Economic and Social Department

global information and early warning system on food and agriculture

food outlook
No. 2 Rome, April 2003

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Current Production and Crop Prospects


Carryover Stocks

Export Prices


Food Aid

Cereal Import Bills


Meat and Meat Products

Milk and Milk Products


Appendix Tables



As of April 2003, some 37 countries face serious food shortages: 25 in Africa, 6 in Asia, 4 in Latin America and 2 in Europe.

In eastern Africa, the food situation is critical in Eritrea and Ethiopia, where only a fraction of the food aid requested has been delivered. Nearly two-thirds of the population in Eritrea face a severe food crisis, mainly due to drought. Reports indicate that the crisis could turn into a catastrophe unless more aid is available soon. As of early March, the November 2002 UN appeal for US$163 million in food, water and health assistance had been filled by only two percent. In Ethiopia, emergency food aid pledges until the beginning of March covered around 54 percent of 2003 requirements, only enough to cover food needs until mid-June, the start of the lean season. In Sudan, despite recent hopes of an end to the long debilitating conflict, food assistance continues to be needed by many among vulnerable groups, particularly those internally displaced by the conflict. An estimated 3.5 million people need about 230000 tonnes in food assistance in 2003. In Kenya, despite improved food availability following secondary season cereal harvests, food shortages are reported in several districts. In Uganda, the displacement of a large number of people in northern parts due to escalation of conflict, coupled with drought in parts, has aggravated food difficulties in the affected areas. Nearly 1.5 million people are being assisted by WFP in several parts of the country. Although the overall food supply situation has improved in Somalia due to good harvests, localized food shortages persist due to drought and/or conflict. In Tanzania, food assistance continues to be needed due to localized drought, and for refugees from neighbouring countries. In Burundi, renewed fighting has displaced more people who urgently need food assistance. In southern Africa, the number of people in need of food assistance due to two consecutive poor harvests in six countries of the subregion was revised upwards in December 2002 from 14.4 to 15.25 million, of whom 7.2 million are in Zimbabwe. However, the food supply situation has eased with substantially improved food aid distributions from January to March. Against WFPs appeal for 993000 tonnes of food aid to assist 10.3 million worst affected people in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and parts of Mozambique until the end of March 2003, contributions by mid-March covered 90 percent. Maize prices have started to decline in most countries, reflecting generally good prospects for the harvest starting in April. In Madagascar, food aid is being provided to 394000 people affected by a poor 2002 harvest and the after effects of the political crisis. Distributions may be necessary well into 2003 due to unfavourable harvest prospects in southern areas. In Angola 1.9 million people require food assistance after nearly three decades of civil war. In western Africa, the food situation remains extremely serious in Mauritania, following three consecutive poor harvests. Serious food shortages also affect Liberia, Guinea, Cape Verde, Cte dIvoire and Sierra Leone, mainly due to civil conflicts. In central Africa, civil strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, continues to displace large numbers of people who need food assistance.

In Asia, external food assistance is critical in Korea, DPR during this lean period until the secondary season harvest of wheat, barley and potatoes, due in July 2003. WFP has had limited response to its appeals for food aid and more pledges are needed to cover a shortfall of 241600 tonnes in 2003. In Mongolia, nearly 665000 people who were victims of drought last summer and of extreme winter weather, continue to require international assistance. Lack of fodder for animals has also resulted in high livestock losses. In Asian CIS, targeted food assistance is being provided to vulnerable populations in Georgia and Tajikistan due to recent droughts. In the Near East, the outlook for the 2003 crop production in Iraq, is generally poor due to the on-going war. Following improved rainfall and growing conditions, the cereal harvest in Afghanistan is forecast to be about the same as last year. However, food aid will be necessary for the returning refugees, the disabled and other vulnerable households. The food situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is also serious due to food shortages, market disruption and continued military operations.

In Central America and the Caribbean, many rural families need food assistance in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua as a consequence of the drastic fall in incomes related to the crisis in the coffee sector. In Europe, emergency food assistance remains necessary for refugees, internally displaced and vulnerable populations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in Chechnya in the Russian Federation.

1. This updates information published in the March 2003 issue of Foodcrops and Shortages. Countries facing exceptional food emergencies are underlined.

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FAO, 2003