Global Information and Early Warning System on food and agriculture
AFRICA: Worst floods in 40 years devastate parts of Southern Africa, leaving thousands homeless. Continuous rains are impeding relief operations. Food outlook is already poor in several countries due to erratic rains earlier. In East Africa drought in parts has caused serious food supply difficulties; worst affected is Bakool region in Somalia, where many starvation-related deaths are reported. In Western Africa, the overall food situation is satisfactory, except in Liberia and Sierra Leone which continue to depend heavily on food aid.
ASIA: Vulnerable populations in a number of countries still affected by serious food supply difficulties due to past disasters and economic turmoil. Major relief operations continue in north eastern India, following a devastating cyclone last year, whilst food assistance is being provided to some 5.6 million people in DPR Korea, where economic problems, exacerbated by natural disasters, continue to affect food production and supplies. In East Timor, international assistance is urgently needed to rehabilitate the economy and agriculture.
CENTRAL (including the Caribbean) & SOUTH AMERICA: Torrential rains in December resulting in heavy flooding and mudslides, cause a large number of casualties in Colombia and Venezuela, and widescale damage to agriculture and the economy. Emergency relief is being provided. In central America and the Caribbean, cereal production increases in almost all countries over 1998/99, when crops were severely affected by Hurricane Mitch.
EUROPE: In CIS countries, the crisis in Chechnya continues and large numbers of displaced people/refugees need emergency assistance. Elsewhere, the outlook for winter grains is satisfactory in the Russian Federation but mixed in other countries. Grain supplies remain tight in the Russian Federation and Tajikistan, while large-scale international aid continues in the Balkans. In the Kosovo Province, around 1 million people receive food assistance.
NORTH AMERICA: In the United States, the winter wheat area falls to the lowest level since 1972/73, mostly due to poor price prospects at planting. Furthermore, weather conditions at planting and during the winter have been unfavourable in parts, pointing to higher rates of winterkill than in the previous year. In Canada, early indications point to increased wheat plantings this spring at the expense of canola and flaxseed because of their relatively low prices.
OCEANIA: A bumper wheat crop of about 23 million tonnes is gathered in Australia. Prospects for the developing 2000 summer coarse grain crops are generally satisfactory but output provisionally forecast to fall reflecting reduced plantings.