FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report 02/97



In southern Africa and some countries of eastern and central Africa, the 1997 cereal crops in the ground will be harvested from April. Elsewhere in eastern Africa, secondary short rains crops are being harvested. In western Africa, off-season crops are in the ground in several areas but sowing of main crops is not scheduled to start until March in coastal areas and June in the Sahelian countries.

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.

In Eastern Africa, prospects for the 1996/97 secondary foodcrops season, now being harvested, are unfavourable due to late, insufficient and irregular rains during the season. In Kenya, the second season cereal crop is forecast at half the normal levels. The main "long rains" production was also reduced due to a decrease in plantings and yields, in response to low prices and high cost of agricultural inputs. The aggregate output of the main maize crop is estimated at about one-quarter below last year�s level. In Somalia, the output of the secondary "Der" cereal crop is forecast at 45 percent below normal. The main "Gu" crop, although higher than in the previous year, was reduced. The aggregate cereal production is forecast at 288 000 tons, about the same as in the previous year but well below pre-war average levels. In Tanzania, a poor outturn of the secondary "Vuli" crop season is anticipated; the aggregate 1996/97 cereal production is forecast to decline 15 percent from the good level of the previous year to 4.3 million tons. In Uganda, the 1996/97 secondary cereal crops were also affected by dry weather, while the main season crop was lower than in the previous year. By contrast, in Ethiopia, the recently harvested main season grain crop was a record reflecting higher plantings and yields; with the secondary crop about to be planted, the 1996/97 aggregate cereal and pulse crop is forecast at 12 million tons, 20 percent higher than last year. A bumper coarse grains crop was also gathered in Sudan, where the output is estimated at 4.7 million tons, 65 percent above the poor harvest of 1995. In Eritrea, however, production declined for the second consecutive year to 132 000 tons due to unfavourable weather. In Rwanda, the output of the 1997 season A foodcrops, now being harvested, increased substantially following larger plantings and abundant rains but the main pulse crop declined. In Burundi, the 1997 season A food production is estimated to be reduced reflecting persistent insecurity in several areas and the effect of the economic embargo.

The aggregate cereal import requirement of the sub-region in 1996/97 is estimated at 2.5 million tons. Commercial imports are expected at 1.9 million tons. The food aid requirement is estimated at 0.6 million tons of which 0.3 million tons have been covered by pledges.

Southern Africa: Prospects are favourable so far for the recently planted 1996/97 coarse grain and rice crops. Planting is complete in most areas and crops are growing under generally favourable weather conditions, following widespread rains since November. Rains started relatively late in the sub-region, with dry conditions occurring in October in southern Angola, northern parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia, and eastern parts of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Planting was continuing in those regions in early January. In Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, rainfall in the major growing areas in November and December improved soil moisture and encouraged large plantings. However, outbreaks of red locusts have been reported in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although control measures have been taken in these countries, the situation remains a threat to the 1997 crop.

The sub-region�s total 1996 cereal output was estimated at 24.5 million tons, 66 percent over the 1995 level and 34 percent above-average. Cereal output was much above-average in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As a result of abundant irrigation water in the major dams, the recently harvested wheat crop is estimated at 3 millions tons. The coarse grains crop harvested earlier in the year stands at about 19.6 million tons, some 88 percent above the 1995 drought-affected level and 39 percent above-average. Rice production is estimated at 1.9 million tons.

Reflecting this positive outcome of the 1996 season, the food supply situation in the sub-region has considerably improved. Available maize covers the sub-region�s overall requirements, and stocks have been replenished in many countries. Export contracts already made for South African maize exceed 2.6 million tons. Substantial amounts of maize are also being exported from Zimbabwe where supply is in excess of domestic requirements, but also from Mozambique and Zambia. Cereal shortfalls occurring in other countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland are being covered by commercial imports and limited food aid programmes. Food aid pledges amounting to 515 000 tons should cover most of the cereal relief requirements of the sub-region, particularly of Angola and Mozambique that continue to require substantial food assistance to meet their food needs for 1996/97.

Western Africa: In the second half of October, a series of joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions were mounted to assess the 1996 cropping season in the 9 CILSS member countries and examine the preliminary cereal production estimates that had been made by the national agricultural statistics services. In Mauritania, another assessment mission in November also visited the main production areas. These assessments estimated total cereal production at 8.9 million tons, which is about average, 2 percent up on 1995 but 7 percent lower than the record output in 1994. Output is estimated to be above average in Niger and Senegal, close to average in Burkina Faso, Mali and The Gambia but below average in Cape Verde, Chad, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau. These figures should be viewed as preliminary as the surveys were generally made before the end of the harvest and include forecasts for recession and off-season crops. These estimates may therefore have to be revised in the coming months, but there is unlikely to be a change in the overall trend indicating average to above-average production in the main producing countries of the sub-region.


In West Africa, Desert Locust infestations were present primarily in Mauritania throughout 1996. Scattered solitary adults are present in the north, mostly near Atar and on the coast near Nouakchott, and to a lesser extent in the El Hank area. Nomads reported seeing some swarms moving northwards in central and northern areas during late December and early January. There were also a few reports of swarms along the coast between Nouakchott and the Senegal River Valley. No control operations were undertaken during the first half of January.

In the winter breeding areas along both sides of the Red Sea, low numbers of solitary hoppers were reported in millet crops in Tokar Delta of Sudan in mid December. These originated from adults that laid eggs in mid November. In the coastal plains of Eritrea, scattered adults are probably persisting in areas where locusts were reported in December. Conditions are expected to be favourable for breeding, especially near Port Sudan which received moderate rains in early January.

Several countries experienced localized grasshopper infestations, notably Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Substantial treatments were undertaken in Niger. Elsewhere, with plentiful natural vegetation from the good rainfall, the grasshoppers did not concentrate on crops.

Red locust swarms have been reported in several countries in southern Africa, initially in Mozambique, but moving to Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Control measures have been taken by governments in the sub-region but the danger remains present for the recently planted crops as the rains provide suitable conditions for extensive breeding.

In most coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, the overall growing conditions for 1996 cereal crops were favourable. The rainy season started at the beginning of March in the south and at the beginning of April in the north of the coastal countries and continued with fairly irregular but abundant rainfall. Cumulative rainfall since the beginning of the season has generally been average or above average and soil moisture reserves have been adequate for good crop development. The first maize harvest, which took place in July, was good in the majority of the coastal countries. A close-to-average harvest is anticipated for millet and sorghum. The second maize crop, planted end-August/beginning September, had adequate growing conditions due to the well-distributed, albeit fairly limited, rainfall in September. The preliminary FAO estimates for aggregate cereal production in the nine coastal countries, which are still preliminary and subject to revision, point to a total of about 30 million tons, depending on the final outcome of the crops still to be harvested. Average to above-average harvests are anticipated in all the coastal countries, except in Liberia and Sierra-Leone. First estimates point to record cereal crops in Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. The forecast for Togo is close to normal.

In Liberia, the situation is still very unstable and insecure. Civil disturbances continue to disrupt agricultural production and a very poor harvest is expected again. In Sierra-Leone, cereal production is better than in 1995 after the start of the peace process and rehabilitation programmes, but it will still be insufficient to cover the country's needs.

Following the generally good harvests, the food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory in the 1996/97 marketing year, with the exception of Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have been affected by civil strife. In Cape Verde, where substantial cereal commercial imports and/or food aid are planned, the food supply situation is not anticipated to be critical despite the very reduced 1996 harvest. In some areas of Chad, Mauritania and Niger, sections of population will be at risk of food shortages following poor harvests in 1996 and will require some assistance. In the other areas, following successive average to record crops, farmers' stocks are expected to be at comfortable levels. Localized deficits in some areas can be covered by transfers from surplus areas. Exportable surpluses are also available, allowing the mounting of triangular transactions, notably from Mali.

Imports of wheat and rice will remain necessary, but those of coarse grains will remain limited except in traditional 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 Desert Locust situation in Mauritania will also need to be monitored closely.

The aggregate cereal import requirement in 1997 of the eight countries of the sub-region which have a January/December marketing year is estimated at 3.0 million tons. Anticipated commercial imports are estimated at 2.7 million tons and the food aid requirement at 0.3 million tons. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of late January 1997 amount to 162 000 tons and 44 000 tons have been delivered so far.

For the sahelian countries (CILSS member countries), which have a November/October marketing year, the cereal import requirement is estimated at 1.8 million tons. The food aid requirement is estimated at some 0.3 million tons, mainly in wheat and rice. In several countries local purchases are strongly recommended to cover needs in coarse grains for ongoing food aid programmes. Pledges carried forward from the previous year and new allocations amount to 94 000 tons so far, of which 31 000 tons have already been delivered.

Central Africa: The 1996/97 aggregate output of cereals is expected to be average to above-average in most countries. Above-average harvests are anticipated in Cameroon and Central African Republic. In Zaire, the growing season is starting in the south. For the five countries which have a January/December marketing year, the cereal import requirement is estimated at 374 000 tons. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of late January 1997 amount to 26 000 tons, of which 4 000 tons have been delivered. Most of this amount corresponds to emergency food aid for Rwandan refugees in eastern Zaire. For Cameroon and Congo, which have a July/June 1996/97 marketing year, the aggregate cereal requirement in 1996/97 is estimated at 373 000 tons, mostly wheat and rice, and the food aid requirement at only 2 000 tons.

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

1996/97 or 1997
import requirements
Food aid
Requirements of which:
uncovered by pledges
Eastern Africa 25 787 2 538 1 921 617 452
Southern Africa 24 484 2 662 2 130 532 44
Western Africa 36 228 4 792 4 160 632 428
- Coastal countries 27 340 2 983 2 668 315 204
- Sahelian countries 8 888 1 809 1 492 317 224
Central Africa 2 953 747 672 75 47
TOTAL 89 452 10 739 8 883 1 856 971

Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

Previous Page TOC Next Page