FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.2, April 2000


BURUNDI* (29 March)

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 people, as a result of the escalation of the civil conflict, occurred immediately after the beginning of the rains, contributing to a further 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 at 62 000 tonnes some 17 percent down. Production of roots/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 continues to deteriorate following a succession of reduced harvests and the persistent population displacement. Food prices have increased sharply from a year ago, mainly for beans, the crop most affected by the dry weather. An estimated 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 people (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 most remain 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, after the suspension of all UN operations in mid-October.

ERITREA* (7 April)

Grain production in 1999 is lower compared with the bumper crop in 1998 due to drought and delayed sowing. The drought in coastal areas was particularly severe affecting crops and pasture. In addition, in areas affected by armed conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia, production was seriously affected by population displacement.

The food situation is very tight for nearly 600 000 people affected by the war with Ethiopia and prevailing drought along the coastal areas. Prices of cereals are unseasonably high. In January 2000, prices of red sorghum, white wheat and barley were respectively higher by about 15, 27 and 23 percent compared to January 1999. Total cereal import requirement in 2000 is estimated at 290 000 tonnes of which food aid amounts to 100 000 tonnes.

The UN Country Team has appealed in January 2000 for US$42.7 million to assist some 372 000 war-affected and over 211 000 drought affected people. Total pledges by the end-March amounted to about 47 000 tonnes.

ETHIOPIA* (7 April)

Prospects for the 2000 secondary "Belg" season crops, to be harvested from June, are unfavourable reflecting continued drought. The Belg crop accounts for around 8 to 10 percent of annual cereal and pulse production but in some of the northern parts of the country, it provides important amounts of the annual grain production. The failure of last year's Belg season has severely affected the food supply situation of large number of people and were exacerbated by the continued drought through the 1999 main season in these areas. The 1999/2000 main "Meher" season grain harvest was estimated by an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in November/December at 10.7 million tonnes, some 6 percent below the previous year's outturn but 22 percent higher than the poor year of 1997. The most important factors affecting production were the poor Belg rains, the late start of the Meher rains.

The food supply situation in pastoral areas of the east and south, particularly the Somali Region, which have had three consecutive years of little or no rainfall, is critical. Large numbers of livestock have perished due to drought and a number of starvation-related deaths, particularly among children, are being reported. People have started migrating en masse to towns and feeding centres in search of water and food. In the country as a whole, more than 8 million people, including 400 000 displaced by the border war with Eritrea, are facing severe food shortages. With bleak prospects for the Belg crop in 2000, the number of people in need of assistance is anticipated to increase. Relief food aid requirement in 2000 is currently estimated at 652 000 tonnes but is likely to increase if the Belg season fails. An Emergency Operation worth US$136.8 million was jointly approved by FAO and WFP in February 2000 to assist some 2.3 million people for a period of nine months. This is part of an appeal for US$190 million launched by the UN Country Team to avert a major humanitarian crisis in the country.

KENYA (7 April)

The 2000 main "long rains" cropping season has began and the outlook is uncertain due to continued drought conditions in most regions so far.

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 secondary "short rains" cereal crop, accounting for some 20 percent of annual production, is complete. 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 October 1999, 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-western pastoral districts and parts of Central, Coast and Rift Valley provinces affected by drought during the 1999/2000 "short rains" season. In the pastoral areas, the short rains season are crucial for the replenishment of water supplies and pastures after the long dry season, while in agricultural areas, crops from the short rains provide the bulk of food supplies. Worst affected districts include Turkana, Mandera, Moyale, Garissa, Kajiado, Machakos, Mbeere, Kitui, Wajir, Mwingi, Tana River, Marsabit, Isiolo, Baringo, Samburu, West Pokot, Makueni, and Tharaka Nithi. Prices of maize, the key staple in the country have increased sharply in most parts affecting access to food for a large number of people. In January, maize prices were up to 50 percent higher than the average for the previous five years. Increased malnutrition and health problems were also reported in the affected areas. Official reports have recently indicated that the country has an import requirement of more than 2.5 million tonnes of maize in the year 2000.

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 also appealed in February for about US$62 million to combat the looming food shortage and distributed some 57 000 tonnes of maize in the last eight months.

RWANDA* (29 March)

The output of the recently harvested 2000 A season crops 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 on the previous year. A substantial increase in area planted compared to the 1999 A season, as well as generally favourable rains, contributed to an 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, indicates a chronic malnutrition rate of 56 percent and a severe malnutrition rate of 2.5 percent.

SOMALIA* (7 April)

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 secondary "Deyr" cereal crop, normally accounting for some 25 percent of annual cereal production, is completed, while planting of the 2000/01 main season cereal crop is about to start. The total cereal production for the 1999/2000 Deyr season is estimated at about 108 000 tonnes, 53 percent above the post-war (1993-1998) average. However, 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.

Despite expected food supply improvement in parts of southern Somalia with a better Deyr harvest in February 2000, nearly 650 000 people in 6 regions are facing severe food shortages. Hardest hit are, Bakool, Gedo, Bay and Hiran Regions where the Deyr harvest has failed and the risk of famine is serious for nearly 425 000 people. With a bleak forecast for the main "Gu" rainy season, which accounts for about three-quarters of annual crop production, the situation is very alarming.

Elsewhere, in north-western Somalia (Somaliland) and north-eastern Somalia (Puntland), despite a relatively stable livestock and food supply conditions, the fast depletion of pasture and water due to a high influx of pastoralists from neighbouring Ethiopia is cause for serious concern. Overall some 200 000 people are also facing food and water shortages.

Food aid deliveries continue to be hindered by insecurity and in February 2000 only about 3 600 tonnes were distributed in southern Somalia. It is also getting harder to provide intended levels of food aid to target beneficiaries.

SUDAN* (7 April)

The outlook for the 2000 irrigated wheat crop, the harvest of which has started, remains favourable, reflecting abundant irrigation water supplies. Total cereal production in 1999 is estimated at about 3.8 million tonnes comprising 3.05 million tonnes of sorghum, 499 000 tonnes of millet, 167 000 tonnes of wheat and 65 000 tonnes of maize (mainly produced in the south). At this level, cereal production is about 37 percent below the 1998 bumper crop.

Despite generally favourable weather, low sorghum prices for most of 1999, which in some cases have fallen below production costs, 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.

Lower harvests of 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 above stated 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 (7 April)

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 particularly poor in Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga Regions.

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 increased by nearly 13 percent to 3.3 million tonnes.

Overall, despite lower cereal production in 1999/2000, 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 January 2000, maize prices in several markets of the country were up to 56 percent lower than at the same period a year earlier and bean prices were up to 41 percent lower. 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 April)

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 second season cereal crops is completed. 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 improved security earlier 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 in 1999 was below average due to a prolonged drought experienced in various parts of the country. Cereal production in 1999 is estimated at about 9 percent below average at 1.7 million tonnes.

The food supply situation is adequate in most parts of the country. Prices of maize and beans in January and February were below the last three years average as supplies from last season's harvest continue to arrive in the markets. Nevertheless, the food supply situation has deteriorated in Kotido and Moroto 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