FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.1, February 2000


BURUNDI* (4 February)

The output of the recently harvested 2000 A season crops is estimated to be lower than last year's already reduced level. This reflects adverse weather during the growing season, coupled with deterioration in the security situation. Following an early start of the rains, a prolonged dry spell from mid-October to mid-November resulted in reductions in plantings and yields, particularly in the northern province of Kirundo. The displacement and regroupment in camps of large numbers of population, as a result of the escalation of the civil conflict, occurred immediately after the beginning of the rains, also contributing to the reduction in the area planted. Provinces most affected by insecurity were Rutana, Makamba and Bujumbura rural.

The output of cereals is estimated at 74 000 tonnes, a decline of 13 percent from last year and that of beans 17 percent down at 62 000 tonnes. Production of roots and tubers and of bananas and plantains declined by 3 percent and 1 percent to 464 000 tonnes and 450 000 tonnes respectively.

The overall food and nutritional situation continue to deteriorate following a succession of reduced harvests and the persistent population displacement. Food prices have increased sharply from a year ago, mainly that of beans, the crop most affected by the dry weather. It is estimated that some 1.6 million people have been seriously affected by a drought-reduced harvest this season. Food aid is being distributed to 60 000 families in the province of Kirundo. In addition, the situation of some 800 000 (12 percent of the population) in regroupment camps gives particular cause for concern. Living conditions in the camps are extremely poor. Only a limited number of people have access to their fields, while the rest are entirely dependent on food aid. A nutritional survey carried out in nine regroupment camps last December shows a global malnutrition rate of about 18 percent and severe malnutrition rates between 3 and 5 percent. WFP resumed its normal activities in the camps in mid-November, since the suspension of all UN operations in mid-October.

ERITREA* (7 February)

The outlook for the sorghum crop, about to be harvested, in coastal areas is unfavourable due to drought. Furthermore, despite normal to above-normal rains in September and October the yields of the 1999 main season grains, which have just been harvested, were affected due to delayed sowing. In addition, in areas affected by armed conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia, production was seriously affected by population displacement.

The Desert Locust situation remains calm but with recent winter rains along coastal areas, there is risk of increased locust numbers along Red Sea coastal plains.

The food situation is very tight for nearly 600 000 people affected by the war with Ethiopia and prevailing drought along the coastal areas. Donor support is sought for an Emergency Operation approved by FAO and WFP in March 1999 for 44 321 tonnes, to provide food assistance for 268 000 people most affected by the war with Ethiopia, of which less than 5 000 tonnes had been delivered by the end of December. Total pledges by the end of December amounted to 31 000 tonnes, with only 15 000 tonnes delivered so far. The UN Country Team has also appealed in January 2000 for US$42.7 million to assist some 372 000 war-affected and over 211 000 drought affected people.

ETHIOPIA* (3 February)

Planting of the 2000 secondary "belg" season crops is about to start. The "belg" crop accounts for around 8 to 10 percent of annual cereal and pulses production but in some areas it is the main harvest.

Harvesting of the main 1999 "meher" season crops was completed late last year. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in November/December forecast the cereals and pulses output of the 1999 meher season at 10.7 million tonnes, some 6 percent below the previous year's outturn but 22 percent higher than the poor year of 1997. Compared with last year, most of the reduction in production has come from a lower planted area (down by 4 percent), although the mean yield of all cereals and pulses has also fallen, by 2 percent. The most important factors affecting areas planted and yields were the poor belg rains, the late start of the meher rains and, in the unimodal areas of the west, the late start to the rains for long-season crops.

The dry belg season in much of the country (but specially in the north) left livestock in poor condition and in reduced numbers. The availability and performance of plough oxen were significantly reduced and land preparation suffered. The delayed main rains led to late cultivation and planting and, in some areas, long-cycle stalk crops (especially sorghum) could not be planted. In most areas there was a switch from long to short cycle crops (both to short season stalk crops and to small grains). Cultivation, planting and weeding of different crops were concentrated into a short time period and the effectiveness of these operations was poorer than usual. The reduction in production from last year is most severe in Tigray (35 percent decline) but the southern region (SNNPR) is also forecast to be down, by 12 percent. In terms of individual cereals, the greatest reduction is the 26 percent fall in sorghum production, with maize down 13 percent and barley slightly down on last year.

Furthermore, due to an on-going drought in the Somali region, where some areas have had three consecutive years of little or no rainfall, the food supply situation is critical with severe livestock losses and people migrating out of the region in search of water and food.

With a below-average belg crop of about 250 000 tonnes anticipated for 2000 (due to continued shortages of oxen and possibly of seed), the Mission estimates the national import requirement to be 764 000 tonnes - significantly above last year's level. A net relief food aid requirement in 2000 of almost 652 000 tonnes is estimated to support 7.8 million people affected by severe food shortages resulting from droughts, waterlogging and other weather related hazards. In addition to the relief needs caused by natural disasters, food aid will also be needed for IDPs coming from the border areas with Eritrea, who have been unable to plant their land and have lost income-earning opportunities.

The UN country team has recently launched an appeal for US$ 190 million to avert another major humanitarian crisis in the country. Total pledges by mid-February amounted to 275 000 tonnes of which 57 000 tonnes have been delivered.

KENYA (14 February)

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 secondary "short rains" cereal crop, accounting for some 20 percent of annual production, is underway. Despite recent heavy rains that improved crop conditions somewhat, a below-average output is anticipated. Late and insufficient rains resulted in reduction in planting and negatively affected yields. Current estimates put the short rains maize crop at 315 000 tonnes, compared with the previous five year average of about 410 000 tonnes.

The output of the main "long rains" cereal crop, harvested until last October, was significantly reduced, particularly in Eastern, Central, Western and Nyanza Provinces due to drought, inadequate input supply and armyworm infestation in parts. Official estimates indicate maize output of about 2.1 million tonnes compared to 2.44 million tonnes in 1998 and 2.5 million tonnes average over the previous five years.

The food supply situation is critical in the northern, eastern and north-eastern pastoral districts, particularly in Turkana District, where erratic and insufficient rainfall has caused successive crop failures and were insufficient for adequate pasture and water supplies. An Emergency Operation was jointly approved in January 2000 by FAO and WFP for food assistance to 2.74 million drought affected people, worth US$ 43.4 million for a period of five months. The Government has also appealed in February for about US$62 million to combat the looming food shortage.

RWANDA* (4 February)

The output of the recently harvested 2000 A season was good despite severe crop losses due to dry weather in eastern and southern parts. Aggregate food production is estimated at 2.8 million tonnes, a rise of 20 percent from the previous year. A substantial increase in area planted compared to the 1999 A season, as well as overall favourable rains, supported the increase in production. However, a prolonged dry spell during the month of October, severely damaged cereal and beans crops in the Eastern and Southern provinces.

As a result of the satisfactory food production and increased flow of commercial imports, there has been an improvement in the overall food supply situation and a decline in food aid requirements for the first half of the year. However, the food situation remains critical for vulnerable people in several areas. A recent nutritional survey carried out in the Northwest province of Ruhengeri last December, indicate a global chronic malnutrition rate of 56 percent and a severe malnutrition rate of 2.5 percent.

SOMALIA* (14 February)

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 secondary "Deyr" cereal crop, normally accounting for some 25 percent of annual cereal production, is underway. Preliminary estimates of the area planted indicate an increase of about 18 percent compared to the previous Deyr season for the sorghum crop, to 190 000 hectares and an increase of 4 percent for the maize crop, mainly in irrigated areas, to nearly 100 000 hectares. At crop establishment, the total cereal production for the 1999/2000 Deyr season is, therefore, forecast at about 130 000 tonnes, 85 percent above the post-war (1993-1998) average.

Despite expected food supply improvement in parts of southern Somalia with better Deyr harvest, nearly 68 000 agro- pastoralists in Bakool Region are facing severe food shortages due to poor rainfall. Hardest hit are farmers in Huddur, Wajid and Rab-Dure districts, where many have left their villages in search of food assistance. Furthermore, the food supply situation remains tight for the agro-pastoralists in Gedo, Bay and Hiran regions due to successive poor harvests and displacements. Poor rainfall in rainfed areas has equally affected crops, water sources and pasture availability, and the mainstays of the food economy. The vulnerable population in southern Somalia is estimated at over 500,000 people.

The main 1999 "Gu" season, harvested until last September, was estimated by an FAO/WFP Mission at 135 683 tonnes of cereals, about 32 percent below the post-war average due to low and poorly distributed rains, pests and displacement of farmers.

Elsewhere, in north-western Somalia (Somaliland) and north- eastern Somalia (Puntland), heavy rains during October/November caused some damage to property but improved water availability and pasture. However, the food situation remains precarious for poor pastoralists, estimated at 40 000 to 60 000 people, from the Haud region of Sool and Togdeer.

Food aid deliveries during the last quarter of 1999 were reported to be below the estimated needs due to security conditions and heavy rains that blocked roads. WFP distributed close to 230 tonnes of food during the month of December, mostly in southern Somalia bringing the total distributed from January to December 1999 to 20 480 tonnes.

SUDAN* (7 February)

The outlook for the 2000 irrigated wheat crop, to be harvested from next month, remains favourable, reflecting abundant irrigation water supplies. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, which visited southern Sudan from 10 October to 3 November 1999 and northern Sudan from 24 November to 13 December, forecasted cereal production at about 3.9 million tonnes in 1999/2000 comprising 3.05 million tonnes of sorghum, 499 000 tonnes of millet and 288 000 tonnes of wheat (to be harvested in April 2000) and 65 000 tonnes of maize (mainly produced in the south). At this level, cereal production is about 31 percent below last year's bumper crop.

Despite generally favourable weather, low sorghum prices for most of 1999, which in some cases have fallen below production costs, have prompted large-scale mechanized farmers, accounting for more than 60 percent of the total sorghum production, to reduce sorghum planting by some 50 percent. Many farmers have shifted to producing sesame, which gave much better returns last year, while others have simply reduced planted area. Lack of credit for agricultural inputs has also reinforced the farmers' decision to opt out of producing cereals.

In the Southern States, however, a relative improvement in security coupled with favourable growing conditions have yielded a 12 percent increase in cereal production from the traditional sector. Western Equatoria, which usually is a surplus area, has produced twice its local need this year due to favourable conditions and increased marketing opportunities offered by NGOs based in the State. By contrast, Unity State, which could not be visited by the Mission due to security problems, has suffered greatly from internecine fighting and Government/rebel clashes. Major cereal deficits are also estimated in Lakes and Bahr el Jebel due mainly to floods, and in specific localities throughout Jonglei, Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria where conditions were not so favourable.

Expectations of lower harvests (sorghum and millet) in 1999 and the depletion of stocks due mainly to a surge in exports, have led to an increase in cereal prices which will have an adverse effect on poorer segments of the population. Overall, with the estimated cereal production and imports of wheat and rice estimated at 680 000 tonnes and 38 000 tonnes respectively, the country's cereal requirement of about 5.2 million tonnes in 1999/2000 is expected to be met by a draw- down of stocks of nearly 240 000 tonnes.

For the various interventions in southern Sudan, war affected and food deficit regions in the northern states, it is estimated that a total of 103 453 tonnes of food aid will be required during 2000. An Emergency Operation was jointly approved in January 2000 by FAO and WFP for food assistance to 2.4 million people affected by war, drought and floods, worth US$ 58.14 million for a period of 12 months.

TANZANIA (4 February)

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 short "Vuli" season crops is well advanced in the bi-modal rainfall areas of the northern coastal belt and north-eastern, where the crop accounts for some 40 percent of the annual food supplies. Poor rains during the growing season have prompted farmers to drastically reduce plantings and have affected yields. Recent official reports suggest that the current Vuli crop is expected to be about 70 percent below the previous five years average.

The 1999/2000 cereal crop, mainly maize, is estimated at 4 million tonnes, about 8 percent below last year's output due to erratic rains, reduced use of inputs and an outbreak of armyworms. By contrast, production of other food crops, including beans, potatoes, cassava and plantains have increased by nearly 13 percent to 3.3 million tonnes.

Overall, the food supply situation is stable reflecting large maize imports in the latter half of 1999 and the maize export ban imposed by the Government. In the last quarter of 1999, maize prices in several markets of the country were up to 40 percent lower than at the same period a year earlier. However, food assistance is required for nearly 800 000 people identified as food insecure, mainly in the regions of Dodoma, Mara, Shinyanga, Singida, Tabora, Tanga and southern Mwanza, all of which have now suffered their third consecutive poor harvest. WFP school-feeding programme began in January in 128 primary schools in Dodoma region and is expected to expand to Arusha and Singida regions.

UGANDA (7 February)

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 second season cereal crops is well underway. The output is anticipated to be average to above average reflecting well distributed rains during the season. However, in Gulu and Kitgum Districts, despite reported large increases in area cultivated due to earlier improved security and favourable rainfall, the escalation of conflict since late December 1999 has displaced many farmers thus hindering the timely harvesting of crops.

The output of the main season crop, harvested from late last summer, was below average due to a prolonged drought experienced in various parts of the country. Cereal production in 1999 is estimated to be about 9 percent below average at 1.7 million tonnes.

Prices of maize and beans, which were unseasonably high following last year's reduced main season crop, have started to decline with the arrival of the new crop in the markets. Nevertheless, the food supply situation has deteriorated in Kotido and Morito districts, with nearly 215 000 people needing urgent food assistance, mainly due to last season's poor harvest and loss of cattle due to raids. Also, the food supply situation in Gulu and Kitgum gives cause for serious concern due to renewed civil conflict. Furthermore, food assistance continues to be needed for nearly 112 000 people in Bundibugyo District displaced by civil unrest.

Table Of ContentsBack to the table of contents