No.3  July 2008  
   Crop Prospects and Food Situation

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Countries in crisis requiring external assistance1 (total: 34 countries)

Food Emergencies Update

Global cereal supply and demand brief

Policy measures taken by governments to reduce the impact of soaring prices

FAO global cereal supply and demand indicators

FAO food price indices

Regional reviews

Special feature: Zimbabwe

Statistical appendix


Food Emergencies Update

In Western Africa and Central Africa, high and rising food prices continue to affect consumers’ purchasing power and access to food across the subregion in spite of the various measures taken by Governments. In Ouagadougou ( Burkina Faso) for example, the price of millet, the major staple, has increased by 33 percent, in early June 2008 compared to the same period last year, while the price of imported rice was up 87 percent over the same period. In Central African Republic, the price of rice increased by 71 percent between January and June. Prices of other food items such as cassava, oil and meat more than doubled over the same period. Harvesting of the first 2008 maize crop is about to start in the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea in Western Africa and in much of central Africa, which is expected to ease the effects of rising international commodity prices on consumers in these countries. However, in the Sahel countries which usually experience the peak of the hunger season in July and August, the upward trend in cereal prices is likely to continue until new local harvests come to markets in September.

In Eastern Africa, an increasing number of people continue to be in need of emergency food assistance as a result of poor crops, conflict, civil strife or a combination of these. In Somalia, the food supply position is serious following three consecutive poor crops, disruption of markets, a major devaluation of the local currency, increasing food prices and growing civil insecurity. Since January 2008 the population movement from the capital increased by 20 percent, bringing the number of people who have left Mogadishu since February 2007 at a total of 860 000. Currently the number of people in need of emergency assistance is estimated at 2.6 million, an increase of more than 40 percent since January this year, while the internally displaced are estimated at 1.1 million. Moreover, as stated by the Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) the situation could deteriorate further and, by the end of the year, a total of 3.5 million people, about half of the total population, could be in need of either livelihood support or humanitarian assistance. Reflecting high food prices, civil insecurity, and poor performance of the 'belg’ crop now being harvested, the number of people requiring emergency food assistance in Ethiopia until November 2008 is currently estimated at 4.6 million, an increase of 2.6 million people compared to the April 2008 estimate. Furthermore, this estimate could even increase as an additional 8 million people remain chronically food insecure. While the needs of the 4.6 million people have been assessed at some 510 000 tonnes of food, only about 118 000 tonnes, - or 23 percent - are available or have been pledged. Thus, additional contributions are needed to avoid a worsening of the food supply position of the people affected. In Djibouti, relief assistance is required by pastoral population and the urban poor as a result of decreasing food security reflecting increased food prices and inadequate rains. Preventive health measures are also needed to avoid outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Current high food prices and inflation in Eritrea continue to affect large part of the population while new and continuing regional tension could lead to further massive displacement and humanitarian needs. In Kenya, high prices for cereals and other essential goods, conflict and animal diseases have destabilized the pastoralists’ recovery from drought and increased their food insecurity. People affected by post-election violence as well as IDPs will continue to require humanitarian and recovery assistance in the coming months. Households in the eastern part of southern Sudan are currently highly food insecure due to food shortages as a result of crop losses due to last year’s floods. In the north, displacement and loss of livelihoods are expected to continue in Darfur where an additional 180 000 people have been displaced in the first five months of 2008. Limited humanitarian access due to security restrictions, shortage of food and water and overcrowding in camps would likely lead to increased suffering for the vulnerable people. In Uganda, the food crisis is likely to continue in the Karamoja district. More than 700 000 people are food insecure and in need of emergency food aid as a result of prolonged insecurity, localized flood damage in 2007, falling livestock prices, and inadequate rains for the last three years.

In Southern Africa, vulnerable populations in several countries, particularly Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland, are expected to face food insecurity during the 2008/09 marketing year which began with a generally poor main season cereal harvest in April. In Zimbabwe, a joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) estimated the national production of main season maize in 2008 at 575 000 tonnes, some 28 percent lower than the production in 2007 (using the CFSAM estimate of 800 000 tonnes) which in itself was some 44 percent below 2006 government estimate. The Mission also estimated that about 2 million people in rural and urban areas will be food insecure between July and September 2008, rising to 3.8 million people between October and December and peaking to about 5 million at the height of the hungry season between January and March 2009. The food insecure population will require food assistance amounting to some 395 000 tonnes of cereals in 2008/09. In Swaziland, another CFSAM estimated at about 64 000 tonnes the national maize harvest for 2008. Although this is more than twice last year’s production, it’s still less than for each of the preceding four years. In Lesotho, the total 2008 cereal harvest is almost the same as last year’s drought-affected output and some 18 percent below the average of the previous five years. Several other import dependent countries in the region are also particularly vulnerable to the soaring food and fuel prices and internationally. In Lesotho and Swaziland widespread poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS have led to serious food insecurity.

In the Great Lakes region, uncertain security situation in the north-eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to affect large numbers of people who require food assistance. Recent peace agreements would help IDPs to resettle but they need substantial assistance to restart farming activities. High food prices are negatively affecting large number of households in Burundi and food and agricultural aid is needed , especially for resettling returnees and IDPs.

In Far East Asia, Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, causing more than 130 000 people dead or missing in 37 townships across Ayeyarwady and Yangon divisions. The lives and livelihoods of an estimated 2.4 million people have been severely affected. Among them, 1.3 million have been reached so far by international NGOs, the Red Cross and the UN. The worst affected areas are the most productive in agriculture and fisheries. The 2008/09 main rice production season is threatened by a lack of seeds, fertilizers, farm machinery, drought animals and inadequate labour owing to the heavy casualties among rice farming communities. An earthquake of 8.0 magnitude on May 12 rocked the south-western province of Sichuan in China. Over 69 000 people were confirmed dead, more than 374 000 people injured, and over 18 457 missing. A total of 45.6 million people have been reportedly affected, including 15 million people evacuated from their homes, including some 5 million people living in temporary shelters. Some 10 million additional people are officially estimated as living below the poverty line as a result of the earthquake. Most of the affected population is critically dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and vulnerable to food insecurity. Typhoon Fengshen ripped through the Philippines archipelago in the late June, affecting 11.2 million people in 38 provinces, destroying or damaging some 300 000 hectares of rice crops in the Western Visayas region and 12 other provinces. . A sharply reduced cereal harvest in 2007 due to floods has caused severe food shortage in the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea. The main 2008 cropping season (July-October) will also be severely affected by the lack of agricultural inputs, especially fertilizer and fuel. The country will have to depend on external assistance as its capacity to import commercially remains highly constrained. More than 300 000 people in nine districts of far western and mid-western Nepal are facing a precarious food situation as a result of crop failure due to drought. Food insecurity continues to prevail in Timor-Leste, due to country’s high dependence on cereal imports, social instability, and high unemployment rate. Food assistance to Cyclone-affected populations in Southern Bangladesh is ongoing. The population in the worst-affected districts has suffered a significant loss in Amam crop production, the major crop in the region. The WFP emergency operation is currently assisting 2.3 million beneficiaries, including 117 000 children.

In the Near East, in Afghanistan, insecurity and widespread lack of adequate access to food is being exacerbated by drought affecting the 2008 harvest. Poor crops or crop failure is reported for numerous districts of the northern and northeastern provinces.

In the Asian CIS, in Tajikistan, widespread poor access to food is being exacerbated by dry conditions this growing season. In addition, extreme cold in the winter caused crop losses amounting up to about 40 percent compared to the average first season foodcrop harvest. In addition to losses of important staple crops such as wheat and potatoes, vegetable crops, fruit and vine production have suffered and many households have reported animal deaths and abortions. In rural areas alone, 11 percent of households (half a million people) are severely food insecure and 1.1 million people are moderately food insecure. In all, some 1.68 million rural people are affected.

In South America, humanitarian assistance has been provided to about 20 000 vulnerable families in Bolivia whose livelihood systems were disrupted by serious localized losses of food and cash crops following floods caused by the 'La Niña” phenomenon during the 2008 main cropping season.

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