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


ANGOLA* (29 March)

Growing conditions have deteriorated somewhat with below-average precipitation in the past month in the major growing areas of the central provinces. The output of the 1999/2000 cereal crops, about to be harvested, is uncertain. Continuous displacements of population during the growing season, due to the civil war, have disrupted agricultural activities in several areas. In recent months, the escalation of the conflict has resulted in fresh waves of population movement along the borders with Namibia and Zambia. Security conditions have continued to deteriorate with serious fighting in early March reported in the central highlands province of Huambo, in Uige in the north, in parts of Malanje in the northwest and in Benguela in the south.

The food situation remains extremely critical for about 2 million internally displaced people. Recent nutritional surveys indicate increased malnutrition among these populations. In the provinces of Benguela, in the northern districts of Ganda and Balomba, malnutrition was estimated at 7.4 percent among resident children and 23.1 percent for IDP children, including 6.2 percent of severe malnutrition. However, the persistent insecurity is hampering distribution of emergency food assistance in several parts. Food aid is being provided to some 1.1 million persons.

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is scheduled to visit Angola from mid-April to review foodcrop production and the food supply situation and estimate cereal import and food aid requirements for the 2000/01 marketing year (April/March).

BOTSWANA (29 March)

Cyclone Eline in late February aggravated the already serious humanitarian situation caused by flooding earlier in the month which destroyed some 10 000 homes and affected 73 000 people. The Government had estimated the flood damage at US$8.5 million and appealed for international assistance to deal with the emergency.

An assessment of crop losses in the eastern growing areas is not yet available. However, there is concern about the effect of the floods on livestock, which is of great importance to farmers' food security. Overall, abundant rains of the past February and March have likely benefited the main sorghum crop, to be harvested from mid-April.

LESOTHO (29 March)

Normal to above-normal rains in February and March improved growing conditions for the 2000 cereal crops to be harvested from May. However, the outlook is uncertain. Crops have been affected by a prolonged dry spell at the beginning of the season and by heavy rains and floods in early December, particularly in the lowlands. In these areas, maize production is expected to be reduced.

The overall food supply situation remains satisfactory, reflecting adequate commercial imports so far.


Cyclone "Hudah", one the most powerful registered in the Indian Ocean, struck northern Madagascar on 2 April with wind speeds of up to 300 km/hour. The most affected areas are the north-eastern districts of Maroantsetra, Andapa and Antalaha, which had already suffered severe damage from Cyclone "Eline" in mid-February and Tropical Storm "Gloria" two weeks later. Floods are also reported around the town of Befandriana on the northwestern coast. Although the cyclone did not bring extremely heavy rains, it soaked areas that had not yet dried out from previous floods and the high force winds caused further damage to infrastructure, housing and crops, especially tree crops. Particularly affected are the town of Antalaha and surrounding areas, where houses, schools, health centres, airport and telecommunication facilities, have been destroyed.

Preliminary reports indicate 17 deaths, 100 000 people left homeless and 308 000 persons having experienced damage to housing and means of subsistence, as well as crop losses. This adds to 560 000 people already affected by previous storms. The extent of the damage to agriculture is not yet fully known. The region is the main vanilla producing area in the country and is also an important coffee and clove growing region. Severe losses to these crops and serious damage to the paddy crop are reported. Food stocks in warehouses and household granaries have been destroyed and therefore serious food shortages are expected in the affected areas. Most villages are isolated by floodwaters, landslides, fallen trees and damaged roads. About 100 000 persons are estimated to be in need of emergency food and other humanitarian assistance. Persistent rains are hampering relief operations as well as assessment of the damage. The United Nations has launched an appeal for US$15.5 million to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to the affected population.

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions is scheduled to visit the country shortly to assess the extent of crop damage and its impact on the overall national food supply situation for the months ahead.

MALAWI (29 March)

Heavy rains in mid-March in southern areas bordering Mozambique resulted in severe damage to housing and infrastructure, and crop and livestock losses. Preliminary estimates indicate that 10 000 people have been displaced by the floodwaters. Worst affected areas are those along the Lower Shire Valley, particularly the districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa. Emergency food and non-food assistance is urgently required for these populations.

Despite the crop losses in the Southern Region, the abundant rains from the second dekad of February have generally benefited cereal crops in central and northern parts, affected by dry weather earlier in the season. Overall crop prospects are rated favourable. Official forecast indicates a 2000 maize production of 2.33 million tonnes, only 6 percent below the record harvest of last year.

The overall food supply remains satisfactory following the bumper cereal crop of 1999, which resulted in exportable surplus and a substantial increase in maize stocks.


Cyclone "Hudah", which devastated north-east Madagascar, hit central and northern areas of Mozambique on 9 April but with less intensity. Previously flooded southern areas were not affected. Substantial damage to infrastructure and housing is reported, mainly in the coastal town of Pebane. An assessment of the agricultural damage is not yet available. However, rains and winds associated with the Cyclone are likely to have negatively affected the maize crop at the late maturing stage in the important growing provinces of Zambeisa and Nampula. Yield reductions in these areas would result in a deterioration of the overall harvest prospects, already worsened by crop losses in the South. Southern areas were not affected by Cyclone Hudah. Southern provinces ravaged by floods account for some 13 percent of the total cereal production, and those affected in the central region for an additional 20 percent. Therefore, about one third of national cereal production has been affected by losses and yield reductions. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission will be fielded in mid-April to review the outcome of the 2000 cropping season and estimate the cereal import and food aid needs for the new marketing year 2000/01 (April/March). International assistance will also be needed for the reconstruction of housing and infrastructure, severely damaged by the floods.

Rains until mid-March hampered relief operations but the levels of the rivers have progressively decreased. In general, access to 350 000 persons still in camps has improved substantially. Food aid and agricultural support is now needed for the flood-affected people returning to their fields. Preliminary estimates indicated that 1.9 million have been affected by the disaster, and that some 126 000 hectares in the southern and central provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, Manica and Sofala have been lost to the floods. Substantial livestock losses are also reported. In these traditionally food-deficit provinces, the sharp reduction in cereal production in 2000 will be compounded by loss of farmers' food and seed stocks in household granaries. However, a full assessment of the damage is not yet possible.

NAMIBIA (29 March)

Prospects for the 2000 cereal crops, mainly sorghum, have deteriorated. Heavy rains in mid-February in the major northern growing areas have been followed by below-average precipitation until the second dekad of March. More rains are needed to avoid yield reductions. Elsewhere in the country, the abundant rains during the season have improved pastures and livestock conditions.


Abundant rains and floods in the second dekad of March have resulted in loss of life and isolated several areas in the KwaZulu-Natal province. Heavy precipitation also affected parts of Northern and Mpumalanga provinces, already hit by severe flooding in February. Torrential rains and floods in these provinces in February severely damaged housing and infrastructure. Crop losses in the Northern Province were estimated at some R70 million (US$11 million), mainly pulses, maize and vegetables. Serious damage to the irrigation infrastructure included destruction of 16 dams. The Government has provided emergency assistance in the affected areas and has announced special credit facilities for the rehabilitation of the agricultural and tourism sectors.

In the major maize growing areas, however, good rains in the past two months improved growing conditions for the crop, now at the maturing stage. Despite serious crop losses in the Northern Province, the maize belt was only marginally affected by the floods. The overall outlook for this year's maize harvest is favourable reflecting an increase of 14 percent in the area planted and generally adequate weather conditions. Latest forecasts indicate a bumper maize crop of 9.3 million tonnes compared to 7.7 million tonnes last year. At this level, production will be sufficient to replenish stocks and cover import requirements of other countries in the sub-region.

SWAZILAND (29 March)

Prospects for the 2000 cereal crops are poor. This mainly reflects excessive rains in December and severe flooding in early February, which also resulted in extensive damage to infrastructure and housing. Preliminary official forecast indicate a decline of 37 percent in this year's maize production to a below average level of 72 000 tonnes. Other crops that have been seriously affected by the heavy rains are beans and sweet potatoes.

The overall food supply position remains satisfactory. Cereal import requirement of 72 000 tonnes for the marketing year 1999/2000 (May/April) have already been covered by commercial imports.

ZAMBIA (29 March)

Heavy flooding due to the overflow of the Zambezi River in early March made nearly 10,000 people homeless and resulted in the closure of roads in the river basin. Serious losses to maize and other crops, as well as to livestock are reported in the Lower Zambezi Valley, bordering Mozambique. Worst affected area is the Luangwa district. Emergency food assistance is being distributed to the affected population.

Despite the localized crop losses, the abundant rains since mid-February have benefited the main maize crop, affected by erratic precipitation earlier in the season. As a result, overall prospects for this year's cereal crop remain satisfactory.

ZIMBABWE* (29 March)

Heavy rains in the second dekad of March aggravated the situation in southern and eastern provinces severely affected by floods in late February, following Cyclone Eline. Latest estimates of the Cyclone damage indicate that 100 persons died, 96 000 have been directly affected, including 20 000 displaced people sheltered in camps, and some 500 000 people who have been indirectly affected. Floods also resulted in serious damage to infrastructure. Worst affected areas are the lowlands along the Save and Tanganda rivers, particularly the district of Chipinge, in the province of Manicaland, where 90 000 persons, or one quarter of the population is in need of food assistance. Flooding has extensively damaged crops along river valleys and water channels in the affected provinces. In particular, in the semi-arid southern Matabeleland province, production in irrigated areas will be reduced by the damage to infrastructure, including farm dams. However, a detailed assessment of the crop losses is not yet available

Although floods have not affected the main maize growing areas of the northeast, where the bulk of cereal crops are produced, this year's maize production is forecast to decrease due to a reduction in the area planted. Heavy rains since mid-February may also result in yield reductions.

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