No.6  December 2007  
   Crop Prospects and Food Situation

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Food Emergencies Update

Global cereal supply and demand brief

FAO global cereal supply and demand indicators

Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries food situation overview

Regional reviews

Statistical Appendix


Food Emergencies Update

In Western Africa, a relatively good crop is expected in the Sahel (with the exception of Senegal and Cape Verde) but crop prospects are less favourable in the countries along the Gulf of Guinea, notably in northern Nigeria and northern Ghana, which may have a significant impact on regional cereal markets and push up prices. In some localized areas of the subregion, where yields were severely reduced by delayed rains or floods, populations may be at risk of food shortages, and may require assistance. In Ghana, the hardest hit country, the food security situation of several northern areas affected by floods was already precarious after poor rainfall and reduced harvests during the 2006 cropping season. In the western part of the Sahel, low domestic production in a context of tight international markets has generated high inflationist pressure on the domestic food market, eroding the purchasing power of urban and rural consumers. This situation has already caused social unrest in Mauritania and Senegal which rely heavily on cereal imports from the international market.

In Eastern Africa, following two years of above-average harvests in many countries, the overall food security situation has improved somewhat. The number of people identified in mid-2006 as highly and extremely food insecure and needing humanitarian assistance, have decreased by some 7 million to about 6 million currently, with the biggest declines in Kenya and Ethiopia. By contrast, in Somalia, after a temporary reduction, a poor main season crop, renewed conflicts and displacements have again raised the affected population figure to some 1.5 million people. In Eritrea, cereal prices remain high affecting the food security of large sections of the population. In Ethiopia, despite an easing of restrictions on trade in the Somali Region, households in vast areas of the region will remain food insecure. In most other areas the anticipated good harvest is expected to improve the food supply position. However, the security situation of the poorer households continues to be threatened by high food prices. In Kenya, for the first time in more than 45 years, several small swarms of adult Desert Locust have invaded areas in the northeast causing damage to crops near the Dawa River on the Ethiopian border. Food assistance continues to be provided to a large number of people in the pastoral areas affected by earlier drought and continued pastoral conflicts. In Sudan, as a result of continuing insecurity in Darfur, displacement and loss of livelihoods are expected to continue and malnutrition rates are likely to deteriorate in the coming months because of lack of proper access to food. In south Sudan, despite an overall adequate supply of cereals, an inadequate transport and marketing system will prevent any significant movements from surpluses to deficit areas. In Uganda, the population at risk, estimated at some 1.5 million, will remain highly food insecure and largely dependant on humanitarian support.

In Southern Africa, owing to reduced harvests and significant increases in cereal domestic and import prices, food insecurity has worsened in several countries. In Zimbabwe, with the latest inflation at a world record level of 7 983 percent, extremely high unemployment and shortages of food and non-food goods, the economic crisis continues to deepen, affecting the estimated 4.1 million food insecure people. In Lesotho and Swaziland, poor cereal harvests for the third year in succession due to droughts, preclude an improvement in the food security of these countries, afflicted by problems of poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS.

In the Great Lakes region, the continuing conflict in the north-eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has affected large numbers of people who need food assistance. Food aid is also needed in Burundi following the poor 2007 total food crops harvest, combined with resettlement of returnees and IDPs.

In Far East Asia, emergency food aid is needed in Bangladesh after a super cyclonic storm (category 4) in mid-November, caused extensive damage and affected close to 8.5 million people in 30 districts. Localized food emergency assistance is also needed in Viet Nam, Philippines, and Nepal as a result of the floods and landslides. After receiving over half a million tonnes of food aid in the last several months, the food security situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has improved. However, a large gap between domestic cereal supply and requirements is expected for 2007/08 (November/October) as a result of long-term economic constrains and severe floods in July and September. In Mongolia, the food security prospects this winter for the rural populations have been negatively affected by reduced wheat and hay output in 2007. In Sri Lanka, the food security situation of vulnerable population has deteriorated due to the resurgence of civil conflict, the reduction of this year’s cereal production and rising cereal import prices. The food security situation in Timor-Leste has recently deteriorated due to high cereal world market prices, reduced cereal production due to adverse weather and an outbreak of locusts.

In the Near East, in Iraq, reflecting some slight improvement in the security situation, a few hundred Iraqi refugees in Syrian Arab Republic have recently joined the steady modest flow of refugees who have returned to their homes in Iraq in recent months. The expatriates who sought asylum in neighbouring countries are estimated at about two million while a similar number of people have been internally displaced.

In Central America and the Caribbean, precipitations have been well above normal levels during September and October. Major flooding and mudslides occurred in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the south-eastern states of Tabasco and Chiapas in Mexico, with localized severe losses of cash and food crops as well as deaths of thousands of head of cattle. Food security situation appears to be particularly difficult in the Northern Autonomous Atlantic Region (RAAN) of Nicaragua where the fragile livelihood systems of local population have already been disrupted by the passage of powerful hurricane Felix in September.

In South America, after the most severe fire of Paraguay’s history that destroyed in September almost one million hectares of forest, pasture and cropland, a prolonged dry weather period has seriously affected the important livestock sector of El Chaco region.

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