7.2 million people still need food
aid in Ethiopia
This despite good harvest in 2003
14 January 2004, Rome --
Despite a good harvest, 7.2 million people still require
assistance to meet minimum food requirements in 2004, according
to a joint report released today by two United Nations agencies.
Last year, 13.2 million Ethiopians needed food assistance.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) report,
"Well-distributed seasonal rains that began on time and
continued until late September/October in the main production
areas resulted in an upsurge of grain production in the 2003
programmes helped ensure access to seeds in most regions and
increased use of improved seed and fertilizer also contributed
to "the marked improvement in yields over last
cereal and pulse production in the meher season is forecast at
13.05 million tonnes, about 46 percent above 2002/03 and 11
percent above the last five years average.
The report says the overall agricultural performance
in 2003 was much better than last year, primarily due to
favourable weather conditions. Incentives to invest were also
greater following higher prices since November 2002.
Much better rainfall in the central highlands and in
the north-eastern pastoral areas and improved livestock
condition reduced livestock mortality rates and removed the need
for early migration of herds and flocks, according to the
Grain prices expected to
Despite these overall
improvements, the report estimates that Ethiopia will still need
980 000 tonnes of food relief for 2004, compared with 1.8
million tonnes in 2003. It estimates the total grain import
requirements in 2004 at 210 000 tonnes of which 50 000 tonnes
are expected to be imported commercially. Confirmed food aid
commitments stand at 160 000 tonnes.
Following the poor harvest in 2002/03 grain prices
rose sharply and have remained high compared to the same period
last year owing to a reduced supply on the market.
However, says the report, the prospects of a good crop
this year are expected to cause prices to decline once the
harvest comes in.
Such severe price
volatility hurts producers as well as consumers. The report
says, "the need for effective price stabilization can
not be overemphasized" and recommends the use of local
purchases as the main tool for securing cereals and pulses for
food aid programmes in the coming year.
report is based on the findings of a joint FAO/WFP mission that
visited Ethiopia from 5 November to 6 December
Riddle FAO Information Officer
John.Riddle@fao.org (+39) 06 570 53259
Robin Lodge WFP Public Affairs
Robin.Lodge@wfp.org (+39) 06 651