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

WESTERN AFRICA

BENIN (29 March)

The first rains started in mid-March in the south, allowing planting of the first maize crop. The aggregate output of cereals (including rice in paddy form) in 1999 is estimated at 925 000 tonnes, which is well above average. As a result, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, at the end of the last rainy season, in September/October, floods in many villages displaced thousands of people. Cereal imports, for domestic use and re-exports, during the 2000 marketing year are estimated at 145 000 tonnes and the food aid requirement is estimated at 10 000 tonnes.

BURKINA FASO (29 March)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. The final 1999 production estimates released by the statistical services indicate that 1999 aggregate production of cereals reached a record of 2.7 million tonnes (with rice in paddy form), which is 12.9 percent above average for the last five years. Millet and sorghum production showed a decrease, while maize and rice production increased.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Markets are well supplied and prices of local millet and sorghum are lower than in previous several years. However, some populations may be vulnerable to food shortage, notably in the provinces of Boulkiemdé, Samnatenga and Sanguié, following successive below-average harvests. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 155 000 tonnes, mainly wheat and rice. Emergency food assistance has been distributed in the provinces of Boulkiemdé, Kouritenga, Passoré, Poni, and Yatenga to 12 000 Burkinabe who fled from Tebou in south-west Côte d'Ivoire in early November following land tenure disputes in cocoa plantations. Around 4 000 people have been identified as particularly vulnerable.

CAPE VERDE (29 March)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. An FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in October estimated 1999 cereal production at a record 25 700 tonnes which is about 5 times higher than in 1998 and the average of the last five years.

Following this record crop, the overall food supply situation has improved in rural areas affected by several successive poor crops. With normal cereal imports, markets are well supplied and prices are stable. However, the areas of Ribeira Grande and Paúl in Santo Antão island are reported as vulnerable. The bumper 1999 production will cover only about a quarter of consumption requirement, but available stocks and planned commercial imports or food aid for the year 2000 will be sufficient to cover the deficit. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 70 000 tonnes of which 50 000 tonnes are expected to be received as food aid. About 37 000 tonnes of food aid have been received so far.

CHAD (29 March)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Off-season crops are growing satisfactorily and prospects are good for berbéré (recession sorghum) in Chari Baguirmi, Mayo Kebbi and Salamat Prefectures as well as for off-season maize and wheat crops in the Lake Chad polders despite some flooding. Following the release of final production estimates by the national statistical services, the aggregate 1999 cereal production is put at 1 230 000 tonnes (with rice in paddy form), which is 9 percent below the 1998 record but 16 percent above the average of the last five years.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Prices of cereals remain stable and are lower than previous years. Farmers have reconstituted stocks for the second consecutive year or sold cereals to compensate for low cotton incomes and poor groundnut production. Some areas were flooded in Moyen Chari and Logone Oriental prefectures. Food supply difficulties could be experienced in northern Lac province and in some areas of Batha, Biltine, Kanem (notably in Mao and Nokou sub-prefectures) and Tandjilé. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 67 000 tonnes, including 12 000 tonnes of food aid.

COTE D'IVOIRE (29 March)

Rains have started in the south and the centre in mid-March allowing planting of the first maize crop. Production of rice in 1999 increased compared to 1998 due to good rains and larger plantings. The aggregate output of cereals in 1999 is estimated at almost 1.8 million tonnes (with rice in paddy form), which is slightly above the 1998 level.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 655 000 tonnes, mainly rice and wheat. The number of Liberian refugees is decreasing due to repatriation. However some 100 000 Liberian refugees and 1 500 Sierra Leoneans are still present in the west.

THE GAMBIA (29 March)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Following the release of final production figures by national statistical services, the aggregate 1999 cereal production is estimated at a record of 155 600 tonnes (with rice in paddy form), which is 36 percent above 1998 and 48 percent above the average of the last five years.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory and markets are well supplied. However, some areas have been affected by substantial flooding, especially in Lower, Central and Upper Baddibous, Fulladu West in the Central River Division and in Sandu, Wulli and Kontora in the Upper River Division. Cereal imports for domestic use and re-export during the 1999/2000 marketing year are estimated at 114 000 tonnes.

GHANA (29 March)

Substantial first rains have been registered in the south and the centre during the second dekad of March, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. Severe floods in September 1999 devastated three areas in the Northern Regions as major rivers burst banks. Some 332 000 people were made homeless by the floods which destroyed crops and livestock and caused an outbreak of cholera in some villages. The aggregate output of cereals in 1999 is estimated at 1 686 000 tonnes (with rice in paddy form) which is slightly below the output in 1998 and the average of the last five years.

The food supply situation is tight for the population affected by flooding. WFP is providing 900 tonnes of maize and 83 tonnes of beans to some 50 000 vulnerable people, including women, children and the elderly in Northern Region (30 000), Upper East Region (12 000) and Upper West Region (8 000). Water and sanitation remains a problem as small dams and wells were destroyed, particularly in the Upper East Region. Many water sources have been contaminated. About 10 000 Liberian refugees remain in the country. Out of these, only 2 000 are receiving food rations. Cereal imports for domestic use and re-export during the 2000 marketing year are estimated at 485 000 tonnes and the food aid requirement at 46 000 tonnes.

GUINEA (29 March)

First rains have been registered in the extreme south in March. Reflecting favourable growing conditions, the output of cereals in 1999 is estimated at a record 1.04 million tonnes (with rice in paddy form).

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory except for refugees. Markets are well supplied both in urban and rural areas. Surpluses are available in the Guinée Maritime and Guinée Forestière regions. Some 488 000 refugees remain in the country (120 000 from Liberia and 366 000 from Sierra Leone). They are located mainly in Gueckédou (360 000), Forécariah (60 000) and N'Zérékore (60 000). They are receiving food assistance and are considered at moderate nutritional risk. The cereal import requirement for the 2000 marketing year is estimated at 350 000 tonnes of wheat and rice.

GUINEA-BISSAU (29 March)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated 1999 cereal production at 138 700 tonnes (with rice in paddy form), which is 6 percent above 1998, but below the 1997/98 pre-crisis level and below average. Production of coarse grains increased, while that of rice decreased due to flooding and pest attacks.

The overall food supply situation has improved. However, some population groups are still facing food supply difficulties, notably in urban areas and in Catio, Fulakunda and Bambadinca areas.

LIBERIA* (29 March)

First seasonal rains were received in early March. Reflecting favourable growing conditions and an improved security situation, 1999 cereal production is expected to be similar to or above the previous year, except in the north where fighting broke out in Lofa County during the growing season. Agricultural production increased in Bong, Bomi, Montserrado and Nimba counties, but remained depressed in Maryland, Sinoe and Grand Kru due to poor roads rendering access to farms difficult. With the exception of Lofa County, relative peace in most areas has exerted a positive influence on farming activities. The cultivated area in 1999 is anticipated to be substantially higher than in 1998, with rice production expected to reach around 80 percent of pre-civil war level and cassava recovering to normal levels. Although a shortage of basic agricultural inputs was a limiting factor for farmers, it was alleviated by substantial distribution of seeds and tools and improved technical assistance to resettling farm families. In Lofa County, most of the estimated 25 000 displaced people are farmers who have not been able to harvest their crops. Several thousands have been displaced from Voinjama and Kolahum camps in upper Lofa to Tarvey and Sinje in lower Lofa.

The overall food situation has improved significantly in 1999. Food supplies in urban markets are relatively stable, and in general, prices are lower than in 1998. Food supply in rural areas continues to be tight. Rehabilitation programmes are allowing resettlement and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons through provision of repatriation packages. However, humanitarian programmes for Liberian returnees and Sierra Leonean refugees were disrupted by insecurity and looting in Lofa county, where the nutritional and health conditions of displaced people have reportedly deteriorated. It is estimated that there are around 500 000 refugees, internally-displaced persons and returnees in Liberia, including 90 000 refugees from Sierra Leone. The country continues to rely heavily on food aid.

MALI (29 March)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Harvesting of rice is underway in the Niger River areas where fish catches are also reported to be good (almost double compared to previous year). Prospects for off-season irrigated or recession crops are particularly favourable. Reflecting adequate growing conditions, the aggregate 1999 cereal production was estimated by a joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission last October at 2 951 700 tonnes (rice in paddy form). This exceeds the 1998 record by 16 percent and is 28 percent above the average of the last five years. Production of rice increased by 13 percent and 41 percent respectively compared to 1998 and the average for the last five years, while coarse grains production increased by 17 percent and 23 percent respectively. Desert Locusts have been reported in several wadis of Timetrine. About 1 700 hectares were treated out of 2 575 hectares infested. Locusts escaping control may persist and mature in a few wadis of Adrar des Iforas.

Following two successive bumper crops, the overall food situation is satisfactory. Markets are well supplied and cereal prices declined sharply following harvest and are much lower than in the previous few years. These very low prices, due to large cereal surpluses, may cause economic difficulties for farmers in some areas. There are good opportunities for local purchases and transfer of surplus cereals to neighbouring countries or even outside West Africa. The national early warning system (SAP) estimated that only 2 arrondissements out of the 173 it monitors in the centre and the north (namely Baye in the Bankass cercle and Diankabou in the Koro cercle), are moderately at risk of food shortages following floods which destroyed rice crops. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 100 000 tonnes of wheat and rice. No food aid is required.

MAURITANIA (29 March)

Abundant precipitation during the rainy season filled dams, enabling much larger areas to be sown with recession (walo) or "bas-fonds" crops. Therefore, prospects for off-season and recession crops are excellent. They were anticipated to be the best in 30-40 years in many areas. However, substantial pest infestations have been reported recently. The high level reached by the Sénégal river also caused substantial flooding in Brakna, Gorgol and Trarza, in the Sénégal river basin and reduced irrigated rice production.

A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated aggregate cereal production in 1999/2000 at 250 900 tonnes (with rice in paddy form) which is 28 percent above the 1998/99 production and well above average. Desert Locusts have been reported in March in the extreme north near Big Moghrein. A total of 340 hectares were treated by ground teams during March. Hatching is likely to come to an end by early April in north-western Tiris-Zemmour but hoppers will continue to develop, forming groups and bands.

The food situation improved in rural areas following a good harvest, except in the flooded areas. Food distributions of 2 240 tonnes of cereals for the affected populations have recently been completed in Brakna, Gorgol, Tagant and Trarza. Markets are well supplied and prices of cereals declined substantially following harvest. Some areas of Aftout and Affolé, Tagant, southern Assaba and the two Hodhs are also vulnerable. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 260 000 tonnes (excluding re-exports) and the food aid requirement at 25 000 tonnes.

NIGER (29 March)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Prospects for off-season irrigated crops are excellent. Following release of final production figures by national statistical services, the aggregate production of cereals in 1999 is estimated at 2.87 million tonnes (with rice in paddy form), about 4 percent below the previous year's record crop but 25 percent above the average of the last five years. The niebe production is estimated at 420 000 tonnes. Low densities of Desert Locust adult populations have been reported on the eastern side of Aïr mountain during March. High densities of gregarious hoppers were also observed at one site. Desert Locusts had already been reported in south-eastern Aïr in February. A total of 700 hectares were sprayed in the area of wadi Tafidet.

The overall food supply situation remains satisfactory. Markets are well supplied and prices of cereals are low. The assessments by the National Early Warning System indicate that no emergency assistance is needed by the country. However, some areas in Aguié, Guidan Roumdji, Illéla, Keita, Matameye and Mayahi as well as some urban populations may be somewhat vulnerable. The national security stock has been reconstituted at a level of 14 577 tonnes of millet and 2 132 tonnes of sorghum.

NIGERIA (29 March)

Substantial rains started in the south during the second dekad of March, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. The 1999 cereal production is estimated at 23.2 million tonnes (with rice in paddy form).

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, due to heavy rains, three hydroelectric dams released water in the Kaduna, Benue and Niger rivers in early October, causing flooding of villages located along the river banks. The Nigerian Government estimates that about 300 000 people have been affected by the flooding, and that several thousand hectares have been flooded in 5 States (Sokoto, Adamwara, Borno, Kwara and Niger). The south-eastern Bayelsa State and five districts in the Niger Delta (in the municipalities of Patani, Oshimili South, Ndokwa East, Burutu and Bomadi) have also been affected by floods. Rising waters in Lake Chad have also left an estimated 25 000 people homeless in northern Nigeria. The government approved in late 1999 the purchase of 55 000 tonnes of local grains as part of the country's strategic food reserve.

The government decided on 11 February to remove import duties and value-added tax on all agricultural inputs, including fertilizer. The government will no longer be involved in the importation and distribution of fertilizer.

SENEGAL (29 March)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Prospects for off-season irrigated or recession crops are favourable as large areas have been flooded in the Sénégal River valley. The national statistical services released new production figures. The aggregate production of cereals in 1999 is now estimated 1 256 000 tonnes (with rice in paddy form), which is 63 percent above 1998 level and 34 percent above the average for the last five years.

The overall food situation is satisfactory. Following substantial imports of rice in late 1999, markets are well supplied and the price of rice is stable. Import taxes were reduced from 15.7 percent to 12.2 percent in early 2000. Prices of local cereals are low, although they started to increase in March. However, in Casamance, in some areas of the departments of Diourbel, Kaffrine, Gossas, M'Backé and in the flooded areas of the Sénégal river valley (Dagana, Podor, Matam and Bakel), localized food supply difficulties are likely. The cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 760 000 tonnes, including 450 000 tonnes of rice. The food aid requirement is estimated at 10 000 tonnes.

SIERRA LEONE* (29 March)

An FAO Crop Assessment Mission which visited the South West, Southern and part of Eastern regions in December 1999 found that the agricultural sector has been extensively disrupted by civil war throughout the country, even in the Southern region where relative peace now prevails. Over the years, farmers have lost all their productive resources including seeds, implements and other capital assets. There has been large-scale destruction of infrastructure and rural institutions. As most rural farm families were displaced, availability of labour for planting and harvesting is a major constraint. Also, farmers' capacity to retain stocks is low due to financial constraints and the fear of looting. Practically all the farmers are dependent on Government and NGOs for the supply of seeds, and thus planted areas are determined by the capacity of these agencies to assist them. Due to shortages of seeds and other inputs, average rice area per farm has declined from about 0.80 hectare normally to about 0.60 hectare in the current year. Thus, the shortage of tools, fertilizers and labour adversely affected food production in 1999.

The Mission estimated rice area in 1999 at about 225 000 hectares, about 21 percent below the 1998 estimate of 285 000 hectares. Despite very good rainfall, delayed transplanting and shortages of inputs resulted in a decline in yields of about 4 percent from the previous year. Thus, production of paddy is estimated as 248 220 tonnes for 1999, about 24 percent below the 1998 estimate of 328 310 tonnes. The 1999 paddy production is around 45 percent of the pre-civil war (1990) production and just about 60 percent of 1997 production when the security situation improved in many parts of the country. In the South-West region, where the security situation has improved, production has increased slightly over the previous year. However, in the North, North-West and part of Eastern region, where insecurity was high and remained inaccessible to most of the relief agencies, both planted area and yield decreased from the previous year. In the east, about 2 500 refugees returned from Liberia between January and March. About 485 000 Sierra Leonean refugees are still in neighbouring countries, mainly in Guinea and Liberia.

Total cereal supply in 2000, including rice in milled form, is estimated at 181 000 tonnes against a utilization requirement of 510 000 tonnes, resulting in an import requirement of 329 000 tonnes for 2000. This compares with 1999 estimated imports of 290 000 tonnes. Over the civil war years, there has been a steady substitution of roots and tubers for cereals, and this largely explains the estimated small increase in cereal imports between the two years. The country continue to rely heavily on food aid. A WFP emergency operation for a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programme for operation for refugees, IDPs and returnees was approved in late March.

TOGO (29 March)

First seasonal rains were received in the south and the centre during the second dekad of March, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. Reflecting widespread and above-normal rains during the 1999 growing season, the aggregate output of cereals in 1999 is estimated at a record 748 000 tonnes (with rice in paddy form) which is 27 percent above 1998 level. Maize production increased sharply, notably in Savanes, Plateaux and Kara regions. Production of tubers and beans also increased.

Following this record crop, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, floods affected the regions of Kara (in the north), Plateaux (in the west), Maritime (in the south) and Savanes (in the extreme north). The worst affected region is Savanes where at least 1 000 hectares of arable land have been inundated, isolating villages and affecting an estimated 42 000 people.


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