FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.3 - December 2004 p.4
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA’S CROP CALENDAR
|Eastern Africa 1/||March-June||August-December|
|- Coastal areas (first season)||March-April||July-September|
|- Sahel zone||June-July||October-November|
|Central Africa 1/||April-June||August-December|
In eastern Africa, harvesting of the 2004 main season cereal crops is well underway in northern parts of the sub-region while it has been completed in southern parts. The 2004 aggregate sub-regional output is expected to be lower than last year’s crop due to drought, erratic rainfall and conflict. The impact of severe drought conditions in parts of Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya and south-eastern Ethiopia is a cause for serious concern.
In Eritrea, the 2004 main “kremti” season cereal harvest has started. Seasonal rains which normally occur between June and September were below the long-term average in most of the country. Most parts of Maekel, Gash Barka, Anseba and eastern parts of Debub have particularly received poor rains. Preliminary crop estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture indicate a cereal output of about 109 000 tonnes, almost similar to last year’s well below average crop. In Debub and Maekel zones, planting of late season crops (chick pea and vetch) was also constrained partly due to high market prices that have made seeds inaccessible to many. Pasture and forage availability was unsatisfactory in most parts of the country, due to the inadequate rains.
The food supply situation remains tight as a result of consecutive poor harvests 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. Prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition rates, particularly in Gash Barka and Anseba zones, was 19.1 and 18.4 percent respectively, placing them both above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) critical cut off point of 15 percent. An Emergency Operation was jointly approved in July 2004 by FAO and WFP for food assistance to about 600 000 people affected by crop failure, worth a total sum of US$49 million for a period of 9 months (July 2004 to March 2005).
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission has just completed its visit to the country and a full report is expected soon.
In Ethiopia, harvesting of the 2004 main “meher” cereal crop is well underway. The main producing regions in western and central parts of the country are expected to have an average crop while the eastern crop producing and agro-pastoral areas are facing serious problems due to late and erratic seasonal rains coupled with inadequate seed supplies. Furthermore, in the secondary “belg” season dependent areas crop and livestock production were adversely affected 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.
The pastoral areas of south-central and eastern parts of the country are particularly affected with unusual migration of livestock being reported in parts. A recent inter-agency assessment of belg dependent and pastoral areas has estimated that emergency food needs have risen with 7.8 million people now requiring assistance for the remainder of 2004, compared to 6.9 million in June 2004. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission has just completed its visit to the country and a full report is expected soon.
In Kenya, planting of the secondary short rains crops is almost complete. Weather forecasts indicate that the short rains would be favourable in most parts of the country, but are expected to be below-normal in the pastoral areas of the north. Parts of central and coastal areas have received unseasonable rains improving water availability in pastoral districts.
Harvesting of the 2004 main “long-rains” cereal crop is complete in the main growing areas of the Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza Provinces. The revised forecast by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development of this season’s maize crop stands at about 1.7 million tonnes, well below the average of the previous five years. This is expected to result in an acute maize shortfall and the Government is gearing up for major food imports.
Successive poor seasons in most pastoral areas of the country have also left large numbers of households highly vulnerable and unable to cope with continued losses of livestock and livelihood options. An Emergency Operation was jointly approved in August 2004 by FAO and WFP for food assistance to about 2.3 million people affected by drought, worth a total sum of US$81 million for a period of 6 months (August 2004 to January 2005). At the end of October, confirmed contributions amounted to about 60 percent of the total requirements.
In Somalia, heavy rains in October and November caused flooding and asset damage in some areas.These rains which signalled an early start of the secondary “deyr” season were particularly abundant in drought-affected northern pastoral regions and large areas of the Juba valley in southern Somalia.More land is expected to be planted in this deyrseason compared to the last four deyrseasons, due to the prevailing normal to above normal deyrrainfall in most areas.
The above notwithstanding, the humanitarian emergency in the country is severe and is expected to continue due to insecurity, previous high loss of livestock, poor rangeland conditions, high household debt, and destitution. Recent nutrition surveys in parts of the country indicate serious malnutrition rates. The main “gu” season cereal crop, harvested last August/September in southern Somalia is estimated at some 125 000 tonnes, about 25 percent below average.
The Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) has recently issued estimates of the 2004/05 Cereal Balance, indicating a national cereal shortfall of about 36 000 tonnes. Further information and analysis 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. Reports paint a grim picture where the conflict has engulfed almost all parts of Greater Darfur, making agricultural activities and humanitarian assistance very difficult.
In southern Sudan, a current assessment indicates a decline in the current season’s cereal harvest compared to last year. In central and northern Sudan, harvesting of the 2004 main season cereal crops has started. A decline in production, compared to the previous year, is expected due to erratic rainfall and civil unrest. A revised Emergency Operation was jointly approved by FAO and WFP on 9 July 2004 for food assistance to 2.1 million people affected by war and drought, worth US$158 million until the end of 2004.
In Uganda, prospects for the 2004 second season food crops, to be harvested from January, remain uncertain. Sporadic rains since August have raised concerns over the development of crops.
The overall food supply situation remains stable but prices are relatively high following the reduced 2004 main season food crops. Maize prices, for instance, have remained particularly high over the last nine months, with prices in Kampala nearly 30 percent higher than average. However, the flow of crops to major markets, including conflict affected areas, is normal.
The civil strife in northern Uganda, despite reduced rebel attacks in recent months, continues to severely constrain the food situation of the population. WFP food distribution continues to reach over 1.4 million vulnerable people, mainly in northern Uganda. Preliminary results of a recent nutrition assessment (August 2004) in the semi-pastoral Karamoja region indicate a global acute malnutrition rate for children under five of 18.7 percent. This is above the critical 15 percent level but is a slight improvement from 22 percent in May 2003.
In the United Republic of Tanzania, planting of the 2004/05 “vuli” season crops in the bi-modal northern areas is well underway. With normal to above normal rainfall predicted in September to December period in most parts of the country, prospects are generally favourable.
The 2004 cereal crop, mainly maize, is estimated at about 4.9 million tonnes, more than 20 percent above last year’s crop and the previous five years average. The overall food supply situation is satisfactory with stable or declining cereal prices in central, east coast, 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 Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi which experienced 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.
In southern Africa, planting of the 2004/05 cereal crops is underway with forecasts of normal rainfall for the season. Serious farm input shortages are expected in several countries in the sub-region, notably in Zimbabwe and drought ravaged Swaziland and Lesotho. The 2004 cereal production (including rice in paddy) has been estimated at 21.9 million tonnes, a slight decrease from last year’s output. Consequently, cereal import requirements for 2004/05 are estimated at about 7 million tonnes, 8 percent higher than last year’s estimated imports. Although cereal surpluses in South Africa and Zambia and trade among the other countries are expected to meet much of these requirements commercially, substantial amounts of emergency food aid (about 930 000 tonnes) would be required. For the first time, WFP has launched a three-year regional Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) requiring US$405 million and involving 656 573 tonnes of food commodities to assist food insecure and AIDS affected populations in the sub-region.
In Angola, the normal rains received during late October and heavy rains during early November should help start the planting of main season crops. Final area planted, however, may be adversely affected by shortages of the much needed farm inputs such as seeds, tools and draught power unless these are resolved. With the improvement in the security situation, large numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees have returned to their former areas.
Even though the 2004 cereal output was above average, it could meet only half of the country’s total cereal requirement. Current vulnerability analysis indicates 334 000 people as food insecure and 717 000 as highly vulnerable to food insecurity. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in May 2004 estimated that about 178 000 tonnes of cereal food aid would be required during the 2004/05 marketing year (April/March). With the beginning of the lean season, maize prices in September were consistently higher in most markets compared to the prices in August.
In Lesotho, planting of main season crops has started in parts. Although the rains during early October and early November in the eastern half of the country will be beneficial for planting, in general there has been an erratic start of the 2004/05 growing season. Owing to the major drought in 2004, the food supply situation remains very tight. Although much of the cereal import requirements can be covered on commercial basis, lack of purchasing power of a large section of the population has created a major problem of food insecurity. A revised estimate of emergency food relief is about 48 500 tonnes of cereals for the most vulnerable people affected by crop failure and by HIV/AIDS. Currently WFP feeds up to 400 000 people through general and targeted distributions. A new regional PRRO will target about 171 000 beneficiaries.
In Madagascar, normal to above normal rains in October/November benefited the potato crop planted in September and allowed planting of maize and rice. However, at this early stage in the season, the overall harvest prospects are unknown. The area planted to paddy is reported to have increased in response to the current high rice prices. The official estimate of paddy production in 2004 is 3 million tonnes, some 8 percent higher than last year. Maize production is estimated at an average level of 170 000 tonnes, 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 vanilla and shrimp have caused serious food security problems for vulnerable groups. The rapid rise in the price of rice (for example, a reported increase from 4 500 Fmg/kg in mid November to 6 500 Fmg/kg on 23 November) primarily due to high world prices and devaluation of the local currency, has seriously affected the food security situation of the country. Rice imports have declined sharply this year. The government announced recently that it will import 100.000 tonnes of rice. In June the European Union committed 70 million euros to its biggest ever African project to rehabilitate the main north-south road. In October the IMF announced disbursement of $16.6 million aimed at promoting economic growth and reducing poverty.
In Malawi, field preparation is underway for planting of main season crops in November-December period. So far some rainfall has been received, especially in the south, prompting in some cases early planting of maize. The overall food supply is satisfactory but limited access to food for low-income families with rising staple food prices is becoming a major problem. In most markets, September and October 2004 prices were consistently higher than the ADMARC subsidized corresponding prices in 2003. During July-October period a total of 40 000 tonnes of maize came into Malawi as cross-border imports, the bulk of them from Mozambique (FEWS NET Malawi and IMCS). This has helped stabilize prices around 17-20 MK/kg. Recently ADMARC has set the price of maize at 17 MK/kg.
An FAO/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. Total cereal import requirement is estimated at 408 000 tonnes, largely expected to be met commercially.
The Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) 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 56 000 tonnes of cereals during the 2004/05 marketing year (April/March). Rising maize prices are expected to increase this number.
In Mozambique, planting of the main season crops has been disrupted by erratic rains in October and early November. Thus the early prospects for 2004/05 season are unfavourable at this stage. The 2004 cereal production, estimated at about 2 million tonnes (some 17 percent above average and 11 percent above good harvest of last year), shows a continuation of steady recovery in agricultural production over the past several years. Despite the overall satisfactory national production, the country as a whole faces a deficit of about 160 000 tonnes of cereals particularly in the south and parts of the centre. In specific areas, such as the southern districts of Tete province, the northern and southern tips of Manica province among other localities in southern provinces, harvests were reduced. As reported by SIMA/MADER, maize retail prices have stabilized in most markets in the country and are generally lower currently compared to the same months in 2003 and 2002. Vulnerability analysis indicates that some 187 000 people will need 49 000 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.
In Swaziland, the sowing of main-season crops has been delayed due to dry conditions in much of October and prospects for crops are uncertain. The food security situation throughout the country is serious following a drought that caused 30 percent reduction in the 2004 harvest of main season cereals. With a self-sufficiency rate for cereals of only about a third, the Swazi population is mostly dependent on food imports. The FAO/WFP Mission of April/May 2004 estimated the cereal import requirement in the 2004/05 marketing year (May/April) at about 132 000 tonnes, of which about 100 000 tonnes are expected to be imported commercially. The Mission also recommended the balance (32 000 tonnes) as food aid 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, below normal rainfall in the first two dekads of November 2004 was reported over much of the country except in the north where more favourable precipitation was received. Land preparations are in progress in anticipation of planting rains. The long range forecast for the season is considered to be normal. Similar to last year, the Government’s subsidy programme for fertilizer and seed to selected farmers is also being implemented. As a result of two consecutive good harvests maize prices are reported to be below the ten-year average (FEWSNET). The 2004 cereal production, estimated at 1.37 million tonnes, is 1 percent over last year’s bumper harvest and about 23 percent above the average of the past five years. Considering the country’s total utilization needs and substantial carry over stocks, an export surplus of about 150 000 tonnes is expected during the 2004/05 marketing year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the area under mature cassava increased by 47 percent from 140 251 hectares in 2002/03 to 206 051 hectares in 2003/04 resulting in a production increase of 46 percent to about 1.4 million tonnes.
In Zimbabwe, although somerains during October were experienced in the central and north-eastern parts of the country, the bulk of planting is not expected to start until later following the recommendation of the Zimbabwe Meteorological Services Department. Similar to the past few years farmers are expected to face seed, fertilizer, fuel, spare parts and draught power shortages.
Reportedly, maize purchases by the government’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB) have been significantly lower than expected. As stated by the FEWS-NET this year the average price of maize during post-harvest period in April was much higher than normal, between Zim$ 5 000 – 8 000 per bucket (equivalent to 18kg). Prices soared to Zim$ 10 000-20 000 a bucket in October, partly due to general inflation and partly due to unavailability of cereals in the food deficit markets. Thus, hyper inflation, although steadily coming down, was estimated at an annual rate of 251.5 percent in September 2004. This 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 the Sahelian part of western Africa, joint FAO/CILSS/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions (CFSAMs) visited Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal last October to assess the impact of the Desert Locust outbreak on food production in these most-affected countries. The remaining five CILSS member countries (Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau) were visited by joint FAO/CILSS Missions. FEWSNET participated in some of the missions. Mission reports are expected to be issued in mid to late December. Overall, agricultural production in the nine CILSS countries is expected to be close to the five-year average, although a combination of drought and locusts has caused severe localised damage to crops and pastures in many rural communities notably in the northern parts of most countries. The country-by-country situation is quite mixed.
In Burkina Faso, this year’s cereal output is provisionally estimated at 3.06 million tonnes, some 14 percent lower than the record crop harvested in 2003 but still above the average for the previous five years. Output of sorghum, the most important cereal crop, decreased by 8 percent to 1.48 million tonnes. Millet and maize declined by 26 percent and 11 percent respectively to 881 000 tonnes and 594 400 tonnes. Output of fonio increased by some 22 percent to some 11 000 tonnes. Dry weather and Desert Locusts infestation have caused severe damage to crops and pastures in the northern areas near the Mali border. Oudalan province was the most affected with crop losses estimated at nearly 100 percent for millet and 80 percent for pastures. In the northern region some 98 villages are reported to be at risk while in the centre-north the decline in production is estimated between 30 percent and 50 percent.
However, the fall in production in the north should not affect significantly the national food supply. Commercial imports of cereal in the marketing year ending in October 2005 are forecast to increase to about 217 000 tonnes, (180 000 tonnes of rice and 37 000 tonnes of wheat). Commercial cereal imports in 2003/04 were estimated at some 131 000 tonnes
In Cape Verde, due to a late start of the rainy season which delayed plantings, and subsequent erratic precipitation combined with desert locust infestations, the growing conditions for the maize crop, the only cereal grown, have been poor in most islands. An FAO/CILSS mission estimated the output of the maize crop at some 4 042 tonnes mostly produced on Santiago Island (over 50 percent). This level of production is only one third of last year’s output and similar to the poor crops of 1997 and 1998. Production of beans and potatoes will also be below normal. Although the country imports the bulk of its consumption requirement even in good years, the rural population particularly in the semi-arid zones could be severely affected by the production shortfall.
In Chad, a joint FAO/CILSS/FEWSNET mission has provisionally estimated cereal production in 2004/05 at 1.038 million tonnes. At this level, production is about one third lower than last year’s good output. Production of sorghum and millet, the most important crops, is estimated to have declined by 30 percent and 43 percent, respectively, to 0.4 million tonnes and 0.3 million tonnes. The reduction in production was mainly due to inadequate rains in September in some areas of the Sahelian zone. Losses due to Desert Locusts infestation are not significant.
In Côte d’Ivoire, an escalation of violence has caused between 19 000 and 20 000 people to cross into Liberia since early October, putting a heavy strain on the Government, humanitarian agencies and host communities. According to UNHCR, the refugees are dispersed in more than 20 villages in a very remote corner of Liberia where there is an urgent need for potable water, food and medicine. Moreover, almost 9 000 foreigners, most of them French, were evacuated from Cote d'Ivoire since October. In spite of overall favourable weather conditions, a strong agricultural recovery is not expected this year due to persistent insecurity, population displacement and the prolonged partition of the country that continue to hamper inputs distribution and marketing activities. Food security for many households continues to be affected by the disruption of livelihoods especially in the west and the north. Moreover, smallholder cash-crop producers are experiencing a significant loss of income. Cotton production in 2003/04 has been estimated at 230 000 tonnes, about half of the previous year’s level, and marketing of the produce has been seriously disrupted. The sugar industry is about to collapse, since three of the four sugar growing areas and processing plants are in the north and have been hard hit by the crisis
In Guinea, precipitation has been generally adequate, and an above average harvest is expected. The repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea was completed in late July. About 12 170 people have been repatriated this year, bringing the number of refugees repatriated since the beginning of the operation in October 2001 to about 56 000. Although the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone has resulted in a decrease of the number of refugees in Guinea, the country still hosts a large number of refugees. According to the results of a refugee verification exercise carried out by WFP in June, 80 806 refugees are still living in the country (including 73 840 from Liberia; some 3 980 from Cote d'Ivoire and over 1 830 from Sierra Leone), in addition to some 80 000 IDPs and over 100 000 returnees from Côte D’Ivoire in 2002 in Guinea Forestière.
In Guinea-Bissau, an FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission has estimated the 2004 aggregate cereal production at some 208 000 tonnes, 72 percent above last year’s level. Rice, the main crop, is expected to increase by 92 percent to 127 000 tonnes. Commercial imports in 2004/05 (November/October) are forecast at 50 000 tonnes of rice and 15 000 tonnes of wheat. With food markets well supplied, prices of cereals are lower than those prevailing in the same period last year.
In Liberia, the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire led to an influx of over 19 000 refugees, according to Liberian authorities. With the end of the civil war and the consequent return of many displaced farmers, agricultural production in 2004 is expected to recover somewhat from last year’s very low level, although shortage of seeds and tools are reportedly preventing most of the farmers from cultivating. Since 1 October, UNHCR has organised repatriation of over 300 000 Liberian refugees scattered across West Africa. The UN disarmament programme has been officially completed on 31 October as planned. By 6 November, a total of over 96 325 ex-combatants had been disarmed and some 85 240 demobilized since December 2003. With the improvement of the security situation, WFP has extended its operation to other parts of the country outside the capital of Monrovia. However, the agency is facing a serious shortfall in resources and has been forced, since June, to distribute reduced rations to the approximately 500 000 refugees, returnees and IDPs receiving its assistance in the country.
In Mali, according to the FAO/WFP/CILSS Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country in October, the most significant crop loss due to locusts occurred in millet (37 000 tonnes), cowpeas (3 000 tonnes) and sorghum (9 000 tonnes). Although crop loss is significant in affected areas, good crop production in the most important southern producing areas means that losses are not great at national level. While the 2004/05 cereal production is expected to be lower than last year’s record output, it will be close to the five-year average. Domestic production should cover most of the country’s cereal utilisation requirement, but many farming families will need food assistance as well as seeds and other inputs for off-season agriculture, and even for the next main growing season.
In Mauritania the food situation gives cause for serious concern. The Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country from 17 through 30 October, estimated 2004 cereal output at some 101 192 tonnes, about 44 percent below last year and 36 percent below the previous five years average. This was the result of drought and widespread desert locust infestations that caused severe damage to crops and pastures across the country. The diéri (rainfed) crops, which normally account for approximately 30 percent of the total national cereal harvest, were seriously damaged by both locusts and drought. Loss of millet, early sorghum and legumes was nearly total in all areas visited by the Mission. The mission estimated that 30 percent of rice crops in the large-scale irrigated sector - accounting for more than 90 percent of rice production and 50 percent of national cereal production in recent years - has been devastated by desert locusts but farmers feared far greater losses if the swarms were still present during the grain filling stages. Pastures have been severely affected and early southern movement of livestock herds has already started. The country has already faced several years of drought and poor harvests, and the ability of the Mauritanians to cope with this situation has been exhausted. Access to food is already difficult for thousands of rural households and the situation will get worse by early 2005 if appropriate actions are not taken to assist affected communities. The country could sink back into a food crisis similar to the one it faced in 2002/03.
In Niger, an early end of the rains in September affected cereal crops and pastures and contributed to the movement of Desert Locusts to crop areas. Out of 205 villages in Tahoua region, about 125 have reported crop damage due to locusts. The joint FAO/CILSS/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission has provisionally estimated the 2004 cereal production at 3.14 million tonnes, which is 12 percent lower than last year’s good crop, but close to the average for the previous five years. However, due to the fall in grain output, some 3.6 million people are estimated to be at risk of food shortage. In 2003 the population at risk was estimated at 1.58 million people.
In Senegal, the FAO/CILSS/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission estimated the 2004 cereal production at some 1 132 700 tonnes, which is 22 percent lower than last year’s record crop of 1.4 million tonnes, but close to the five-year average. The important millet crop is estimated to decrease by 40 percent to some 379 166 tonnes, while sorghum production is 30 percent down from the previous year. This decline is due to inadequate rainfall combined with severe Desert Locust infestations in several areas in the north and centre, including Matam, Saint-Louis, Thiès, Diourbel and Louga regions. By contrast, production of groundnut, the main cash crop, will be up by 28 percent due to the substitution of millet and sorghum with groundnut by farmers and renewal of several government agricultural programs including subsidizing maize and groundnut seeds and fertilisers. Moreover, the main groundnut producing areas were spared by both desert locusts and inadequate rainfall.
Millet prices have been increasing steeply since September in affected regions. Although the total cereal import requirement, estimated at 952 000 tonnes, (mainly wheat and rice) is anticipated to be covered on commercial basis, millet prices are likely to remain high. In addition to food assistance to the most affected populations, many farming families will need seeds and other inputs for off-season agriculture, and even for the next main growing season. Pastoral and agro-pastoral groups have been especially hard hit. With scarce pasture and water, the early southern movement of livestock herds has already started, which may lead to confrontations. Urgent action is needed to establish safe passage areas for livestock and to vaccinate animals on their way to southern pastures.
In Sierra-Leone, rice production is expected to further increase this year, reflecting an improved security situation, increased plantings following the return of refugees and farmers previously displaced, as well as improved availabilities of agricultural inputs. The repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea was completed in late July. About 12 170 people have been repatriated this year, bringing the number of refugees repatriated since the beginning of the operation in October 2001 to about 56 000. An estimated 1 million internally displaced people have also been resettled. However, 65 000 Liberian refugees are still living in the country.
In The Gambia, inadequate rains at the start of the rainy season were followed by adequate and widespread precipitation for the remainder of the growing season. The joint FAO/CILSS Mission in late October provisionally estimated cereal production in 2004 at a record 239 000 tonnes, an increase of about 12 percent over last year’s good crop and significantly above the average for the previous five years. Although grasshopper, blister beetles and striga infestations have been reported in several areas, overall damage to crops has been limited. The Desert Locust situation remains calm. Reflecting the bumper harvest, including a good groundnut output, the food position this year is expected to be satisfactory. With the arrival of new harvests on the markets the price of coarse grains has declined. Prices of maize, millet and sorghum have decreased by 22 percent, 25 percent and 28 percent, respectively compared with same period last year.
In Central Africa, civil strife and insecurity continue to undermine food security in several countries.
In Burundi, September planting of the 2004/05 main-season foodcrops was adversely affected by lack of rain during the second dekad of the month. This may result in replanting in some areas thereby causing overlapping between the 2005 A and 2005 B seasons in February-March. Total cereal production for 2004 has been estimated at about 280 000 tonnes, about 3 percent higher than last year. It should be noted, however, that total food production remains below the average of pre-civil war period (1988–93).
Insecurity continues to be reported in some areas of the country causing disruptions in the repatriation and resettlement of the refugees. According to UNHCR some 220 000 Burundian refugees have returned since 2002, but the situation has been complicated by the arrival of more refugees from eastern DRC into north-western Burundi, numbering over 25 000. 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 Central African Republic, in spite of good weather conditions and seed distributions, a strong agricultural recovery is not expected this year due to persistent insecurity. Although most of the 230 000 IDPs have returned home, an estimated 41 000 refugees from CAR are still living in Chad.
In Congo, following the peace agreement between the Government and the rebels in March 2003, the Government and several international organizations have 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. WFP is facing a serious shortfall in resources as its programme over the last two years was funded at only 46 percent and the new programme is yet to receive pledges.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), planting of main season maize was carried out in September-October 2004 under above average rainfall conditions. Harvesting of the 2004 second season food crops, principally maize, has been completed. No estimates are yet available 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 are expected to have a positive impact. However, recent violent clashes in the east of the country, particularly around areas bordering South Kivu province, and the town of Bukavu, give cause for concern. Thus insecurity is still a major constraint to food production and food security.
In Rwanda, generally dry weather conditions affected September-October plantings of the 2004/05 main-season foodcrops, making early prospects for 2005A crops unfavourable. The estimate of 2004 total production (seasons A and B) of all cereals has been put at about 266 000 tonnes, similar to the five-year average but slightly below last year’s output. Much of the estimated cereal import requirement of 230 000 tonnes is expected to be covered through commercial imports.
About 250 000 to 400 000 chronically food insecure people in the most vulnerable districts will need 15 000 to 25 000 tonnes of food assistance till the end of this year.
UPDATE ON FOOD AID PLEDGES AND DELIVERIES
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 3.1 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 3.3 million tonnes of which 2.8 million tonnes have so far been delivered.