FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 11/98


ANGOLA* (25 November)

Recent widespread rainfall in the main grain producing areas of the Central Plateau benefited the maize and millet crops due for harvest from April 1999. However, agricultural activities continue to be hindered by shortage of seeds and fertilizers and the displacement of rural people from their farms as a result of continued insecurity in several parts of the country.

Aggregate cereal production in 1998 rose by 37 percent to 599 000 tonnes due to an increase in the area sown and favourable weather. However, the country's food supply situation is expected to tighten in the coming months with large areas in need of food aid. The unstable security situation in several parts of the country has resulted in an ever-increasing need for emergency food aid.

The total cereal import requirement for 1998/99 (April/March) is estimated at 471 000 tonnes, including 121 000 tonnes of food aid. Pledges at the end of October amounted to 120 000 tonnes, of which 58 000 tonnes have been delivered.

BOTSWANA (25 November)

Rainfall in October has favoured early planting of coarse grain crops to be harvested from April 1999. However, more rain is needed for good crop establishment. Production of cereals in 1998, mainly sorghum, is estimated at 9 000 tonnes, one-third of last year's poor crop and markedly below average, due to erratic and poorly distributed rainfall.

However, even in normal years, the country imports the bulk of its cereal consumption requirements. It is therefore anticipated that available grain stocks and planned commercial imports will meet total requirements for the 1998/99 marketing year.

LESOTHO (25 November)

Normal rains in early October that encouraged land preparation and early sowing of the 1998/99 coarse grain crop were followed by below-normal precipitation towards the end of the month. The 1998 production of coarse grains has been officially revised upwards to about 141 000 tonnes, only some 9 percent lower than the previous year and 16 percent below average. The output of wheat now stands at 27 000 tonnes, which is also much above the initial estimates and above average.

Reflecting the revised estimates of the 1998 crop, cereal imports in the year ending March 1999 are estimated at some 188 000 tonnes, which is close to the previous year’s requirements. Food aid pledges at the end of October amounted to 6 000 tonnes, all delivered.

MADAGASCAR (25 November)

Moderate to heavy rains in August and September over the eastern coast were followed by light rainfall in October that favoured the transplanting of the main 1999 paddy crop.

Reflecting lower plantings, paddy production in 1998 is estimated to have decreased by 12 percent to 2.2 million tonnes, the lowest level in recent years. In contrast, production of maize and sorghum increased by some five percent to the average level of 163 000 tonnes. The overall food supply situation in the country in the 1998/99 marketing year is expected to remain relatively stable, including the drought-prone south where some locust damage to crops and pastures has been reported.

MALAWI* (25 November)

Light rains in recent weeks have prompted early plantings of the cereal crop to be harvested from April 1999. Reflecting favourable weather cereal production in 1998, mainly maize, increased by some 13 percent to an above-average level of 1.88 million tonnes.

As a result, the food supply situation in the current 1998/99 marketing year has improved substantially. People living in areas of localized food deficit in the north, where excessive rains resulted in flooding with loss of crops, continue to be assisted under a Government programme sustained by aid agencies.

MOZAMBIQUE* (25 November)

Some rains received in late October favoured early planting of the 1998/99 cereal crop. In 1998, increased area planted and good yields resulted in cereal production of 1.69 million tonnes, higher than both last year and the average for the previous five years. Production of cassava, groundnuts and beans also increased significantly.

Following several years of steady increase in food production, the overall food supply position has improved further in the current marketing year. The import requirement in rice and wheat in 1998/99, estimated at 67 000 tonnes and 145 000 tonnes, respectively, will be met by private sector imports. Food assistance is anticipated only in localized areas where floods and drought caused some crop losses.

NAMIBIA (25 November)

Normal rainfall received in early October in the east and south-east of the country benefited pastures and encouraged land preparation for the 1998/99 coarse grain crop. The output from irrigated winter wheat, currently being harvested, is estimated at 6 000 tonnes, higher than last year and above average.

Following the sharply reduced 1998 cereal production, estimated at 59 000 tonnes, which is one-third of last year's above-average output, the food supply situation in the current marketing year is tight. Imports of cereals in 1998/99 (May/April) are estimated to increase to some155 000 tonnes (120 000 tonnes of maize and 35 000 tonnes of wheat).

SOUTH AFRICA (25 November)

Normal to above-normal rains in September and October in most maize producing areas provided adequate topsoil moisture for the sowing of summer crop. The output of the 1998 wheat crop, now being harvested, is estimated at 1.47 million tonnes, 36 percent down compared to last year's above average crop and markedly below average. This decline is mostly due to a sharp decline in the area sown in response to low international and domestic wheat prices.

Aggregate cereal output in 1998 is currently estimated at 9.7 million tonnes, some 19 percent lower than last year's above-average crop. This total includes the latest estimate for the maize crop which declined, for the second consecutive year, to 7.59 million tonnes, 16 percent down on 1997. This was mainly due to reduced plantings and unfavourable weather. However, given the large carryover stocks, this decrease in production is unlikely to seriously limit the exportable surpluses to the deficit countries in the sub-region.

SWAZILAND (25 November)

Above-normal rains in early October and moderate precipitation at the end of the month allowed the sowing of the 1998/99 maize crop, which normally accounts for some 96 percent of the aggregate cereal production.

As a result of a larger sown area and favourable weather, the 1998 cereal production increased by 26 percent to 111 000 tonnes. The food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory until the end of the 1998/99 marketing year due to adequate domestic availability of cereals and planned commercial imports of 48 000 tonnes of wheat and rice.

ZAMBIA (25 November)

The output of the 1998 irrigated wheat crop, now being harvested, is estimated at 71 000 tonnes, 11 000 tonnes more than last year and above average. Sowings of the coarse grain crop, to be harvested from April 1999, will start with the onset of the rainy season that is about to start.

Reflecting El Niño-related weather anomalies, cereal output in 1998 dropped by 37 percent to 709 000 tonnes. For maize, the main staple of the country, production was estimated at some 548 000 tonnes, 43 percent lower than last year and 58.6 percent below the five-year average.

The food supply situation for the 1998/99 marketing year is expected to be tight. Maize prices have increased steadily since May. Against a total cereal import requirement of 660 000 tonnes, commercial imports are forecast at 364 000 tonnes leaving an uncovered deficit of 296 000 tonnes, which includes 45 000 tonnes of emergency food assistance. So far food aid pledges amount to 15 000 tonnes, of which 12 000 tonnes have been delivered.

ZIMBABWE* (25 November)

The output of the irrigated wheat crop, now being harvested, is estimated at an above-average level of some 250 000 tonnes. By contrast, production of maize, the main staple, harvested earlier in the year, fell by one-third to 1.47 million tonnes due to erratic rainfall associated with El Niño.

The national food supply situation for the current marketing year is expected to be tight until the next harvest in April 1999. Recently, the price of bread and maize meal went up by 30 percent and 40 percent, respectively, and fuel prices rose by over 60 percent in early November. The food supply position is particularly critical in Matabeleland South Province and sections of Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces.

Cereal import requirements for 1998/99 are estimated at 825 000 tonnes. While 4.5 million people have registered for the Grain Loan Scheme, the Government is providing direct relief assistance to the most vulnerable groups. However, most needy areas are difficult to reach because of transport difficulties.