WESTERN AFRICA

BENIN (25 November)

Following above-average and well distributed rainfall during the growing season, crop prospects for 1998 are favourable. Flooding occurred in mid-August and September in the centre and the north of the country and damaged infrastructure and reduced crop production in these areas.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. The cereal import requirement for 1998 (January/December) is estimated at 205 000 tonnes (including re-exports), mostly wheat and rice. According to the cereal balance sheet, about 70 000 tonnes of maize can be exported to neighbouring countries.

BURKINA FASO (25 November)

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission reviewed with national services in mid-October the evolution of the 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 but remains about average.

This increased harvest will improve the overall food supply situation which was tight in 1998 following a reduced crop in 1997. Prices of cereals have decreased significantly. The government is planning to buy about 20 000 tonnes to replenish the national security stock to the recommended level of 35 000 tonnes. However, some deficit areas remain vulnerable and the provision of cereals at subsidised prices may be necessary as was done by the government during the 1998 lean season.

CAPE VERDE (25 November)

In early November, a joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission with national services estimated the 1998 maize production at 3 400 tonnes, which is below last year’s reduced harvest and below average, mainly due to insufficient rain.

Following this poor crop, some sections of the rural population 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.

CHAD (25 November)

Cumulative rainfall is above average and above last year's level in many areas. In the Sudano-Sahelian zone, heavy rains flooded rice crops but provided abundant ground water supplies in low-lying areas which is favourable for recession sorghum crops. The pest situation remained relatively calm during the season. Pasture is abundant and no major livestock disease has been reported so far.

A joint CILSS/FAO Crop Assessment Mission which visited the country in mid-October estimated the total cereal production at 1 277 000 tonnes, which is 30 percent above the 1997/98 output. It is also 9 percent above the last record crop in 1994/95. Output of cereals has increased compared to last year, with the exception of rice which is lower this year (-11 percent) as a result of adverse weather conditions and shortage of inputs. The overall food supply situation is satisfactory.

COTE D'IVOIRE (25 November)

Reduced rainfall in September and early October is likely to have reduced the yield of the main upland rice crop, which is currently being harvested. However, in the north, the rainfall situation has been satisfactory and could partly compensate for the reduced output in the south.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory with the marketing of the new crop. Repatriation of about 140 000 Liberian refugees who are still in the western departments is underway. The cereal import requirement for 1998 (January/December), is estimated at 620 000 tonnes, mostly wheat and rice.

THE GAMBIA (25 November)

A joint CILSS/FAO Crop Assessment Mission which visited the country from 12-16 October estimated the 1998 total cereal production at 120 980 tonnes. This is 16 percent higher than last year and 18 percent above the average of the last five years. Coarse grains increased by 6 percent to 92 727 tonnes, whilst the output of paddy (upland and swamp) increased by about 11 percent.

The overall food supply situation is anticipated to be satisfactory in light of relatively good harvest. Cereal prices started to decline at the onset of the harvest. However, the food supply situation may become tight during the lean season in the Lower River Division, particularly in the Nuimis districts, due to a decline in early millet production.

GHANA (25 November)

Below-average rains were recorded in August, September and early October, notably in the south and the centre where the output of the main maize and rice crops, which are now harvested, may have been reduced. The output of millet and sorghum crops should be about normal.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory following the harvest of the early millet and maize. About 30 000 Liberian refugees remain in Ghana. The 1998 cereal import requirement is estimated at 440 000 tonnes, mostly wheat and rice.

GUINEA (25 November)

Following widespread and abundant rainfall during the whole growing season, the main cereal crops are being harvested and prospects for the 1998 output are favourable.

Latest estimates put the total number of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea at 614 000, of whom about 414 000 are Sierra Leoneans and 200 000 are Liberians. Organised repatriation is underway for the Liberian refugees and about 80 000 have been repatriated since the beginning of the year. However, new refugees have arrived from neighbouring Guinea Bissau, fleeing the on-going conflict.

The cereal import requirement for 1998 is estimated at 410 000 tonnes, mostly wheat and rice.

GUINEA-BISSAU (25 November)

An accord signed in November reaffirmed the ceasefire agreement signed in late July 1998. It provides for the opening of a humanitarian corridor, and the re- opening of the airport and port still under rebel control. The accord also called for the formation of a government of national unity and the holding of legislative and presidential elections before March 1999.

The food supply situation is reported to be stable as the ongoing harvest is providing an additional supply. However, following recent fighting which led to a suspension of food distributions, about 380 000 internally displaced people need assistance, notably in Prabis and Cumura, near Bissau, and in Bafata area. Food distribution has resumed.

LIBERIA* (25 November)

Rainfall was below normal in September and October but remained widespread. Improved security conditions prevailed in the rural areas during the growing season. Severe seed shortages were reported and may limit the 1998 cereal output.

Food supply on the urban market is stable but prices remain very high. Sporadic fighting is still occurring and water and electricity supply has not been restored in most areas of Monrovia. Food assistance is being delivered almost throughout the country and an improvement in the nutritional status of the population is reported. Organised repatriation is underway for about 480 000 Liberian refugees in neighbouring countries, and 80 000 have been repatriated. The cereal import requirement for 1998 (January/December) is estimated at 240 000 tonnes, including 130 000 tonnes of food aid.

MALI (25 November)

Abundant rainfall provided sufficient soil moisture to allow good development of crops, even in traditionally dry zones. However, the early end of rains may have adversely affected yields in some northern areas of Kayes and Ségou regions. Water in the Niger and Senegal river valleys is normal and better than in 1997, favouring irrigated rice crops in Ségou and Mopti areas. But localized flooding in Tombouctou and Gao areas resulted in crop losses. The pest situation has been relatively calm. Pastures and water points are generally satisfactory.

A joint CILSS/FAO Crop Assessment Mission that visited the country in late October estimated the 1998 cereal production at 2 524 000 tonnes. This is 13 percent above average and 3 percent over the previous record output of 1994 (2 457 350 tonnes). Better yields and a substantial increase in the cultivated area (35 percent) were achieved compared to the 1993-97 average. Following this record crop, the food supply situation will be satisfactory in 1998/99.

MAURITANIA (25 November)

Cumulative rainfall for 1998 is generally higher than in 1997. As a result, a good output of recession crops is expected and growing conditions are favourable for fields in low-lying areas and for irrigated crops. Migratory locusts, grasshoppers, grain eating birds and Desert Locusts were reported in several areas (Gorgol, Guidimaka, and Assaba). Treatments have been undertaken since July.

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 to other zones to find sufficient feed. In late October/early November, a joint CILSS/FAO Crop Assessment Mission estimated total 1998 cereal production at 202 600 tonnes. This represents a 34 percent increase over last year and is close to the record output of 1994/95.

NIGER (25 November)

A joint CILSS/FAO Crop Assessment Mission which visited the country from 19-23 October estimated the 1998 aggregate cereal production at 3 037 756 tonnes, comprising 2 973 904 tonnes of millet and sorghum, 53 255 tonnes of paddy, 6 497 tonnes of maize and 4 100 tonnes of wheat. This estimated record production is 77 percent higher than in 1997 and about 45 percent above the average of the last five years. Good weather conditions and relatively low pest infestations largely account for this good outturn.

The overall food supply situation is anticipated to be satisfactory in light of the expected good harvest. However, despite this increase in harvest, the food supply situation is likely to be tight in some areas which are chronically food deficit. In addition, about 42 000 flood victims need specific assistance, as requested by a UN General Assembly appeal on 10 November.

NIGERIA (25 November)

Despite a late start of the rains, conditions were generally favourable for a good crop development throughout the growing season. The millet and sorghum crops in the northern part of the country are expected to be normal to above normal. In the centre and the southwest, dry periods in July and August might have affected crop development and reduced the maize and rice output. Shortages of fertilizers, improved seeds and pesticides are also expected to have further limited maize and rice production.

Food supply continues to be constrained by high levels of post-harvest losses and high distribution costs but is satisfactory. The cereal import requirement for 1998 is estimated at 1 300 000 tonnes, including 1 million tonnes of wheat and 200 000 tonnes of rice.

SENEGAL (25 November)

On the basis of the national production survey, a joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment in late October estimated 1998 rainfed crop production at 976 400 tonnes which is 24 percent above the 1997 reduced harvest but is still 3 percent below the average of the last five years. With recession and off- season crops whose prospects are better than last year, the total cereal production is slightly over 1 million tonnes.

Following the reduced 1997 cereal harvest, the Government distributed more than 40 000 tonnes of cereals in the affected areas. The overall food supply situation is expected to improve following this better harvest but vulnerable people, notably in the centre and the north, may require food assistance. Overall food supply is adequate and prices of rice are stable, while prices of coarse grains decreased significantly following the harvest.

SIERRA LEONE* (25 November)

The food supply situation is improving in Freetown and in the centre of the country, where relatively peaceful conditions now prevail. However, increased insecurity in the major part of the country has severely disrupted most agricultural activities and affected the population’s food security. Food prices are increasing and prospects for food production in 1998 are unfavourable. The planted area is estimated to be substantially lower than last year due to security problems. Flooding occurred in the Kambia and Mambolo areas and destroyed rice fields, following heavy rainfall in mid-August.

There are currently about 50 000 registered internally displaced persons (IDPs), and estimates of another 40 000 to 50 000 IDPs displaced by the continuing violence. The situation has deteriorated significantly especially in the rural areas that are not controlled by ECOWAS forces.

The overall food supply situation remains very precarious. The cereal import requirement for 1998 has been estimated at about 260 000 tonnes, including 80 000 tonnes of food aid.

TOGO (25 November)

Harvesting of the main millet, sorghum and rice crops is drawing to an end. The late start of the growing season and irregular rainfall might have reduced crop output in the south, including rice. In the centre and the north, maize, millet and sorghum crops benefited from adequate growing conditions and the output is expected to be above last year’s level.

The food supply situation is satisfactory. Food prices are decreasing following the start of the harvesting period. The cereal import requirement for 1998 (January/December), is estimated at 176 000 tonnes of wheat and rice (including re-exports).