997 and 17 percent above the average of the last five years. Record crops are anticipated in Chad, Mali and Niger. Above-average output is anticipated in The Gambia, while output is close to the average in Burkina Faso and Senegal and below average in Cape Verde and Mauritania. The cereal production in Guinea-Bissau has been estimated at a well below average level of 120 000 tonnes. Output has clearly increased relative to 1997 in all the major producing countries of the Sahel. It is below the 1997 output in Cape Verde where a very poor harvest is again expected. Output also fell relative to 1997 in Guinea-Bissau due to civil disturbances. The production trend for each country since 1990 is given in the following table and the graphs (click here).

Table 1: CILSS Countries - Cereal Production 1990 to 1997 and Preliminary Forecast for 1998
(in thousand tonnes gross basis, with rice in paddy)

Country Cereal Production Preliminary

1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 for 1998 (%)
Burkina Faso
1 518 2 455 2 477 2 557 2 492 2 308 2 482 2 014 2 388 100.7
Cape Verde
11 8 10 12 3 8 1 5 3 57.9
601 812 977 617 1 175 908 878 986 1 277 140.0
The Gambia
90 111 128 102 91 103 112 114 121 115.8
Guinea-Bissau 1/
169 180 171 180 190 201 147 174 120 67.3
1 771 2 414 1 809 2 228 2 457 2 189 2 219 2 138 2 524 112.4
103 104 106 162 200 220 121 152 164 95.5
1 476 2 468 2 248 1 803 2 438 2 097 2 260 1 721 3 042 147.4
Senegal 2/
950 970 856 1 134 964 1 093 1 023 818 1 008 100.1
6 700 9 500 8 800 8 800 10 000 9 100 9 200 8 100 10 600 117.5

Note: Record harvests are underlined.
1/ A change in the methodology has been introduced in 1997.
2/ For 1993, the figure is based on estimates prepared by statistical services but not on a survey.
3/ Totals have been rounded.

These figures should be viewed as provisional as the surveys were generally carried out before the end of the harvest and include forecasts for recession and off-season crops, especially in Mauritania, where rainfed crops only represent about one-third of total production. These estimates may, therefore, have to be revised in the coming months, but there is unlikely to be a significant change in the overall trend an above average to record production in the CILSS region.

Cereal Production by country

The breakdown of 1998 cereal production by crop for each country is given in Table 2.

Table 2: CILSS Countries - Preliminary Forecast of 1998 Production by Cereal
(in thousand tonnes gross basis)

Country Millet Sorghum Maize Rice
Wheat Others
Burkina Faso 711.0 1 113.3 431.2 113.3 - 19.3 2 388.0
Cape Verde - - 3.4 - - - 3.0
Chad 365.6 513.9 172.7 100.2 1.2 123.7 1 277.0
Gambia 69.0 13.6 12.1 26.3 - - 121.0
Guinea-Bissau 15.0 15.0 8.0 80.0 - 2.0 120.0
Mali 3/ 746.0 674.0 387.0 688.0 9.0 20.0 2 524.0
Mauritania 3/ 2.8 69.3 10.5 80.9 - - 164.0
Niger 2 440.9 533.3 6.9 53.5 7.3 - 3 042.0
Senegal 3/ 557.1 184.5 83.3 180.5 - 2.1 1 008.0
TOTAL 2/ 4 907 3 117 1 115 1 323 17 167 10 646

1/ Including fonio, berbéré and recession crops in Chad.
2/ Totals have been rounded.
3/ Including recession and off-season crop estimates

Cereal Production by commodity

(iv) Country-by-Country Summaries

Burkina Faso:

Rainfall started early over the southern half of the country in April. Precipitation moved northwards in mid-May and became abundant countrywide during the first dekad of June. Rainfall decreased in mid and late June but became widespread and abundant during July. They remained abundant and regular in August, notably during the first two dekads, often exceeding 150 mm in the north and 200 mm elsewhere. Rains continued during the first two dekads of September and started to decreased during the last dekad. In October, precipitation was still registered over the south and the centre, notably during the second dekad.

Sowings started in May and progressed northwards in June. They slowed down in June following reducing rains but resumed in July. Regular and abundant rains in July, August and the first half of september permitted a favourable crop development. The cessation of the rains in October may affect yield potential for late planted crops in some areas, notably in Comoe, Houet, Nioumbel and Poni provinces.

The pest situation remained mostly calm. Grasshoppers have been reported in the north and the east. Caterpillars infestations in June and July have been limited by abundant subsequent rains. Treatments have been undertaken over 36 000 hectares. Reflecting abundant rains, pastures reconstituted satisfactorily and water reserves have been generally filled, significantly improving the hydrological situation which was quite unfavourable during 1998 lean season.

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission reviewed in mid-October with national services the evolution of 1998 growing season and harvest prospects. The aggregate 1998 cereal production is estimated at 2 387 800 tonnes which is well above last year’s output (+18.6 percent) but remains about average. Production of millet, sorghum and maize increased by 18 percent, while that of rice increased by 27 percent and that of fonio almost doubled.

Some base data on this country (in french)


Cape Verde:

Following the arrival of the rains in late July over the southern islands or in August on the others, precipitation became widespread in August. Rains decreased somewhat in early september but improved thereafter, notably on the southern islands. However, following this relatively favourable start of the season, the weather remained completely dry in October. Therefore, maize crops which were planted in July and August have been severely stressed or failed in the arid and sub-humid zones and yields are particularly low. Only Fogo island received sufficient rains to get adequate yields.

Grasshopper infestations have been reported on Santiago, Santo Antao, Fogo and Brava islands. Treatments have been undertaken. Reflecting limited precipitation, pastures are scarse, except on Fogo and Brava islands. Maize crops will provide harvest residuals but this will not be sufficient to cover feed needs for livestock.

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in early November in collaboration with national services estimated 1998 maize production at 3 400 tonnes, which is below last year’s already reduced harvest and below average. Following this poor crop, some rural populations will be highly vulnerable and may need food assistance. However, despite several successive poor harvests, the overall food supply situation remains satisfactory as the country imports the bulk of its consumption requirement. Substantial food aid contributions are already pledged for 1998/99 and several deliveries are planned in November and December.

  Some base data on this country (in french)


The 1998 rainfall season started in April in the Sudanian zone with sparse and erratic rains until the first dekad of July. From the second dekad of July until the end of September, abundant and well distributed precipitation was received in most parts of the country. Cumulative rainfall was generally above average and last year's level in many areas. In the Sudano-Sahelian zone, heavy rains caused flooding and delayed sowing and other agricultural activities in several areas, including Mayo-Kebbi, Tandjile, Mid-Chari and the two Logone. Some rice crops were flooded but abundant ground water supplies in low-lying areas permitted an increase in the areas planted to recession sorghum crop.

In general, sowing started late compared to 1997. Overall, the delayed start of the season and the poor rainfall distribution adversely affected crops and necessitated in replanting in some areas. However, abundant and well distributed rainfall from mid-July to the end of September were favourable to crops development in both the Sudanian and the Sahelian zones and yields are expected to be better than in the previous year.

The pest situation remained relatively stable during the season. Grasshoppers, beetles, stem borer and grain eating birds were reported in some regions, causing losses of millet, sorghum and maize. No significant African Migratory Locust infestations were reported although there were indications of some remaining isolated hoppers following infestations in late 1997 in Logone and Chari regions. Pasture is abundant and no major livestock disease has been reported so far.

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in mid-October estimated the total cereal production at a record of 1 277 000 tonnes, 30 percent above the 1997/98 output. It is also 9 percent over the 1994/95 previous record crop. Output of all cereals has increased from last year's level, with the exception of rice production as a result of a combination of various factors including the delayed start of the season, floods, insufficient seeds supply and food insecurity that hindered agricultural activities. In the Sahelian zone, production is expected to increase by about 70 percent compared to last year, as a result of favourable weather conditions. In the Sudanian zone, an overall reduction of 6 percent of cereal output is expected compared to 1997.

Some base data on this country (in french)

The Gambia:

The first significant rains fell relatively late during the second dekad of June in the centre and the east. Rains were modest in June with a dry spell for 8 to 10 days. The rainy season settled in the whole country from mid-July with regular and sufficient rains, and even downpours. In August, rains were regular in the centre and abundant in the coastal zones with cumulative rainfall exceeding 300 mm. These good rainfall conditions continued in September with rainfall exceeding 100 mm and 50 mm, respectively during the first and second dekad. During the first half of October, rains were sporadic and poorly distributed and ended early. Regular and abundant rains in August and September increased soil water reserves and permitted a good crop development.

The first dryland sowings (souna millet and maize) started from mid-June in the centre and east; and widespread sowing of rainfed coarse grains took place at the end of June in the east. In the west, in the North Bank Division (NBD), notably in the districts of Niumis and in the Lower River Division (LRD), particularly in the Kiang districts, cereals were sown in dryland, due to insufficient rains. There was therefore extensive resowing that took place until mid-July causing low crop density, many abandoned fields and shorten the crop development cycle, in particular of the early millet in the west of NBD and two Kiangs in LRD. In the west, the sowing of the late millet, sorghum and groundnut became widespread only from mid-July. Thus, these crops did not complete their development cycle before the end of the rains. The sowing of the upland rice occurred mainly in July. Nurseries for swamp and low-lying areas rice were planted in July-August and the transplanting took place in September. Generally, growing conditions were favourable to rice throughout the country. However, the late millet in the West Bank Division (WBD) still needed a minimum of water for grain formation and its yield decreased due to lack of rains during the first half of October.

Various attacks on cereals by army worms, grasshoppers, millipedes, and blister beetles were reported but their impact on crops was minor. An upsurge of striga has also been reported in most parts of the country, notably in the Central River Division (CRD) and on upland rice in the URD and NBD. The arrival of rains in June restored the grasslands and replenished the watering points. The abundance of grasslands and watering points from mid-August has increased milk production and improved animal health in general.

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission which visited the country from 12-16 October estimated the 1998 total cereal production at 120 980 tonnes. This is 6 percent higher than last year and 16 percent up from the average of the last five years. Compared to 1997, coarse grains increased by 6 percent to 92 727 tonnes, whilst the output of paddy (upland and swamp paddy) increased by about 11 percent.

Some base data on this country (in french)


Agriculture activities have been severely hampered this year by civil disturbances which erupted in early June in the capital Bissau and spread from the capital to others towns. The conflict occurred at the start of the growing season, seriously disrupting the land preparation and planting activities and the distribution of inputs to farmers. About 400 000 people, almost 80 percent of the capital’s population, fled their homes to the rural regions of Cacheu, Biombo and Quinara, and to the coastal islands or neighbouring Senegal and Guinea Conakry. A cease-fire agreement was signed in Praia on 26 July which allowed partial resumption of activities in the fields but fighting resumed in October, disrupting harvest of coarse grains in the east and normal activities in rice fields.

An agreement ending hostilities has been signed in Abuja on 1 November in the context of the 21st Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The accord reaffirms the ceasefire agreement signed in July, provides the withdrawal of all foreign troops and the simultaneous deployment of a West African peacekeeping force along the border with Senegal and in Guinea-Bissau, the opening of a humanitarian corridor, and the re-opening of the airport. The accord also called for the formation of a government of national unity and the holding of legislative and presidential elections before March 1999.

No crop assessment mission could be organised due to insecurity. Satellite imagery indicates that rainfall was generally above average in August and September allowing a satisfactory desalination of swamp rice fields. On the basis of a reduction of about half of coarse grains production which is located mainly in the north and the east and of about 20 percent for rice production, more grown in the south region which was less affected by civil disturbances, FAO/GIEWS estimates 1998 cereal production at 120 000 tonnes compared to 174 000 tonnes in 1997, i.e a decrease of 31 percent. This is also about one third less than the average of the last five years. Recent reports indicate that the food supply situation in Guinea-Bissau is not too critical as the ongoing harvest is providing an additional input. However, following recent fighting which suspended food distribution, internally displaced people need assistance, notably in Prabis and Cumura near Bissau and in Bafata area, some 120 km east of Bissau.

Some base data on this country (in french)



The first significant rains were received in May in most agricultural zones. Precipitation remained limited from mid-June to early July, resulting in planting delays in several areas. The most affected areas were northwest Kayes, the northern-half of the Ségou Region (Niono, Macina and Ségou), north-west Mopti (Tenekou and Youvarou) and the Tombouctou Region. Between the second dekad of July and the end of September, rainfall was abundant, widespread and well distributed over the whole country. Cumulative rainfall at the end of September was generally above last year's level and about normal. This provided sufficient soil moisture to allow good development of crops, even in traditionally dry zones. However, the early cessation of the rains may affect yields in some northern areas of Kayes and Ségou regions.

The water situation in the Niger and Senegal river valleys is normal and better than in 1997. While this was favourable for irrigated rice crop in Ségou and Mopti areas, localized flooding in Tombouctou and Gao areas resulted in crop losses. However, the affected area is smaller than in 1997.

The pest situation has been relatively calm despite the presence of grasshoppers, rodents, grain eating birds and some Desert Locusts. Grain eating birds (Quelea Quelea) continue to constitute a threat to the 1998 rice crop. Pastures and water points are generally satisfactory.

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in late October estimated the 1998 cereal production at a record of 2 524 000 tonnes. This is 12 percent above average and 3 percent over the previous record of 1994 (2 457 350 tonnes). This increase is the result of favourable weather conditions, leading to better yields and a substantial increase (35 percent) in the area cultivated to both rice and maize compared to the 1993-97 average.

Some base data on this country (in french)



The 1998 rainy season started late despite some light rains in June and early July in eastern and south-central areas. Precipitation became abundant over the producing areas during the third dekad of July and in August, covering most agro-pastoral zones. Abundant and well-distributed rains in time and space continued up to late September. Cumulative rainfall for 1998 was generally higher than in 1997. From the third dekad of July until the second dekad of September, all agro-pastoral zones received abundant rains. In late September, precipitation became less abundant, particularly in the Hodh el Chargui region.

The late start of rains caused delayed planting in several areas. Planting of rainfed crops began only in late June in the southern areas of Guidimaka and was generalized only during the third dekad of July in the agro-pastoral zone. However, the water balance remained satisfactory during much of the rainy season up to the end of September. Overall, generally good yields can be expected for rainfed crops. Following abundant rains in August and September, growing conditions are also favourable for fields in low-lying areas and for irrigated crops. In all the pastoral zones, abundant fodder production is expected this year. This should cover livestock needs until about mid-1999 when herds will have to migrate in other zones to find sufficient feed.

The pest situation was characterized by the presence of grasshoppers, grain eating birds and Desert Locusts in several areas (Gorgol, Guidimaka, and Assaba). Treatment were initiated in July but damage to Dieri crop, particularly by birds, were reported in August and September in Trarza, Brakna, Gorgol and Guidimaka. The abundant rains received during the season allowed a satisfactory reconstitution of pastures and replenishment of water reserves in dams and dikes. As a result, a good output for recession crops is expected.

In late October/early November, a joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated total cereal production at 202 600 tonnes. During a regional meeting organized by DIAPER in Niamey in mid-November with representatives from CILSS member countries, this estimate has been revised downwards to 163 500 tonnes total cereal production. This represents a 7.4 percent increase compared to the previous year but remains at a below-average level. This increase can partly be attributed to favourable weather conditions which resulted in larger planted areas, particularly in the Dieri crops.

Some base data on this country (in french)


The first significant rains fell relatively early during the third dekad of April. Rains were irregular during the month of May in the extreme south (south of the departments of Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua and urban commune of Niamey-CUN). From June, rains moved northwards, reaching the south of Tillabéry department. During the second and the third dekads of June, rainfall was modest and localised (Dosso, Tahoua, Maradi). From the second dekad of July until the second dekad of September, the season was characterised by significant and regular rainfall throughout the agricultural zone. Some heavy rains (50 to 100 mm) fell from late July to early September, causing sometimes floods (CUN, Zinder. Rainfall was low from the third dekad of September to mid-October. Most of the rainfall stations registered cumulative rainfall exceeding 500 mm, higher than normal and close to the 1994 level.

The first rainfed sowing of early cereals (millet and sorghum) took place at the end of April and during the month of May in the south of the country (south of Dosso, Tillabéry, Maradi, and Tahoua). The variation of rains in May and the sandy winds withered the young shoots and most of them were lost. In some arrondissements (north of Doutchi, Madaoua), late resowings were undertaken. During the first two dekads of June, rains moved towards Tillabéry, permitting resowings in this region and a second sowing in the southern part of the country. Sowing started also in south of Zinder, Diffa (district of Mainé Soroa). These crops were negatively affected by the drought that occurred from mid-June to the first dekad of July in the southwest, causing the loss of sowings. A third sowing occurred during the month of July until early August, particularly in Diffa, Zinder, Tahoua, and Agadez, south of Maradi and north of Tillabéry (Ouallam). These sowings benefited from good rainfall that fell from the end of the second dekad of July to the end of September. The heavy rains of August and September were largely sufficient to meet water crops needs. In contrast, in the Niger Valley and in the irrigated areas, these rains caused floods prejudicial to rice and destroyed about 2 120 hectares. Rains continued until the first dekad of October in some areas, allowing late crop to complete their development cycle (Tillabéry, Diffa, Tahoua, and Madaoua).

Crop infestations, mainly by grasshoppers and leaf beetles, were minor compared to last years and well controlled, because of timely treatment. As of 15 October, about 88 760 hectares out of the reported 300 000 hectares infested had been sprayed. No significant Desert Locust activity has been reported. Pasture condition, which was bad until mid-July, progressively improved, providing adequate grass covert and improving animal nutrition and health.

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission which visited the country from 19 to 23 October estimated the aggregate cereal production at 3 042 100 tonnes, comprising 2 974 200 tonnes of millet and sorghum, 53 500 tonnes of paddy, 6 900 tonnes of maize and 7 300 tonnes of wheat. This production level is a record, 77 percent higher than that of 1997 and 47 percent up from the average of the last five years. The aggregate output of millet and sorghum is 26 percent higher than previous record of 1994 and 49 up from the average of the last five years, while production of irrigated rice is 17 percent down due to floods in August and September.

Some base data on this country (in french)


The rainy season started latter than in 1997 which was caracterized by an early start of the rains. First rains arrived in mid-June in the south and the east, and reached the centre and the north only in late July or early August. Precipitation remained regular and widespread during August and September. Rains stopped in October in the centre and north, although some significant rains were registered in late October around Diourbel; they continued in October in the extreme south.

Dry plantings started in late May but the bulk of planting followed the arrival of the rains in June in the south and July/August in the centre and the north. The quite abundant and regular rains of August and September permitted a satisfactory crop development but the cessation of the rains in October has affected yields of late planted or long cycle crops in the centre and the north.

Grasshoppers and other pests infestations have been reported on about 95 000 hectares but damage to crops remained limited. Pastures regenerated satisfactorily following good rains in August/September. The level reached by the Senegal river permitted to flood substantial recession crops areas

On the basis of the national production survey, a joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions in late October estimated 1998 rainfed crops production at 976 400 tonnes which is 24 percent above 1997 reduced harvest but remains 3 percent below the average of the last five years. Production of coarse grains increased significantly, while that of rice decreased. With recession and off-season crops whose prospects are better than last year, the total cereal production for 1998/99 is slightly above 1 million tonnes.

Some base data on this country (in french)



Following a late start of the growing season in most coastal countries, the prospects for the 1998 cereal crops output are mixed. They are likely to be close to normal but below last year’s level in most countries.

The rainy season began in mid March in the south of the countries along the Gulf of Guinea but rainfall remained below normal. Then, rains moved northwards but became abundant over the northern part of these countries only in mid to late April, which is 15 to 20 days later than usual. The start of the growing season was particularly late over northern Ghana, Benin, Togo, Guinea and in the centre of Nigeria. Rains remained widespread from June to October, and the seasonal dry period which usually occurs in July could only be noticed in southern Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Rainfall decreased substantially from mid-October and almost stopped in early November.

In Nigeria, despite continuing fertilizer shortages, growing conditions have been favourable during the whole growing season and official cereal output estimates point to 22.7 million tonnes. Guinea, Benin, Togo and Cameroon (including the extreme north area) also experienced adequate agro-climatic conditions, and crop production should be close to normal. Below nornal and erratic rainfall was recorded over Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and notably in the south where the short first growing season is likely to have reduced the maize and rice output.

In Liberia, relative improvement in security conditions and massive agricultural input distributions allowed close to normal agricultural activities in the main cereal producing areas and the output is expected to be close to last year’s level. In Sierra Leone, renewed civil disturbances caused substantial population displacements in rural areas in the north and the east of the country during the growing season, and have limited foodcrops production in these areas. First estimates are below last year’s crop output, despite improved security conditions in the southern and central parts of the country, where crop production has been close to normal.

Preliminary FAO estimates for the aggregate cereal production in the nine coastal countries point to a total of about 30 million tons. These estimates, presented in Table 3, are very tentative, since, due to the late start of the season, crop production forecasts by local administrations are not available to date. First estimates point to record cereal production in Nigeria.

Table 3: Western African Coastal Countries - Cereal Production 1990 - 1997 and preliminary forecast for 1998
(thousand tons, gross basis with rice in paddy)

Country Production Preliminary
forecast for

1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 (%)
Benin 1/ 546 587 608 628 649 634 668 915 800 115
Cameroon 1/ 842 1 001 905 980 920 1 200 1 161 1 160 1 200 110
Côte d’Ivoire 1/ 1 238 1 314 1 317 1 352 1 363 1 480 1 787 1 552 1 600 106
Ghana 1/ 845 1 436 1 255 1 644 1 594 1 834 1 770 1 790 1 700 98
Guinea 1/ 751 872 935 964 978 870 890 911 900 98
Liberia 1/ 100 109 102 65 50 56 95 168 170 195
Nigeria 17 678 18 615 19 597 19 329 20 358 20 943 21 636 21 833 22 773 109
Sierra Leone 1/ 563 467 478 499 465 337 399 480 400 92
Togo 1/ 484 465 494 633 443 502 687 717 650 109
Total 2/ 23 000 24 900 25 700 26 100 26 800 27 900 29 100 29 500 30 200 109

Source: FAO
Note: Record harvests are underlined.
1/ Preliminary FAO estimates based only on a qualitative assessment of the growing season.
2/ Totals have been rounded.

Some base data on these countries (in french)

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