FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.5, November 2000 - Page 2

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The number of people throughout the world experiencing severe food shortages has increased sharply from some 52 million people at the same time last year to 62 million currently. Much of this increase is in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of people affected has increased from 19 to some 28 million. The situation is particularly tight in Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia and parts of Tanzania, which are likely to have serious food shortages well into next year. Elsewhere in the continent, although some improvement is seen in food production in Liberia and the Republic of Congo, the effects of civil war continue to disrupt agriculture and food supplies in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. By contrast, food prospects are generally favourable in southern Africa, where 2000 production is forecast to increase by some 17 percent over last year.

The situation in large parts of Asia also remains extremely tight due to earlier drought and more recent floods. Parts of Cambodia and Vietnam still remain under water, constraining humanitarian and agricultural activities. Renewed drought in western and central India, for the second year running is likely to exacerbate an already difficult humanitarian situation. Elsewhere in the region earlier drought significantly reduced cereal production in many countries. The situation in DPR Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq, gives rise to particular concern as all these countries are in the midst of an already difficult food situation. The food situation in the CIS countries in Asia (Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan) will remain extremely tight next year due to an estimated fall of 5 million tonnes in aggregate production.

Cereal production in the EC, CIS countries west of the Urals and the Baltics is forecast to increase compared to last year. In contrast, production in the Balkans, spring production was sharply reduced due to hot/dry conditions.

In the United States, 2000 wheat production fell by some 3.5 percent below 1999 and coarse grains output was well down on earlier expectations though up on last year.



In eastern Africa, despite beneficial rains in parts, the food situation remains precarious due to the lingering effects of drought and civil strife in parts. Currently more than 20 million people need emergency food assistance whilst food shortages are expected to persist well into 2001. In addition, pastoralists in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Djibouti will be seriously affected by the recent ban (19 September) by major importing countries along the Arabian Peninsula on imports of livestock from these countries due to Rift Valley fever. A similar year-long ban in 1998 seriously affected the economies of exporting countries in the Horn.

The food situation is particularly serious in Kenya, Eritrea and Ethiopia, where large cereal imports, mostly as food aid, are still needed to stave off starvation. In Kenya, drought-induced food shortages still persist with nearly 3.3 million people estimated to be in urgent need of food assistance. The severe scarcity of water and pasture in northern and eastern parts resulted in large livestock losses. In Eritrea, mass displacement of farmers from the agriculturally rich regions of Gash Barka and Debub, accounting for more than 70 percent of cereal production, has jeopardised this year's cropping season. The food supply situation of the more than 1.5 million war-displaced people gives cause for serious concern. In Ethiopia, despite recent beneficial rains, the overall food supply situation remains highly precarious. An estimated 10 million people are in need of food assistance. In Somalia, a good main ("Gu") harvest preceded by a satisfactory secondary ("Deyr") season harvest in parts of the south has improved overall food prospects. In Sudan, overall prospects for 2000 cereal production are mixed. The food situation in some parts of the south is alarming due to drought and civil strife. In Tanzania, production in a number of regions is expected to fall due to late and insufficient rains. Several regions are facing acute food shortages. In Uganda, although the overall food supply situation is satisfactory, it remains precarious in the north-east, mainly due to last season's poor harvest.

In the Great Lakes region, prolonged dry weather from May to mid-October in Rwanda and Burundi adversely affected yields of basic staples (bananas and cassava), and delayed planting of the 2001 first season cereal and bean crops. In Rwanda, the Government has appealed for assistance with food and agricultural inputs for 267 000 most affected people.

In southern Africa, planting of the 2001 coarse grain crop is underway. Average to above average rains from the second half of October improved soil moisture for field operations and benefited early-planted crops. Overall, growing conditions are favourable so far. However, planting reductions are anticipated in South Africa in response to low prices, and in Zimbabwe, with the planned resettlement programme on commercial farms, but these reductions could be compensated by increases in other countries. Harvesting of the 2000 wheat crop is well advanced in the sub-region. The aggregate output is forecast at 2.2 million tonnes, some 10 percent higher than in 1999 but still below the five year average. Output in South Africa, which accounts for over 80 percent of regional aggregate production, is expected to be 22 percent higher than the poor harvest of last year. In Zimbabwe, production is forecast to be one-quarter lower than last year due to insecurity at the time of planting.

The sub-region's 2000 aggregate coarse grain production is estimated at about 19 million tonnes, 24 percent higher than the previous year. The favourable production reflects abundant rains during the growing season, in spite of severe floods and crop losses in parts. Output increased substantially in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana. In Malawi, production of coarse grains was at the same record level of last year. However, lower harvests were obtained in Mozambique, Madagascar, Angola, Swaziland and Lesotho.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory reflecting this year's good cereal harvest and commercial import capacity of most of the countries of the sub-region. However, the food situation remains precarious for increasing numbers of internally displaced people in war-torn Angola; it is estimated that 1.9 million people are in need of emergency food assistance. Food aid is also needed for 240 000 people in drought-affected southern Madagascar, who are experiencing serious food difficulties. In Mozambique, despite significant improvement in the food supply situation in southern parts, food aid is still needed for 172 000 most vulnerable people, including those worst affected by severe floods early this year.

In northern Africa, land preparation is underway for planting of 2000 winter crops. Aggregate wheat production is estimated to be below average at 9.6 million tonnes, some 15 percent below last year. This is the result of prolonged dry conditions during the growing season which adversely affected yields and production in all of the countries of the sub-region, with the exception of Egypt where wheat is largely irrigated. In Algeria and Morocco, production is much below average and some 37 percent below 1999, while in Tunisia, output is down 43 percent and below average. The 2000 coarse grains crop in the sub-region is estimated at 8.7 million tonnes, about 12 percent below the previous year. This is the result of unfavourable weather conditions in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In Egypt, output increased by about 3 percent.

In western Africa, harvest prospects are mixed. In the Sahel, harvesting of coarse grains is underway. Crops are generally satisfactory in the western half of the Sahel region, while dry spells in August/ September affected crops in central and eastern Burkina Faso, most parts of Niger and the Sahelian zone of Chad. A series of joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions in the 9 CILSS member countries of the Sahel in October estimated aggregate 2000 cereal production at 9.5 million tonnes, some 16 percent below the record production in 1999. Below-average harvests are anticipated in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad, while production is close to average in Mali and Niger, and above average in Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Senegal. A record crop is anticipated in The Gambia. Pastures are generally abundant throughout the pastoral zones but are now drying. Grasshopper attacks have been reported in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. A small outbreak of Desert Locusts has been reported in central Mauritania and northern Mali.

Reflecting generally favourable growing conditions, harvest prospects are favourable in the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea. However, In Sierra Leone, a resurgence of fighting in October affected agricultural activities and relief programmes and caused new population displacement. By contrast, in Liberia, some improvement in food production is anticipated; a GIEWS Crop Assessment Mission will review harvest prospects and the current food supply situation in late November/early December 2000.

In central Africa, crop prospects are generally favourable in Central African Republic and Cameroon. Following a peace agreement, the security situation has improved in the Republic of Congo but food production has not yet recovered. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, civil war continues to disrupt all economic and agricultural activities. The number of internally displaced people is estimated at 1.8 million but insecurity seriously hampers access to those in need of assistance.


Even though a number of countries have still to recover from earlier natural disasters, more typhoons and storms have increased problems, whilst recurrent or extended drought will bring further misery to parts. In the worst affected countries, following the worst floods in decades, flood waters are yet to recede in Cambodia and Vietnam, where concerns are mounting that planting of main season rice could be seriously delayed. Laos was also affected by floods, though the severity was not as extensive. In Bangladesh and the Philippines, typhoons in the later part of October resulted in further crop (mainly rice) damage. However, as these countries have two and three rice crops a year, overall prospects still remain satisfactory. In India, although a 12th normal monsoon was reported, overall there are renewed concerns about drought in western and central parts, particularly in Gujarat, Rajasthan, central Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which were also affected by drought last year. The water situation is becoming critical as the water table has dropped considerably following two dry years, and there may be a serious water shortage for winter (Rabi) season planting to commence shortly. A serious drought significantly reduced wheat and maize production in China this year, as a result of which there was a reduction of 12 percent and 20 percent respectively compared to 1999. Rice prospects have, however, improved a little since the last report. The severe after-effects of drought also continue to be felt in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which too was affected by the second dry year in succession, particularly amongst livestock farmers as large numbers of animals died last year and prospects for recovery in livestock numbers next spring are poor. In cereals much will depend on rainfall for recovery in the main staple wheat, planting of which is underway. Serious food supply difficulties persist in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where a combination of drought during the season and serious underlying problems in agriculture resulted in a slump in 2000 cereal production, following two relatively stable years in 1998 and 1999. This year, the country has the largest food deficit since 1997 (also affected by drought), though in contrast this year the country does have a substantial amount of food aid pledged already in the pipeline. The combination of natural disasters (harsh winter last year and drought this year) and economic problems due to transition continue to have a serious affect on food supply prospects in Mongolia. Recent studies indicate that chronic malnutrition persists in a number of nomadic areas, with many families living in extreme poverty with almost no resources.

In several countries of the Near East, persistent drought and conflict have jeopardised the livelihood of millions of people. In Afghanistan, a very serious food crisis has emerged following two consecutive years of drought and continuing civil conflict. The 2000 drought has decimated crops and livestock across the country, with more than 3 million people in need of urgent assistance. In addition, intensified civil conflict, particularly in northern parts, has resulted in renewed population displacement, aggravating the precarious food situation. In Iraq, two years of drought have decimated crops and exacerbated already tight food supply situation. Similarly, the drought has severely affected crops and pastures in Jordan, leaving thousands of herders in need of assistance.

In the CIS countries in Asia, aggregate cereal production is estimated to fall by 5 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes, mostly due to a fall in wheat production. As a result, the overall food supply situation is expected to be extremely tight and cereal import and food aid needs are sharply higher than last year. In Kazakhstan, the harvest, forecast at 11.7 million tonnes is less than last year's bumper 14 million tonnes, but still about average and the country's exportable surplus of about 4.4 million tonnes could help to cover import requirements in the region.

In the majority of the smaller countries in the region, shortages of irrigation and rainfed water supplies have exacerbated chronic problems in the agricultural sector and resulted in poor harvests. In the most affected areas of Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan and the Karakalpakstan Autonomous region of Uzbekistan, rainfed crops have virtually failed and irrigated crop yields more than halved. This has created food shortages and serious seed shortfalls, which need to be addressed if production is to recover next year. Cereals have been mostly affected, but also potatoes, fruit, vegetables, oilseeds and other crops on which households rely for food security. Moreover, natural pastures have become scarce and the production of fodder crops is low, necessitating considerable destocking. As livestock production is an important source of protein for households and, in addition, the sale of surplus livestock produce is a major source of rural households' cash income, there is a need this year, not only for increased food aid but also assistance with feedgrains. The aggregate import requirement for the region is estimated at 3.8 million tonnes compared to 3.3 million last year. The food aid requirement is estimated at 981 000 tonnes, including 826 000 tonnes of wheat and 148 000 tonnes of coarse grains. Against this requirement pledges registered to date amount to 360 000 tonnes.

In Armenia, the aggregate grain harvest (219 000 tonnes), is down by 27 percent compared to 1999 while potato production is likely to fall by 40 percent to 250 000 tonnes. As a result, the cereal import requirement is estimated to rise to 515 000 tonnes and a food aid requirement of 145 000 tonnes. In Georgia, aggregate cereal production is now estimated at 343 000 tonnes, only 44 percent of estimated 1999 production and 52 percent of average. Georgia's cereal import requirement in 2000/01 is estimated at 748 000 tonnes, and the uncovered deficit at 235 000 tonnes. In Tajikistan, the cereal import requirement in the 2000/01 marketing year (July/June) is estimated at 794 000 tonnes. The uncovered food aid requirements amounts to 295 000 tonnes. In Uzbekistan, indications are that the aggregate 2000 cereal harvest will be 10 percent less than last year, falling below 4 million tonnes, and cotton production is also down. Affected populations in Karakalpakstan will need humanitarian assistance this year. In Azerbaijan below normal rainfall and water levels in major rivers have also resulted in crop losses. Elsewhere, water shortages have also resulted in more localized crop losses in Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. Notwithstanding water shortages, the 2000 grain harvest in Turkmenistan is above target.

Latin America

In Central America and the Caribbean, the main food crop activities underway include planting of the 2000/01 second season cereal and bean crops. Sowing is almost completed. The food outlook is poor for El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, which were affected earlier by an unusually long summer dry spell ("canicula") and recently by torrential rains and flooding caused by Hurricane "Keith". Belize has been most affected and enormous damage is reported to the agricultural export sector. Some damage is also reported to the agricultural sector in Guatemala, but near-average cereal and bean outputs are nevertheless expected. In Mexico, harvesting of the important spring/summer maize crop has only started and average outputs are tentatively forecast. In Haiti, aggregate 2000/01 cereal and other foodcrop outputs are expected to be reduced because of severe dry weather which affected the crops during the first half of the year. Average outputs are anticipated in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

In the southern parts of South America, harvesting of the 2000/01 wheat crop has started. Weather conditions have severely affected the crops in Brazil and output is expected to be reduced. An average output is anticipated in Argentina, the main producer in the sub-region. In Chile and Uruguay, a recovery is expected from the previous year's weather affected crops. Sowing of the 2000/01 maize crop has also started in the southern areas and intended plantings are tentatively forecast at about average. In the Andean countries, a bumper 2000 maize crop is anticipated in Peru, and output is likely to be a slightly above-average in Ecuador. Average maize output is expected in Colombia and Venezuela. In Bolivia, fieldwork has started in preparation of the 2001 cereal and potato crops, although some early planting, particularly in the valleys, is also reported.


The aggregate 2000 cereal production in the EC is forecast at almost 216 million tonnes, 6 percent up from last year and 6 percent above the average of the past five years. Output of wheat and coarse grains has increased while the small paddy rice crop has declined. Prospects for the winter grain crops are uncertain after widespread heavy rains hampered planting in several parts, particularly in northern Italy. The exception to the overall wet pattern is the Iberian Peninsula, where more rainfall is needed to favour planting of the winter wheat and barley crops. Among the eastern European countries, persistent dry conditions are hampering autumn grain planting. Significant rainfall is needed, otherwise final areas planted could be less than intended and crop stands are likely to be in poor condition at dormancy, making them more susceptible to winter perils.

In the CIS countries west of the Urals, the harvest is virtually complete. Indications are that aggregate output in Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation (RF) and Ukraine is about 8 million tonnes above last year, reflecting a better harvest (+11 million tonnes) in the RF and Belarus but poorer crops in Moldova and the Ukraine. Aggregate wheat production could increase by about 3 million tonnes while that of coarse grain increased by 5.5 million. Aggregate cereal imports are expected to fall by 4 million tonnes to nearly 6 million tonnes, reflecting an easier supply situation in the RF, but tight supplies elsewhere. In the RF the 2000 grain harvest is likely to reach 71 million tonnes, nearly twenty percent more than FAO's estimate of production last year. Cereal imports in 2000/01 could halve compared to last years' 8 million tonnes. In Ukraine, chronic economic problems on farm and very mixed weather, have likely led to an even lower cereal harvest (25 million tonnes) than last year's (26 million tonnes). The country has already imported 100 000 tonnes of wheat in July alone, compared to imports of just under 0.5 million tonnes in 1999/2000. After three poor harvests in succession cereal exports in 2000/01 are anticipated to fall from 3 million tonnes in 1999/2000. In Belarus, the 2000 grain harvest could recover to an estimated 4.7 million tonnes, still remaining below average but well above last year's poor 3.6 million tonnes. In Moldova, drought has likely reduced aggregate grain output in 2000 to 1.8 million tonnes. Exports of wheat have been banned to ensure domestic supplies.

In the Baltic countries, the economic and food supply situation is recovering from the setback received from the devaluation of the Russian rouble. The 2000 cereal harvest has recovered sharply in all three countries.

In the Balkans, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have suffered the effects of a hot and dry spring and summer, resulting in sharply reduced spring crops (maize, oilseeds, sugarbeet, potatoes and vegetables). In Bosnia Herzegovina, the wheat import requirement is likely to continue its upward trend. In Croatia the winter wheat harvest (1.1 million tonnes) has recovered from last year's poor level but maize and other spring crop production is sharply down and no exports of maize (also some wheat) are anticipated. In the Fed. Rep. of Yugoslavia the 1999/2000 agricultural year has been exceptionally difficult as the combined result of man-made disasters, floods and waterlogging in the winter and prolonged drought this spring and summer. Output of wheat is less then 2 million tonnes but adequate to meet domestic needs. The production of spring crops is very badly affected. The country relies on exports of agricultural produce including cereals, livestock products and fruit to finance essential imports of fuel and the outlook is for a difficult year with rising prices for food and fuel. Populations with low incomes need assistance.

North America

Winter wheat planting in the United States is virtually complete. Planting pace was slower than normal due to excessively dry conditions. Early indications point to little change in the area sown from last year's level. However, because of the lack of moisture, crop stands in many parts may be below average condition going into the winter which would make them more vulnerable to winter perils. Officially, the 2000 wheat harvest is now estimated at 60.5 million tonnes, about 3.5 percent below 1999. The latest forecast for coarse grains is about 278 million tonnes, well down from earlier expectations because of dry weather late in the season but still 5 percent up from 1999. In Canada, the bulk of the 2000 harvest is complete, later than normal due to rain and cool temperatures. Output of both wheat and coarse grains is down somewhat from last year and the average.


In Oceania, prospects for this year's wheat and small coarse grains crops in Australia have deteriorated following persisting hot and dry weather in the last two months. Crops in the north and west in particular have been hit by hot and dry weather, which has adversely affected yields and quality. FAO now forecast wheat output in 2000 at 20 million tonnes, well down from 1999 and below average.

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