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Good harvest in Ethiopia still insufficient for all

Ethiopia's production of cereal is improving, but 5.2 million people will still depend on food assistance in 2002. That is fewer than in 2001 and about half the number in 2000, when the country's drought crisis was at its worst. Localized drought, population displacement and limited access and entitlement to food are to blame, says a joint special report produced by FAO and the World Food Programme.

Favourable growing conditions -- namely, good rains in most of the country -- resulted in a good overall agricultural performance in 2001. In the southeast, however, the rainy season was shorter and more erratic than usual.

In addition, the report notes that in the southern region "cereal area was reduced in 2001 mainly due to uncertainties with credit policies and fertilizer availability at planting time." Nationally, cereal yields declined by 4 percent compared to 2000, largely due to the reduction in fertilizer use. The report also noted that the year was free from migratory pests, but a little more than normal damage from non-migratory pests and diseases was observed.

Improved harvest, low cereal prices

The report forecasts a cereal and pulse harvest of 12.33 million tones during the main season, comprising 11.30 million tonnes of cereal and 1.03 million tonnes of pulses, about 9 percent above the average for the previous five years.

The increased rainfall has also benefited other crops and pasture conditions have improved, except in some southeastern parts of the country. Livestock prices are generally stable or rising.

Increased production has resulted in lower cereal prices, particularly for maize, which could result in severe financial difficulties for farmers and reductions in area planted next season. In addition, export possibilities will be restricted because of improved production in neighbouring countries, particularly Kenya and Sudan.

Nearly 560 000 tonnes of food aid will be required, of which 130 000 tonnes are available in carryover stocks. The most vulnerable groups include internally displaced people in the north and pastoralists in the southern and eastern parts.

The report strongly recommends local purchasing as the first course of action for donors wishing to provide food aid to targeted vulnerable groups.

14 February 2002

Related links:

FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Ethiopia

Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS)

World Food Programme (WFP)

M. Marzot/FAO/17084

Pasture availability and the condition of livestock have improved in much of Ethiopia since 2000.

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