No.1  February 2008  
   Crop Prospects and Food Situation

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Food Emergencies Update

Global cereal supply and demand brief

FAO global cereal supply and demand indicators

Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries’ food situation overview

Regional reviews

Statistical Appendix


Food Emergencies Update

In Western Africa, a relatively good cereal crop was gathered in 2007 in the Sahel (with the exception of Senegal and Cape Verde) but coarse grain production declined significantly in a few countries along the Gulf of Guinea, notably in northern Nigeria and Ghana, leading to a tight food supply situation at regional level with reports of rising food prices in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. In the western part of the subregion where food prices are influenced mainly by international markets due to the high dependence of these countries on wheat and rice imports, both rural and urban consumers have been affected by the prevailing high international cereal prices, notably in Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal. Throughout the subregion the impact of high food prices will be more severe in localized areas where yields were severely reduced by delayed rains or floods. In these areas populations may require assistance.

In Eastern Africa, notwithstanding good harvests in the last couple of years, mainly in the major producing countries, millions of people still depend on food assistance due to conflict, unrest, adverse weather and/or a combined effect. The situation in southern Somalia is of particular concern due to the large and continued displacement of civilians following the escalating conflict, mainly in Mogadishu, coupled with the impact of two consecutive seasons of well-below average crop production. Current estimates put the number of IDPs from Mogadishu alone at nearly a million since February 2007. Overall, nearly 2 million people are considered to be at risk of food insecurity of which nearly one-fifth are classified as Humanitarian Emergency (HE) requiring life saving interventions while a third are in Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis (AFLC) requiring livelihood support. In Eritrea, cereal prices remain high affecting the food security of large sections of the population. In Ethiopia, despite an easing of restrictions on trade in the Somali Region, households in vast areas of the region will remain food insecure. In most other areas the anticipated good harvest is expected to improve the food supply position. However, the security situation of the poorer households continues to be affected by high and rising food prices. In Kenya, the post-electoral violence has resulted in a serious humanitarian situation. Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed and more than a quarter of a million people displaced. Overall, up to 500 000 people are estimated to be in need of food assistance. Food assistance also continues to be provided to a large number of people in the pastoral areas affected by earlier drought and continued pastoral conflicts. In Sudan, as a result of continuing insecurity in Darfur, displacement and loss of livelihoods are expected to continue and malnutrition rates are likely to deteriorate in the coming months because of lack of proper access to food. In south Sudan, despite an overall improvement in the supply of cereals, inadequate transport and marketing systems will prevent any significant movements from surplus to deficit areas. In Uganda, the population at risk, estimated at some 1.5 million, will remain highly food insecure and largely dependant on humanitarian support.

In Southern Africa, vulnerable populations in several countries due to exhaustion of stocks and rising food prices are going through the peak hunger period until the start of the next harvest in April. Agricultural assistance is urgently required for people affected by recent floods to salvage the current main crop season and the next secondary season. In Zimbabwe, excessive rains in late December-early January caused flooding and delayed effective planting of the main season crops. Even with generous rainfall throughout the country, deepening economic crisis leading to shortages of seed, fuel, tillage power and fertilizer are expected to have a serious negative impact on the upcoming harvest. Current shortages of food and non-food items affecting the estimated 4.1 million vulnerable people are a cause for concern. In Lesotho and Swaziland poor consecutive cereal harvests for the past three years compounded by problems of poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS have led to serious food insecurity.

In the Great Lakes region, serious fighting in the north-eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past several months has displaced large numbers of people who need food assistance. The current peace agreement would help many IDPs to return but they need substantial assistance to restart farming activities. Food and agricultural aid is also needed in Burundi especially for resettlement of returnees and IDPs.

In Far East Asia, following two years of above-average harvests in many countries, the overall food supply situation has improved. However, a new weather-related emergency has arisen in China and serious food security problems persist in some countries. In China, since 10 January, 14 provinces in the southern and eastern parts of the country have been affected by the most disastrous ice rain, snow and freezing weather since 1951 in terms of geographical extension, intensity and related damage. As of the end of January, about 90 million people were reported to be directly affected and millions of hectares of crops, especially vegetables and oil crops are reported to be severely damaged. Mongolia is experiencing a particularly harsh winter, which may have a significantly negative impact on livestock. In Bangladesh, emergency food aid continues to be needed for the poor households severely affected by a super cyclonic storm in mid-November, which caused extensive damage and affected some 8.9 million people in 30 districts. The food supply situation for millions of people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains a serious concern as a result reduced crop production and economic constraints. The food security situation in Timor-Leste has been negatively affected by reduced cereal production and rising cereal prices.

In the Near East, in Iraq, reflecting some improvement in the security situation, a few hundred Iraqi refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic have recently joined the steady modest flow of refugees who have returned to their homes in Iraq in recent months. The expatriates who sought asylum in neighbouring countries are estimated at about 2 million, while a similar number of people have been internally displaced.

In Central America and the Caribbean, tropical storms Noel in mid-December and Olga in September hit Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba, causing major landslides with losses of human lives and serious damage to principal food and cash crops. In Nicaragua, the villages of the Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region that were affected by powerful hurricane Felix in September are receiving international food assistance for the gradual recovery of their livelihood systems.

In South America, adverse weather related to the “La Niña” meteorological phenomenon, has caused severe floods in Bolivia, affecting about 42 000 families, especially in the departments of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca and Beni. While current crop losses are under assessment, the national Meteorological Service forecasts more precipitation in the following weeks. Consequently the food security situation of the country needs to be closely monitored.

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