FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.5, November 2001


BURUNDI* (5 November)

Normal to above-normal rainfall in September and October, particularly in northern parts, favoured planting of the 2002 A season crops, to be harvested from January, and benefited earlier planted crops. Future prospects for peace are also good, following the formation of a new power-sharing Government on 1 November.

The outcome of the 2001 B season foodcrops season was satisfactory. Aggregate food production increased by 10 percent from the level of the previous year. Cereal output was 10 percent higher than in 2000 B season, while pulses increased by 24 percent. The outcome reflects generally good rains, improved security conditions at planting and timely distribution of seeds by international agencies. The output of the 2001 A season, harvested early in the year, was also good.

The overall food supply situation has improved with the increase in food production in 2001. However, the food and nutritional situation of 432 000 internally displaced and other vulnerable population remains critical. Emergency food aid will still be required for these populations until the next harvest.

ERITREA* (6 November)

Harvesting of the 2001 cereal and pulse crops is about to start. Prospects for a good cereal crop in 2001 were somewhat dampened following below normal rains in September which are important for crops at flowering and seed setting stages. Field assessments for the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) during September indicate lower expected production than the preliminary crop estimates given by the Ministry of Agriculture in early August. However, the revised cereal production estimate, put at 203 000 tonnes, is still about 3 times more than last year's well below average crop.

The overall food situation remains tight following population displacement by the war with Ethiopia and drought last year. Last year's cereal crop was sharply reduced due mainly to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers from the agriculturally rich regions of Gash Barka and Debub, which account for more than 70 percent of cereal production. The total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has declined from 70 000 to about 58 000 in September.

Two Emergency Operations were jointly approved in April and May 2001 by FAO and WFP for food assistance to about 1.8 million people affected by war and drought, worth a total sum of US$77 million for a period of 10 months (May 2001 to February 2002). The balance of WFP food stocks as of end-September stood at 66 000 tonnes which is expected to meet emergency food requirements until the end of the first quarter or mid-2002. Although the number of IDPs in camps is gradually declining, further food assistance is required as more refugees are returning from Sudan.

ETHIOPIA* (6 November)

Harvesting of the 2001 main "Meher" cereal crop is about to start. Overall prospects are favourable reflecting abundant rains during the growing season in major producing areas. The 2001 secondary "Belg" crop, normally harvested from June, was also good and a substantial recovery from last year's poor harvest. Although Belg production accounts for only 8 to 10 percent of total cereal production, it is important in several areas where it provides the bulk of annual food supplies.

By contrast, below-normal rains in the pastoral areas of southern and eastern Ethiopia continue to undermine any recovery from the devastating drought in the last three years. Poor rainfall in parts of Gode, Liban, Werder and Afder Zones, sites of last year's severe food shortages, is particularly worrying. Recent rains in parts may have eased some of the water shortages but continued and widespread rains are needed to improve pastures.

The overall food supply situation in the country is stable as a result of last year's bumper main "meher" season grain production and this year's good secondary "belg" season harvest. However, the sharp decline in grain prices in main producing areas has severely affected household income in rural areas. The Government and donors have made some attempt to support local markets through purchases of grain.

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is in the country since mid-November to assess the "Meher" production and estimate food assistance requirements in 2002.

KENYA (6 November)

Harvesting of the 2001 main "long rains" cereal crops is complete in the main growing areas of the Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza Provinces. The main rainy season (March-May), which normally accounts for 80 percent of total annual food production, has largely been favourable resulting in improved food supply in most parts of the country. Preliminary official estimates indicate a maize output of about 2.31 million tonnes for the season, an increase of about 20 percent over the reduced harvest last year. With forecast of normal secondary season rains, the 2001/02 aggregate maize output is forecast at 2.7 million tonnes, well above average.

Following the good cereal harvest and adequate stock levels, prices of maize, the staple crop, have declined considerably prompting the Government to appeal to donors to increase local purchases to support the producers.

However, despite the improvement in the overall food supply situation, pastoralists in northern and eastern parts of the country continue to face serious food supply difficulties. Water and pasture conditions remain poor and with below-normal rainfall forecast in the September to December season the situation is anticipated to deteriorate further. This has already led to long distance trekking in search of grazing which in turn has increased the likelihood of large-scale livestock mortality.

In September 2001 WFP distributed food aid to about 1.56 million people in 13 pastoral and agro-pastoral districts.

RWANDA (5 November)

Heavy rains in September resulted in localized floods in the Gisenyi, Gitarama and Gikongoro Provinces, causing loss of life, housing and infrastructure damage, and crop losses. Worst affected are the districts of Kabagali and Mushubi where losses of banana and roots and tubers are high and soil erosion considerable. Overall however, abundant rains in the past two months favoured planting of the 2002 season A foodcrops and benefited crop establishment. Availability of seed of cereals and pulses - the main crop of the season - and cuttings of sweet potatoes was timely and their prices were stable. Crops are reported in good condition and early prospects for the harvest from January are favourable.

Food production in the 2001 B season was estimated at 2.7 million tonnes, reflecting higher plantings and favourable weather conditions. Although this is 10 percent less than in the same season last year, in cereal-equivalent the output is 9 percent higher. Import requirements in the second half of the year have decreased, compared to the same period last year, to 143 000 tonnes of cereal-equivalent, which is expected to be fully covered by commercial imports.

The overall food supply position is satisfactory following the increased aggregate 2001 food production. Prices of staple crops remain stable or are decreasing as a result of the good domestic and cross-border supply to markets. In particular, food supply in areas previously affected by a succession of droughts has improved.


SOMALIA* (12 November)

The food situation in Somalia is rapidly deteriorating following the drought-reduced 2001 main "Gu" season harvest, the lowest in the last seven years. Recent heavy rains in neighbouring Ethiopian highlands have caused an overflow of rivers in parts of southern Somalia displacing a large number of people thus aggravating the already serious food supply situation.

More than a decade of civil strife has left Somalia impoverished and mired in an extended humanitarian crisis. Basic infrastructure and Government services, including the ability to deliver the most basic health, education, and other social services, have collapsed. A recovery in food production in the previous two cropping seasons had eased to some extent the food supply difficulties. However, the current poor harvest has offset the temporary respite due to weakened coping mechanisms by a succession of droughts earlier and the long-term effects of years of insecurity. Furthermore, the continuing ban on livestock imports from eastern Africa by countries along the Arabian Peninsula due to Rift Valley fever is causing substantial loss of income, particularly in northern Somalia. The ban imposed in September 2000 is estimated to have cost the country hard currency earnings estimated at US$120 million.

Reflecting a grim food outlook, cereal prices are expected to rise, seriously eroding the purchasing power of a large section of the population. Moreover, the value of the Somali/Somaliland shilling has fallen dramatically. Between August 2000 and August 2001, the value of the Somali shilling in Mogadishu dropped from Ssh 9 500 to Ssh 20 500 for one US dollar, a depreciation of nearly 116 percent, while the value of the Somaliland shilling in Hargeysa fell from SLsh 3 000 to SLsh 6 000 to a US dollar - a fall of 100 percent.

As a result of the global economic downturn, remittances which normally contribute up to an estimated US$500 million to the economy per year compared to about US$60 million from foreign aid, are expected to dwindle significantly. Access to food for large numbers of households who depend on remittances is expected to be affected seriously.

In view of the rapidly deteriorating food supply situation, rural people are leaving their villages, many with their livestock in search of food and water, moving into urban areas and crowding around feeding centres where assistance is being provided by the international community. Recent reports indicate that some 800 000 people have been affected and will require 70 000 tonnes of emergency food assistance until the next "Gu" season harvest in August 2002. Of particular concern are some 300 000 vulnerable people threatened by starvation, particularly in Gedo Region in south-eastern Somalia, as well as in Hiran, Bay and Bakool. Despite recent rainfall that enabled some plantings, prospects for the "Deyr" secondary season, which runs from October to February, are uncertain, due to the delayed onset of rains.

The Somalia Aid Co-ordination Body (SACB) - which groups United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and donor partners - has appealed for urgent food assistance to the affected population. Non-food assistance, such as water and medical supplies, is also required for thousands of children who are at the risk of disease and malnutrition. Earlier in the year a UN Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal was launched for US$130 million, to support livelihoods and assist the country's recovery. The international donor community is urged to make urgent pledges and contributions, failing which there is increased likelihood of large-scale starvation in the most affected areas.

SUDAN* (6 November)

A recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to southern Sudan indicated a generally improved food supply situation compared to last year but estimated an overall deficit in cereal production. Heavy rains in August caused localized flooding and water-logging in low-lying areas, particularly in the east. However the overall advantages of the rainfall, to date, are noted to outweigh the disadvantages.

Despite the improved food supply situation, pockets of food insecurity remain and food assistance requirements will be greater as the fragmentation of the regions and absence of normal trade routes exclude easy movement of grain or cassava flour from surplus to deficit areas.

In central and northern Sudan, harvesting of the 2001 main season cereal crops has just started. Despite the extensive floods that displaced large numbers of people and destroyed crops, overall harvest prospects have improved with some good rains and increased cereal production in the irrigated schemes. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is in the country since mid-November to assess the 2001 main season cereal production and estimate overall commercial imports/exports and food aid requirements in 2002.

TANZANIA (6 November)

Planting of the 2002 main season cereal crops in the unimodal central and southern areas, as well as that of 2001/02 short season ("Vuli" ) crops in bi-modal northern areas, is underway. With normal to above normal rainfall predicted for the period September to December in most parts of the country, prospects are generally favourable.

The 2001 cereal crop, mainly maize, is estimated at about 4 million tonnes, 14 percent above last year's crop but slightly below the previous five years average. The Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) has purchased about 56 percent of the target purchase of 25 000 tonnes for the marketing year 2001/02 (June/May) bringing total stocks to 59 000 tonnes. These stocks represent about 84 percent of the total planned reserves of 70 000 tonnes.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory with stable or declining cereal prices in central, east, lake and northern Tanzania. However, sharp price increases were observed in southern highlands and southern coast areas due partly to the increased cereal demand from neighbouring countries like Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi, which saw major deficits due to adverse weather or insecurity. Furthermore, some 12 districts in northern and central Tanzania, mainly in the regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dodoma, Morogoro, Shinyanga and Singida, are reported to face varying degrees of food insecurity.

UGANDA (6 November)

Widespread and abundant rains in September and October benefited developing food crops of the 2001 second season. Prospects for the harvest early next year are favourable. The rains in the past months have also improved pasture conditions and water availability for the livestock in pastoral districts of Kotido and Moroto.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, the situation remains precarious in Katakwi District mainly due to insecurity and loss of cattle to raids. Food assistance also continues to be needed for nearly 112 000 people in Bundibugyo District, in the west, displaced by civil unrest.

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