FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.2, April 1999


ANGOLA* (1 April)

Food production in 1999 is expected to be sharply reduced and the country will need massive food assistance during the coming months. Despite adequate rainfall over most regions since October, the area planted to crops is reported to have declined considerably this year due to renewed civil strife since December. Many farmers have abandoned land to join the rapidly increasing number of displaced people and refugees. Consequently, the 1999 crop is expected to be sharply lower than production in recent years. This will aggravate an already precarious food supply situation.

The country will, therefore, rely heavily on food assistance to meet food needs in the 1999/2000 marketing year. Food prices have risen sharply in many regions, which has reduced access to food of the majority of the population. Difficulties in distributing relief assistance have exacerbated the situation, leading to increasing malnutrition, particularly among internally displaced people. The immediate need is to assist the rapidly increasing number of new internally displaced people, now estimated at over 600 000 people, largely concentrated in the provinces of Huambo, Bie, Malanje, Huila and Uige. By the end of March food aid pledges amounted to about 141 700 tonnes, of which 139 000 tonnes have been delivered so far. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is scheduled to visit the country in May.

BOTSWANA (1 April)

Prospects are generally favourable for the 1999 cereal harvest currently underway in some areas. Satellite images indicate that normal to above-normal rainfall was received in several areas during the December-January period. This followed a prolonged dry spell in February and early March. Rains in the last two decades of March provided some improvement. With areas planted reported to be substantially higher than in 1997/98, a recovery in production is expected this year, following last year's below average harvest.

The national food supply situation is generally satisfactory. The anticipated increase in output should reduce import needs. As in past years, domestic cereal availability and planned imports should adequately cover the country's needs for the new marketing year 1999/2000.

LESOTHO (1 April)

Prospects are generally favourable for the 1998/99 season crops. Preliminary indications are that the area planted was higher than last year due to good early rains coupled with Government subsidies to farmers, particularly for the purchase of seeds and fertilizer. Cumulative rainfall received between October and January ranged from normal to above normal for most areas, but dry conditions prevailed over much of the country in February and early March, causing serious crop moisture stress. This may affect yields in some areas.

The national food supply situation is expected to tighten towards the end of the marketing season, as available commercial imports appears to be less than anticipated. The Government Drought Relief Programme is expected to provide assistance to some 400 000 vulnerable people from February 1999 to June/July 1999.


Harvesting is underway for the 1999 paddy and other crops. Prospects are generally good for most crops, as rainfall has been favourable in most areas. Normal to above-normal rainfall was received in many growing areas in December and January. This included parts of the normally dry south-west where conditions continue to be fair, despite a dry spell in February, which may adversely affect crop yields. The incidence and negative impact of cyclones have also been relatively limited this year. Although locusts continue to be a threat to crops in several areas, their impact has also been limited so far, and control measures continue to be applied by the Government, with donor assistance.

With a relatively good harvest in prospects, the food supply situation is expected to improve during the 1999/2000 marketing year. In the drought-prone south, some relief assistance will continue to be needed for vulnerable population groups with limited means of subsistence.

MALAWI (1 April)

Production prospects are generally favourable for the 1998/99 crop Season. Satellite images indicate that rainfall has been abundant and widespread, covering most parts of the country. Most parts of the southern region received above-normal rainfall by late January, resulting in some flooding. In northern areas, despite a late start, widespread precipitation between January and March benefited crops. Initial indications are that the maize harvest could be higher than last season's above-average crop. The food supply situation continues to be generally satisfactory as a result of favourable production last year.


Initial indications point to another above-average cereal harvest this year, due to favourable rainfall and an increase in area planted. Following a delayed start to the season in northern and north-eastern provinces (Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa Provinces), rainfall in February and March has been normal to above-normal. However, in central parts, floods caused by torrential rains in late February affected several districts of Inhambane Province, with some loss of life, crops and property. In these otherwise drought prone areas, an estimated 40 000 hectares of arable land were flooded, over 70 000 people were affected, and roads damaged badly. The Government has appealed for international assistance amounting to US$12.4 million, for food, seeds and tools, as well as for the repair of damaged infrastructure.

The national food security situation for the 1998/99 marketing year remains generally satisfactory. The steady increase in food production in recent years has meant that the country is now self-sufficient in maize and has exportable surpluses for deficit countries in the sub-region. The import requirement of rice and wheat is estimated at 67 000 tonnes and 145 000 tonnes respectively and will be met through the private sector.

NAMIBIA (1 April)

Rainfall has been irregular during much of the growing season, remaining below-normal until January. Abundant rains in late January and early February in northern areas were followed by prolonged dry spells and high temperatures in various places. As a consequence, the outcome of the season remains uncertain.

The national food supply situation is anticipated to be tight in the upcoming marketing year 1999/2000 (May/April) due to several consecutive years of drought-reduced production. The cereal import requirement will continue to exceed 150 000 tonnes for the marketing year, much of which is expected through commercial channels.


Abundant rains between November and mid-February were followed by a prolonged dry spell, particularly over northern and eastern provinces. This stressed the maize crop, which was at grain filling stage. As a result, maize production is officially forecast at 6.5 million tonnes, slightly below last year’s reduced production and below average. However, showers from mid-March are expected to reduce some of the stress. The overall outcome of the season will depend on conditions during the next few weeks prior to harvest.

The official estimate of the 1998/99 winter wheat crop currently stands at a below average 1.5 million tonnes, 36 percent lower than 1997/98. This is attributed to low international and domestic prices.


Rainfall during the 1998/99 crop season has been generally favourable, with an early start and cumulative levels ranging from normal to above normal in most areas. Despite a localized dry spells which may adversely affect yields in certain areas, a good harvest is expected.

The food supply situation for the 1999/2000 marketing year is expected to remain satisfactory. Domestic availability of cereals and planned commercial imports are expected to adequately meet domestic demand.

ZAMBIA (1 April)

Favourable and well-distributed rainfall has been received over most parts of the country during much of the crop season. Favourable yields are expected in areas where inputs were delivered and purchased in good time. Notwithstanding the general outlook, poor and low yields have been reported in outlying areas such as Chama and Isoka Districts of the Eastern and Northern Provinces respectively due to poor rainfall. Crops have failed in other places due to non- availability and unaffordable inputs. Flash floods due to heavy rainfall, also destroyed crops and infrastructure in various areas, especially in North-Western, Central, Western and Eastern Provinces.

The food supply situation is likely to remain tight in areas affected by floods and crop failure. In certain locations, there are reports of early/premature harvesting of food crop before they reached full maturity/ripeness. The situation of these areas will need to be monitored carefully, given the serious implications on household food security in the upcoming marketing year.

ZIMBABWE* (1 April)

Prospects are generally favourable for 1998/99 season crops, with abundant and widespread rain received since October in most areas. However, continued heavy rains, particularly in the communal farming sector, which accounts for some 70 percent of maize production, resulted in flooding, water- logging and severe leaching of essential nutrients in many areas. This has raised concerns that crops in low-lying areas could suffer yield losses from water-logging and leaching of fertilizers. In the normally dry southern provinces which received good early rains in mid-October, an above-average maize harvest is in prospect. Livestock are also in excellent condition in these areas.

With a good cereal harvest anticipated, the national food supply situation is expected to improve during the upcoming 1999/2000 marketing year (April/March). Despite reports of price rises in cereals during the January/March period, which were due to distribution problems, available supplies are expected to cover consumption needs until the beginning of the new harvest in April.

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