Africa Report 05/96

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In some countries of eastern Africa 1996 cereal crops are being planted, while in other countries of the same sub-region and in southern Africa the harvesting is underway. Planting has also started in Central Africa and in the coastal countries of western Africa.

Cereal Crop Calendar
Sub-Region Cereal Crops
Planting Harvesting
Eastern Africa 1/ March-June Aug.-Dec.
Southern Africa Oct.-Dec. April-June
Western Africa
- Coastal areas (first season) March-April July-Sept.
- Sahel zone June-July Oct.-Nov.
Central Africa 1/ April-June Aug.-Dec.

1/ Except Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire which have two main seasons and Tanzania whose main season follows the southern Africa planting calendar. For Sudan, the planting period for the staple coarse grain crop is June-July and the harvesting period is October-December.

Eastern Africa: Harvesting of the 1995/96 secondary cereal crops is completed in the sub-region, except in Ethiopia, where the “belg” crops are harvested from June. Latest FAO estimates indicate an aggregate 1995/96 cereal production of more than 23 million tons, slightly above the good harvest of the previous year. However, the outcomes at country level are mixed. In Ethiopia, cereal production is forecast to increase by 14 percent to 8.6 million tons. The main “meher” crop was a record, mainly due to higher yields, and a normal secondary “belg” crop is expected following adequate rains in the second half of February and first half of March. In Tanzania, the recently harvested secondary coarse grain crop was reduced in some areas; however, the main season was good and the aggregate 1995/96 coarse grains output is estimated at 34 percent above the previous year's output of 2.9 million tons. Prospects for the 1996 main maize crop in the unimodal rainfall areas are favourable, reflecting abundant rains since the beginning of the season. In Sudan, the 1995 cereal harvest was reduced by lower plantings and yields, and the output is estimated at 3.9 million tons, substantially less than the record of the previous year. Harvesting of the 1996 wheat crop is underway and its production is forecast at 570 000 tons, one-quarter higher than in 1995. In Kenya, reflecting localized crop reductions in the Eastern Province, the aggregate 1995/96 cereal production is provisionally estimated at 3.4 million tons, 8 percent below the bumper crop of the previous year but still above average. Planting of the 1996 main season coarse grains is underway. In Uganda, normal to above-normal cumulative rains resulted in a good output of the recently harvested second season coarse grain crops. The main season was also good and the 1995/96 aggregate coarse grain output is estimated 4 percent above the previous year’s record crop. In Eritrea, the 1995 coarse grain production was sharply reduced by erratic rains and localized pest damage. The cereal output is estimated at 142 000 tons, a decrease of 45 percent from 1994. In Somalia, the output of the recently harvested secondary “Der” season cereal crops was above average, reflecting abundant rains during the season; however, the main season was negatively affected by lower plantings and severe pest infestations. Latest estimates put the aggregate coarse grain output at 282 000 tons, one-third less than in the previous year and below average. In Burundi and Rwanda, where the 1996 first season cereal crops have been harvested, the outputs remained below normal despite a recovery in production in Rwanda.

The aggregate cereal import requirement of the sub-region in 1995/96 is estimated at 2.2 million tons. With commercial imports anticipated at 1.4 million tons, the food aid requirement is estimated at 0.8 million tons. Against this requirement, pledges as of late April amount to 0.6 million tons of which 0.3 million tons have been delivered.

Southern Africa: Harvesting of the 1995/96 coarse grains crop is due to commence during the next few weeks. Widespread rains favoured large plantings in most countries and high levels of vegetative vigour are reported in many areas. Current forecasts of maize output point to an above-average harvest in Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Unusually heavy rainfall this year has also resulted in floods and crop damage is reported in Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. Recent reports of the spread of the Large Grain Borer, locusts and other insect pests also point to a threat to crop prospects in these countries (with the exception of Madagascar). FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions are currently visiting Angola and Mozambique to assess the upcoming 1996 harvest and evaluate the food supply situation for 1996/97.

The sub-region’s 1995/96 marketing year is drawing to a close but cereal availability in the current lean period remains tight, particularly in Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Following the drought-reduced harvest of 1994/95, the cereal import requirement for the 1995/96 season was estimated at 5.2 million tons, including an estimated 1 million tons of relief assistance. Total pledges by donors cover the food aid needs. However, Angola remains with about 69 000 tons of uncovered food aid requirements. Commercial imports are reported to be inadequate in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This has resulted in virtual depletion of stocks and substantial price increases, particularly in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

For the 1996/97 marketing season which begins in April or May for most of the sub-region, the food supply position is expected to improve considerably over the previous year, because of a forecast increase in cereal output. However, several countries will continue to have significant shortfalls and will be net importers of cereals. Angola and Mozambique which continue to have many internally displaced people, particularly the large proportion of the agricultural labour force, are likely to continue to be heavily dependent on external assistance, both in the form of food aid and the supply of seeds and tools, to sustain the current recovery process.

Western Africa: In the southern part of the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, after some rains during the second week of February and a dry period in late February, the rainy season really started in early March. Land preparation and planting of the first maize crop are progressing northwards following the onset of the rains. In the Sahelian countries, planting should begin in June/July following the start of the rainy season.

In 1995, the aggregate cereal output for the eight coastal countries (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo) is estimated at around 17 million tons compared with 16.8 million tons in 1994. The 1995 growing season was also mostly favourable for crop development in the Sahelian countries. Following release of final production estimates in most of the nine CILSS member countries, the aggregate output of cereals has been revised downwards to 9 million tons (including paddy rice) against 9.6 million tons first estimated by the FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in October 1995. This is 9 percent less than in 1994 but 5 percent more than the 1990-94 average. Record crops were harvested in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, while output was close to previous record levels of 1994 in Mauritania and 1993 in Senegal. Production decreased from the 1994 volume, in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger but still remained average or above average. Compared with 1994, production of coarse grains generally decreased while that of rice increased. By contrast, production of maize increased from the poor 1994 level in Cape Verde.

Following generally good harvests in 1995, the food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory in the 1995/96 marketing year, except in Liberia and Sierra Leone, which are still affected by ongoing or past civil strife and in some localized areas in the Sahel where poor harvests were realized. In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, several population groups in some areas of Benin, Ghana and Togo would be at risk of food shortages following flooding in 1995 and may require some assistance. In the Sahel, food assistance is needed in some traditionally food-deficit areas of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger. In Cape Verde, substantial commercial cereal imports and/or food aid are planned and the food supply situation is not anticipated to be critical. In the other countries, following successive average to record crops, farmers' stocks are expected to be at comfortable levels.

The localized deficits in some areas can be covered by transfers from surplus areas or using the national security stocks, provided there are pledges for their replenishment. Exportable surpluses are also available, and triangular transactions can be organized. Imports of wheat and rice will remain necessary, but those of coarse grains will remain small except in border areas where local trade is active. For ongoing food aid programmes, donors are urged to undertake local purchases of coarse grains to the maximum extent possible.

The aggregate cereal import requirement of the sub-region in the 1995/96 marketing year is estimated at 4.5 million tons. Anticipated commercial imports are estimated at 3.7 million tons and the food aid requirement at 0.8 million tons mainly in wheat and rice. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of late April 1996 amount to 415 000 tons, of which 209 000 tons have been delivered so far. No imported food aid in coarse grains is necessary for Chad, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania. Local purchases are strongly recommended to cover needs in coarse grains for ongoing or foreseen food aid programmes or for the reconstitution of the national security stock when cereals have been borrowed from such stocks for distribution or sales in food-deficit areas.


The Desert Locust situation improved since the beginning of the year in all affected countries. The only significant infestations remaining are two areas of hopper bands, one in the extreme south-west of Morocco and the second in northern Mauritania. Both infestations are confined to a relatively limited area but there may be additional small infestations that are undetected. Ground control operations have been undertaken in both countries. A few solitary adults were also present on the Red Sea coastal plains of Saudi Arabia and Eritrea and in northern Somalia. No locusts were reported on the coastal plains of Yemen and Sudan. No significant developments are expected in the Red Sea area as conditions are now dry in most areas

In West Africa, a few small and low density Desert Locust bands of late instar hoppers mixed with immature adults were reported at two locations south of Atar in Mauritania during the first half of March and hopper bands were found north of Akjoujt near the Moroccan border during the second half of the month. Ground treatments including farmer control covered almost 300 hectares. Elsewhere, survey teams found scattered solitary adults and late instar hoppers at several locations in western Adrar and south-western Tiris Zemmour. There were reports from nomads stating that no locusts were seen in the Aftout Fay area south of Akjoujt. Current hopper infestations in the north will continue to mature with new adults appearing in the next weeks. As a result, low numbers of adults may move further north into Tiris-Zemmour while others are expected to persist in western Adrar and adjacent areas that remain green. Isolated locusts may also be present in a few places of Adrar des Iforas in Mali and Tamesna in Niger.

In Eastern Africa, no locusts were found during recent surveys in cropping areas of the Tokar in Sudan. In Eritrea, a late report indicated that scattered immature adults were present on the Hadarit plain of the northern Red Sea coast during February. In Somalia, a few isolated adults were seen on the northern coast at Wagderia and Harshu during February. Scattered mature adults were reported nearby in the interior only at Hadaftimo and Dulalas during a survey covering 18 locations in late February/early March. Scattered adults are expected to persist at a few places along the north-western coastal plains and adjacent areas of the interior. These may breed if rainfall occurs.

Central Africa: Rains have started in southern Cameroon. In Zaire, the growing season has started in the whole country, while the recent harvests in the south are reported to have been about average. The 1995 aggregate output of cereals is average to above-average in most countries. In Zaire, the food supply situation remains tight in urban areas and in the Kivu region. Inflation decreased from 6 000 percent in 1994 to about 540 percent in 1995, but unemployment and economic difficulties are severely affecting the population.

For the 1995/96 or 1996 marketing year, the cereal import requirement is estimated at 802 000 tons. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of late April amount to 49 000 tons, of which 17 000 tons have been delivered. Most of this amount corresponds to emergency food aid for Rwandan refugees in eastern Zaire.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Cereal Imports and Food Aid Requirements by Sub-Region (in thousand tons)

1995/96 or 1996
Sub-Region 1995
Food aid
Requirements of which:
uncovered by pledges
Eastern Africa 23 114 2 171 1 413 758 377
Southern Africa 14 555 5 190 4 141 1 049 69
Western Africa 25 693 4 490 3 715 775 386
- Coastal countries 16 992 2 785 2 284 501 234
- Sahelian countries 8 701 1 705 1 431 274 152
Central Africa 3 023 802 702 100 70
TOTAL 66 385 12 653 9 971 2 682 902

Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.
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