FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.1 - April 2005 p.4
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA’S CROP CALENDAR
The harvesting of the 2004/05 cereal crops is about to begin in southern Africa. In eastern Africa, the main season crop is maturing in Tanzania, while elsewhere in the subregion planting of the main season crops has started except in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, where sowing is not due to commence for about two months. In central Africa and the coastal countries of western Africa planting has started, but in Sahelian countries it will not begin until June. The crop calendar of sub-Saharan Africa is indicated below.
|Eastern Africa 1/|
|- Coastal areas (first season)|
|- Sahel zone|
|Central Africa 1/|
In eastern Africa, near to below normal rainfall is forecast over most parts during the March to May period which is an important rainy season over the equatorial parts of the region. Overall, the food security situation of a large number of people in the subregion is highly precarious.
In Eritrea, seasonal dry weather conditions prevailed in the main grain producing areas during January to March. The performance of the Bahri rains (October-February), important for crop and pasture development in the otherwise arid areas of the Northern Red Sea (NRS) Zone and the escarpments, was unsatisfactory.
Cereal production in 2004 was estimated by an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission at about 85 000 tonnes, less than half the average of the previous 12 years. The cereal import requirement for 2005 is estimated at 422 000 tonnes, of which about 80 000 tonnes are anticipated to be imported commercially.
An estimated 2.3 million people, about two-thirds of the whole population - including in urban and peri-urban areas - will require food assistance in 2005. Recent reports indicate that malnutrition rates of 20-29 percent (GAM) have been recorded in parts of Gash Barka and Anseba. Food aid needs are estimated at 342 000 tonnes of which 104 000 tonnes have been pledged by mid-March. Further pledges are urgently needed ahead of the hungry season starting in June.
In Ethiopia, the planting of the 2005 secondary "belg" season crops has commenced in several locations after some rains were received in late-February/early-March. The "belg" crop accounts for around 8 to 10 percent of annual cereal and pulses production but in some areas it is the main harvest.
A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Assessment Mission that visited the country late last year estimated the cereal and pulse production from the 2004 "meher" season at 14.27 million tonnes, 24 percent above the previous year's revised estimates and 21 percent above the average of the previous five years. Extended rainfall, increased fertilizer use (up by 20 percent) and a 30 percent increase in the use of improved seeds, especially maize and wheat, boosted average yields in key production areas.
Despite the good harvest, some 2.2 million acutely food-insecure people will require emergency food assistance to meet minimum food requirements in 2005. In addition, some 683 000 people in Somali Region and 250 000 people in Afar Region, who will eventually be covered under the safety-net programme, will require emergency food assistance for the first half of 2005. Total emergency food needs in 2005 are, therefore, estimated at 387 500 tonnes plus 89 000 tonnes of targeted supplementary food distributions to 700 000 children under five and 300 000 pregnant and lactating women. Recent reports indicate that the food situation has improved in several drought-affected areas with increased emergency food aid pledges and deliveries, and the start of the productive safety net programme (PSNP) in mid-February, six weeks later than planned. A recent Cereal Availability Study (CAS) conducted by the Swedish International Development Agency, the World Food Programme and the Delegation of the European Commission to Ethiopia concluded that 355 000 tonnes of wheat, maize and sorghum are available on the local market and could be purchased without creating significant price hikes for consumers.
In Kenya, the 2005 main “long rains” cropping season has begun. Early forecasts indicate near normal to above normal rainfall over central and southern Kenya while near normal to below-normal rainfall is forecast over much of the rest of the country. Harvesting of the 2004/05 secondary “short rains” cereal crop, which normally accounts for some 15 percent of annual production, is complete and a below average 270 000 tonnes of maize is gathered. This crop provides the main source of food in parts of Central and Eastern provinces. The 2004 main "long rains" cereal crop, harvested until last October, was significantly reduced compared to the previous year due to erratic rainfall. The aggregate 2004/05 cereal production is now estimated at about 2.5 million tonnes, compared to 3.1 million tonnes in 2003/04.
Food shortages in some of the drought-affected marginal agricultural districts of Eastern Province have eased following a relatively improved short-rains harvest. However, in the lowlands of Kitui, Makueni and most of the coastal districts the food situation remains serious. In addition, pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in Kajiado District continue to face extreme food shortages despite scattered showers in February. The impact of earlier successive poor seasons has also left a large number of households highly vulnerable and unable to cope with continued losses of livestock and livelihood options.
In Somalia, the output of the recently harvested secondary “deyr” season cereal crop in the south is estimated at 122 000 tonnes, 21 percent above the post-war average. Normally the deyr season accounts for 25-30 percent of annual cereal production; however, this year it contributed about 46 percent. The aggregate 2004/05 cereal production is estimated at about 264 000 tonnes, about 7 percent below the post-war average. The overall food supply situation in parts of southern Somalia has improved with better “deyr” harvest. However, an estimated 500 000 people continue to experience serious food shortages and high malnutrition rates due to insecurity, previous high loss of livestock assets, poor rangeland conditions, high household debt and destitution. These people require immediate humanitarian assistance in the form of resource transfers and livelihood support. The Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) has indicated a revised national cereal shortfall of about 8 000 tonnes in 2004/05 (August/July) marketing year. Further information and analysis can be accessed at: www.unsomalia.net under the FSAU web page.
The recent Asian tsunami has also affected a number of settlements in Somalia along a 650-km stretch of coastline between Hafun district and the town of Gara’ad in North Mudug region, Puntland State. The waves are estimated to have killed between 100-300 people and displaced 5 000 others. Fishing gear and equipment were lost in large quantities and hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged, while fresh water wells and reservoirs became unusable. Up to 30 000 people are in need of relief assistance till the start of the next fishing season at the end of 2005.
In Sudan, the first week of January 2005 brought some optimism as a peace deal was signed to end the war in southern Sudan. Since 1983, more than 2 million people have died and another 4 million have fled their homes. With a large number of returnees expected in the coming months, the humanitarian challenges and rehabilitation and reconstruction needs of the shattered economy and infrastructure will be enormous. The continued crisis in Greater Darfur, where fighting has forced more than 2 million people from their homes and farms, is another huge humanitarian challenge. Reports paint a grim picture where the conflict has engulfed almost all parts of Greater Darfur, making it very difficult for agricultural activities and humanitarian assistance.
Increasingly serious food shortages are now reported in several parts of the country. There have been increased population movements into northern Bahr El Gazal Region, marking the onset of a complex range of resettlement challenges for both the returnees and their hosts.
In the United Republic ofTanzania, the short rains maize crop is expected to be average in most parts of Mara and Mwanza in the Lake Victoria region, while output has been above average in the Kagera region. As more short rains maize crop reaches the market, average wholesale maize prices in the region and especially in Mwanza have dropped from US$ 186 per tonne in December 2004 to US$ 150 per tonne in February 2005. As harvesting extends throughout the Lake Victoria region during March, prices are expected to decrease further.
Elsewhere, in northern Tanzania including Arusha, Manyara and parts of Kilimanjaro the maize crop is expected to be below normal. Harvesting has begun in these areas and average wholesale prices in the main export collection market of Himo have declined from US$ 214 per tonne in January to US$ 182 per tonne in February 2005. Tanzanian maize flow into Kenya is expected to increase in the third quarter of 2005. Recorded maize exports from Tanzania to Kenya in February were around 7 000 tonnes compared to 6 790 tonnes in January 2005.
The climate outlook for the March-May 2005 season is for near-normal to below-normal rainfall over southern and south-western Tanzania while near-normal to above-normal rainfall is forecast for central and northern Tanzania
In Uganda, the medium term forecast for March to May 2005 indicates near normal to below normal rainfall for most of the country while near normal to above normal rainfall is forecast for south-western parts of the country. Harvesting of the 2004/05 second season food crops is complete. The harvest has improved food security by replenishing household stocks and market supplies. The flow of crops to major markets, including conflict affected areas, is normal. However, prices are relatively high following the reduced 2004 main season food crops and are yet to respond to the ongoing harvest.
The civil strife in northern Uganda, despite reduced rebel attacks in recent months, continues to severely constrain the food situation of the population. Over 1.4 million displaced persons sheltering in over 100 congested protected camps continue to depend on WFP food assistance for survival. Food security continues to worsen in Karamoja, where drought-affected people are increasingly relying on wild foods, migrating to towns and selling livestock at low prices. WFP faces a shortfall of 53 824 tonnes of food commodities with a funding gap of US$ 33 million, required to maintain the food pipeline necessary to continue providing relief assistance to IDPs and refugees through September.
In southern Africa, prospects for the 2005 coarse grains crops, to be harvested in April-May, are mixed at this point with below normal harvest expectations in the southern part of the region, namely Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, and normal to above normal in the northern parts of the subregion. Significant amount of precipitation during February, the most critical month for maize grain formation, was received in Angola, northern Zambia, northern Malawi and northern Mozambique. On the other hand, prolonged dry spells in southern Zambia, southern Zimbabwe and central and southern Mozambique could limit the yields locally. The first official forecast of maize output, the principal staple crop, in South Africa, the subregion’s largest producer, is placed at 10.52 million tonnes, representing an improvement of about 11 percent over the previous five year average. Reduced cereal harvests in 2004 in Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have caused food shortages in these countries with varying degrees of severity. 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 subregion.
In Angola, normal to above normal planting rains were received for the main season crops at the start of the 2004/05 agricultural season. However, lack of rain during the third dekad of February in southern Angola has left parts of the maize growing area vulnerable. But the northern half of the maize growing area (located in the centre of the country) is progressing well. The overall crop prospects this year look favourable. The 2004 cereal harvest was estimated at about 724 000 tonnes, about 9 percent over last year and 27 percent over the previous five year average. This was mainly the result of increased areas under cultivation, favourable weather, resettlement of many internally displaced people and refugees and substantial distribution of agricultural inputs. In spite of the good harvest in 2004, however, the country needed cereal imports of about 820 000 tonnes for 2004/05, of which 642 000 tonnes were expected to be in the form of commercial imports and 178 000 tonnes as emergency food aid.
Challenges to improving food production in the country include access to productive inputs such as draught animals, fertilizer and agriculture extension services. Recently the World Bank approved a grant of US$ 21 million to Angola for implementing the HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis Control Project.
Angola’s economy, which produces over 1 million barrels a day of crude oil that fetched more than double the budgeted price in the international market in 2004, is expected to boom with a Government prediction of 16 percent growth in 2005. Ironically, a large number of food insecure people exist in the country. WFP with its limited food distribution currently feeds about 850 000 vulnerable people, most of them internally displaced persons (IDPs). With the improvement in the security situation, large numbers of IDPs and refugees have returned to their areas of origin.
Satellite imagery analysis for Botswana suggests less than normal growth of the main season crops/vegetation in most parts of the country, except in the east where above average precipitation has been recorded. According to a Ministry of Agriculture statement, cereal plantings (mainly sorghum) are substantially reduced this year due to the erratic and insufficient rainfall. However, domestic cereal production in Botswana typically amounts to 5-10 percent of the country’s total needs. The remainder is covered by commercial imports. The 2004 cereal production, mainly sorghum, was estimated to recover from the previous year’s drought affected harvest to a more normal level of about 19 000 tonnes. Botswana's cattle industry has been battered by two successive outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease that resulted in the death of over 16 000 animals during 2002 and 2003 and loss of access to European markets. The cattle industry is Botswana's second largest foreign currency earner after diamonds. Last month the Government unveiled a plan to battle and eventually eradicate this disease.
In Lesotho, sporadic and generally inadequate rainfall is a cause for concern as the country tries to recover from the multi-year drought. Although heavy rains were received in February, the cumulative precipitation this season has been substantially below normal. Planted area was reportedly reduced substantially in the southern part of the country due to lack of soil moisture. The food supply situation, especially during these lean months, remains very tight due to a 60 percent drop in cereal production in 2004 compared to the year before. Although much of the cereal import requirements can be covered on commercial basis, mainly from South Africa, lack of purchasing power for a large section of the population is a major problem. A joint FAO/WFP/Government mid-season crop assessment is currently underway.
Emergency food relief for 2004/05 marketing year (April/March) was estimated at 48 500 tonnes of cereals for the most vulnerable people affected by crop failure and HIV/AIDS. Since January 2005 a new regional Protracted Relief and Rehabilitation Operation (PRRO) of WFP is intended to benefit some 171 000 people.
In Madagascar, normal to above normal rains were received at the start of the 2004/05 agricultural season in October-November for planting of the main season crops (rice, maize and sorghum). Heavy rains were experienced in December and January. February, the most critical month for crop growth (especially for maize), has been relatively dry, adversely affecting potential crop yields this season. Judging from the satellite imagery the northern and central parts of the island received good rains during the first week of March. However, serious flooding was reported on 8th March in the eastern Alaotra region causing some damage to the standing paddy crop. 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 the year before. Maize production was estimated at an average level of 170 000 tonnes, an increase of about 10 percent on the previous year’s drought-reduced harvest. The impact of cyclones in 2004, 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. Since April 2004, rice prices have been on the rise. These prices may benefit farmers with marketable surpluses.
The rapid rise in the price of rice (for example, from 2 400 Fmg or about US$ 0.25 per kg in April to about 7 000 Fmg or US$ 0.74 in December) primarily due to high world prices and devaluation of the local currency, has seriously affected the food security of the country. Rice imports have declined sharply causing a “rice crisis” in the country. 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 US$ 16.6 million aimed at promoting economic growth and reducing poverty. Reportedly more than 75 percent of Madagascar's 16 million people live below the poverty line of US$ 1 a day.
In Malawi, cumulative rainfall since the beginning of the current agricultural season started in October 2004 has been above normal in most areas of the country. However, significant dry spells are reported in the southern part of the country as causing serious damage to crops. Elsewhere, crop growth in general is considered satisfactory. Food supplies are readily available in the country and at relatively low prices due to unrestricted cross border trading with the neighbouring countries, especially Mozambique. In most markets, 2004 prices were consistently higher than the ADMARC subsidized corresponding prices in 2003. However, current maize prices are lower than during 2001. Maize prices have stabilized at around 17-20 MK/kg as a steady stream of cross border import flows from neighbouring Mozambique.
For the current marketing year 2004/05 (April/March) the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) estimated that about 1.3 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.
Domestic production of cereals in Mauritius amounts to less than 1 percent of total cereal needs; consequently 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.
The anticipated loss of preferential access to US and European markets by 2007 is expected to have negative consequences for sugar and textiles, the two important exports of the country. For the last three years Mauritius has been experiencing a relatively high unemployment rate (in excess of 10 percent) according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, nearly double the average of 5.9 percent for 2000.
Mozambique has so far experienced a mixed weather pattern this season with heavy rains in the centre, and the north and sparse rains in the south. Heavy rains locally and in neighbouring Zambia at the end of January caused serious flooding along Zambezi and Pungue rivers, affecting 7 districts in central Mozambique. Some damage to the main staple food crops, maize and sorghum, and cash crop sugar cane, is expected. Southern Mozambique is experiencing a moisture deficit more than usual with drought-like conditions in and around the lower Limpopo Basin. Floods and drought notwithstanding, if the generally satisfactory crop growth trend in rest of the country were to continue, prospects for 2004/05 main season crops would be favourable.
The overall food security situation in the country is satisfactory. As reported by SIMA/MADER, maize retail prices have stabilized in most markets in the country and are currently consistently lower than during the same months in the previous two years. Vulnerability analysis indicated in April 2004 that some 187 000 people would need 49 000 tonnes of relief food in marketing year 2004/05 due to the impact of floods/droughts in the previous years and to cope with the HIV/AIDS problem. Since then, the food security situation has improved owing to a good agricultural performance during the second season.
In Namibia, according to the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU), the 2004/05 agricultural season started late and generally dry weather conditions have reduced prospects for a good harvest. It has also been reported that nearly all farmers in eastern Caprivi received emergency seed assistance at the start of the season. They also benefited from the government’s extended draft animal power acceleration programme and Productivity Upliftment Micro Project which supplies ploughing implements and accessories. In 2004, despite heavy rains and flooding in Caprivi and Kavago, total cereal production was estimated by NEWFIU at 131 000 tonnes, 30 percent higher than the previous year’s above average output. At the usual level of consumption, this resulted in about 150 000 tonnes of cereal import requirement, largely to be met by commercial suppliers.
In South Africa, with below normal and erratic rains, the 2004/05 agricultural season did not start very well. However, relief was brought by heavy precipitation in December, late January and mid-February in the maize triangle in the northeastern part of the country. Western Cape Province is experiencing a third year of drought in a row. Nationally, maize plantings this season are estimated at about 3 million hectares, more or less similar to last year. The first official estimate for the 2005 maize crop is put at 10.5 million tonnes, about 8 percent above last year.
The final official production estimate for the winter wheat crop harvested in October-November 2004, at 1.7 million tonnes, indicates an increase by about 10 percent over the previous year. This would translate into a wheat import requirement for the year of around one million tonnes. The final estimate of the maize harvest for 2004 has been revised upwards by the country’s Crop Estimation Committee (CEC) to 9.7 million tonnes. In spite of the much publicised drought in the country, this level of production is almost the same as the year before and even slightly better than the previous five year average.
With the expectation of a severe drought in the country in 2004, the SAFEX price of white maize had soared to US$ 216/tonne in early February 2004, but has now declined to below US$ 100/tonne (lowest level since mid-2001) with improved crop production locally and internationally and a substantial drop in the international price of maize.
In Swaziland, planting and growth of main season crops has been severely constrained by low and ill-distributed rainfall since the start of the season in October 2004. Short but heavy rains in December-January had a limited effect. According to the National Disaster Management Task Force, some damage to the maize crop was caused by hailstorm on 23 January. Thus the overall prospects for crops are considered as unfavourable. The food security situation in the country is precarious following a drought that caused 30 percent reduction in the 2004 harvest of main season cereals compared to the previous five-year average. With a self-sufficiency rate for cereals of only about a third, the Swazi population is mostly dependent on food imports.
With late onset of rains, planting of main crops in some areas in Zambia this season was delayed. The rains have picked-up since December with the northern half of the country receiving good rains. Reduced yields are expected in southern parts where below average rainfall with dry spells of up to two weeks were experienced. The overall prospects for summer crops are considered unfavourable. Similar to last year, the Government’s subsidy programme for fertilizer and seed to selected farmers was also implemented this year. 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, was 1 percent over the 2003 bumper harvest and about 23 percent above the average of the previous five years. Considering the country’s total utilization needs and substantial carryover stocks, an export surplus of about 150 000 tonnes was estimated 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 (fresh weight). The food security situation in the country is relatively good. With surplus maize available from the last two seasons, WFP intends to purchase locally 80 000 tonnes of maize in 2005 for its national and regional operations.
In Zimbabwe, planting of the main crops this agricultural season was delayed due to an erratic start of the rainy season. Most areas received good precipitation in December and in late January. However, a two weeks dry spell experienced almost throughout the country during the critical month of February is expected to have serious adverse effects on crop yields. Shortage of top dressing fertilizer is anticipated to exacerbate the already low productivity. Judging from the latest satellite images, vegetation coverage throughout the country is below normal, except for some northern districts where improved precipitation has been beneficial. Farmers were also reported to have faced shortages of fuel, spare parts and draught power. Thus, as last year, the overall prospects for the current season crops are unfavourable.
Reportedly, local maize purchases by the government’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB) have been significantly lower than expected. The parallel market prices of maize at mid-December 2004 varied from Z$ 830/kg in surplus areas (mostly in the north-central part of the country) to Z$ 2 225/kg in peripheral deficit areas. These prices have risen from the average of Z$ 280 to Z$ 560 per kg during post-harvest period in April. The continuing hyper inflation, estimated at an annual rate of 149 percent in November 2004 (although it steadily declined from about 600 percent at the beginning of 2004), 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 are not able to cover their food needs, and likely as many in the urban areas.
In western Africa, seasonably dry conditions prevail, where in the Sahel the 2004 growing season was characterized by serious desert locust infestations combined with inadequate rainfall, which caused severe localised damage to crops and pastures, notably in the northern parts of most countries. Pastoral and agro-pastoral groups have been especially hard hit. Millet prices in the affected areas are reported to have risen significantly, and this will limit access to this main staple for vulnerable households. However, overall agricultural production in the nine Sahelian countries is estimated to be close to the past five years average. By contrast, growing conditions have been generally favourable in the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, where harvesting of the 2004/05 second maize crop has been completed. In Côte d’Ivoire, food security for many households continues to be hampered by the on-going conflict, while Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea remain heavily dependant on international assistance due to large numbers of IDPs and refugees.
In Burkina Faso, aggregate cereal output in 2004 was estimated by a joint FAO/CILSS Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission 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 caused severe damage to crops and pastures in the northern areas near the Mali border. Oudalan province was the most affected with 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. Although national food supply was not significantly affected by the fall in production in the north, cereal prices have increased steeply in the localities affected by drought and desert locusts. The Government has organized cereal distribution in affected communities, which has helped slow down price increases and improve access to food.
In Cape Verde, the 2004 growing season was very unfavourable due to late and erratic rains combined with desert locust infestations. An FAO/CILSS Mission estimated the maize harvest at some 4 042 tonnes, only one third of last year’s output and similar to the poor crops of 1997 and 1998. Production of beans and potatoes was also below normal. Although the country imports the bulk of its cereal 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 last October estimated cereal production in 2004 at 1.038 million tonnes, about one-third lower than the previous year’s good output. Production of sorghum and millet, the most important food crops, was 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 Locust infestation were not significant.
As of late February, the estimated number of Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad was 213 314. More accurate estimates will be available on completion of the joint WFP/UNHCR/partners registration exercise currently underway. WFP has prepared a new phase of EMOP 10327.0 for the period July 2005-December 2006 requiring 92 000 tonnes of food at an estimated cost of about US$ 82 million.
In Côte d’Ivoire, conflict-induced problems, notably labour shortages due to populations displacements, the lack of agricultural support services in parts of the country, market segmentation, disruptions by insecurity, and excessive transport costs due to hefty levies at roadblocks, continue to disrupt agricultural production and marketing activities in the country. In addition, crops were affected in 2004 by poor rainfall in northern regions, preventing a significant agricultural recovery in spite of improved agricultural inputs distribution. The results of a crop assessment organized by the Government jointly with FAO and WFP in February 2005 indicate cereal production (rice, maize, millet and sorghum) in 2004 at about 1.57 million tonnes, slightly higher than in 2003, but still 7 percent below the average for the five years preceding the crisis. This is mainly due to shortages of inputs and the dry weather that affected cereal crops in the north. By contrast, aggregate production of roots/tubers and banana/plantain, produced mainly in the centre and south, has been estimated at about 5.9 million tonnes, close to the average for the five years preceding the crisis. Food production has been satisfactory in the south but remains below average in the north and the west.
In spite of reduced agricultural production since 2002, the overall food supply position remains adequate and inflation moderate, mainly due to sustained food imports in the government-held south and cross-border trade with Burkina Faso and Mali in the rebel-controlled north. However, food security for many households continues to be hampered by disruption of livelihoods especially in the west. In addition, due to the continuing unfavourable market situation, smallholder cash crop producers are experiencing a significant loss of income. Although cotton production in 2004/05 is estimated to have increased to some 400 000 tonnes, compared to 180 000 tonnes in the previous year, due mainly to improved input distribution to cotton farmers, there is still uncertainty regarding the marketing of the crop.
In The Gambia, a joint FAO/CILSS Mission in October estimated cereal production in 2004 at a record 239 000 tonnes, an increase of about 12 percent over the previous year’s good crop and significantly above the average for the previous five years. Although grasshopper, blister beetle and striga infestations had been reported in several areas, overall damage to crops was limited. In spite of the recent desert locust invasion, the food position this year is expected to be satisfactory, reflecting the bumper harvest, including a good groundnut output. With the arrival of new harvests on the markets the price of coarse grains has declined.
In Guinea, harvesting of the 2004 paddy crop is complete and output is expected to be similar to previous year’s crop. The repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea was completed in late July. About 12 170 people were repatriated in 2004, bringing the total 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 in 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 2004, 80 806 refugees are still living in the country (including 73 840 from Liberia; some 3 980 from Côte 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-Bissau, an FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission estimated the 2004 aggregate cereal production at some 208 000 tonnes, 72 percent above last year’s level. Rice, the main crop, is estimated to have increased by 92 percent to about 127 000 tonnes. Commercial imports in 2004/05 (November/October) are forecast at 30 000 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.
Guinea-Bissau faced a particularly difficult lean season in 2004 due to a steep rise in rice price in the country, due mainly to a decline in commercial imports caused by an increase in the world price. The low producer price of cashew, the main export of the country, has further limited access to food notably for farmers living in the structurally food deficit regions of Pirada and Pitche in the East, and Biombo and Cacheu in the North. Per caput cereal consumption is forecast to recover significantly in 2004/05 from its previous low level. However, the recent desert locust invasion may affect the production of cashew the main source of cash income for farmers.
In Liberia, harvesting of the 2004 paddy crop is complete. Although insecurity has prevented many farmers from cultivating, agricultural production is expected to recover somewhat from the previous year’s very low level, reflecting the return of many displaced people following the end of the civil war. Paddy production in 2004/05 is estimated at 159 600 tonnes compared to 110 000 tonnes in 2003/04.
Since October 2004, UNHCR has organized repatriation of over 8 000 out of the 300 000 Liberian refugees scattered across West Africa. The UN disarmament programme was officially completed on 31 October as planned. By 6 November 2004, 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 10 out of the 15 counties in the country. In 2004, WFP distributed a monthly average of 8 000 tonnes to feed 650 000 beneficiaries. Under the current PRRO, WFP estimates that nearly a third of the Liberian population may require food assistance. Accordingly, WFP plans to feed an average of 750 000 people between January to June 2005. However, the agency is facing a serious shortfall in resources and has been forced to distribute reduced rations.
Following a steep rise in rice prices in the country due to an increase in the world price, the Government has set up a special committee to recommend solutions to the high rice prices so as to stabilize the market. Subsidized sales of about 33 000 tonnes of rice donated by China were started in February.
In Mali, this is the dry season as normal. Aggregate 2004 cereal production has been estimated at about 2.99 million tonnes, which is 12 percent lower than the record crop harvested in 2003 but some 8 percent above the average for the previous five years. This was the result of drought and desert locust infestations that caused severe damage to crops and pastures in the north and along the border with Mauritania. Although national food supply was not significantly affected, and domestic production is expected to cover nearly all of the country’s cereal utilisation requirement, cereal prices have been increasing in the localities affected by drought and desert locusts. According to the Government, more than one million people will require food assistance this year, notably in Mopti, Tombouctou and Gao.
In Mauritania, the food situation remains critical. A joint FAO/WFP/CILSS Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country last October, estimated 2004 cereal output at some 101 192 tonnes, about 44 percent below 2003 and 36 percent below the previous five years average. This was the result of drought and widespread desert locust invasion 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 crop 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 losses could be far greater if the swarms persisted into 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 such a situation has been exhausted. Access to food is difficult for thousands of rural households and it will get worse if appropriate action is 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, it is also the dry season as normal. An early end of the rains during the 2004 growing season 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 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 million people in 3 000 villages are estimated to be at risk of food shortage. Following a steep increase in cereal prices in the localities affected by drought and desert locusts, the Government announced in mid-February that it would sell 67 000 tonnes of cereal from its food reserve stocks to improve access to food.
In Senegal, a joint FAO/CILSS/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in October estimated the 2004 cereal production at some 1 132 700 tonnes, 22 percent lower than the 2003 record crop of about 1.4 million tonnes, but still close to the five-year average. The important millet crop was estimated to decrease by 40 percent to some 379 166 tonnes, while sorghum production was 30 percent down from the previous year. This decline was 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, is up by 28 percent due to the substitution of millet and sorghum with groundnut by farmers and renewal of government incentive programmes including subsidizing maize and groundnut seeds and fertilizers. Moreover, the main groundnut producing areas were spared by both desert locusts and inadequate rainfall.
Millet prices have increased steeply 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 southern movement of livestock herds has started earlier than usual. Assistance is needed to establish safe passage corridors for livestock and to vaccinate animals on their way to southern pastures.
In Sierra Leone, harvesting of the 2004 paddy crop is complete. Output 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 security situation in the country remains calm. The repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea was completed in late July. About 12 170 people were repatriated in 2004, 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 Togo, land preparation for the first maize crop is underway in the South. Plantings will start with the arrival of rains, usually in March-April. Aggregate cereal production in 2004 has been estimated at a record 879 700 tonnes, some 18 percent above average. As a consequence, imports of cereals in the marketing year 2005 are forecast to decline to about 165 000 tonnes, including re-exports.
In central Africa, civil strife and insecurity continue to undermine food security in several countries
In Cameroon, national cereal production is estimated to have increased significantly in 2004, according to official sources. However, in the northern regions located in the Sudano-Sahelian zone, dry spells and the poor distribution of rainfall during the growing season resulted in a serious decline in production. High prices are reported in these regions due to low supply of grain.
In Central African Republic, harvesting of the 2004 cereal crops is complete. The output is expected to recover somewhat, reflecting an improved security situation relative to the situation in 2003 and increased plantings following agricultural inputs distribution with the assistance of FAO in the localities which were adversely affected by the 2003 rebellion.
The inflation rate estimated at 7 percent in 2003 due to increased food prices resulting from transport disruptions, slowed down in 2004 with an improved security situation. It is expected to remain stable in 2005, which should improve access to food in the country. Although most of the 230 000 IDPs have returned home, an estimated 41 000 refugees from CAR are still living in Chad.
In the Republic of Congo, domestic cereal production covers about 3 percent of total cereal requirements; the balance is imported, mostly on commercial terms. In 2005 the import requirement of cereals, mainly wheat and rice, is estimated at some 268 000 tonnes, virtually unchanged from the previous year.
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. Under the DDR 42 000 former combatants are to benefit from reintegration during 2004-2006. The last 3 250 displaced people who were still living in camps near Brazzaville returned home in April 2004. According to the UNHCR, the country hosts a large number of refugees from conflicts in neighbouring countries, including DRC Congolese, Angolans and Rwandans. The security situation remains volatile and hampers humanitarian aid.
In the Great Lakes region, harvesting of the first season (2005A) crops (maize, sorghum and beans) planted in September-October, is completed. A recent locally-organized FAO/WFP/UNICEF/Ministry of Agriculture assessment in Burundi has forecasted a 5 decrease in total food supply (in cereal equivalent) for 2005 as compared to 2004. Preliminary results of a similar assessment in Rwandaindicate that about 30 000 tonnes of food aid would be required in 2005. In Burundi this season, FAO distributed sweet potato cuttings to 7 500 vulnerable farmers and sorghum seeds to 75 400 households to help the process of farm resettlement. However, resettlement of returning refugees and the food security situation in the Great Lakes region as a whole continue to be hampered by sporadic violence and disturbances.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the relative improvement in the security situation since 2004 and assistance provided to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returning refugees have had some positive impact on agricultural activities in the affected areas. However, recent clashes in the eastern part of the country have displaced over 100 000 people, adding to the existing 3 million IDPs. Thus, insecurity for producers and traders (who are forced to pay unauthorized levies on their farm produce), shortages of basic inputs (such as improved planting materials, hand tools, fishing equipment and veterinary supplies) and the decrepit rural infrastructure (notably feeder roads) are the main constraints to food production and distribution. Furthermore, staple crops, namely, cassava and banana, this season have been severely damaged by pests and diseases.
Food insecurity affects over 70 percent of the total population of 57 million in DRC. Hence, the Government and the donor community, at the Round Table conference held in March 2004, confirmed agriculture sector rehabilitation as the cornerstone of their strategy for poverty reduction. The focus will be on two main components, addressing emergency needs on one hand and achieving the medium to long term rehabilitation on the other. Under the Minimum Partnership Program for Transition and Recovery, the donor community has pledged US$ 6.86 billion over the next 4 years, of which US$ 285 million are intended for agriculture. The country has also received US$ 39 million from the IMF under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility.
In Burundi, harvesting of the first season crops is now completed. After a sporadic start of the season in September/October, heavy rains were experienced in December and January, except in the north and the northeast of the country where dry weather is expected to have reduced the harvest substantially. Torrential rains in late January caused flooding which reportedly destroyed nearly 1 000 homes in the western part of the country. Preliminary results of a joint FAO/WFP/UNICEF/Ministry of Agriculture assessment forecast a slight increase (2 percent) in cereal production but 5 percent decrease in total food production, in cereal equivalent, in 2005 as compared to 2004. Planting of second season (2005B) crops should begin shortly.
Total cereal production for 2004 was estimated at 280 000 tonnes, about 3 percent higher than the year before. However, there was 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 considerably in some markets. Prices of staple foods have doubled since last August.
Insecurity continues to be reported in some areas of Bujumbura Rural province. Thus, the slow-moving peace process remains very fragile. Since March 2003 more than 150 000 refugees from Tanzania have returned to Burundi but nearly as many remain in Tanzania.
In Rwanda, harvesting of 2005A main season crops (beans, maize and sorghum) is also complete. The weather had been erratic for that season with below normal precipitation at the beginning, with heavy rains in early December and early January but below normal in February, resulting in reduced overall cumulative precipitation for the country. Consequently, crop prospects are considered as not good. FEWSNET reported higher prices for several important food commodities in 2004 as compared to 2002 and 2003. However, harvest time prices of potatoes and sorghum had come down significantly in December from the prices in November. The Rwandan economy grew 6 percent in 2004 primarily due to a strong performance of the agriculture sector. However, according to the preliminary results of the currently ongoing joint FAO/WFP/UNICEF/Government assessment, a total of 30 000 tonnes of food aid would be required in 2005. The influx of refugees from DRC and Burundi in recent weeks has continued; the number currently stands at about 50 000. This is expected to have negative food security implications for Rwanda.
UPDATE ON FOOD AID PLEDGES AND DELIVERIES
Estimated cereal import requirements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005 remain high and are expected to be higher than in 2004. GIEWS’ latest estimates of 2004 production and 2004/05 import and food aid requirements are summarized in Tables 1 and 2. Total food aid requirement is estimated at 3 million tonnes, against about 3.1 million tonnes received in 2003/04. Cereal food aid pledges for 2004/05, including those carried over from 2003/04, amount to 1.4 million tonnes of which 0.8 million tonnes have so far been delivered.