No.2  April 2008  
   Crop Prospects and Food Situation

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Countries in crisis requiring external assistance

Food Emergencies Update

Global cereal supply and demand brief

FAO global cereal supply and demand indicators

FAO food price indices

Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries’ food situation overview

Regional reviews

Statistical appendix


Food Emergencies Update

In Western Africa, a relatively good cereal crop was gathered in 2007 in the Sahel (with the exception of Senegal and Cape Verde) but coarse grain production declined significantly in a few countries along the Gulf of Guinea, notably in northern Nigeria and Ghana, leading to a tight food supply situation at regional level, with rising food prices reported in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. In the western part of the subregion, where food prices are influenced mainly by international markets due to the high dependence of these countries on wheat and rice imports, both rural and urban consumers have been affected by the prevailing high international cereal prices, notably in Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal. Throughout the subregion the impact of high food prices will be more severe in localized areas where yields were sharply reduced by delayed rains or floods. In these areas populations may require assistance.

In Central Africa, although an above-average cereal harvest was gathered in Cameroon in 2007, soaring international food prices have pushed up domestic prices of several basic foodstuffs; this has caused serious social unrest recently. In spite of measures taken by the Government to ease the impact on the population, poor urban consumers and vulnerable groups in rural areas, whose production was affected by dry spells or floods, need to be continuously monitored and assisted as necessary.

In Eastern Africa, notwithstanding generally good crops in the last two years, largely in the main producing countries of the subregion, millions of people continue to rely on humanitarian food assistance due to unfavourable weather, conflict, civil strife or a combination of these. In Somalia, the food security situation continues to deteriorate for more than 2 million people - including an estimated 1 million IDPs, who are in need of basic humanitarian assistance or livelihood support for at least six months. Intensive conflict in Mogadishu continues to force an average 20 000 people to leave their homes each month. With record high food prices, hyperinflation and drought in large parts of the country, communities are struggling to survive. The country desperately needs good rainfall in the next (April-June) rainy season to avoid a worsening of already extreme water and food shortages. In Kenya, a drastically reduced “short-rains” cereal crop and post-election political unrest have resulted in a serious humanitarian situation for an estimated 500 000 people. Some 207 000 people living in camps are facing a humanitarian emergency. The greater disruption of markets, which followed the political unrest, has produced an increase in the cost of agricultural inputs. As a result, about half of the agricultural land in North Rift, the key maize producing area, has not yet been prepared for the planting season this month. About 60 000 people are facing starvation in Taita-Taveta District alone. Acute food crises are also evident in Turkana District, while there is a gradual deterioration in food security in eastern pastoral areas. Food shortages are also reported in lowlands that experienced up to 80 percent of crop failure. In Eritrea, current high food prices continue to adversely affect a large number of vulnerable people. In Ethiopia, despite a bumper cereal harvest for two consecutive years, 8 million people remain chronically food insecure. Another 2 million are affected by civil insecurity, high food prices and localized unfavourable weather, and require emergency relief. In Sudan, conflicts between Misserya nomads and Sudanese security forces in northern Bahr el Ghazal are spreading to Abyei County and northern Unity States, causing market disruptions and threatening food security. In the north, as a result of continuing insecurity in Darfur, displacement and loss of livelihoods are expected to continue and malnutrition rates are likely to increase in the coming months. In the United Republic of Tanzania, areas in the region of Arusha and Iringa are facing a food shortage following the eruption of mount Oldongai volcano. In Uganda, the entire Karamoja population of 1 million people is food insecure and in need of emergency food aid as a result of flood damage, prolonged insecurity, drought in 2006, a late start to the 2007 cropping season, and falling livestock prices.

In Southern Africa, vulnerable populations in several countries are facing the peak of the hunger period due to exhaustion of stocks, compounded by high domestic and imported food prices. The next harvest will begin from mid-April onwards. Households who lost their current crops to floods require urgent agricultural assistance, especially seed and fertilizer, to permit cultivation of the low lands during the secondary season which has already begun in March. Flood losses were significant in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Madagascar. In Zimbabwe, in spite of abundant rainfall during the first half of the season, extended dry weather since February, deepening economic crisis, shortages of fertilizer and other chemicals are expected to result in a reduced harvest. Current inflation of over 100 000 percent and shortages of food and non-food items affecting the estimated 4.1 million vulnerable people are equally of concern. In Lesotho and Swaziland although some recovery is expected, asset depletion due to multiple poor harvests, widespread poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS, have led to serious food insecurity.

In the Great Lakes region, serious fighting in the north-eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has displaced large numbers of people who require food assistance. Current peace agreements would help IDPs to resettle but they need substantial assistance to restart farming activities. Food and agricultural aid is also needed in Burundi, especially for resettling returnees and IDPs.

In Far East Asia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea faces severe food shortage. A sharply below-average cereal harvest in 2007 led to an estimated cereal deficit for the 2007/08 marketing year (November/October) of 1.66 million tonnes. In Bangladesh, over four months after Cyclone Sidr hit the country, large-scale humanitarian relief operations are still ongoing in 30 districts to assist the most affected 8.9 million people. In Sri Lanka, food security continues to be affected by the resurgence of civil conflict, natural disasters (recent floods), as well as rising cereal prices. The food security situation has also continued to deteriorate in the past months in Timor-Leste and Nepal due to political instability and rising food prices. In Timor-Leste, a state of emergency, declared soon after the February 11 attacks, was extended for another month to April. In China, 20 southern provinces suffered from disastrous cold, ice, and snow in January and February, and some 100 million people are officially estimated to have been affected. The most severely impacted crops and products include rapeseed, vegetables, fruits, forest products, and livestock products. Similarly, unusually cold weather in Viet Nam has been sweeping through the upland areas near the Viet Nam-China border, making it a record-long cold spell. About 150 000 hectares of rice were destroyed, with a loss of about USD 25 million and about 90 000 head of cattle or buffalo have perished. In Indonesia and Bangladesh the Avian flu situation remains critical despite containment efforts undertaken by national authorities and the international community.

In the Near East, in Iraq, following some improvement in the security situation, refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic continue to return to their homes, although large-scale movements have not yet been noted. It is estimated that around 45 000 individuals - out of a total of 1 million present in Syria - have returned to Iraq in 2007. The internally displaced people are currently estimated at 2.77 million, of whom more than 1 million are in need of adequate shelter and food. In addition, over 1 million do not have access to regular income. Recent clashes in the country’s second largest city of Basra, as well as in other southern governorates, have caused the cessation of humanitarian assistance to IDPs and vulnerable populations.

In Central America and the Caribbean, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua are still recovering from damage caused by tropical storms and hurricanes in late 2007.

In South America, severe floods in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru have led to reduced plantings and yield loss of several food and cash crops such as paddy, maize, potatoes, soybean, bananas, cocoa and vegetables. In Bolivia, the important livestock sector has also suffered losses of several thousand head of cattle and reduction of pasture availability due to waterlogging.

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