FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.2 - June 2004 p.4

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Cereal Crop Calendar

Sub-RegionCereal Crops
Eastern Africa 1/March-JuneAugust-December
Southern AfricaOctober-DecemberApril-June
Western Africa  
- Coastal areas (first season)March-AprilJuly-September
(second season)August-SeptemberNovember-December
- Sahel zoneJune-JulyOctober-November
Central Africa 1/April-JuneAugust-December
1/  Except Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo which have two main seasons and Tanzania whose main season follows the southern Africa planting calendar. For Sudan, the planting period for the staple coarse grain crop is June-July and the harvesting period is October-December.

In eastern Africa, poor current season rains coupled with cumulative effects of past droughts and civil war have increased the likelihood of serious food shortages in several countries.

In Eritrea, the 2004 main cropping season has started in some central highland areas. Despite some beneficial rains in central parts, spring (azmera) rains from March to May were generally inadequate. These short rains are necessary for early land preparation and replenishment of pastures. Early planted crops in March and April following some rains in parts of the country, are reported to be wilting due to drought conditions. Early and/or unusual migration of people and livestock have been observed in parts while regular water sources have dried up in others.

The food supply situation remains tight as a result of the poor 2003 harvest and lingering effects of war with neighbouring Ethiopia. High cereal prices continue to impact on purchasing power and the food security of large numbers of people. The low response to appeals for emergency food assistance remains a major concern to both the Government and humanitarian agencies. Food aid distributions and rations have been significantly reduced due to inadequate food aid supplies. As of 10 June, confirmed pledges for 2004 for the WFP Drought Emergency project amount to about 64 000 tonnes, 54 percent of the requirement. With the lean season just beginning, more food aid pledges and faster delivery are needed to ameliorate the serious food shortages.

In Ethiopia, prospects for the 2004 short "belg" season crops have deteriorated despite a promising start of the season. Good rains in late March and April raised hopes of a favourable cropping season but the rest of the season was characterised by insufficient and poorly distributed rains. Normally, the belg season rains extend from February to May and the crop accounts for some 10 percent of total grain production but in some areas it provides the bulk of annual grain production. Planting of the 2004 main “meher” season crops is underway. Prospects are uncertain due to a dry spell in May that affected planting of long cycle crops.

The pastoral areas of south-central and eastern parts of the country have also had poor rains and unusual migration of livestock are reported in parts. A full assessment of the impact of rainfall in the belg dependent and pastoral areas is planned for late-June/early-July.

As the lean season sets in, relief food aid needs are approaching their highest level for 2004. The targeted population for relief food assistance is 6.9 million in June and 5.4 million in July, with corresponding food requirements of 136 000 tonnes and 102 000 tonnes respectively. Supplementary food rations are also being provided to vulnerable populations in resettlement sites in western Ethiopia. Pre-positioning of food stocks continues in all areas that will become inaccessible during the current rainy season (mid-June to late-September).

In Kenya, prospects for the 2004 main “long rains” cereal crop, to be harvested from October, are unfavourable due to a long dry spell that has adversely affected crops in many areas. Rainfall that began normally in March became heavy in April in several parts of the country. However, exceptionally low rains in May have raised serious concern, particularly in areas where the April rains were also inadequate. Several areas of Coast and Eastern Provinces and the northern Maasai rangelands are among the worst affected. The poor rains coupled with an unexpected early end to the season have prompted a downward revision of the forecast long-rains maize output from 2.3 million tonnes to about 2 million tonnes.

As a result of the tightening food supply situation, maize prices rose through May and were nearly 10 percent higher than at the same time last year, but 30 to 50 percent higher than the average of the five years between 1998 to 2002. The Government has recently issued an alert, warning that about 600 000 people at the Coast are faced with a serious food situation. Taita Taveta district is singled out as the most affected. Serious food shortages are also reported in the arid northern districts of Turkana and Marsabit. Overall, serious food security concerns have been raised for an estimated 1.34 million people in the pastoral and marginal agricultural areas of the country.

Several cases of Aflatoxin food poisoning were reported in early May in two drought prone districts (Makueni and Kitui) and then extended to the marginal agricultural districts of Mbeere and Thika. The death toll is now put at 81 people out of a total of 197 reported cases. Aflatoxin is a highly toxic mould that grows on grains and legumes when they are not properly dried or are poorly stored or transported. The Government of Kenya has stepped up food distribution in the districts where contaminated stocks were destroyed.

In Somalia, the food situation is very alarming as the cumulative effects of recurrent droughts and the long-running civil strife have led to severe food insecurity in the country, particularly in northern parts, but also in some agricultural areas in the south. The current "gu" season has largely failed, having been characterized by early cessation, inadequate rainfall and high temperatures. Recent intensification of inter-factional fighting in southern and central Somalia has compounded the problem.

The drought situation in north-eastern Somalia is particularly worrying. Four years of below-normal rainfall decimated livestock in Sool, Sanaag, Togdheer, Nugaal, Mudug and Bari in northern Somalia (Somaliland and Puntland) and some areas of Galgaduud in the central region. In some areas, up to 80 percent of livestock are reported to have died over the past four years.

The Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) has recently issued an alert over potentially widespread and severe food insecurity in both northern pastoral and southern agricultural lands of the country. For the 2004/05 marketing year (August/July), the cereal gap after expected commercial imports and existing food aid pipelines is estimated by FSAU at 68 000 tonnes (under the scenario of poor Gu harvests). The full early warning report can be accessed at: www.unsomalia.net under the FSAU web page.

In Sudan, a humanitarian crisis prevails in Greater Darfur, where fighting has forced more than 1.2 million people from their homes and farms, with large numbers crossing into neighbouring Chad. With the displacement of farmers, prospects for the 2004 main cropping season, which has just started, are extremely poor. First rains, which normally facilitate land preparation, arrived in late May. Reports paint a grim picture where the conflict has engulfed almost all parts of Greater Darfur, making it very difficult for agricultural activities to take place.

In southern Sudan, the March to May rains were normal to above normal, signalling a good start to the 2004 cropping season. Livestock conditions are also reported to be stable. In other developments, however, the rising number of returnees in Bahr el Ghazal and the renewed displacement in the Shilluk area of Upper Nile due to increased factional fighting are undermining the food security of local populations.

A revised Emergency Operation was jointly approved by FAO and WFP on 3 June 2004 for food assistance to 2 million people affected by the conflict in Greater Darfur, worth US$195.3 million until the end of 2004.

In the United Republic ofTanzania, harvesting of cereal crops has begun in unimodal central and western regions, while in the grain-basket southern highlands, harvesting is expected to start in August. An improved level of production compared to last year is anticipated for most parts. In bimodal northern parts, however, below normal rains have stressed second-season Masika crops planted in March. This is causing concern as most of these areas have suffered three to four consecutive years of poor crops.

Pastures and livestock are reported to be in good condition. The terms of trade also favour pastoralists as prices of livestock are rising while those of maize are declining. However, satellite based vegetation indices show that current levels of vegetation are significantly below the long term average.

Food prices have fallen sharply in all major markets in response to the new harvest. Some exports of grains to neighbouring Kenya are reported, reversing earlier directions. Despite the overall improvement in the national food situation, there are localised crop failures and/or food shortages in several districts, including Kishapu and Meatu in Shinyanga and Igunga, Ngega and Uyui in Tabora.

In Uganda, harvesting of the 2004 main season grains is about to start. Two to three weeks delay in the start of the season coupled with prolonged dry spells in May and June is expected to have a negative impact on yields.

Overall food supply conditions remain stable, although wholesale maize prices have been relatively high since the beginning of 2004 compared to the same period last year.Exportsof maize to neighbouring countries and purchases by WFP and other agencies have contributed to the relatively high prices.Livestock in much of the country have adequate access to drinking water and pasture. In Karamoja, household food stocks are reported to be adequate with favourable terms of trade for cattle.

Eastern and northern regions of the country remain areas of major concern due to insecurity. In the north, the conflict in Acholi and Lango sub-regions continues to cause displacements. The situation of over 1.6 million people sheltering in 104 crowded camps mostly in thefour districts ofGulu, Kitgum, Pader and Lira gives cause for serious concern. During the period 29 May to 4 June, some 2 370 tonnes of WFP relief food reached about 208 380 persons. WFP has indicated a projected shortfall of 58 376 tonnes of food commodities till the end of 2004 for which new pledges are urgently required.

In southern Africa, the harvest of 2004 summer crops, mainly maize, sorghum, millets and pulses, is complete. This year FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions visited Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe,1/ Lesotho, Swaziland and Angola in April-May. The preliminary estimate of total 2004 cereal harvest for the sub-region points to about 20 million tonnes, a decline of about 4 percent from last year. Production of maize, the region’s most important crop, at about 14 million tonnes, was the hardest hit by a drought in the eastern part of the sub-region, with a decline of about 9 percent from last year. FAO estimates a reduced 2004 harvest of cereals for Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.On the other hand, increased production in Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambiais forecast. The overall reduction of maize and other summer crops this year is expected to result in a net coarse grain import requirement for the sub-region as a whole of about 2 million tonnes for the 2004/05 marketing year.

In Angola, according to the recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, the preliminary estimate of 2004 cereal output is 713 000 tonnes, about 9 percent over last year or 27 percent over the previous five year average. This was the result of abundant and well distributed rains during the season, an increase in the area planted following the return of the internally displaced and refugees to their home areas and substantial distribution of agricultural inputs. Improved harvests are forecast for the northern and southern parts of the country, but prospects are mixed in the central highlands. Other crops such as cassava and in particular sweet and Irish potatoes, have also increased from last year’s levels, while groundnuts have significantly decreased because of unfavourable climatic conditions. Cereal import requirements for 2004/05 are estimated at 820 000 tonnes, of which 620 000 tonnes are expected to be in the form of commercial imports and 200 000 tonnes as emergency food aid.

Challenges to improving food production in the country include access to productive assets such as animal traction and fertilizers and provision of agriculture extension services.

With the improvement in the security situation, large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees have returned to their areas of origin. However, according to official figures there are about 500 000 refugees still to be repatriated to Angola from the countries in the region (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Namibia, the Republic of Congo, South Africa and Botswana). Vulnerability analysis indicates 334 000 people as food insecure and 717 000 as highly vulnerable to food insecurity. Those in need are expected to be concentrated in central provinces and those border provinces that will receive large numbers of refugees returning to Angola.

In Botswana, cereal production typically amounts to 5 to 10 percent of the country’s total needs. The 2004 cereal production, mainly sorghum, has been provisionally estimated to recover from last year’s drought affected harvest to a more normal level of about 15 000 tonnes. With adequate rainfall in recent months pasture conditions have improved.

In Lesotho, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in May estimated the 2004 cereal output at 49 400 tonnes, less than half of last year’s production. Late and poorly distributed rainfall, reduced cultivated area and a drastic cut in the use of fertiliser and improved seed following removal of subsidies accounted for the decline in production. Cereal import requirements are estimated at 352 000 tonnes (including rice), most of it to be covered on a commercial basis. Food relief estimated at about 48 500 tonnes of cereals would be needed for the most vulnerable people affected by crop failure and by HIV/AIDS. More precise estimates are expected soon but currently WFP feeds up to 400 000 people through general and targeted distributions.

In Madagascar, in spite of three major cyclones which caused severe crop and property damage, an early estimate of national maize production is set at the previous five-year average of 170 000 tonnes. This would represent an increase of about 10 percent on last year’s drought reduced harvest. The impact of cyclones, rising cost of oil imports, and depressed prices of its main exports such as the vanilla and shrimp have caused serious problems for the vulnerable groups. Reportedly more than 75 percent of Madagascar's 16 million people live below the poverty line of $1 a day. Preliminary reports from the EU-funded early warning system indicate that some 2 000 tonnes of food aid will be needed to assist 74 000 people during the September 2004-April 2005 lean period. In June the European Union committed 70 million euros to its biggest ever African project to rehabilitate the main north-south road.

In Malawi, anFAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in April 2004 estimated the 2004 cereal output at 1.8 million tonnes, a decline of about 14 percent from the near-average production of last year. In addition, the mission estimated an increase of about 14 percent over the previous year in the production of roots and tubers (cassava and potatoes) to 4.2 million tonnes fresh weight or 1.2 million tonnes in cereal equivalent. Total cereal import requirement is estimated at 408 000 tonnes, which is expected to be largely met through commercial imports.

Based on the Vulnerability Analysis Committee (VAC) computations, the mission also estimated that about 1.26 million vulnerable people including those in areas that experienced crop failures and those seriously affected by HIV/AIDS would require emergency food assistance to the tune of 50 000 tonnes of cereals during the 2004/05 marketing year (April/March).

In Mauritius, domestic production of cereals amounts to less than 1 percent of total cereal needs; the country imports commercially virtually its entire cereal consumption requirements. Sugarcane is grown on about 90 percent of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25 percent of the country’s export earnings.

In Mozambique, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in April-May estimated the 2004 cereal production at 2 million tonnes, some 11 percent above the good harvest of 2003. Improved harvests were realized particularly in the southern and central provinces, while production was similar to last year’s in the northern provinces.

Despite the overall satisfactory national production, there are specific areas such as the southern districts of Tete province, the northern and southern tips of Manica province and some localities in southern provinces, where harvests were reduced. Some 193 000 people will need 36 000 tonnes of relief food assistance in marketing year 2004/05 due to the impact of floods/droughts in the previous years and to cope with the HIV/AIDS problem. A part of the food assistance could be procured locally in view of a maize surplus in northern and central areas but, because of high internal transport cost to southern parts, some amounts will need to be imported while informal exports from northern Mozambique will go to Malawi. The marked regional differences in maize production and consumption, coupled with high cost of transportation from the surplus North and Centre to deficit South, are reflected in maize prices in the South (for example in Maputo) being almost twice as much as prices in the Centre (for example in Manica province).

In Namibia, despite heavy rains and flooding in recent months in Caprivi and Kavago, the north-eastern provinces,the 2004 total cereal production has been estimated by the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU) at 131 000 tonnes, 30 percent higher than last year’s above average output. At the current level of consumption, this would result in about 150 000 tonnes of cereal imports, largely on commercial basis.

Farmers who suffered crop and infrastructure damage due to flooding, as well as HIV/AIDS orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) are recognized as the most vulnerable groups requiring emergency assistance.

In South Africa, the fifth estimate of the 2003/04 maize harvest by the country’s Crop Estimation Committee (CEC), has raised the previous estimate to a total of 8.14 million tonnes. This is still nearly 16 percent below the harvest of last year, primarily due to the worst drought in ten years in seven out of nine provinces. Maize plantings were down by about 18 percent compared to last year. Production of white maize is estimated at 5 million tonnes compared to 6.6 million tonnes last year.

Sorghum, on the other hand, seems to have performed much better, with a total harvest of 108 750 tonnes, an improvement of 14 percent over last year. The winter wheat crop harvested in December 2003 is estimated at 1.43 million tonnes, almost 38 percent below the previous year’s harvest. A survey of farmers’ 2004 planting intentions suggests that the area sown to winter wheat will recover to the average level.

In Swaziland, the maize crop affected by poor rainfall for the fourth consecutive year has been estimated by the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in April-May at 64 000 tonnes, 12 percent below last year and about 30 percent below the average of the previous five years. Consequently the cereal import requirement in the 2004/05 marketing year (May/April) is expected to reach about 132 000 tonnes of which about 100 000 tonnes are likely to be imported commercially.

The Mission recommends food aid of 32 000 tonnes targeted to the most vulnerable people numbering 142 000, primarily for mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS, and providing direct support to households unable to access available food and agricultural inputs.

In Zambia, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives estimates the 2004 maize production at 1.4 million tonnes, about 21 percent up on last year’s above average output of 1.2 million tonnes. Rainfall has been favourable over much of the country. In general, cumulative rainfall has been above normal in the East and the North, normal in the Centre but below normal in the South (Zambian Meteorological Department). Also, the Government encouraged increased plantings and fertilizer use through its extended input subsidy programme to help boost food production. The heavy rainfall upstream of Zambezi River caused severe flooding in Western and North-western Provinces.

A joint UN/NGOs/Government flood damage assessment in May 2004 estimated that 39 277 households in six affected districts will require food assistance for a period of 2 to 4 months, starting in July and August, amounting to 9 547 tonnes of cereal. These households will also need seeds for planting the next season’s crop.

In Zimbabwe, a joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was in the country in April 2004 for part of the planned period. Based on the mission’s visits to three main provinces, observations along the travel routes and interviews with key informants at local level and satellite imagery, the mission estimated 2004 total cereal production (excluding barley) at 950 000 tonnes with a margin of error of 10 percent. This compares with last year’s 1 million tonnes. The low level of production is attributed to delayed and erratic rainfall, shortages of quality seeds, the high local cost of fertilizer, shortages of draught animal power and tractors, a further decline in the utilization of large-scale commercial farms, and the impact of HIV/AIDS pandemic. At the beginning of the season in October very few farmers were able to plant maize due to insufficient and scattered showers. The ensuing dry spell destroyed many first plantings. Effectively, rains started throughout much of the country in late December-early January, pushing back maize and sorghum start-of-season in many areas.

The exact level of stocks held by the government’s Grain Marketing Board is unknown. Assuming relatively low levels of stocks, the country will need to import over one million tonnes of cereals. Hyper inflation combined with extremely high levels of unemployment greatly limit access to food for the most vulnerable population groups. According to the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) about 2.3 million people in rural areas alone will not be able to cover their food needs, and possibly just as many in the urban areas.

In western Africa, desert locusts continue to pose serious threat to agricultural production this year for several Sahelian countries. The situation is already very serious in Mauritania. Despite intensive control activities in northern Africa, which is facing widespread infestations, it is feared that swarms could move southwards to the Sahelian countries as the cropping season sets, and damage crops in Mali, Niger, Chad and Senegal, in addition to Mauritania. In spite of assistance by FAO and several donors to several affected countries in northern and western Africa, control operations continue to be hampered by insufficient resources. The overall food supply situation remains satisfactory, reflecting good harvests in 2003, but food difficulties persist in several countries due to past or current civil strife.

In Chad, while the overall food supply situation is satisfactory, fighting in the Darfour region of Sudan has led to an influx of nearly 200 000 refugees, most of whom are living in makeshift shelters or in the open along the Sudan-Chad border. The food stocks of the local populations are under heavy strain and cereal prices have increased significantly.

In Côte d’Ivoire, due to persistent insecurity, conflict-induced population displacement and inadequate availability of agricultural inputs, cereal output in 2003 declined for the second consecutive year. However, the overall food supply position has recently shown signs of improvement, particularly in areas accessible to NGOs and support programmes are in place. In addition, a number of internally displaced persons have been returning to their areas of origin. WFP has recently extended the May–December 2003 Emergency Operation to December 2004. The security situation is still volatile; in the regions under rebel control, humanitarian assistance is severely constrained, according to OCHA.

In Guinea, despite localized floods, the 2003 growing season was generally favourable, with the cereal harvest, mostly rice, estimated at about 1 million tonnes, fractionally more than the previous year’s production.

Although the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone has resulted in a decrease of the number of refugees from that country, Guinea still hosts a large number of refugees. UNHCR statistics as of mid-April indicate that 104 291 refugees live in seven refugees camps in the country. Around 70 000 other refugees are living outside the camps, according to OCHA.

In an attempt to bring down increasing food prices, the Government has recently decided to sell directly to the public 20 000 tonnes of rice at controlled prices.

In Guinea-Bissau, final 2003 production figures have been released by the government and are significantly lower than the estimates by the CILSS Crop Assessment Mission of October 2003. The aggregate output of cereals is now estimated at 121 455 tonnes, 20 percent below the 2002 level. Cashew nut production, the main source of income for farmers and of export earnings, also declined in 2003. Although staple food prices remain stable, close monitoring of the food supply situation in the chronically food-deficit areas along the border with Senegal is recommended.

In Liberia, planting of the paddy crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country, has started. With the end of the civil war and the consequent return of many displaced farmers, rice production in 2004 is expected to recover somewhat from last year’s very low level, although shortages of seeds and tools are reportedly constraining most of the farmers.

It is estimated that since October 2003, more than 50 000 Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone and Guinea have spontaneously returned home. However, since most of them have ended up in IDP camps due to insecurity, UNHCR has urged the estimated 300 000 Liberian refugees scattered across West Africa not to return home yet. The agency plans to start organised repatriation in October once the rainy season is over. In addition, there are over 500 000 Liberian IDPs within the country.

With the improvement of the security situation, WFP has recently extended its operation to other parts of the country outside the capital, Monrovia.

In Mauritania, the desert locust poses an extremely serious threat to the country’s food security. Considerable damage to crops is reported in oases and to pastures, but control operations continue to be hampered by lack of resources. According to official estimates, US$6 million are needed to treat about 500 000 hectares.

Aggregate cereal production in 2003 has recently been revised upwards by CILSS to about 200 000 tonnes, some 73 percent higher than in 2002 and much higher than the average for the previous five years. This good crop comes after three consecutive drought-reduced harvests that resulted in near-famine conditions in several regions.

Mauritania is a food import-dependent country whose domestic production covers less than half of the country’s cereal utilization requirement in a normal year. Food security is heavily dependent on trade and the exchange rate of the Ouguiya, the national currency. Due to the steady depreciation of the Ouguiya against the Euro and the CFA franc since the beginning of 2003, cereal prices have been rising significantly in spite of the good harvest and considerable imports from neighbouring CFA countries. This situation is seriously affecting the food security of many rural and urban households across the country.

In Sierra Leone, following increasing plantings by returning refugees and previously displaced farmers, as well as improved conditions for the distribution of agricultural inputs, cereal production in 2003 has been estimated at about 450 000 tonnes, some 8 percent higher than in 2002. Cereal imports in 2004, mostly rice, are forecast at some 287 000 tonnes, compared to 296 000 tonnes imported last year.

The security situation in the country remains calm. Sierra Leonean refugees are gradually returning from Guinea. In mid-March, the Government estimated that 90 percent of the Sierra Leoneans who left the country during the civil war (1991-2001) have returned home. An estimated 1 million internally displaced people have also been resettled.

Elsewhere in western Africa, the food supply situation is satisfactory.

In Central Africa, civil strife and insecurity continue to undermine food security in several countries.

In Central African Republic, cereal production is expected to decrease for the third consecutive year. Despite overall favourable weather conditions, persistent insecurity – notably in the north – inadequate availability of agricultural inputs and population displacements have resulted in a decrease in the area planted to food crops. Although most of the 230 000 IDPs have returned home, an estimated 41 000 refugees from the CAR are still living in Chad.

In the Republic of Congo, notwithstanding the peace agreement between the Government and the rebels in March 2003, the country still faces a major challenge of establishing lasting peace and reintegrating former combatants into civil society. To this end, the Government with the support of several international organizations has set up a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme for former militiamen. The last 3 250 displaced people who were still living in camps near Brazzaville returned home in mid-April. However, the security situation remains volatile and hampers humanitarian aid.

In Burundi, harvesting of the 2004B (second) season foodcrops, mainly sorghum and beans, is well advanced. Preliminary results of the Government/FAO/WFP/UNICEF assessment point to a total cereal harvest of 280 000 tonnes, a slight improvement of 3 percent over the 2003 B season. However, there is a decline in the production of legumes due to an early start of the dry season, and in roots and tubers due to an outbreak of cassava mosaic virus; prices have increased by 50 to 100 percent in some markets.

On the security front, the slow-moving peace process remains very fragile. According to one estimate some 188 000 Burundian refugees have returned since 2002, but the situation has been complicated by the arrival in May of fresh refugees from eastern DRC into north-western Burundi, numbering over 34 000. Moreover, due to recent violent clashes in the rural communes of Kabezi and Mutambu, an estimated 50 000 civilians have been displaced, according to Human Rights Watch.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, harvesting of the 2004 second season food crops, principally maize, started in the south in May and continues through July in the north. No assessments have been made but satellite based data suggest that production should be near normal. The relative improvement in the security situation in the country and assistance provided to the internally displaced persons and returning refugees have had some positive impact. However, recent violent clashes in the east of the country, particularly around the town of Bukavu, give cause for concern. Thus insecurity is still a major constraint to food production and food security. The country has received a US$ 39 million loan by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). The nutritional situation of the population is generally very poor throughout the country.

In Rwanda, harvesting of 2004 second season crops (beans, maize and sorghum) is underway. Rainfall has been normal or above normal until early May. The early start of the dry season in May is expected to have a negative impact on the bean harvest. Early planted crops should yield a satisfactory harvest. FEWSNET reports increased prices of several important food commodities in April 2004 in Butare Province compared to the same time in 2003 and 2002.


Estimated cereal import requirements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2004 remain high but are expected to be lower than last year. GIEWS latest estimates of 2003 production and 2003/04 import and food aid requirements are summarized in Tables 1 and 3. Total food aid requirement is estimated at 2.9 million tonnes, against about 4.0 million tonnes received in 2002/03. Cereal food aid pledges for 2003/04, including those carried over from 2002/03, amount to 2.1 million tonnes of which 1.7 million tonnes have so far been delivered.

1.  The Mission was curtailed after 12 of the planned 19 days.

FAO/GIEWS - June 2004

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