Press Release 01/10
60 MILLION PEOPLE IN 33 COUNTRIES SUFFER FROM FOOD SHORTAGES, SAYS FAO REPORT
Rome, 1 March 2001 -- Some 60 million people in 33 countries are facing food emergencies of varying intensity, according to a report released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
FAO's Foodcrops and Shortages found sub-Saharan Africa worst off with 16 countries suffering from exceptional food emergencies caused mostly by natural disasters and civil strife. Despite improved weather conditions recently, the report says, the effects of the drought in Eastern Africa are still being felt in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania, where emergency food assistance continues to be provided to some 18 million people by international relief agencies. The number of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) due to civil strife continues to increase, particularly in Central and Western Africa. In southern Africa, serious flooding in some areas, particularly in Mozambique has caused loss of life and damage to property, infrastructure and crops.
Asia has seen a grave food crisis emerge in Afghanistan, caused by incessant civil strife and successive droughts and harsh winters. According to the report, "In Mongolia, another extremely cold winter has killed large numbers of livestock, aggravating the food insecurity of nomadic herders who lost millions of their livestock last year."
Elsewhere in Asia, the food supply situation remains tight in North Korea due to drought, economic difficulties and the coldest winter in decades. Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan all face food supply problems because of last year's drought, according to the report. Altogether, 11 countries in Asia are reported to be facing food emergencies.
In Central America, El Salvador's food production and marketing in 2001 will be constrained by the damaged infrastructure caused by the earthquakes that hit the country in early January and mid-February. In South America, the wheat harvest is completed and prospects for the coarse grain crops in the field are favorable, says the report.
One of the coldest winters on record in the United States may have raised winterkill to above normal levels in some parts, reducing yields. Official estimates indicate that the winter wheat area has declined by 5 percent since last year - the lowest level since 1971. Dry conditions at sowing time in the main growing areas are reportedly the major reason. In Canada, the report says that early planting intentions for wheat and course grains suggest that areas similar to the previous year will be planted.
Food Crops and Shortages forecasts that the winter grain area planted in the European Community is likely to decline from last year "due to somewhat unfavourable weather last autumn." It also says that persistent drought and high temperatures in central and eastern Europe will negatively affect the 2001 cereal harvests. In Russia, displaced people in Chechnya and surrounding republics continue to need food assistance.
The report estimates that wheat output in Australia will be some 4 million tons below last year's bumper crop. Early prospects for the summer 2001 coarse grain crops are said to be "somewhat unfavourable due to dry weather and the final area sown is likely to be reduced."
The 33 countries facing food emergencies are:
In addition, the report says five countries have unfavorable prospects for current crops. They are Afghanistan, Armenia, Georgia, Jordan and Tajikistan.
Foodcrops and Shortages, which details the world's crop and food situation by country, is issued five times a year in four languages (English, French, Spanish and Chinese), by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture.
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For further information, please contact John Riddle, FAO Media Relations,
Foodcrops and Shortages is available on the FAO Web Site at: http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/faoinfo/economic/giews/english/fs/fstoc.htm