FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.1, March 2001

WESTERN AFRICA

BENIN (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Land preparation for the first maize crop is underway in the south. Plantings will start with the arrival of the rains, usually in March. Reflecting generally adequate growing conditions, the aggregate 2000 cereal production is estimated at 905 000 tonnes, which is slightly below last year’s record but remains well above average.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Markets are well supplied and prices of cereals remain generally stable. Cereal imports, for domestic use and re-exports during the 2001 marketing year are estimated at 150 000 tonnes and food aid requirements at 10 000 tonnes.

BURKINA FASO (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Off-season crops are generally developing satisfactorily. Final 2000 production figures have been released by the government and are significantly lower than the estimates of the FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in October 2000 which was pointing already to a below-average harvest.

Following this reduced crop, the overall food supply situation will tighten in several areas, notably in the north, the centre and the east where cereal production decreased significantly. The return of Burkinabé from Côte d’Ivoire to their villages is also putting additional pressure on food supply. However, some household stocks are still available following 1999 record crop and transfers from surplus to deficit areas are possible. During recent cereal exchange markets ("bourses de céréales"), the offer remained well above demand. Prices of cereals remained generally stable in January and below the 1995-99 average. A food supply assessment mission is scheduled to identify most vulnerable zones and assistance needs. In the north, the Government has recently launched a livestock relief programme based on drilling supplementary wells and making adequate feed available to ensure the survival of the animals.

CAPE VERDE (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated the 2000 maize production at 18 500 tonnes, which is significantly below the 1999 record crop but is well above average.

Following two successive good harvests, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, local production covers only about a quarter of consumption requirement and the country relies on imports and food aid to cover its needs. With available stocks and planned commercial imports and food aid for the coming months, markets should remain well supplied with stable prices. The cereal import requirement for the 2000/01 marketing year (November/October) is estimated at 88 000 tonnes and the food aid requirement at 53 000 tonnes.

CHAD (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Harvesting of berbéré (recessional sorghum) is underway. Yields are lower than last year due to lack of water and grain-eating birds attacks. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated the 2000 cereal production at 890 000 tonnes, which is 28 percent below the 1999 record level and 16 percent below the last five years average.

Following this reduced harvest, the food supply situation will tighten in the structurally deficit zones of the Sahelian Zone, notably in the Guéra and Lac departments. Unusual population movements were reported from the cantons of Baderi, N'Gouri and Yalita in Lac Department to major urban centres, southern Chad or the Lake Chad area. In the Sudanian Zone, the food situation is also worsening in the rice producing areas, notably in Mayo-Kebbi department. The cotton harvest in the south is also anticipated to be reduced, but groundnut production is good. Prices of millet remain close to those of January last year in the five major markets of the country, except in Abéché, where they registered an increase of 24 percent. By contrast, prices of rice increased sharply in the major producing areas. The migration of livestock from the Sahelian zone could trigger overgrazing and a shortage of pasture in the Sudanian zone. An assessment of the food supply situation in the at-risk zones conducted in early January estimated the at-risk population at 800 000 persons for whom about 40 000 tonnes of cereals are needed. About 700 000 people are also considered moderately vulnerable. The sale of 20 000 tonnes of cereals at subsidised prices is recommended.

COTE D'IVOIRE (5 February)

Land preparation for the first maize crop is underway in the south. Plantings will start with the arrival of the rains, usually in March.

Following an above-average cereal harvest in 2000, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, recent civil disturbances may have affected marketing activities, exacerbating an already deteriorating economic situation. The external debt has reached about US$1.5 billion, while GDP declined by about 2 percent in 2000. The fall in prices of cocoa, of which Côte d’Ivoire is the leading producer in the world, has been a major contributing factor. Substantial quantities of rice, exceeding average annual imports, have been received in 2000. Some 86 000 Liberian refugees and 1 500 Sierra Leoneans remain in the west.

THE GAMBIA (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated the 2000 cereal production at a record 174 000 tonnes, representing an increase of about 12 percent compared to 1999 and 49 percent compared to the previous five years average.

Following two successive bumper crops in 1999 and 2000, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, despite the increase in food production, two at-risk zones have been identified: Lower River Division (LRD) (Jarra East and Jarra Central) and Central River Division (CRD) North (all the five districts) which will gather poor crops due to blister beetles and striga infestations in the fields. Poor germination of groundnut seed due to high pest infestations at storage level also resulted in reduced groundnut production.

GHANA (5 February)

Land preparation for the first maize crop is underway in the south. Plantings will start with the arrival of the rains, usually in March.

Reflecting poor growing conditions in 2000, the food supply situation is tight in some areas. About 10 000 Liberian and up to 2 500 Sierra Leoneans refugees remain in the country.

GUINEA (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Reflecting a good harvest in 2000 and a record crop in 1999, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory and markets are generally well supplied, except in the south-east where rebel incursions from Sierra Leone have severely affected agriculture and marketing activities. Recent clashes forced humanitarian agencies to temporarily suspend their operations in Gueckédou and surrounding areas, pulling back staff to Kissidougou, only a week after returning to the area. Consequently, more than 200 000 refugees are once again out of reach. All public institutions such as dispensaries, hospitals, schools and police stations have been closed.

More than 400 000 refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone remain in the country, located mainly in Gueckédou, Forécariah and N'Zérékore areas. Access is very difficult to the Parrot's Beak, a strip of Guinean territory that juts into Sierra Leone near the Liberian border, where around 250 000 people are located (about 180 000 refugees living in scores of camps and some 70 000 internally displaced persons). UNHCR is building camps in Borea and Kuntaya, respectively 60 km and 82 km north of Kissidougou, to relocate refugees from Guekedou and the Parrot's Beak. Other camps are also planned in Dabola prefecture. A transit camp has been established in Conakry for the repatriation of refugees to Sierra Leone by boat.

GUINEA-BISSAU (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in mid-October estimated 2000 cereal production at 168 000 tonnes which is 22 percent above the previous year’s level and close to the pre-crisis level of 1997.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Markets remain well supplied and prices are stable. However, some population groups with low purchase power are facing food difficulties, notably in urban areas.

LIBERIA* (5 February)

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Liberia in late November/early December and estimated the 2000 rice paddy production at 144 000 tonnes, compared with a pre-war (1988) figure of 259 000 tonnes. The area planted to rice in the year 2000 is estimated at 135 000 hectares, suggesting an average yield of 1.1 tonnes/hectare. Small plots and poor yields would appear to be the main cause of low production per household. The lack of employment opportunities during and after the war has compelled many families to grow some rice for the first time, in order to survive. It has also caused cultivation of land which had never previously been considered for rice production, such as the coastal mangrove swamps. As a result, there are many more families in rice production than in pre-war times, albeit with smaller plots. The main constraints faced by farmers include labour shortages, shortage of rice seed, lack of any marketing organization, high levels of post-harvest losses and poor road conditions. Large scale distribution of seeds and tools has stopped and agricultural extension activities by NGOs are focusing on rice seed multiplication, post- harvest loss reduction and coffee and cocoa rehabilitation.

Eating habits have changed dramatically since the war in favour of cassava, whose area and production have increased substantially. The Mission estimated that, taking into account possible losses, some 480 000 tonnes of cassava will be available for consumption in 2001, compared with 308 000 tonnes in 1988. Plantains are also said to be more important than before.

The Mission estimated the cereal import requirement in 2001 at 200 000 tonnes. Commercial imports are estimated at 160 000 tonnes, leaving an uncovered deficit of 40 000 tonnes to be met by food aid. WFP is seeking a total of 21 000 tonnes of cereals and pulses and 3 800 tonnes of other commodities to meet the food aid needs of about 145 000 refugees and other war affected people, as well as 140 000 children attending primary schools during the year 2001.

In Lofa county, one of Liberia’s main rice producing areas, periodic rebel incursions since August 1999 intensified in October and have disrupted farming and displaced thousands of people, notably in the towns of Gorlu, Ganglota and Selayae. Security remains precarious. Thousands of Guineans fleeing hostilities in their country have sought refuge in border towns in Liberia. More than 15 000 have arrived in Bong county and northern Lofa county. WFP is distributing food aid to about 420 000 Liberian returnees. UNHCR is also assisting Sierra Leonean refugees in camps in Montserrado and Sinje areas in Grand Cape Mount County.

MALI (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Off season crops are now being cultivated. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated the 2000 cereal production at 2 386 300 tonnes. This is 17.5 percent below last year’s record (2 893 600 tonnes) but is very close to the average of the last five years. Desert Locusts were reported in December in the northern Adrar des Iforas near Tadjilit, Amsir, and In- Tillit. Low numbers of adults are likely to persist in a few wadis of the Adrar des Iforas and perhaps in the Timetrine area. Some of these could move northwards during periods of warm southerly winds.

Following two successive bumper crops in 1998 and 1999, farmers stocks have been replenished. They were estimated by the national statistical service at 520 000 tonnes in late October 2000. The national security stock is also at its recommended level of 35 000 tonnes (plus 25 000 tonnes in the form of "financial" security stock). With stocks held by traders and other organisations, there was a stock of more than 3 months consumption before the 2000 harvest. Therefore, the overall food situation is satisfactory. However, some areas may be at risk of food shortages following poor harvests, notably in Mopti, Gao, Kidal, Tombouctou and northern Ségou regions. Prices of cereals are likely to increase in these areas due to lower production and stronger demand from neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger which had reduced harvests compared to 1999. Livestock herds migrated earlier than usual to the delta of the Niger River.

MAURITANIA (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Production of rainfed (dieri) crops was well above average. Planted irrigated areas decreased in Trarza and Brakna and yields are anticipated to be reduced due to late plantings and lack of production credit. Prospects for recession (walo) crops are also less favourable than in the previous year as planted areas decreased due to reduced water levels in the Senegal River. Attacks by caterpillars are reported in several areas. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated the 2000 cereal production at 170 000 tonnes, which is 12 percent below the previous year’s level and 3 percent below the average of the last five years.

The food situation improved in rural areas following good rainfed crops. Markets are well supplied and prices remain generally stable. However, some populations remain vulnerable, notably in various areas of the two Hodhs, Aftout and Affolé.

NIGER (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated the 2000 cereal production at 2 319 000 tonnes, which is 19 percent below the 1999 level and about 3 percent below the average of the last five years. A few isolated Desert Locusts may be present in parts of the Aïr. No significant developments are expected.

Following this near-average harvest, the food supply situation will tighten in the traditionally food deficit areas. Markets are generally well supplied but prices of millet increased significantly in January except in the west where subtantial imports of millet from Mali limited price increases. Farmers stocks are still available following 1998 and 1999 good harvests but food shortages may appear during the lean season. The at-risk zones are notably in Diffa, Tahoua, Tillabery and Agadez departments. The government and donors are selling millet and sorghum at a subsidized price (about 15-35 percent lower than the prevailing market price) in the areas that experienced production shortfalls. As of 20 January, the National Security Stock (SNS) held approximately 12 500 tonnes of millet.

NIGERIA (5 February)

Land preparation for the first maize crop is underway in the south. Plantings will start with the arrival of the rains, usually in March. Reflecting generally favourable growing conditions during the 2000 rainy season, an average to above- average harvest is anticipated.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Some population groups, however, remain vulnerable following flooding in Sokoto in the north-west.

SENEGAL (5 February)

Seasonably dry conditions prevail. A joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in October estimated the 2000 cereal production at 1 041 000 tonnes which is about 10 percent above average.

Following two successive good harvests, the overall food situation is satisfactory. Markets are well supplied. The price of millet and sorghum decreased following harvest while the price of rice remains stable.

SIERRA LEONE* (5 February)

A reduced rice crop has been harvested in 2000 as planted areas were significantly below the previous year’s level due to a resurgence of civil strife in early May, the critical planting period. Due to insecurity, input distribution and relief operations were suspended or seriously disrupted, notably in the north. Agencies could provide only 46% of the targeted number of beneficiaries with agricultural inputs. Fighting along the border with Guinea and Liberia intensified in late 2000, resulting in new waves of population displacement.

Reflecting a reduced crop and transport problems, the food supply situation will remain tight in 2001. In addition to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) already registered, new IDPs have been registered in the south and west following the upsurge of fighting in May and October. About half a million people have been displaced and are being hosted by local communities in government controlled areas, while it is estimated that 1 million people have been affected by the war in rebel controlled areas. More than 400 000 Sierra Leonean refugees remain in neighbouring West African countries, mostly in Guinea and Liberia.

Military activities between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Guinean army has displaced up to 15 000 persons from the border areas. Despite the hostilities, WFP and NGOs continue food distributions. A resettlement plan has been launched in Freetown, Port Loko, Kenema and Pejehun districts which have been declared safe for people to return to. IDPs originating from the above locations will receive WFP assistance for the next four months. It is estimated that approximately 50 percent of the 57 000 IDPs in camps located in the western areas are from districts now declared safe.

TOGO (5 February)

Land preparation for the first maize crop is underway in the south. Plantings will start following the arrival of the rains, usually in March.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, people affected by floods in various areas remain vulnerable.


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