GIEWS COUNTRY UPDATES

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AFRICA

ASIA

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

NORTH AMERICA, EUROPE AND OCEANIA

AFRICA

NORTH AFRICA

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ALGERIA (19 September)

Normal dry weather prevails. Harvesting of the 2006 cereal crops has been completed and aggregate cereal production is provisionally estimated at about 4 million tonnes, a significant recovery from the 2005 drought-affected crop levels of 3.49 million tonnes. About 2.7 million tonnes of wheat have been harvested, compared to 2.35 million tonnes the year before and the five-year average of 2.29 million tonnes. Barley output, used mainly for feed, also increased by 200 000 tonnes to about 1.3 million tonnes.

Wheat imports for the marketing year 2006/07 (July/June) are expected to decrease over last year’s volume of 5.6 million tonnes to some 4.6 million tonnes, reflecting production increases. Maize imports should decrease by 100 000 tonnes from the 2 million tonnes volume imported in marketing year 2005/06 (July/June).

EGYPT (19 September)

Harvesting of the 2006 irrigated wheat crop was completed in July, and output has provisionally been estimated at 8.3 million tonnes, which compares to 8.18 million tonnes in 2005 and the five-year average of 7 million tonnes. The increase is due to the combination of a modest increase in wheat plantings in 2006 with respect to 2005 and the normal to abundant rains that have benefited the crops throughout the season.

Harvesting of the maize crop is well advanced, while that of paddy has recently started. The outlook is good and early forecasts for maize production stand at about an average 7 million tonnes, while paddy output should be a tentative 6.2 million tonnes, some 224 000 tonnes above the past five-year average.

Reflecting the anticipated good wheat output, wheat imports in marketing year 2006/07 (July/June) are expected to decrease from 7.6 million tonnes last year to about 7 million tonnes.

MOROCCO (19 September)

Wheat production in 2006 has been estimated at a record high of 6.3 million tonnes, 54 percent above the average of the past five years and twice the level of the 2005 drought-affected crop. Production of barley, the main coarse grain grown in the country, has also increased substantially from last year’s 1.1 million tonnes to 2.5 million tonnes. The increase in production has been the result of the favourable rainfall pattern at planting and throughout the developing period. Government policy to encourage investment in agriculture, in particular, increased subsidies to farmers to expand mechanization and use of high quality seeds, has also contributed to crop success.

Wheat imports in marketing year 2006/07 (July/June) are forecast to decline from 2.8 million tonnes last year to about 1 million tonnes. Maize imports are also anticipated to decrease by 7 percent to about 1.3 million tonnes in marketing year 2006/07 (July/June).

TUNISIA (19 September)

Harvesting of the 2006 winter crops has been completed; the wheat and barley crops are estimated at a below-average 1.2 million tonnes and 395 000 tonnes, respectively. These compare to 1.6 million tonnes and 465 000 tonnes collected in 2005, when the crops benefited from more favourable weather conditions. The drop in production is due to a 50-day dry spell through late April that has resulted in crop failure in many parts of the country.

Wheat imports are forecast to increase by 100 000 tonnes to 1.3 million tonnes in marketing year 2006/07 (July/June).

WESTERN AFRICA

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BENIN (19 September)

Precipitation has been generally widespread and abundant in the north according to remote sensing rainfall estimates. Although rains were below average in July in the south, overall crop prospects are favourable. Harvesting of the first maize crop is underway in the south. Millet and sorghum crops are developing satisfactorily in the north.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, low cotton prices combined with a disruption of input and output markets in the cotton sector have negatively affected farmers' incomes in recent years, significantly increasing the vulnerability of the estimated 2 million people who depend on cotton for their livelihood, mostly in the North of the country. This, along with the Nigeria's protectionist policy and the tightening of controls against re-export trade is making access to food increasingly difficult for a large section of the population.

BURKINA FASO (19 September)

Harvest prospects improved significantly following widespread and above-normal rains in August. After erratic and below average rains until late June, which necessitated replanting in most regions and shortened the growing season, precipitation has increased significantly from mid-July, and remained abundant in August. Substantial flooding was reported in the Mouhoun, Cascades and Sahel regions. However, due to the erratic start of the rainy season, stages of crop development vary by regions and are generally late compared to normal years, except in the West and South-West, where cereals are at heading stage and harvesting of beans crops has started. Elsewhere in the country, millet and sorghum are generally in the elongating stage and maize is flowering. Crop development is particularly late in the north-eastern province of Gnagna. Due to the delayed rains and initial dry conditions, rains will need to continue through October to allow crops to reach full maturity. Pastures have regenerated significantly countrywide. The overall pest situation is reported to be calm.

The overall food supply situation has remained satisfactory. Cereal prices, stable since the beginning of the year, have started decreasing in the south, mainly due to increased cereal imports from neighbouring coastal countries where harvesting of the main crops is underway. The downward trend is expected to continue with the start of harvesting in the country.

CAPE VERDE (19 September)

The onset of regular rains in late July permitted widespread maize plantings on the agricultural islands. Rains continued in early August and became more abundant during the second dekad of the month. Soil moisture reserves are adequate in most areas. Crops are emerging satisfactorily and pastures are regenerating well. Cereal bugs and grasshopper infestations are reported in Santiago Island, where treatments are underway.

Following the poor harvest in 2005, cereal import requirements for the marketing year 2005/06 (November/October) were estimated at 105 000 tonnes, including 32 000 tonnes of food aid.

CHAD (19 September)

Rains in August were abundant and widespread after irregular and below average precipitation delayed plantings in the Sahelian zone through mid-July. Due to the late and erratic start of the rainy season, stages of development vary greatly in the regions and are generally late compared to normal years. In the Sudanian zone, millet, sorghum and maize are generally ripening, while rainfed rice crops are elongating. In the Sahelian zone, coarse grains are elongating. Pastures are abundant countrywide. The overall pest situation is calm. Grasshopper infestations were reported on cereal crops only in Pala region.

The security situation in eastern Chad remains unstable and volatile, constraining humanitarian access to the Sudanese refugees living in the eastern part of the country.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE (19 September)

In the South, harvesting of the main maize crop and sowing of the second maize crop are underway, while in the North millet and sorghum crops are developing satisfactorily reflecting overall adequate growing conditions since the beginning of the cropping season. However, agricultural activities continue to be affected by conflict-induced problems, especially labour shortages arising from population displacements, lack of agricultural support services in parts of the country, market segmentation and disruptions by insecurity. Food security for many households continues to be hampered by disruption of livelihoods. In the North, smallholder cotton producers are experiencing a significant loss of income due to the disruption of marketing services.

GAMBIA, REPUBLIC OF (19 September)

The start of the cropping season was late and rains have been irregular in most regions according to remote sensing rainfall estimates. Crops and pastures will need rains late in the season to cover their entire growing cycle.

A record cereal production combined with a good groundnut output in 2005 has resulted in improved household access to food in marketing year 2005/06 (November/October). However, the country imports nearly half of its cereal consumption requirements (mostly rice and wheat) in a normal year and cereal prices are strongly affected by the exchange rate of the Dalassi, the national currency, which is very vulnerable to exogenous shocks due to the country's limited source of foreign exchange. Moreover, in districts affected by floods, a number of households may experience food difficulties during the year.

GHANA (19 September)

Rains have been regular and widespread since the beginning of the major season in April in the South, where harvesting of the first maize crop is underway. In the North, millet and sorghum crops are developing satisfactorily and harvest prospects are good, provided favourable weather conditions persist.

In spite of two consecutive years of relatively low crops, the food supply situation in the country has been satisfactory and prices relatively stable, due to limited exports to neighbouring food-deficit countries where good crops have been harvested in 2005.

GUINEA (19 September)

Following irregular and insufficient rains in several parts of the country at the beginning of the cropping season, precipitation increased significantly from July over the main producing areas, thus improving prospects for the 2006 rice crop, to be harvested from October.

Following a strong depreciation of the Guinea Franc, the price of rice - the staple food for Guineans- more than doubled over the past two years. Petrol prices also increased steeply in recent months fuelling inflation and seriously eroding the purchasing power and access to food of both urban and rural populations. Moreover, about 40 000 refugees are still dependent on humanitarian assistance in the country, although the restoration of peace in Sierra Leone and the improved situation in Liberia have resulted in a relative decrease of the number of refugees.

GUINEA-BISSAU (19 September)

According to remote sensing rainfall estimates, precipitation and soil moisture have been generally adequate since the beginning of the growing season, allowing satisfactory development of crops. Transplanting of swamp rice is underway after desalinisation of swamp rice fields. Harvesting of early maturity varieties of maize should have started.

Severe localized food insecurity and seed shortages were reported in parts of the country, notably in the southern regions of Quinara and Tombali, where heavy rains, floods and salination of irrigation channels resulted in a serious decline in rice output in 2005. The beginning of harvesting is expected to improve the food situation in these areas. However, the majority of the Guinea-Bissau population is facing chronic food insecurity, with a stagnant economy and 65 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

LIBERIA (19 September)

Harvesting of the 2006 paddy crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country is underway. In spite of the below average rains recorded this year, food production is expected to recover, due mainly to the pest control measures undertaken with the assistance of FAO. Plant disease was the major cause of low yields last year. The improved security situation is also expected to boost plantings by returning refugees and former displaced farmers.

The repatriation of refugees and resettlement of IDPs started in October and November 2004 respectively. As of late July, some 73 000 returnees have been repatriated by UNHCR, and 321 634 persons de-registered from IDP camps.

MALI (19 September)

After erratic and below average rains until late June, which necessitated replanting in most regions and shortened the growing season, precipitation has increased significantly from mid-July, and remained abundant in August and crops are developing satisfactorily. However, stages of development vary greatly, due to the late and erratic start of the rainy season. For millet and sorghum crops, stages of development vary from emerging to heading, while harvesting of early maize crops has started in some regions and transplanting of irrigated rice is still underway. According to the results of the mid-term assessment carried out by the Commissariat à la Sécurité Alimentaire, the area planted with cotton decreased by about 8 percent compared to last year, while millet area is likely to increase significantly. In the areas affected by earlier dry conditions, yield potential will be reduced and late plantings and replanting will need rains until October to cover their entire growing cycle.

Pastures are generally good. Grain-eating birds are reported in several regions, notably in Mopti, Tombouctou, Koulikoro, Dioila. Grasshopper infestations are reported, notably in the pastures of Kayes, Ségou, Mopti, Koulikoro. Army worms and rodents are also reported in a few places. The desert locust situation is calm but scattered adults are likely to be present in the north with small-scale breeding expected

MAURITANIA (19 September)

Following the start of the rainy season in July, crop growing conditions have been favourable in most parts of Trarza and Brakana regions with sufficient and well distributed precipitation. By contrast rains were mostly erratic and below normal in the south-centre and south-east (eastern Ghorgol, Guidimakha and the two Hodhs), where crops were stressed and re-plantings carried-out in several areas. Yield potential of rainfed crops may be compromised if the situation does not improve in September. Seed shortage is reported in most regions, which may also affect area planted.

Pastures have improved significantly in Trarza and Brakna regions but their regeneration has been hindered by the dry spells in Ghorgol, Guidimakha and the two Hodhs. Scattered solitary mature adults of Desert Locusts are reported in the centre (Tagant, northern Brakana) and in the south (Trarza, the two Hodhs). Small-scale breeding is underway and locust numbers are expected to increase during September.

NIGER (19 September)

Good rains from late July through August remained widespread over the main producing areas in early September. Crops are developing satisfactorily. However, heavy rains and floods caused considerable casualties and damaged crops in several localities, notably in Agadez (Bilma, Tabelot, In Gall), Dosso, Tahoua, Tillabéri and Zinder. As regards the pest situation, infestations of injurious insects are reported on millet in all agricultural regions and treatments have been undertaken. By contrast, grain eating birds are reportedly posing a serious threat to crops in Dosso, Tahoua, Tillabéri, Zinder and Diffa. The Desert Locusts situation is calm but scattered solitary immature and mature adults are reported on the Tamesna Plains and in parts of the central Aïr Mountains, where small-scale breeding is expected to occur, causing locust numbers to increase slightly.

Due to the erratic start of the rainy season, stages of development vary in most regions from elongating to flowering, but millet crops have reached maturity in Dosso, and harvesting of beans has started in Maradi and Zinder. Due to the delayed rains and initial dry conditions, rains will need to continue through October to allow crops to reach full maturity countrywide.

The beginning of harvesting in the country along with increased cereal imports from neighbouring coastal countries are expected to improve food supply and lower prices on markets. However, due to the lingering effects of the 2005 food crisis (1.8 million people are estimated to be in severe food insecurity and 2.1 million in moderate food insecurity), WFP and the Niger Government have begun targeted free food distribution to 650 000 people on 25 August 2006. 200 000 people not covered by targeted distributions but who live in areas poorly served by rural markets are reportedly benefiting from the restocking or creation of village cereal banks.

NIGERIA (19 September)

In the South, rains have been adequate since the beginning of the major season in April and prospects for the first maize crop are favourable. In the north, millet and sorghum crops are developing satisfactorily and a good harvest is expected, provided favourable weather conditions persist.

Cereal imports have trended upwards in recent years, due mainly to high urban population growth, changing consumption pattern, increased feed use in the rapidly growing poultry sector and the continuous expansion of the country's milling capacity. In spite of tightening of controls on illegal rice and wheat inflows, and the potential negative effects of the avian flu epidemic on the poultry sector, imports of cereals are forecast to increase to over 5 million tonnes in 2006.

SENEGAL (19 September)

Following irregular and insufficient rains in most parts of the country at the beginning of the cropping season, precipitation increased significantly in August over the main producing areas, thus reconstituting soil water reserves, and improving crop prospects. Matam received its first rains in August. Satellite imagery for late August/early September indicated that crops continued to benefit from good rains, notably in the South. However, as plantings were delayed and replanting carried out in several regions including Kolda, Tamba, Bakel, Kaolak, Diourbel and Matam, crops and pastures will need rains late in the season to cover their entire growing cycle.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. However, localised food insecurity was reported in several regions of the country due mainly to marketing problems in the groundnut sector which is the main source of cash income for most rural households.

SIERRA LEONE (19 September)

Harvesting of the 2006 paddy crop, virtually the only cereal grown in the country, has started.

Agriculture, which has been recovering steadily since the end of the civil war in 2002, is expected to improve further this year, reflecting increasing plantings by returning refugees and farmers previously displaced, as well as improved conditions for the distribution of agricultural inputs.

TOGO (19 September)

Harvesting of the first maize crop is underway in the south. Millet and sorghum crops are developing satisfactorily in the north, following favourable growing conditions.

Following generally favourable growing conditions during the 2005 rainy season, food production (including cereals, cassava, beans and plantains) is estimated to have risen by 5.5 percent compared to 2004, according to official sources. The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Cereal imports for domestic use and re-exports during the 2006 marketing year are estimated at 165 000 tonnes, to be covered through commercial sources.

CENTRAL AFRICA

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CAMEROON (19 September)

Prospects for the current main-season crops are generally favourable, reflecting abundant and widespread rains.

The country experienced adequate agro-climatic conditions in 2005, and crop production was estimated to be above normal. This has contributed to an improved food supply situation in the northern part of the country which experienced severe localised food insecurity in 2005, notably the Chari and Logone Divisions of the extreme north.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (19 September)

Harvesting of the first 2006 maize crop is nearly complete. Satellite imagery indicates that rains have been abundant and widespread since the beginning of the cropping season in April. However, a strong agricultural recovery is not expected due to persistent insecurity notably in the north and inadequate availability of agricultural inputs. About 20 000 people have fled the country to southern Chad over the past year, bringing the number of Central African refugees in the latter country to over 45 000. Another 50 000 people have been internally displaced. The bulk of the Central African Republic population is facing chronic food insecurity, with approximately 73 percent of the population living in deep poverty, surviving on less than one US dollar a day. Chronic malnutrition affects 39 percent of the population, with some 10 percent of children suffering from severe malnutrition.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (20 September)

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), harvesting of main season maize follows from September starting in the north and continues until February in the south. Remote sensing images show estimated rainfall more or less near average. No accurate estimates of total harvest in 2006 are available at this stage, but a normal to above normal harvest is expected. Total cereal production consisting mainly of maize is estimated at 1.58 million tonnes for 2006, unchanged from 2005.

Total cereal import requirements for 2006 are anticipated to be about 530 000 tonnes, slightly higher than for 2005. Most of them with the exception of some 50 000 tonnes of food aid, are expected to be covered by commercial imports. Typically, the majority of commercial imports consist of wheat and rice and most of the food aid consists of maize. Although the general security situation has improved over the last two years, more security related problems have been reported in the last few months, especially in the north-eastern parts of the country, potentially disrupting farming activities and localized food security. According to WFP an estimated 220 000 people have been uprooted by fighting between the Government and Mayi-Mayi rebels in Katanga and another 80 000 displaced in North Kivu Province, and up to 1.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable people nationwide need assistance. Recent fighting has displaced at least 10 000 people in the northeastern district of Ituri.

CONGO, REP OF (19 September)

Cassava is the major staple food and accounts for over 80 percent of total calorie intake. Domestic cereal production covers about 3 percent of total cereal requirements; the balance is imported, mostly on commercial terms. Cereal import requirements for marketing year 2006 are projected at about 295 000 tonnes.
The effects of the 1997-99 civil war continue to be felt in the agricultural sector due to the disruption of production and marketing activities across the country. The Government has been implementing a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme for former militiamen since October 2005. About 30 000 former combatants are to benefit from reintegration under the DDR, but the volatile security situation, notably in the Pool region, is affecting the programme and disrupting delivery of humanitarian assistance. According to the UNHCR, the country hosts a large number of refugees from conflicts in neighbouring countries, including DRC Congolese, Angolans and Rwandans.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA (19 Septembre)

The country does not produce a significant quantity of cereals. The staple foods are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains. It imports on average 12 000 tonnes of wheat and 8 000 tonnes of rice. In recent years inflation in Equatorial Guinea has been higher than in other countries of the Franc Zone, due to rapidly rising domestic demand since the oil boom began in the mid-1990s. Annual inflation is forecast to slow down in 2006/07, to 5.9 percent, from an estimated 6.1 percent in 2005, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

GABON (19 September)

The contribution of agriculture to GDP is about 8 percent, reflecting the dominance of the oil sector. The country imports commercially the bulk of its cereal requirement. The main foodcrops are cassava and plantains but some maize is also produced (around 30 000 tonnes).
Imports of cereals in 2006, mainly wheat and rice, are estimated at some 165 000 tonnes. Economic growth, which has trended downwards in recent years due to declining oil production, recovered significantly in 2005, and is expected to remain relatively high, with continued high oil prices.

SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE (19 September)

The staple food crops are roots, plantains and tubers. Annual imports of cereals are estimated at some 14 000 tonnes. In 2003 agriculture accounted for 19 percent of GDP and about 86 percent of exports, but the structure of the economy will be significantly transformed by oil production which is expected to begin by 2010.

EASTERN AFRICA

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BURUNDI (20 September)

In Burundi, the Joint FAO/WFP/Government/UNICEF/OCHA crop and food assessment carried out in May-June 2006, estimated the 2006B total food production in cereal equivalent slightly better (by 1.7 percent) than in 2005B season. Total cereals at 193 000 tonnes were about 3 percent higher than the year before. Above average rains during this season, following dry weather of the 2006A helped but, this increase was not enough to compensate for the drought affected decline in 2006A season. As a result, total cereal production for 2006 is estimated at 287 000 tonnes, about 1 percent below the level achieved in 2005. On average the main season (B) accounts for about 55 percent of the annual output of cereals while seasons A and C add about 40 and 5 percent, respectively. However, the contribution of season B has been increasing over the years and amounted to about 67 percent in 2006.

Cereal import requirements for 2006 are estimated at about 119 000 tonnes, higher than 96 000 tonnes in 2005, reflecting the drought-affected output of 2006A season earlier this year and the increase in population. In 2005 food aid amounted to a little more than half of total imports. Higher amount of food aid is foreseen for this year. According to the national Early Warning System, in Bujumbura, market prices of rice and maize in August 2006 were about 7 and 11 percent above the levels a year ago, respectively. The price of cassava in May 2006 was 120 percent higher and in August 90 percent higher than the corresponding months a year ago due to reduced harvest of this crop. Food price inflation, following the poor harvest in 2006A early in the year, crept up as the cost of a food basket increased by 31 percent in May 2006 compared to the same time last year. This has now (in August) come down to about 10 percent level. The security situation is expected to improve significantly with the signing of cease-fire between the Government and the country’s last remaining rebel group on 7 September 2006, potentially ending a 13-year civil war. Food insecurity for the vulnerable groups (IDPs, returnees, and those affected by the drought earlier in the year) is of concern. The international community response so far included food aid pledges/deliveries of 51 000 tonnes.

ERITREA (18 September)

Harvesting of the 2006 cereal and pulse crops will start in the coming few weeks. Following a below average rainfall in June and July, which raised some concern, the August rains were above normal allowing for improved prospects for developing crops. Satellite images indicate that, despite certain delay, crop conditions in the mechanized areas of Gash Barka are slowly improving. Traditional agriculture areas are generally similar to last year and in some areas above average. In August, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) indicated profiles that are better (greener) than last year and similar to the last seven year average. The August rains have also impacted positively on the pastoral areas of Habero, Nakfa and Asmat compared to the average, but still slightly below last year’s conditions.


Eritrea generally produces only a fraction of its total food requirements, even in good rainfall years, and largely depends on imports.

ETHIOPIA (18 September)

Prospects for the 2006 main “meher” season cereal crop, to be harvested from late October, are favourable. Abundant rains since June benefited developing crops in major producing regions. Some of the worst flooding on record has occurred throughout the country, resulting in hundreds of deaths, displacement, and widespread loss of property, crops and livestock. In addition, water borne diseases including diarrhea have increased and present a significant risk. While the full impact of the flooding is still being assessed, urgent food and non-food assistance is needed for about 200 000 people who have lost property, crops and livestock. More flooding is expected in the southeastern and northwestern parts of the country in the coming weeks.

Latest reports of the 2006 secondary “belg” season foodcrops, harvested from June, indicate a good crop. The belg crop accounts for some 7 to 10 percent of the aggregate cereal production of the country, but it is important in several areas, where it provides the bulk of the annual food supplies. By contrast, in the pastoral areas of south-eastern Ethiopia, rainfall was inadequate meaning that recovery in sites of last year’s severe food shortages will be delayed.

FAO and WFP will jointly field a mission to the country in November 2006 to assess the outcome of this year’s harvest and the food supply outlook for 2007.

KENYA (18 September)

Harvesting of the 2006 long-rains season maize is almost over in most parts of the country and prospects are generally favourable due to good rains in main agricultural areas. The maize crop, for harvest from October, in the Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza Provinces is reported to be good condition. The long rains cropping season normally accounts for 80 percent of total annual food production. Revised official forecasts indicate a long-season maize output of 2.52 million tonnes, about 15 percent above average. The stocks, estimated at 131 000 tonnes, at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) together with private stocks and anticipated cross-border trade are expected to cover consumption needs through early next year. Over 50 percent of maize crop has already been harvested, from the lowlands of Nyanza, western, southern areas of the Rift Valley, coastal and south-eastern areas as well as in the lowlands of the Rift Valley Province.

The 2006 long-rains season and the emergency operation have provided considerable relief to pastoralists avoiding a major catastrophe. Improvements in child malnutrition rates are being reported in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas of the country. The number of emergency food aid beneficiaries have been reduced from 3.1 to 2.4 million. However, sustained improvement will require a normal to above-normal short rains season between October and December. Considerable livestock losses experienced between December and March, coupled with a shortened long-rains season in parts, suggests that pastoral lives and livelihoods remain vulnerable to a further shock. An upsurge in disease has also compounded poor nutrition, reducing effectiveness of interventions in some areas. Meanwhile, an increase in the incidence of conflict in the pastoral Turkana, Marsabit and Samburu districts is disrupting normal seasonal migrations.

RWANDA (25 September)

In Rwanda, the Joint FAO/WFP/Government/FEWS-Net crop and food assessment carried out in June 2006, estimated the 2006B total food production in cereal equivalent slightly better (by 1 percent) than in 2005B season. Total cereal harvest of 2006B season, however, estimated at 246 000 tonnes is about 15 percent lower than the same season the year before. Below average rains during this season, following the dry weather of the 2006A, was the main reason for the decline of total cereal output for 2006 to a level of 355 000 tonnes, about 14 percent lower than the final output of 2005 (season A plus season B). Cereal crops seem to have been affected more by the dry weather. Some of the decline has been offset by a bumper crop of beans during this year. On average the main season (B) accounts for about 60 percent of the annual output of cereals. However, the contribution of season B has been increasing over the years and amounted to about 68 percent in 2006.

Total cereal import requirements for 2006 are projected to increase from the estimated 189 000 tonnes in 2005 to 216 000 tonnes. Given the reduced crop harvest in 2006, food aid requirement is expected to double that of 2005, to about 45 000 tonnes.

Currently, staple food prices are higher than at the same period last year. For example, wholesale maize price in Kigali currently (18 September 2006) is US$ 220/tonne as compared to US$207 in September 2005. However, maize price had reached a high of US$320 on 28 June 2006. Similarly bean prices currently are at US$314/tonne as compared to US$299 a year ago. Prices in June 2006 had reached a high of US$365. Price fluctuations are caused by the timing and the expectations about new harvest given the country’s two season pattern. Food security among the pastoralists in eastern provinces of Umutara and Kibungo has also been affected by the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease and the subsequent total quarantine and ban on the sale of livestock and animal products.

SOMALIA (18 September)

Recent heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands during the month of August caused localized flooding around Jowhar that affected an estimated 30 000 people and 14 000 hectares of farmland. Additional flooding was recorded elsewhere in the Upper and Lower Shabelle and Upper and Lower Juba regions. The expected onset of Deyr rains and the high level of continuing rain in catchment areas indicate a potential for further flooding in the Middle and Lower Shabelle Regions.

The Somalia Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) estimated the 2006 main "gu" season cereal crop in Somalia at about 113 000 tonnes, 29 percent less than average. The decline is due to the poor rainfall performance in the main crop producing areas. The gu cereal crop normally accounts for some 70 to 80 percent of annual production.

The overall food security situation in Somalia continues to be alarming. The gu Assessment confirmed that a severe food crisis will persist throughout the country for the rest of 2006, affecting at least 1.8 million people. The situation is further aggravated by the intermittent hostilities and insecurity. Cereal prices peaked in May – June ‘06 in response to low cereal supplies following the poor crop performance in the previous crop seasons. However, prices have started to decline in some regions as the current gu harvest started to enter the market. In Bay region where gu production was near average, sorghum prices fell 17 percent between May and July, while maize prices in Shabelle valley dropped by 28 percent in same time period. Given the overall low cereal stocks, combined with poor cereal production, cereal prices are not expected to continue to decline, and could very likely begin to increase again within the next two-three months. In Lower and Middle Juba, which experienced a gu crop failure, cereal prices also declined in the last two months due to food aid distributions in the region.

Global acute malnutrition rates also remain high at over 20 percent and have continued to deteriorate since January 2006. Despite the serious nature of the humanitarian situation in Somalia, only half of the US$326 million requested in the current Consolidated Appeal for Somalia have been committed so far. Any further escalation of conflict in the current standoff could trigger a significant and rapid deterioration in food security. Further information and analysis can be accessed from the Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) at: www.fsausomali.org.

SUDAN (18 September)

The continued crisis in Darfur remains the most pressing humanitarian problem. The humanitarian community in Sudan fears hundreds of thousands of people could be displaced again should Darfur face an upsurge in conflict. A realistic scenario could see as many as 350 000 people displaced, loss of basic services such as clean water and healthcare, and an increased dependence on helicopters and planes to deliver aid as road travel becomes too dangerous.

Food security prospects in Darfur are especially worrisome as the deteriorating security situation may disrupt the harvesting of current crops, about to start in the coming few weeks. Killing of civilians and other violations of human rights are also feared, especially in areas that become inaccessible to human rights and protection officers. Humanitarian access, already at its lowest in August since operations in Darfur began in 2004, is predicted to deteriorate dramatically, with travel outside urban centres becoming impossible due to attacks on vehicles. This would necessitate an urgent increase in helicopters and airplanes to distribute aid where possible by air. In addition, a return to conflict would also jeopardize the humanitarian gains made over the last two years, leading to serious long term consequences. Between 2004 and 2006, the efforts of aid agencies halved malnutrition, increased access to primary healthcare by over 600 percent, and provided nearly two million with access to clean water. But since April, lack of access to suffering populations has meant loss of these essential services to thousands. In North Darfur alone, 355 000 people have gone without food aid for two months, and a recent UN survey in the area suggests that malnutrition is rising. Medical agencies believe that many are vulnerable to diseases because they cannot reach medical care. Cholera is an ongoing problem and the malaria season is just beginning. The growing conflict is already inflicting additional suffering on the civilian population: Medical agencies report increasing numbers of patients with weapon-related injuries – 42 percent of surgical interventions are now conflict related. Fighting since May has displaced as many as 100 000 IDPs, many for the second or third time.

In southern Sudan, conflict arising from this year’s disarmament process and the ongoing cattle raiding in Jonglei continues to exacerbate food insecurity. Fighting disrupted wild food collection, fishing and traditional livestock/grain exchange mechanisms during the dry season (January to April), forcing households and cattle to return from dry season grazing areas earlier than normal. A UN-led interagency assessment conducted in June found that food shortages have increased due to conflict. Local defence and security forces lost their food to looting, and this overburdened the community as they had to feed the forces at a time when food is most scarce. In addition, insufficient access to seeds and tools reportedly caused by the conflict affected the ability of households to take full advantage of this year’s cropping season, despite an earlier than normal season onset and improved rains when compared to last year. The assessment also reported that heavy rains have affected maize and sorghum crops in some areas.

Elsewhere in Sudan, extensive floods in parts of Sudan have displaced tens of thousands of people, and destroyed crops and property. Heavy rains in the Blue Nile catchment areas in Ethiopian highlands caused an overflow of the Nile river and submerged many villages and settlements. Despite reports of a respite, water levels in the Nile surpassed those of earlier years. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is visiting southern Sudan in October and is planned to visit northern Sudan in November to assess the main season production and estimate food assistance requirements, if any, in 2007.

TANZANIA, UNITED REPUBLIC OF (18 September)

Harvesting of the 2006 main season cereal crops is almost complete. This has improved cereal availability in all markets. Preliminary reports indicate an above average cereal crop, mainly maize, of about 5.30 million tonnes. There has also been an increase in non-cereal crop availability, mainly root crops and pulses.

The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. The completed harvests in the bimodal rainfall areas and the almost complete harvests in unimodal rainfall regions have generally increased on-farm stocks and access. The prices of maize and all other food crops in many markets have continued to decline from the peak reached in May 2006 but still remain higher than average.

Despite the overall improved food situation, Shinyanga, Singida, and Mwanza regions have overall food deficits due to low local production. These regions are expected to face continued food shortages and high food prices affecting severely limiting access of mainly poor households. The prevailing seasonal dry conditions have also decreased green vegetation cover. The central areas (Dodoma and Singida regions, northern parts of Iringa), eastern zone, Shinyanga region and lowlands of the northeastern areas all have below average levels of vegetation. The deterioration of pasture may impact negatively on livestock conditions.

UGANDA (18 September)

Harvesting of the 2006 main season cereal crop is complete. The rainy season has been delayed in most bimodal areas. In the north, the on-going peace process and improved security conditions have encouraged resettlement and improved household access to land, but the poor performance of the rains has limited extensive planting and cultivation. A recent survey indicated that many IDPs have increased their agricultural production, assisted by inputs provided by humanitarian organizations as access to land has improved. However, off-farm income earning opportunities remain limited. Current estimates indicate that more than 75 percent of IDPs now consume near normal amounts of food, but 25 percent of IDP households are unable to access adequate food. IDPs’ main source of food remains food aid, while the remainder is grown or purchased with income from casual labor, crop sales and petty trade.

The food situation in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Karamoja is precarious. Large number of poor households now depend on seasonal labour for cash or food, as well as hunting and gathering. Some households have migrated westwards toward to the agriculture zone in search of food. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has recently reported that there is an increased incidence of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in about 20 districts in the "cattle corridor" of central, southern and western Uganda. Vaccinations and quarantine measure were undertaken to limit and minimize the impact.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

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ANGOLA (20 September)

In Angola according to the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission the 2006 total cereal production was 749 000 tonnes, some 15 percent lower than the record harvest of 2005, but still 9 percent higher than the average of the previous five years. Following the peace accord and settlement of returnees, the area under cereal crops has increased by almost 50 percent since 2001. Return of 5 133 670 displaced people by December 2005 to their areas of origin (according to the Technical Unit for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, UTCAH), and distribution of seeds and hand tools to about 600 000 families, were responsible for the increase in area planted. This notwithstanding, the erratic rains and long dry spells during 2005-06 agricultural season particularly affected the central and southwestern provinces, which include some of the main maize and cereal growing areas of the country. Food production and food security in general in the northern areas, where cassava and sweet potatoes are grown, were found to be satisfactory. However, processing of cassava into flour and then marketing is not widely practiced in Angola. Heavy rains received late in the season during March and April throughout the country helped improve pasture and water availability for livestock but were too late for much of the cereal production.

As result of the reduced harvest, total cereal import requirements for the 2006/07 marketing year (April/March) are estimated at 847 000 tonnes, some 21 percent higher than the year before. With the exception of severely affected districts, prices of maize in general have remained fairly stable during these post harvest months from April 2006. Information on cereal imports is not complete but the available data shows that cereals imports have been slow recording only about 40 000 tonnes by early September. Food security problems arise due to poor road conditions and underdeveloped marketing systems and due to currently rising maize prices. In spite of the economic boom in the country primarily due to high oil prices, food security for the vulnerable population is of concern. The vulnerability analysis by the FAO/WFP Mission has established a figure of about 800 000 people as food insecure and requiring about 58 000 tonnes of cereals as food aid.

BOTSWANA (20 September)

In Botswana, the 2006 main season cereal harvest estimated at 45 000 tonnes represented a significant improvement over the drought-stricken output of the previous year. Consequently, the import requirements for the 2006/07 marketing year (April/March) have been reduced by about 13 percent from the previous year to a level of 291 000 tonnes; these are expected to be covered through commercial imports. So far (by 8/09/2006) about 86 000 tonnes have been received. Pasture conditions during the agricultural season were also reported to be good helping livestock raising which forms an important part of agriculture through out the country, but particularly in the central and southern areas. Repeated outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, however, have jeopardized the country's beef exports hurting the livestock industry.

LESOTHO (20 September)

Final production figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture put the 2006 total cereal harvest at 126 400 tonnes, slight recovery from the two previous drought affected years but still about 3 percent below the average of the previous five years. Total cereal import requirements for the new marketing year 2006/07, which started in April, are almost the same as the last year's imports estimated at little over 200 000 tonnes. All of these, except for about 15 000 tonnes of food aid, are expected to be commercial imports. In the month of August WFP and Cooperating Partners distributed food aid to 75 778 vulnerable people.

MADAGASCAR (21 September)

In Madagascar, 2006 marks a fourth consecutive year of recovery in rice and total cereal production. National rice paddy harvest this year is estimated at 3.5 million tonnes, about 3 percent higher than the last year. However, due to the unfavorably dry weather, especially in the south reduced the coarse grain harvest from 350 000 tonnes in 2005 to 301 000 tonnes this year. The average price of local rice has gradually come down from over 1 100 Ariary/kg in July 2005 to a post harvest low of about 700 by mid-June 2006. The price of imported rice fell even more, partly due to the appreciation of the Malagasy currency against the US dollar. Since mid-June the prices of local as well as imported rice have shown a slight positive seasonal trend, reaching 800 and 900 Ariary, respectively. Relatively high rice prices during the planting time (November-December 2005) in the country probably had a positive impact on area planted to paddy. Total cereal imports for the 2006/07 marketing year (April/March) are forecast at 270 000 tonnes, slightly reduced from the estimated imports the year before. Most of the imports (nearly 90 percent) in 2005/06 were commercial imports. Reportedly, more than 70 percent of Madagascar's 17 million people live below the poverty line of US$1/day, and an increase in child malnutrition has been reported by a recent survey in the south-eastern parts of the country. However, Madagascar's entry into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in August 2005 is expected to improve trade and boost economic prospects.

MALAWI (21 September)

In Malawi, the official final estimate puts the 2006 maize harvest at 2.6 million tonnes, more than double the devastated harvest during the drought year of 2005. The principal reasons for this bumper harvest were good weather and the Government's subsidized fertilizer distribution program. Similar gains are also forecast for other cereals. In some parts, dry spells during early to mid-December and late February were experienced, causing localized reduction in household food production. As a result of a bumper harvest at the national level, the country is expected to turn from a net deficit of maize over the last several years to a net surplus in 2006/07 with an estimated potential surplus of nearly 200 000 tonnes in addition to a stock build-up to about 250 000 tonnes. The actual commercial imports of cereals in 2005/06 have been estimated at 289 000 tonnes, consisting of mainly wheat, maize and rice. It is worth noting, however, that during first three months of this new year (April to June 2006), about 28 000 tonnes of maize have been imported through cross-border trade into food deficit southern Malawi from surplus producing northern provinces of Mozambique (FEWS-Net). This amount is slightly lower than the corresponding months in 2005. Malawi would still import wheat and rice due to insufficient domestic production of these commodities.

In spite of the national surplus in grain production, according to Malawi VAC some 833 000 vulnerable people risk missing food entitlements during the 2006/07 marketing year (April/March) and would require 57 300 tonnes of maize (or equivalent cash) as aid, redistributed from local production. The national average price of maize, collected by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, has come down from a high of 50 Kwacha/kg in February 2006 to below the purchase price of 20 Kwacha/kg offered by ADMARC in majority of the markets. However, due to financial constraints ADMARC was able to buy only 34 000 tonnes by the end of July.

MAURITIUS (25 September)

Total cereal import requirements for 2006 in Mauritius are expected to remain stable at about 310 000 to 320 000 tonnes. Domestic production of cereals amounts to less than 1 percent of total cereal needs; consequently the country imports commercially virtually its entire cereal consumption requirements. Sugarcane is grown on about 90 percent of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25 percent of the country’s export earnings. The anticipated loss of preferential access to US and European markets by 2007 is expected to have negative consequences for sugar and textiles, the two important exports of the country. For the last three years Mauritius has been experiencing a relatively high unemployment rate (in excess of 10 percent) according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, nearly double the average of 5.9 percent for 2000. A new government was elected in July 2006 which will face challenges to tackle the problems of securing a new sugar deal, dealing with textile imports from China and reducing unemployment.

MOZAMBIQUE (25 September)

In Mozambique, the final estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture put maize and total cereal production at record levels of 1.534 million tonnes and 2.096 million tonnes, respectively. This represents an increase of 11 and 10 percent, respectively, from the corresponding levels the year before. Cassava production, concentrated mainly in the north, is estimated at 7.5 million tonnes, an increase of about 14 percent over the previous year; it is expected to improve household food security in general. The country's Northern zone is estimated to produce maize surplus of 431 000 tonnes while the central and southern zones are estimated to have a combined deficit of 332 000 tonnes during 2006/07 marketing year (April/March).

Total cereal import requirements (gross) for 2006/07 are estimated at 809 000 tonnes, reduced from 990 000 tonnes from the year before. As of 18 September 2006, total cereal imports were estimated at about 190 000 tonnes. Most of the imports in 2005/06 were commercial transactions except for about 93 000 tonnes of food aid. Exports of maize through cross border trade from northern Mozambique mainly into Malawi for the 2005/06 marketing year (Apr/Mar) accounted for a little over 71 000 tonnes, somewhat less than the year before. In spite of the good harvest in Malawi this year, cross border exports from Mozambique have continued more or less at the same pace during April and May, and at a slightly reduced level in June 2006. However, new requirements for all traders in Mozambique to obtain export licenses are expected to hinder small trader activities (FEWS-Net). Reflecting the poor harvest of last year in the south and high export demand in the north from neighboring food deficit Malawi, the average price of maize steadily climbed to a peak of 13 000 Metical/kg in March 2006 in Maputo from 7 000 Metical from the beginning of the year, and remained substantially higher than for the same period in 2005. However, the post-harvest period prices this year came down significantly and were at 5 290 Metical/kg in Maputo during the week of 6 September 2006 (SIMA, Ministry of Agriculture).

Unemployment, poverty and localized food insecurity remain as primary concerns throughout the country in spite of the impressive economic growth (7.7 percent in 2005 according to the OECD) fuelled primarily by foreign investment (commercial, aid and debt relief). The national currency had lost its value against the US dollar from 18 500 Metical/USD at the beginning of 2005 to 29 150 Metical in mid-November 2005. However, more donor assistance and FDI flows have brought strength to the national currency as it currently stands at 25 190 Metical/USD.

NAMIBIA (25 September)

The 2006 estimates by the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit, put the maize harvest at a record level of 52 000 tonnes, some 27 percent above last year's and about 60 percent above the previous five-year average. Total cereal production at 110 000 tonnes, however, is only 10 percent above the 2005 level. Generally good rains since the beginning of the season in late-November 2005 throughout the country were the primary contributing factor for this. Over the years, maize production in Namibia has steadily increased from a low of 15 000 tonnes in 1999 to the current high level. In spite of improved production, the total cereal import requirement is estimated to rise slightly to 164 000 tonnes of cereals, expecting certain stock adjustments to normal level. Commercial imports are expected to cover most of the food deficit. Maize prices in Namibia follow very closely the price movements on the South Africa’s SAFEX (futures market). Currently, the September futures price for white maize on SAFEX is R 1 334/t which is about 4.6 percent higher than the Namibia Agronomic Board floor price equivalent of R 1275/t.

In spite of the high per capita income (per capita GDP at the Purchasing Power Parity for 2003 was US$6 180 as per the UNDP's Human Development Report 2005), extreme poverty and food insecurity persist in the country.

SOUTH AFRICA (25 September)

In South Africa, the eighth and final estimate by the official Crop Estimating Committee for 2005/06 agricultural season shows maize production at 6.6 million tonnes, significantly down from 11.7 million tonnes the year before. Sorghum production, at 89 730 tonnes, is even harder hit as it is estimated at only one-third of the level of the past year. Much of the decline in these crops is due to substantial decreases in area planted. These changes seem to be a result of choices made by farmers faced with very low or unprofitable prices at planting times and very high closing stocks of maize for the 2005/06 marketing year (estimated at 4 million tonnes as of 30 April 2006). A small part of this decline was compensated by other cash crops such as soybeans, dry beans, sunflower seeds and groundnuts. The early forecast (second estimate) of winter wheat production this year points to about 15 percent increase over the previous year’s harvest. Much of this is due to the anticipated increase in yields which are expected to more than compensate the decline in area planted. The plantings were down reflecting the weakening international price of wheat from a peak of almost Rand 2 400/tonne in May 2002 to about Rand 1 600 in May 2006. SAGIS total maize stocks as of 31 July 2006 were reported at 5.3 million tonnes. However, with the reduced production next season and increased anticipated exports, the closing stock at the end of the current marketing year (30 April 2007) is projected to be a little over one million tonnes.

The results of an early survey on planting intentions for the next main season crops (maize and sorghum) indicate a significant recovery in area to be planted under these crops, reflecting current high prices of these commodities. The SAFEX futures price of white maize steadily rose since July 2005 from about Rand 700/tonne to Rand 1 390/tonne in July 2006. Currently the September futures price is at Rand 1 334 and is projected to further firm up until next harvest beginning in April 2007. This is partly due to the reduction in the current harvest and partly due to weak Rand against the US dollar.

SWAZILAND (25 September)

In Swaziland, the final official 2006 season maize production is estimated at 67 130 tonnes, indicating no change from the previous year’s output. FAO’s estimate for total cereal is 68 200 tonnes. With anticipated domestic utilization of 194 000 tonnes, there remains an import requirement gap of about 127 000 tonnes for the current marketing year 2006/07 (May/Apr). As of 18 September 2006, the estimated cereal imports amount to about 35 000 tonnes, all as commercial imports except for 2 500 tonnes of food aid. Since the arrival of the new harvest, food availability and food security in general have improved. However, chronic food insecurity persists throughout the country owing to declining income-earning opportunities and remittances, high levels of unemployment, and the impact of HIV/AIDS. With a self-sufficiency rate for cereals of only about one-third, the Swazi population is mostly dependent on food imports.

ZAMBIA (25 September)

In Zambia, the final official 2006 estimates put maize and total cereal production at record levels of 1.424 and 1.599 million tonnes, respectively. These represent increases in excess of 50 percent over the drought-affected harvest of the previous year. Besides the good weather, the government's subsidized fertilizer distribution program targeted to 125 000 small farmers was a contributing factor. Consequently, Zambia is estimated to have a potentially exportable surplus of about 180 000 tonnes assuming about 200 000 tonnes of closing stocks. However, it should be noted that exports of maize are being controlled by the Government with a ban on private trader exports (FEWS-Net). Total cereal import requirements mostly wheat and rice and food aid in the form of different grains for the marketing year 2006/07 (May/April) are estimated at about 105 000 tonnes, comprising of commercial imports and food aid roughly half and half. This is less than half of the actual imports of the last year.

Since the arrival of the new harvest, the average price of maize has come down from about 58 000 kwacha/50 kg bag in Lusaka in March 2006 to the current level of Kwacha 35 117 (CHC Commodities Ltd). In recent months prices have firmed-up by about 4 000 kwacha since late June however, the farm gate prices in many rural areas have not reached the National Food Reserve Agency (FRA) announced buying price floor of Kwacha 38 000 (US$232/tonne) valid for the period from 25 May to the end of September 2006. As reported by FEWS-Net, FRA has purchased locally about 70 000 tonnes of maize by first week of August. FRA now has a procurement target of about 200 000 tonnes.

ZIMBABWE (25 September)

FAO’s final maize harvest estimate for Zimbabwe is 1.1 million tonnes, with a further 400 000 tonnes of other grains such as millet, sorghum and wheat, as total domestic supply for marketing year 2006/07 (April/March). The overall harvest this year has been about double the last year's drought-affected output. Crops such as millet and sorghum, which normally receive no fertilizer applications in Zimbabwe, have reportedly done very well this year. In spite of this improved harvest, given the estimated total cereal requirement of 1.957 million tonnes, FAO estimates import requirement for 2006/07 marketing year (April/March) for the total Zimbabwean population of 11.79 million, at about 457 000 tonnes of total cereals including 350 000 tonnes of maize, roughly less than third of the levels of the previous year. Of these, as of 18 September 2006, about 161 000 tonnes of total cereal imports have been recorded (118 000 tonnes commercial and 43 000 tonnes of food aid). Commercial import capacity in Zimbabwe is limited by the continuing downward trends in export earnings from main crops such as tobacco and cotton, although this is offset by rising metal export prices as well as official and unofficial remittances from the large number of Zimbabweans (estimated at over 3 million) living outside the country.

According to the country's Central Statistics Office (CSO), annual inflation in July 2006 had reached an unprecedented level of 1 204.6 percent, driven partly by liberal money supply policies resulting in higher prices for housing, food, fuel and other necessities. The IMF recently stated that inflation could reach 4 279 percent next year. According to the findings of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee 1.4 million rural people will not be able to meet their minimum cereal needs during the 2006/07 season. This represents about 17 percent of the total rural population , who will require a total of 91 000 tonnes of cereals. In addition, unemployment, lack of incomes and continually eroding purchasing power is increasing the number of food insecure in the urban areas.

The country faces a number of challenges to facilitate access to grain by the majority of the population, particularly in grain cereal deficit areas including urban areas. Redistribution of grain at national level will also be a challenge, over the years the amount of maize intake by the Grain Marketing Board has declined from an average of 34 percent of national production in the 90’s to around 18 percent in the past five years. Given the fact that GMB by law is the only institution allowed to purchase and redistribute maize, this poses a national challenge of redistributing the grain from surplus areas to deficit areas.

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