FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 06/01 - GEORGIA* (31 May)
GEORGIA* (31 May)
The outlook for the 2001 harvest has improved with good rains in the spring. Satellite imagery indicates satisfactory crop development, which however, is less dense than last year in the northern areas from South Ossetia through Shida Kartli, Mtianeti to Khaketi. This could be due to reduced or late winter wheat plantings. As precipitation during the winter months has again been well below average, the final outcome of the harvest will depend crucially on regular rainfall in the coming months. There are indications that the area sown to winter wheat may not have fallen as sharply as originally reported. However, plantings were delayed in many areas and many farmers used whatever seed they could mobilize. It is hoped to mobilize enough seed to increase the area sown in the spring to potatoes and maize, to offset any potential reduction in wheat output.
Weather permitting, the 2001 wheat harvest is projected to recover from last year’s drought reduced level of 89 000 tonnes to about 200 000 tonnes. Similarly, production of the major maize crop could rise by a third, resulting in aggregate grain production of some 58 percent more than last year’s 0.6 million tonnes. However, aggregate grain production would still be somewhat below the 5-year average.
The importance of informal trade makes it very difficult to monitor the actual level of cereal consumption. Given a national cereal consumption requirement (including food, feed seed, losses) of 1.1 million tonnes in 2001//2002, Georgia’s cereal import requirement is estimated at about 500 000 tonnes, mostly wheat. The volume of actual imports is difficult to assess but indications are that the country imported more than this in 2000/01. Against the estimated food aid requirement for the 2000/01 marketing year of 311 000 tonnes, only 810 000 tonnes have been registered to date.
WFP appealed last year for almost 66 000 tonnes to cover the basic needs of 696 000 most vulnerable drought- affected victims until the next main harvest, for a period of eight months (November-June). Response to this appeal has been slow and limited; the first commodity consignments only reached Georgia in January. The first round of distributions started late in February. Due to the lack of resources only half of the original ration was distributed during that round. A total of 516 750 beneficiaries (number revised following the recommendations of a Household Food Economy Survey undertaken in November 2000) received 6 802 tonnes of mixed food (6 199 tonnes wheat flour, 305 tonnes vegetable oil, 298 tonnes beans). Since the beginning of May a second round of distribution is underway. To date 327 329 beneficiaries received 4 139 tonnes of food. By mid-June pledges covered 65 percent of the total amount requested (42 500 tonnes against 66 000 tonnes in the appeal).