21 December 1998

Mission Highlights

  • Cereal and pulse production from the meher season is forecast to be 11.69 million tonnes, 36 percent up on last year but slightly less than the record crop of 1996.

  • The availability of cereals in 1999 will be markedly improved, prices are expected to be low and cereal consumption will rise.

  • Ethiopia will require minimal imports in 1999 and there will be an opportunity to rebuild cereal stocks at all levels.

  • Export possibilities to neighbouring countries will be restricted because of weak import demand, low competing prices and closed border with Eritrea.

  • Despite the excellent harvest, some 2 million people will require 180 000 tonnes of food aid, excluding those from pastoral areas and IDPs from the north.

  • Donors should procure food aid needs locally as far as possible, to provide some strength in the market.


This year’s FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was divided into two parts. The first (a joint WFP/Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) team) conducted its food needs assessment over a period of one month ending at mid-November 1998. Its objective was to assess food aid requirements for 1999, based on extensive field analysis at woreda (district) level. The second part of the overall mission, conducted by an FAO team assisted by national consultants and MOA officers, was responsible for preparing quantitative estimates of cereal and pulse production from the 1998 meher crop. These crop estimates were combined with the food aid needs assessment to identify the location of deficit and surplus areas, and to provide information on the feasibility of local food purchases. The team collected information between 14 November and 5 December 1998.

The food aid needs assessment team visited 100 woredas using 12 groups with separate itineraries. Staff of WFP, DPPC and MOA, together with representatives of some donors and NGOs, conducted the field work. The information was collated by WFP, Addis Ababa, and agreed with DPPC prior to the finalization of the Mission estimates.

The crop and food supply assessment team, comprising international and local FAO staff, and MOA agronomists, visited 40 zones and all the major producing regions over a period of two weeks using four separate groups. They consulted with the regional bureaux and MOA zonal offices to obtain information on 1998 planted areas and expected production, together with data on the final outturn of the 1997 meher harvest. From visual inspections of the grain crops and from discussions with farmers, traders and MOA staff, the Mission prepared its own forecasts of crop yield, by zone and by cereal. Using the latest estimates of areas planted at zonal level, the Mission calculated forecast production by cereal. Thus, the Mission has prepared a set of disaggregated data for the 1997 outturn and its own forecast for 1998. Last year’s Mission collected historical data on 1996, so that there now exists a three-year dataset on a consistent basis.

Central Statistical Authority (CSA) also produced preliminary forecasts for the 1998 meher crop, which were subsequently increased in consultation with MOA. Although these revised CSA estimates have not been published, the Mission was assured at its debriefing that the total production forecast was similar to its own.

The Mission forecasts a 1998 meher harvest of 11.69 million tonnes of cereals and pulses, some 36 percent above last year’s disappointing season as recorded by MOA's final post-harvest estimates. Although an excellent grain crop is expected overall, it is still slightly short of the record 1996 meher harvest of 11.79 million tonnes.

Compared with last year, all the improvement (36 percent) has come from better crop yields as a result of favourable rains, increased use of fertilizer and improved seeds, and minimal occurrence of crop diseases and pests. The main negative features in 1998 were poor rains in April and May, which limited the planting of long cycle sorghum crop and excessive rains in July and August, which caused waterlogging, greater than normal weed infestation, and direct damage to barley and pulse crops, especially in the highlands and on the vertisol soils. Without these effects, 1998 would have been a record.

Yields of wheat and maize are much higher than last year, and teff has also benefited from the high rainfall year. Pulse yields are only slightly higher. Maize production is 42 percent above last year and accounts for 28 percent of the total grain production in 1998. Geographically, Oromia is by far the biggest producing region (with 47 percent of production) followed by Amhara (32 percent) and the South (12 percent). Tigray has one of its best ever crops, with production expected to be 32 percent higher than last year, even after allowing for the effects of border insecurity.

Prices for most cereals are already falling in anticipation of a large harvest. Teff prices have typically fallen by 40 percent in the last three months and are approaching US$200 per tonne, some 30 percent lower than this time in 1997. Wheat has fallen around 20 percent and is also significantly cheaper than one year ago. Current maize and sorghum prices have been reported at around US$120 per tonne and are expected to drop further as the harvest gets underway.

With only limited prospects for exports in 1999, heavy supplies are expected to depress prices further. Government does not intend to implement a floor price policy of intervention in the market.

On the basis of the above forecast for the meher crop, and an expectation of around 0.40 million tonnes from the 1999 belg, the need for imports will be negligible in 1999, except for rice. Even with virtually no imports and an expected rise in domestic consumption, there should be scope for a significant build-up of stocks at all levels.

Relief food aid requirements are projected at 180 000 tonnes to support approximately 2 million people in areas affected by drought and other natural shocks. In addition, emergency relief will be required for those displaced from border areas with Eritrea because of current tensions, and for the pastoralist areas in need. The Mission recommends the use of locally purchased cereals for food aid, which would provide some firmness in a depressed grain market.


2.1 Macroeconomic situation

Despite many favourable geographic features, Ethiopia is one of the least developed countries in the world, with an estimated GNP per caput of about US$ 100, and about 57 percent of the population below the poverty line. Adult literacy is 35 percent and life expectancy is 48 years. Over the period 1981-91, GDP growth averaged only 1.6 percent per annum, with population growth at slightly over 3 percent per annum. While many factors account for this poor performance of the economy, one of the main ones was the slow growth in the agricultural sector of only 3 percent annually. Since 1991, GDP growth has improved, with an average annual rate of 7 percent between 1992/93 and 1996/97. This again is partly due to better agricultural performance. Agriculture contributes about 55 percent to GDP, around 95 percent of all exports and provides directly or indirectly to about 85 percent of employment. Industry accounts for less than 12 percent of GDP, of which manufacturing is about 7.5 percent of the total, overwhelmingly concentrated in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Services contribute about one-third to GDP.

Although there has been a re-orientation of economic policy since 1992, the economy faces severe structural and policy-related problems including persistent food insecurity. The Structural Adjustment Programme adopted in 1992 was basically aimed at a market based economy with liberal private sector participation. As a new development strategy, the Government is withdrawing from commercial activities where the private sector could play an important role. In the agricultural sector, the share of government caputl expenditure in agricultural investment declined from 26 percent in 1990/91 to 9.2 percent in 1995/96 due to reduced investment in state farms, with no allocation made in 1995/96.

There is a need to undertake adjustment programmes in the export market to diversify, since exports are mainly confined to coffee, some hides and skins and oilseeds. During 1995/96, out of the total exports of about US$470 million, coffee was estimated at US$ 280 million (60 percent of the total). World coffee prices and the international market are highly volatile and the country needs to diversify its exports.

There has been a significant improvement in export performance since reform measures as total exports increased by 28 percent during the period of 1992/93-1995/96. However, the overall trade deficit has remained intractable.

Government spending has been growing at a nominal annual rate of 5 percent during the four years up to 1997/98 with an emphasis on health and education. But, despite improvements in revenue collection, the Government still operates a deficit which was 3.5 million birr in 1996/97. Inflation remains relatively low and has not been significantly affected by the various devaluations and liberalisation measures of recent years. For the five years to 1996/97 the average annual rate of increase in consumer prices was only 4.5 percent, including decreasing prices for most of 1996 and 1997. There is a strong impact of agricultural production on income and prices in the general economy. Increases in consumer prices were contained in recent years mainly because of the two good agricultural years of 1994/95 and 1996/97.

Ethiopia has become a fairly heavily indebted country. World Bank figures put total external debt at US$10 billion in 1996 (170 percent of GNP) but various debt rescheduling measures have limited current debt service costs.

2.2 Population

In June 1998, the Office of the Population and Housing Census Commission, Central Statistical Authority (CSA), released its report on the 1994 population. Data on population and demographic characteristics were collected on a reference date of 11 October 1994 except in the regions of Somali and Afar, where the census was repeated in September 1997 and July 1998 respectively. According to the census, the population was 53.48 million, of which 46.16 million (86 percent) were rural and the remaining 7.32 million (14 percent) were urban. The population growth rate is estimated at about 3.1 percent per annum. Extrapolating from the 1994 census, the population in July 1999, the mid-month of the country’s marketing year, is projected at 61.67 million – the figure used by the Mission for estimating food consumption needs in 1999.

2.3 Recent performance of the agricultural sector

In recent years, agricultural production increases have tended to keep ahead of population growth, but production is highly variable due to heavy dependence on erratic rainfall. The marked fluctuations in crop production disrupt the demand/supply balance of food and adversely affect market prices and the economy as a whole. A variety of measures have been initiated to raise and stabilize the agricultural production growth rate, including improved agricultural extension services, improved varieties of seeds, more widespread use of fertilizers, and better control of pests, diseases and weeds. The adoption of these technical inputs has expanded particularly rapidly in the last three years, although the share of crop production affected is still low, and average crop yields are still below 1 tonne per hectare.

The agricultural sector achieved a substantially higher growth rate of over 5 percent during the period 1992/93 to 1996/97, notwithstanding the effects of 1993/94 drought which reduced agricultural output by 3.6 percent. In 1994/95 and 1995/96 agricultural output is estimated to have registered a growth of 3.3 and 14.6 percent respectively. Crop production reached a record level in 1996/97 when rainfall and weather conditions were very favourable, and cereal production reached a level of 10.9 million tonnes. Poor rainfall during 1997/98 resulted in a sharp decline in cereal and pulse production by 28 and 19 percent respectively. However, with rainfall and weather conditions generally favourable in 1998, the production of cereals and pulses together is forecast to show a significant increase over the poor year of 1997/98.

2.4 Food security and nutrition

The Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) is the government agency responsible for coordinating food security efforts, including early famine warning, maintaining emergency food reserves and distributing food aid.

Food availability in Ethiopia has been consistently below requirements for about the last two decades, with per caput foodgrains availability around 135 kg per year, and daily kilocalorie consumption at around 1 750, about three-quarters of the total nutritional requirement. Food insecurity has remained chronic in various parts of the country because of both limited availability and access to food. In food deficit areas, incomes are extremely low and, for Ethiopia as a whole, about half the population is below the poverty line. According to available information, during the 1980s, the population affected by drought annually ranged from 2.5 million in 1987 to 7 million in 1985. Drought-prone areas such as Tigray, Wollo and Hararghe are most severely affected by food insecurity, but some of the high rainfall regions such as Illubabor and Wellega, have transitory food insecurity caused by weather factors. Erratic rainfall is the major cause of fluctuating food supplies.

With an average kilocalorie consumption of about 1 750 per caput per day, malnutrition is bound to be widespread. A survey conducted by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Tigray, Amhara, SNNPR, Somali, Harar, Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa estimated that over 60 percent of all children under five years were chronically malnourished and 45 percent were underweight. The prevalence of stunting was more than 80 percent in South Gondar in the Amhara region, 43 percent in Harar and 39 percent in Dire Dawa.


3.1 Area planted

As a result of the poor meher harvest in 1997, prices for all cereals were extremely high during the 1998 preplanting periods for both long and short cycle crops. Thus, incentives to farmers were strong and the area planted was only 1.5 percent lower than last year’s record area. The main limitation was the lack of rain in March/April in the north and east of the country, where long cycle crops (especially sorghum) are normally planted at the end of the belg season. In many areas long cycle crops were replaced by short cycle crops which were planted on the meher rains in June. Long cycle sorghums were replaced by short cycle varieties which have a lower yield potential. In total, the sorghum area is down on last year.

Since the meher rains, once started, were relatively continuous and because army worm attacks were minimal, most main season crops in 1998 were only sown once. Seed supplies were generally adequate, despite the poor 1997 harvest.

Cultivation power was a limiting factor in some areas, such as Wag Hamra, where oxen availability had been reduced due to the poor grazing conditions during the previous year. However, in most of the country, oxen draught power appears to have been adequate since planting levels were high despite the relatively short "weather window" for cultivation before the heavy rains after mid-June.

In Tigray (particularly West Tigray) the area planted was reduced because of the loss of the occupied area (in Tahetay Adiyaho woreda) and due to insecurity along the Eritrean border areas from where considerable numbers of rural families have been displaced. However, the large commercial and mechanized sorghum area at Humera appears to have been fully planted.

Table 1 indicates a national total area of cereals and pulses of 10.7 million hectares of which 25 percent is teff, followed by maize (16 percent), both crops being 3 percent higher than in 1997. The area of pulses is 8 percent lower than last year, as a direct result of excessive rains in mid and high altitude areas where pulses are commonly grown.

3.2 Rainfall and crop conditions

Ethiopia has two growing seasons within the crop year, both defined by the rainfall pattern which is bi-modal in 21 out of the 70 zones of the country. The main season is the meher growing season and the second is the belg season. The meher crops normally account for 90-95 percent of the annual national production of cereals and pulses. Although the belg harvest only accounts for 5-10 percent of the national grain production, in some areas it represents more than 50 percent of the food supply. Meher rainfall normally starts in late May/June and extends up to September/October, reaching its peak in June/July, whereas the belg season normally starts in January/February and extends to April. Belg rains are important not only for the crops planted in the belg season but also because long-cycle maize and sorghum are planted at the end of the belg rains and harvested after the meher season.

The 1998 belg rains started on time in most belg producing zones, but the performance of the rains was very poor. The rainfall was erratic and insufficient and dominated by dry spells which prevailed in the second half of March and first half of April. As a consequence of the poor rains, belg crops were disappointing and the planting of long cycle crops (maize and sorghum) was delayed. Meher rains of the 1998/99 crop season started with a delay of two to three weeks in most zones of the country. The rains were sufficient and well distributed from June to September in the three main producing regions of Oromia, SNNP and Amhara, which account for more than 90 percent of cereal and pulse production. The water requirements of the crops were satisfied in most of the growing period, including at the critical stages of flowering and grain filling. The water satisfaction index for maize varied from 85 percent to 100 percent in most woredas and, consequently, good yields are expected.

In the north and in much of Amhara region, the failure of belg rains in March/April affected planting of maize and sorghum which was delayed until June. In these areas also, heavy rains in July/August affected weeding, damaged barley and pulses and caused waterlogging in many locations, especially in the highlands and on vertisol soils. Nevertheless, the forecast of production in Amhara and Tigray is much higher than last year.

In the east, in Eastern Hararghe and in Somali region, meher rains were untimely and insufficient. In Somali, failure of rains in September/October created drought conditions, severely affecting crops and pasture.

Heavy July rains were recorded in the west in the highland areas of Oromia region, and in Gambella, causing floods in the areas planted along rivers. Crops were lost in Gambella and farmers were obliged to replant.

As a consequence of the favourable weather conditions in most zones of the country, crop conditions are generally good and production is expected to be highly favourable.

3.3 Inputs

One factor contributing to high yields this season is extension package programme. In most zones of the country, the number of farmers in the programme has increased significantly every year and currently, in many zones, around 30 percent of all farmers are incorporated in the programme. This has led to most farmers in the programme using improved seed varieties and fertilizers, and some also pesticides. As a consequence, the consumption of fertilizers increased by 27 percent compared with last year.

Many farmers are using improved seeds, mainly for maize and sorghum. Improved wheat and teff are also becoming more widespread in the main growing areas. No lack of seeds was reported in the zones visited.

Other factors having a significant impact on yields this meher season include oxen availability, labour, farm tools and credit. Cattle numbers appear to be relatively high and most farmers had sufficient access to oxen for cultivation. Localized oxen shortages occurred in Wag Hamra and in Awie but, overall, cultivation power was adequate.

Credit is used only by those farmers under the extension package programme, for seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.

3.4 Pests and diseases

No major migratory pests were reported and the country is presently free of desert locust and army worm. An outbreak of desert locust in March in the eastern part of the country was brought under control following an extensive aerial and ground operation. A small outbreak of army worm was reported to the Mission in West Shewa but was controlled by the heavy rains in July. A Quelea bird infestation in Konso and Derashe (SNNP region) was controlled in time.

In West Wellega a strong attack of termites which destroyed the crops was reported and observed by the Mission. More than 40 000 hectares are reported to be lost in that zone. Other pests affecting the crops this season are African boll worm in East and West Hararghe (Oromia region), destroying maize and sorghum. Stalk borer was also widely reported, affecting crops in the central zones of Oromia. A strong outbreak of black beetle was reported in parts of North Shewa and Oromia zone in Amhara, affecting maize, sorghum and pulses.

Regarding diseases, two main one reported and observed by the Mission were leaf blight and leaf spot, the latter severely affecting finger millet and maize in six of the southern woredas of East Wellega in Oromia region.

3.5 Yields

The overall average cereal yield in 1998 is forecast to rise by 38 percent above last year’s relatively low level, from 0.83 tonnes/hectare to 1.15 tonnes/hectare.

Virtually all cereal crops observed by the Mission during this meher season will achieve significantly higher yields than last year. National cereal yields this season are even slightly higher than in the record harvest of 1996/97.

There are several factors contributing to the very good yields this year. Most important, is the favourable rainfall, which although it started late, was sufficient and well distributed throughout the season in the three most important agricultural regions of the country, namely Oromia, SNNP and Amhara. Some heavy rains in July/August affected crop yields in these three regions, but mainly in Amhara. In general, growing conditions were excellent this season.

Secondly, the expansion of the number of farmers under the National Extension Package Programme has increased the uptake of fertilizers and improved seed, resulting in significantly improved yields.

The third factor contributing to the favourable crops is the virtual absence of migratory pests. Small and localized outbreaks of army worm, desert locust and Quelea bird were controlled in time. Also, localized attacks of stalk borer and African boll worm did not significantly affect the yield at the national level.

Regarding plant diseases, both cereals and pulses were hardly affected and only two diseases (leaf blight and leaf spot ) have had any effect on finger millet and maize, and this was localized.

In many areas where very heavy rainfall was received, weed infestations were greater than normal and weeding operations were interrupted having a negative effect on yields.

At national level, cereal and pulse yields are much higher than last year but this general picture masks those areas where the rains failed or were excessive or where crops were affected by pests and diseases.

3.6 Cereal and pulse production forecast

Although the harvest is slightly late in most areas, it is progressing well, in excellent dry conditions. Traders are optimistic about both the quality and the quantity of grain production this year, and the grain market situation confirms a heavy crop.

By aggregating zonal level production forecasts by grain, the mission is forecasting a total meher crop of 11.69 million tonnes of cereals and pulses from all agricultural zones. More than 98 percent of this production will be from private small-scale farms, but 96 000 tonnes of sorghum are expected from the large-scale commercial units at Humera, Metema and Abdarafi, plus a further 94 000 tonnes of cereals from the state farm sector. Of the state farm production, 52 000 tonnes is wheat from Arsi and Bale, plus 42 000 tonnes of maize from West Gojam and Sidama.

Compared with last year's poor harvest, total production will be 36 percent higher, from 1.5 percent less area. 1998/99 production will be only 1 percent less than the record crop of 1996/97. Maize and sorghum comprise 40 percent of all production and Oromia and Amhara regions will together account for 80 percent of total grains.

With the exception of the minor cereals of rye and oats, all traditional grains show substantial increases in production, with teff production up by 47 percent, maize by 42 percent, sorghum 37 percent and wheat 35 percent. Even barley and pulses, which were badly affected by excessive rains in the highlands, will produce more than last year (up by 32 percent and 16 percent respectively). All the gains result from higher yields due to favourable rains, increased use of modern inputs and the absence of serious pests and diseases. However, it should be noted that the mean yield for all crops is still only 1.09 tonnes per hectare. Had there been better rains in March/April for long-cycle crops and less rain in July/August, in the highlands, the national crop would have been a record. As it stands, it should be a good harvest, gathered in ideal weather conditions, but it occurs against a background of low stocks and an increasing population which requires an extra 250 000 tonnes each year to maintain the existing, poor nutritional intake.

Table 1 - Ethiopia : Area ('000 ha) and Production ('000 tons) of cereals and pulses in 1998/99 Meher season

Tigray Area 205 140.9 107.6 118.0 . . . 90.6 206.8 868.8 46.3 915.1
Production 136.3 117.8 103.1 86.2 . . . 82.7 167.0 693.2 22.5 715.7
Area 5.2

9.5 5.1 19.8 .9 20.7
Production 3.2 . . . . . . 2.1 2.7 7.9 .1 8.0
Amhara Area 1 164.4 527.2 512.6 237.7 27.9 9.3 1.9 322.6 553.1 3 356.7 606.4 3 963.1
Production 936.5 468.1 580.1 249.0 20.3 6.6 5.5 561.7 640.3 3 468.2 367.2 3 835.4
Oromia Area 1 054.9 582.2 777.0 71.5 33.6 1.9 . 934.3 615.5 4 070.9 481.3 4 552.2
Production 831.7 748.0 1 209.9 59.1 14.5 1.2 . 1 701.0 650.0 5 215.5 332.9 5 548.4
Somali Area . 9.0 5.5 . . . . 29.5 37.8 81.8 1.9 83.7
Production . 1.7 0.9 . . . . 3.0 3.8 9.4 .1 9.5
Benshangul-Gumuz Area 14.9 1.4 2.7 18.1 . . 1.1 40.0 51.7 129.9 7.1 137.0
Production 8.8 1.2 2.5 12.7 . . 1.3 44.0 46.0 116.5 5.3 121.8
SNNP Area 204.4 123.2 148.3 3.7 0.1 . . 308.2 72.2 860.0 156.6 1 016.6
Production 151.7 150.4 264.0 3.7 . . . 646.9 92.5 1 309.2 107.9 1 417.1
Gambella Area . . . 0.3 . . . 9.1 2.4 11.8 . 11.8
Production . . . 0.2 . . . 7.6 1.3 9.2 . 9.2
Harar Area . . 0.4 . . . . 1.6 6.7 8.8 . 8.8
Production . . 0.3 . . . . 1.8 5.4 7.5 . 7.5
Addis Ababa Area 4.2 0.6 2.9 0.0 . . . . . 7.6 1.8 9.4
Production 4.2 0.5 3.5 0.0 . . . . . 8.1 1.1 9.2
Dire Dawa Area . . . . . . . .5 9.0 9.5 . 9.5
Production . . . . . . . .5 8.1 8.6 . 8.6
Total Area 2 653.0 1 384.4 1 556.9 449.3 61.5 11.2 3.0 1 746.0 1 560.3 9 425.7 1 302.3 10 728.0
Production 2 072.3 1 487.8 2 164.4 410.9 34.8 7.8 6.8 3 051.3 1 617.2 10 853.3 837.1 11 690.4


Table 1 provides the forecasts by cereal/pulse for each of the 11 regions. A comparison with the two previous years, measured on the same basis, is shown at Table 2 for all cereals and pulses. This indicates large increases in production in all regions with the important exception of Somali, Gambella and Harar where severe shortages are likely because of drought. But in the large regions, and especially in the surplus-producing zones, production increases are considerable, although only in the case of SNNP is this year's crop better than in 1996.

For most regions, the areas planted are remarkably similar for the three years which tends to indicate that Ethiopia may have reached its limit in expanding cropped areas.

Table 2: Ethiopia: Cereals and Pulses Production: Comparison of 1996/97 to 1998/99 Meher Season

Cereals Pulses Cereals and Pulses
( '000 ha)
( '000 tons)
( '000 ha)
( '000
( '000 ha)
( '000 tons)
1996/97 807.4 615.7 70.2 36.3 877.6 652.0
1997/98 922.3 525.5 56.0 17.7 978.3 543.2
1998/99 868.8 693.2 46.3 22.5 915.1 715.7
1996/97 NA NA NA NA NA NA
1997/98 3.4 3.1 0.0 0.0 3.4 3.1
1998/99 19.8 7.9 0.9 0.1 20.7 8.0
1996/97 3 192.4 3 412.8 645.2 430.6 3 837.6 3 843.4
1997/98 3 245.6 2 804.8 702.0 370.7 3 947.6 3 175.5
1998/99 3 356.7 3 468.2 606.4 367.2 3 963.1 3 835.4
1996/97 4 064.2 5 364.4 553.0 387.1 4 617.2 5 751.5
1997/98 4 086.3 3 407.1 466.8 203.9 4 553.1 3 611.0
1998/99 4 070.9 5 215.5 481.3 332.9 4 552.2 5 548.4
1996/97 85.3 27.3 0.0 0.0 85.3 27.3
1997/98 80.6 9.0 1.8 0.2 82.4 9.2
1998/99 81.8 9.4 2.0 0.1 83.8 9.4
Benshangul-Gumuz 1996/97 97.2 87.6 7.9 4.1 105.1 91.7
1997/98 124.5 110.4 6.8 3.6 131.3 114.0
1998/99 129.9 116.5 7.1 5.3 137.0 121.8
1996/97 1 130.0 1 243.0 194.6 134.9 1 324.6 1 377.9
1997/98 968.0 986.6 178.2 122.1 1 146.2 1 108.7
1998/99 860.0 1 309.2 156.6 108.0 1 016.7 1 417.2
1996/97 8.7 10.8 0.2 0.2 8.9 11.1
1997/98 13.1 10.0 0.0 0.0 13.1 10.0
1998/99 11.8 9.2 0.0 0.0 11.8 9.2
1996/97 10.3 16.3 0.3 0.3 10.6 16.6
1997/98 11.9 9.6 0.3 0.3 12.2 9.9
1998/99 8.8 7.5 0.0 0.0 8.8 7.5
Addis Ababa
1996/97 8.8 10.9 2.1 1.6 10.9 12.6
1997/98 7.9 8.0 2.4 1.4 10.3 9.5
1998/99 7.6 8.1 1.8 1.1 9.4 9.2
Dire Dawa
1996/97 11.2 11.1 0.0 0.0 11.2 11.1
1997/98 9.5 1.9 0.0 0.0 9.5 1.9
1998/99 9.5 8.6 0.0 0.0 9.5 8.6
1996/97 9 415.5 10 800.0 1 473.4 995.1 10 888.9 11 795.1
1997/98 9 473.1 7 876.1 1 414.4 720.0 10 887.5 8 596.1
1998/99 9 425.7 10 853.3 1 302.3 837.1 10 728.0 11 690.4

3.7 Other crops

There are three types of other crops of importance to farmers in Ethiopia: oilseeds such as linseed, nuq and sesame; roots and tubers such as enset, taro, potatoes and sweet potatoes; and perennials such coffee and chat.

Oilseeds are cultivated in most zones and regions of the country and only 19 out of 70 zones, in four regions, located mainly in the East, did not report any oilseeds. At farm level, the most common oilseed crop is nuq. Yields of all oilseed crops are expected to be good due to the good rainfall conditions and the low incidence of pests and diseases.

Enset and taro are particularly important for their contribution to the calorie intake in most zones of the SNNP region and in the southern part of Oromia. Due the favourable weather conditions, both have produced well in 1998 and no attacks of pests and diseases were observed. Yields of enset are estimated at 5 kg of wet kocho per plant, which represents approximately 10 to 15 tons per hectare.

In the group of the perennials, coffee and chat represent a very important source of cash for the farmers. Both are cultivated mainly in SNNP and Oromia regions and, according to the Coffee and Tea Development Authority, a peak harvest of coffee is expected.

3.8 Livestock

Livestock are an integral part of the mixed farming systems in highland areas, to provide draught power, meat, milk and hides and skins to ensure a degree of security against crop failure. However, livestock husbandry is the sole means of livelihood in the pastoral areas of the dry south and east of the country. Despite livestock population being the largest in Africa (29.8 million cattle, 11.5 million sheep, 9.6 million goat, 3.9 million equines, 0.25 million camel and 25.8 million poultry), the sector has remained underdeveloped with low productivity.

The dry conditions of 1997 and the poor belg season this year put considerable stress on livestock, as feed was scarce and animals lost condition. Prices fell sharply, exacerbated by the closure of the Saudi Arabian market for meat animals. However, with the more favourable rainfall and crop conditions in most regions this meher season, the condition of livestock was reported to be improving with adequate availability of fodder and feeds except in certain areas affected by deficient rains and where waterlogged highland valley areas could not be grazed. In Jigjiga zone of the Somali region, livestock are solely dependent on pastoral grazing and because of deficient rains in the region, grazing conditions were reported to be poor. Prices of livestock were also reported to be low due to distress sales in the absence of fodder and grazing. In Afar, another important livestock-dependent pastoral area, lumpy skin disease is reported to have affected animals in zones 1 and 4 of the region.


4.1 Tigray

This is the most northerly region of the country, with a long border with Eritrea and, in the west, a short border with Sudan. Much of the region is high plateau with heavily eroded hillsides and normally poor crop production from erratic rains. In the west of West Tigray, large afforested areas have been cleared to make way for mechanized sorghum and sesame production, especially in Humera. Apart from this, crop production is in the hands of many small-scale subsistence farmers. In the lower areas in the east of Central and East Tigray, rainfall is less and long-cycle sorghum crops are grown, planting at the end of the belg rains. But in the predominant highlands, mainly short cycle crops are grow, particularly teff, barley, finger millet and wheat. Maize is less important, grown at intermediate altitudes,

Tigray, as a whole, is chronically food deficit but the deficits are greatest in the heavily populated Central zone and in East Tigray. West Tigray is sometimes a surplus zone, partly because of the Humera scheme. South Tigray is typically in deficit. Total population is 3.6 million and the area devoted to cereals and pulses is normally between 880 000 and 980 000 hectares.

The 1998 season started with poor rains in April/May which limited the area of long cycle crops, particularly sorghum. Areas were switched to lower yielding short-cycle crops which were planted in the normal meher season. The meher rains started a little late in most areas but were relatively continuous and heavy, especially at the higher altitudes. Because of the heavy rains, few main season crops needed replanting and seed supplies were adequate. The total area planted amounted to 915 000 hectares of cereals and pulses including 200 000 hectares each of teff and sorghum. Pulses comprise only 5 percent of the planted area. In areas around Tahetay Adiyabo, which was occupied by Eritrea in May, some 40 000 to 50 000 hectares were not planted because of security risks and the displacement of some rural population.

Rainfall was excessive in July/August on vertisols in the highlands and waterlogging damage occurred on barley and pulses particularly. Weed infestations were greater than normal because of the heavy rain in mid-season. Pests and crop diseases were, however, at a much reduced level compared with normal years.

Fertilizer consumption was significantly higher as more farmers adopted improved extension packages and yields have obviously benefited.

The very high rainfall benefitted most crops, and moisture deficits were negligible over most of the region.

The rains ended abruptly in early to mid-September and harvesting has proceeded in excellent conditions. Yields, although relatively high, are still only 0.75 tons/hectare overall. Teff has done exceptionally well as has wheat and hanfes (mixed barley and wheat). All crops are much more productive than in the poor 1997 season. Regional agriculturists have stated that this is the best harvest for 30 years, and the Mission’s forecasts suggest a record for recent years. Total grain production is forecast at 716 000 tonnes, with sorghum still the biggest crop but with teff, barley, wheat all over 100 000 tonnes each.

Production in West Tigray is the highest of the four zones, even after allowing for the effects of insecurity and difficulties in recruiting migrant labour for Humera. Both Central and South Tigray are expected to produce around 200 000 tonnes each, but are likely still to be in deficit, although much less than usual. East Tigray has also had a good year but will remain in deficit.

Overall, the Region may well approach self-sufficiency for the first time in many years. Prices are falling and there is no movement of grain north into Eritrea because all borders are closed. The demand for cereals and for small animals is enhanced by the increasing number of troops in border area. Prices are likely to remain above the levels expected in most of the rest of the country although the same post-harvest recession is expected.

4.2 Amhara

The Amhara region is located in the north west of Ethiopia and is divided into ten administrative zones. The second largest national harvest comes from this region. The western half of the region is traditionally surplus producing, whereas the eastern half is usually in food deficit.

The April/May rains were late and insufficient over most of the region. As a result, long cycle crops were sown late or shifted to relatively low-yielding short-cycle crops. The onset of the meher rains were reportedly on time over most areas except for Wag Hamra zone where two to three weeks delay was recorded. The distribution of rains was favourable over most areas. However, excessive rains mainly over high and mid altitude areas were recorded in late July and August, resulting in waterlogging on vertisols, flooding in steep areas, and also high weed infestations. Unseasonably late rains were less prevalent this year, but some disruption of harvesting of early matured crops occurred in low-lying areas of South Wello and an outbreak of African boll worm on sorghum and pulses was also reported. Early cessation of rains (two weeks earlier than usual) was recorded in Wag Hamra zone. Some localized hail storms and land slides, mainly in high and mid altitude areas were reported. But, generally, the main season’s weather was favourable for crop growth and development over most areas of the region.

Overall, planting of short-cycle crops was timely in most areas of the Region, but slight delays in planting were reported in Wag Hamra and North Gondar zones. A significant delay in the planting of long-cycle crops and a switch from such crops to relatively low yielding short-cycle crops occurred in most areas where long cycle crops are important. Reductions in area under cereals and pulses were small, but some 21 000 hectares in Wag Hamra zone were reportedly left fallow.

The utilization of inputs such as fertilizers and improved seeds has increased significantly compared to last year over most areas of the region. This is due to an expansion of the extension packages and the provision of credit. In North Shewa alone, some 26 000 hectares of maize, teff and wheat (grown by 72 000 farmers) were included in the extension package.

In terms of pests, stalk borers on maize and sorghum, and African boll worm on sorghum and pulses, occurred throughout the region but was less serious than usual. Black beetle on sorghum (Oromia and North Shoa zones) and barley shoot fly on teff were also recorded. Rust disease on teff was observed in the Fogera Plain and in Kemissie-Oromia zone.

The region’s production of cereals and pulses is estimated at 3.84 million tonnes, which is 21 percent and 1 percent higher than 1997 and 1996 respectively. This is due mainly to favourable weather conditions, increased utilization of inputs and expansion of extension packages. However, localized production shortfalls are also expected due to waterlogging, hail damage, flooding, weed and pest infestation, and landslides.

The market prices for staple foodgrains have fallen for the last three months and are less than last year at this time. They are expected to fall further after harvest. The market prices of livestock are rising from the very low levels of the past six months, as a result of improved grazing and fodder supplies and less distress selling of animals.

Although some waterlogged areas provided little grazing this year, the general availability of pasture and drinking water are favourable and livestock are in improving condition.

4.3 Oromia

Oromia , the largest region of Ethiopia, consists of the "T" shaped land mass located in the central and southern parts of the country, extending from the western border with Sudan to the eastern border with Somalia and to the southern border with Kenya. The region is divided into 12 administrative zones and 180 woredas and its large land mass encompasses a wide range of agro-ecological zones, including the productive areas of the highland plateau, lowland river valleys and lowland plains. Oromia is the largest agricultural region of Ethiopia, accounting for 42 percent of the total area planted with cereals and pulses. Due to relatively high yields, it represents more than 47 percent of the total production. The three most productive zones in Oromia are West Shewa, East Shewa and Arsi, which provide more than 50 percent of the total production of cereals and pulses in the region and more than 25 percent of the production of the country.

In five out of the twelve zones of the region, the rainfall is normally bi-modal. The meher rains are the most important and normally start in April/May and finish in September. The belg rains start in December and extend into February/March.

During this crop season, in most parts of the region, meher rains started with a short delay of two to three weeks and the rains were regular and sufficient to cover the water requirements of the crops throughout the season, creating good conditions for crop development. Due to heavy rains in July, waterlogging was reported in some areas in four zones of the region, affecting the crops and forcing farmers to replant. Localized hail storms were also reported. In the east of the region (Eastern and West Hararghe zones) rainfall in six lowland woredas was insufficient and only 50 percent of the planned area was planted. Dry conditions also severely affected the crops on the planted area.

Planting of maize and sorghum were slightly late due to the delay in the onset of meher rains but other cereals and pulses were planted on time. Army worm was reported in one zone of the region but was well controlled. Other pests reported were grasshopper, stalk borer affecting maize and sorghum, boll worm affecting also sorghum and maize in the east and termites in the western zone of West Wellega. More than 40 000 hectares of crops were reported lost due to termite attacks in this zone. The main diseases observed were leaf spot on finger millet and maize and leaf blight on maize in East Wellega. In six out of 17 woredas in this zone, finger millet was severely affected by leaf spot and low yields are expected in the southern part of the zone. Due to heavy rains in July in the central area of Oromia, the incidence of weeds was well above normal and farmers were obliged to carry out weeding activities several times during the season.

One factor contributing significantly to the realization of high yields in the region is the effect of the extension package programme. Between 30 and 40 percent of farmers in the different zones of the region are included in the programme and most of them are using improved seeds, fertilizers and credit. As a consequence of the programme, the use of technical inputs increased on average by 50 percent compared with last year.

The Mission’s harvest forecast for the 1998/99 crop season in Oromia is 5.55 million tonnes of cereals and pulses from 4.55 million hectares. Production is 54 percent higher than last meher season but 3.5 percent less than the 1996/97 bumper harvest.

4.4 Benshangul/Gumaz

Benshangul/Gumaz region is located in the western part of the country and has a very large border with Sudan. The region has four zones and 21 woredas, located mostly in lowland and intermediate areas below 1 500 m of altitude. Agriculture and livestock are the main economic activities in the region. Benshangul has only one rainy season (meher) and rainfall this season was normal in terms of amount and distribution, with a short delay of three weeks in the onset of rains. In late August, the rainfall was below normal during one dekad, but this did not affect the crops due to the good rains during the previous period.

Planting time for maize and sorghum was in June, with a delay of one month compared with a normal year. Agricultural practices are traditional and use of technical inputs, such as improved seeds and fertilizers, is very low. Few farmers participate in the extension package programme. No significant pests and diseases were observed this year and a better harvest is expected than in previous years.

Major crops in the region are maize and sorghum, plus teff, finger millet and pulses. The total area planted with cereal and pulses is 137 000 hectares, an increase of 4 percent compared with last year. The forecast production of 121 800 tonnes represents an increase of 7 percent compared with last year.

4.5 Gambella

Gambella region is located in the western part of the country and borders Sudan. The region has four zones and eight woredas and all of them are in low land areas, mostly below 500 m of altitude. Four rivers (the Baro the most important) cross the region and join the White Nile in Sudan. Agriculture and livestock are the most important activities in the region. The region has only one rainy season (meher) and rainfall normally starts in May and stops in September. This year there was a delay of one month in the onset of rains, which started in the second dekad of June. Due to heavy rains in July in Oromia region and in Gambella, the region was affected by floods and most fields were damaged because planting in the region is normally done along the rivers. There were two planting times this year, the first one at the time of the onset of the meher rains in June and the second, after the flood receded. The use of improved seeds and fertilizers is very low and agricultural practices are rudimentary, which reflects in low yields for cereals.

Main crops in the region are maize and sorghum and there is also finger millet. The total area planted with cereals is 11 800 hectares, which is slightly less than last year. The forecast production of 9 200 tonnes of cereals is 8 percent less than last year. Fish is a very important food resource in the diet of Gambella's population and, in general, the region experiences food shortages during 3 to 4 months of the year.

4.6 Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa region is located in the central highland plateau of Ethiopia and includes the caputl. Around the city, small agricultural activities are ongoing, mainly some cereal crops, pulses and vegetables, as well as many livestock activities, including milk production.

The onset of rains had a small delay of two weeks and during the crop season the rains were sufficient and well distributed. Planting started in mid-June and continued up to the end of July. Crop conditions are good and the incidence of pests and diseases is very low, with no effect on crop yields. Total area planted with cereals and pulses in Addis Ababa region is 9 400 hectares, slightly below last year’s planting. Production of 9 200 tonnes of cereals and pulses is also slightly lower than last year.


The SNNPR is situated in the south-western part of the country. The region is made up of nine zones and five special woredas. The population in 1994 was estimated at 10.4 million. It has an area of about 11.7 million square kilometres, about 23 percent of which are considered cultivable. It is reported that the actual area planted with foodgrains in any given year ranges from 1.4 -1.5 million hectares.

The agro-ecology of the region ranges from hot and dry lowlands to cool and moist highlands, but most of the population and agriculture is concentrated in the mid-altitude and, to a limited extent, in the high altitude areas where climatic and terrain conditions are more favourable. Although a large number of crops can be grown in the region, the economy as well as the livelihood of the majority of the regional population largely depends on cereals, pulses, enset and other root/tuber crops, coffee and spices.

In general, the region enjoys an extended rainy season, beginning in February or March. Long cycle crops such as maize and sorghum are planted early in the season while short cycle crops such as wheat and barley are planted later. Despite the generally favourable climatic and terrain conditions, the region is considered a food deficit area. This is caused largely by high population density leading to very small and fragmented land holdings, declining soil fertility and backward agricultural practices.

In general, the weather this season was reported to be more favourable to crop production than last year. However, some areas were affected by the late start of the main season rains, resulting in late planting. In Konso and Derashe, rain shortage is reported to have contributed significantly to poor production this season. In other areas, such the Guraghe zone, excess rains in July and August caused serious crop loss, particularly in maize, sorghum and food legume crops.

The favourable weather conditions in many parts of the region have also created conducive conditions for the development of weeds, pests and diseases. Weed infestation was serious in wheat, barley and teff fields because of non-availability of pesticides and farmers’ unwillingness to do hand weeding. Yellow rust is considered a serious threat to wheat production, particularly of the newly released varieties (HAR 710 and HAR 1685). Some zones have reported possible yield reduction due to late blight in potato, leaf blight in maize and sweet potato moth in sweet potato.

The use of improved agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers has increased significantly this year due to the increase in the number of farmers participating in the New Extension Program (NEP) from 110 000 in 1997/98 to 655 000 this season. Compared to the estimated 2.3 million farmers in the region, NEP participants in the 1998/99 cropping season represent 29 percent although the cropped area receiving modern inputs would be less than 20 percent.

The increase in the use of fertilizers this season is quite modest, not exceeding 10 percent over last year, in most zones visited by Mission members. Where increases were observed, it was mainly due to NEP participants increasing their use of urea.

Because of the favourable weather conditions, coupled with increased use of improved agricultural inputs, the production of food grains this year is generally expected to be significantly higher than last year in most of the zones and special woredas in the region. Reduced production is expected in N. Omo (down by 70 percent), Gedeo (-22 percent), and Konso (-50 percent). The other zones/special woredas in the region expect an increase in production over 1997/98, from 2.5 percent in KAT to 118 percent in Yem. The overall increase in grain production across the region is expected to be around 12 percent over last year. This year's estimated production is slightly smaller (-1.8 percent) than the actual production estimate for 1996/97, which was considered a good year for crop production. The pulse crops as a whole are expected to register an overall decrease in production amounting to 12 percent compared to 1997/98. Overall, the regional production in 1998/99 is estimated at 1.31 million tonnes of cereals (an increase of about 33 percent over last year) and 108 000 tonnes of pulses.

Except for some of the lowland areas, the important staple crops other than cereals for the population are enset, sweet potato, Irish potato and 'godere'. These are food security crops at household levels and, therefore, play a significant role in household food security. The weather conditions this year were favourable for the production of these crops, except in some localities where late blight and sweet potato moth attacked Irish potato and sweet potato, respectively.

Crop prices varied from place to place, but there is a noticeable decline in prices associated with the incoming of the new harvest. The price of wheat at local markets ranged from 120 to 140 birr per quintal, barley from 180 to 200 birr and teff from 170 to 280 birr, depending on grain colour. It is expected that prices will decrease further due to the good harvest in many of the zones.

Favourable rainfall has contributed to the abundance of grazing in the various zones/special woredas and, therefore, livestock condition is satisfactory. Livestock prices have tended to rise during the last few months.

4.8 Harar

Major crops of the region are sorghum, maize and groundnut and, to a lesser extent, chat, coffee and sweet potato. It is a food deficit region but cash earnings permit food purchases from outside. During 1998, the belg rains were delayed by about two months and adversely affected the planting of the maize crop. However, during the 1998 Meher season there were heavy and above-normal rains in many parts of the region. As these rains were not well distributed over space and time they did not have favourable impact on crop production in the current year. The meher production of cereals and pulses together in the current year is forecast at 7 470 tonnes from an area of 8 800 hectares, well down on last year.

4.6 Somali

The region has two zones: Jigjiga and Gode, and the Mission visited the first and main zone which contributes the bulk of the production. During 1998, both belg and meher rains were insufficient and not well distributed over time, adversely affecting the crop production. As this is the second poor rainfall year in succession, pastoral grazing areas were poor thus affecting the condition of livestock. Inadequate rains also reduced the uptake of fertilizers, improved seeds, credit, etc. further reducing the yield. Production of cereals and pulses together is likely to be 9 500 tonnes from an area of 83 700 hectares in 1998/99 against 9 200 tonnes and 82 000 hectares respectively during 1997/98, showing almost the same low productivity in both years. Because of poor production for the second year in succession, prices of foodgrains were much higher than those of last year. In this predominantly pastoral area, the grazing and feed condition needs to be monitored as it may deteriorate further from its already poor condition if rains do not arrive by end-February/March.

4.7 Dire Dawa

1998 started with somewhat delayed and insufficient belg rains, adversely affecting crop production. However, rainfall was very good from July 1998 onward during the Meher season, providing favourable conditions for production.

Attacks of African boll worm were observed in serious proportions on sorghum, but were controlled by aerial spraying at an early stage. The condition of standing maize and sorghum crops was reported to be generally very good and much better than last year. The production of cereals, as forecast, is likely to be 8 600 tonnes from an area of 9 500 hectares, much more than last year.

4.8 Afar

The Afar region includes both traditional and modern irrigated agriculture, but irrigation is mainly confined to cotton and, to a lesser extent, to cereals. The region has six zones with 30 woredas. During 1998, although onset of rains was somewhat delayed, they were generally adequate and normal in all the woredas except for Dulecha and Argoba. Taking into consideration the quantity and distribution of rainfall, 1998/99 is reported to be much better than 1997/98 despite the setback to the new crop extension package due to lack of transport and poor accessibility. Crops in the irrigated areas were reported to be generally very good, and satisfactory in rainfed areas. Production of cereals is likely to show a large rise from 3 100 tonnes in 1997/98 to 7 900 tonnes in 1998/99. Because of generally good rains, the condition of the pastoral area for livestock is satisfactory.

5. BELG 1998 AND 1999

In line with the rainfall pattern, the belg season normally starts in January/February in the belg producing areas of the country, and those crops harvested before August are considered belg crops. In 1998, the belg season started well and on time but later in March and April rains were irregular and insufficient in Tigray, Amhara and Oromia regions. In the SNNP region, the season's rainfall was generally good for crop production. As a result of the poor rainfall, belg yields in the three regions affected were low and the overall belg harvest in the area is below average. In the SNNP region belg production (70 percent of the national crop) is estimated close to the 1996/97 average. For the country as a whole, total production of the 1998 belg is tentatively estimated at 350 000 tonnes. This may have to be revised later after CSA has published its final belg report.

Land preparation for the 1999 belg season has already started in some woredas of SNNP and in parts of North and South Wollo and North Shewa.


6.1 Market situation

Due to the relatively poor main harvest in 1997 cereal prices have remained firm during the past year at levels between 15 and 50 percent higher than in 1996/97, depending on the cereal and the market. Prices moved sharply upwards between May and September as a result of the poor belg crop, and as stocks became depleted.

Since September, however, prices have fallen significantly. From market data collected by the Mission in the field, it is evident that all cereal prices have fallen (by up to 40 percent) during October and November, and are continuing downwards. Although prices tend to fall in the immediate pre-harvest period, it seems that this year the drop is earlier and of greater magnitude than normal. Amongst most farmers and all traders a large harvest is expected in all the main producing areas. The progress of the harvest is two weeks late in most areas (because of later planting), with perhaps 70 percent of the crop still to be cut at the end of December. Weather conditions are ideal. Prices are therefore expected to decline further and reach their lowest levels in January at around 60 percent of prices in the previous January.

Although some carryover stocks exist from the 1997 harvest, these are now being traded to make way for the much larger quantities of new grain. Some observers have reported that, at the end of November, traders had been unable to procure large quantities of new grain. This is considered to be the result of the current emphasis by traders on moving the old stocks, and partly because the harvest is rather late. In addition, the Mission observed that farmers were tending to adopt a more commercial attitude to selling grain, holding off the market during the harvest period. Eventually, of course, surpluses will be sold at the farm level when cash is needed to repay loans and to finance the next crop. But it might be that supplies will remain rather sluggish in the next two months. There is likely to be a downward pressure on prices in the new year because of greater than normal supplies and because export opportunities will be limited.

6.2 National food balance

The Mission’s estimate for the supply/demand balance for 1998 is shown in Table 3, using the latest information on trade, pre-harvest stocks, and the final estimates of production from the 1997 meher crop. The tight supply situation necessitated a drawdown of stocks by 230 000 tonnes even though exports were negligible due to the closure of the Eritrean border for most of 1998.

Table 3: Ethiopia – Total grains balance sheet, January-December 1998 and 1999 (‘000 tonnes)

1998 1999
Domestic availability 9 546 12 459
Opening stocks 600 369
Production 8 946 12 090
- Meher 8 596 11 690
- Belg 350 400
Total utilization 9 904 12 479
Food use 8 073 9 251
Feed use 100 200
Other uses 1 342 2 055
Exports 20 150
Closing stocks 369 823
of which: food aid 50 50
commercial 319 773
Import requirements 358 20
Commercial 98 20
Food aid 260 -


Table 3 also includes the Mission’s forecasts for 1999. On the supply side, the opening stocks are at a similar low level as three years ago following the two relatively poor harvests of 1993/94 and 1994/95. The December 1998 stocks include 9 300 tonnes and 40 400 tonnes of emergency and programme food aid stocks, respectively. In addition, limited cereal stocks are being held by the large parastatal and commercial traders (estimated at 100 000 tonnes), by secondary merchants (30 000 tonnes), by large-scale commercial farms (e.g. Humera) and by many individual family farms with small surpluses (estimated at 189 000 tonnes). These stocks exclude the Emergency Food Security Reserve which is currently at 280 000 tonnes.

It should also be noted that, in practice, on-farm stock levels at 31 December are much higher than indicated since the harvest is typically 50 percent completed at that date, but new crop production is ignored in the closing stocks of the balance sheet. In reality, the on-farm stock levels apply to the period immediately prior to the start of harvest, usually well before 31 December.

Cereal production comprises the Mission’s forecast of the 1998 meher crop (11.69 million tonnes), plus a preliminary estimate of 400 000 tonnes for next year’s belg (close to the medium term average level).

On the demand side, the biggest use is for direct food consumption. CSA's widely-accepted population forecast (based on the 1994 census) for mid-1999 is 61.672 million. The apparent per caput consumption of cereals and pulses has been 135 kg per year for the past several years, but the Mission considers that a figure of 150 kg (11 percent higher) should be used for 1999. With plentiful grain supplies and low prices (perhaps 40 percent below last year) consumption will undoubtedly rise. In the commercial food market sector, lower prices will stimulate greater consumption and in the subsistence sector, greater availability will lead to more food consumption. In addition, the year should result in higher agricultural incomes and cereals normally enjoy high income elasticities of demand. At 150 kg per caput, 75 percent of the calorie needs would be met by cereals; the remainder by enset, roots, oilseeds and livestock products. Consumption of these products varies greatly between location and the Mission has attempted to estimate per caput grain consumption by zone in order to calculate zonal food balances. The results of this exercise are summarized in the next section.

The use of cereals for animal feed will also rise as a result of lower prices, and a figure of 200 000 tonnes has been used by the Mission – close to the level recorded in 1996.

Other uses and losses are estimated at 17 percent compared with 15 percent last year. It is assumed that some of the incremental grain will be stored less well, or in makeshift stores, and less care may be taken since grain will be relatively cheap. Post-harvest losses are estimated at 11 percent (as per the 1998 NRI study, Report No.2377) and seed use averages 6 percent. Grain used for brewing is considered to enter the food chain.

Ethiopia will certainly have an exportable surplus this year but most foreign markets are unlikely to be accessible for Ethiopian grain, because of weak import demand, low prices or closed borders. On the assumption that the Eritrean border remains tightly closed, this traditional outlet for surplus Ethiopian grain will not be available. The Mission can confirm that virtually no grain trade is occurring with Eritrea. Sudan, to the west, has had a record harvest, combined with high carryover stocks of sorghum. Prices are very low and the ban on Sudanese exports has recently been lifted. Imports into Sudan are highly unlikely, except for small amounts of beans and peas. Kenya has also had a favourable harvest but will still require some imports, though much reduced from 1996/97 when Ethiopia exported large quantities to Kenya. To the east, Somalia has an estimated 125 000 tonne deficit this year and cross-border exports seem likely.

In addition, some pulses will be exported (around 20 000 tonnes) and there is a slight probability of exports of cereals for feed grain to Saudi Arabia, if the internal price for maize and sorghum falls far enough (below 60 birr per quintal at Djibouti). Lastly, there may be scope for some triangular food aid arrangements by donors, in which they procure grain (wheat) in Ethiopia for food aid deliveries elsewhere (e.g. Somalia). The problem here is obviously the low world price which might well mean that Ethiopian grain was relatively expensive.

Considering all these possibilities, the Mission has tentatively forecast grain exports at 150 000 tonnes, well below the levels of 1995/96 and 1996/97.

As shown in Table 3, the cereal import requirement will be nil, as all domestic needs can be met from stocks and production. However, some small imports of rice are likely.

For Ethiopia’s food aid requirements in 1999, the Mission is strongly recommending local purchases of domestic grain. Adequate supplies will be available (especially after January 1999), prices should be competitive, and local procurement could add a little strength to an expected weak market in 1999.

6.3 Regional food balances

Table 4 is an attempt to identify those areas in surplus and deficit at zonal and at regional level. Consumption requirements are built up from CSA’s zonal population estimates and from Mission-derived per caput consumption rates. These vary from 116 kg per caput in the pastoral areas to 164 kg in the highland areas in the north, with an average for the country of 150 kg, to match the assumption in Table 3. The zones were categorised according to the importance of grains in the typical diet, having regard to the consumption of enset, roots and livestock products. Some zones were split into more than one category and the proportions allocated. Per caput cereal and pulse consumption figures were decided for each type of diet in consultation with the Mission’s nutritionist and adjusted to give a weighted average of 150 kg.

Table 4: Forecast Grain Surpluses/Deficit, by zone, 1999


('000 TONS)
('000 TONS)
SURPLUS (+) or
('000 TONS)
West 841 138 207 69
Central 1 081 177 153 -24
East 670 110 59 -51
South 1 001 164 163 -1
Tigray Total 3 593 589 582 -7
Zone 3 161 19 6 -12
Zone 5 305 35 0 -35
Zone 1 2 4 723 84 0 -84
Afar Total 1 188 138 7 -131
N.Gondar 2 393 392 490 97
S.Gondar 2 026 332 400 68
N.Wello 1 444 237 135 -101
S.Wello 2 433 399 275 -124
N.Shoa 1 788 293 441 148
E.Gojjam 1 948 319 479 160
W.Gojjam+Bah.D 2 149 352 572 220
Wag Hamra 316 52 35 -17
Awie 822 135 256 121
Oromia 530 62 58 -3
Amhara Total 15 850 2 574 3 142 568
W.Wellega 1 792 294 368 74
E.Wellega 1 452 238 353 115
Illubabor 981 143 202 59
Jimma 2 271 332 395 63
W.Shewa 2 698 442 907 464
NW.Shewa 1 341 220 304 84
E.Shewa 1 932 311 718 407
Arsi 2 568 421 810 389
W.Hararghe 1 473 227 86 -141
E.Hararghe 2 120 337 255 -82
Bale 1 410 185 132 -53
Borena 1 656 258 39 -219
Oromia Total 21 694 3 408 4 569 1 161
Shinile 375 44 0 -44
Jijiga 849 99 8 -91
Other zones 2 377 276 0 -276
Somali Total 3 602 418 8 -410
Metekel 229 38 49 12
Assosa 236 39 49 11
Kemashi 58 7 0 -7
BenShangul Total 523 83 99 16
Gurage 1 820 229 293 64
Hadiya 1 228 155 299 145
K.A.T. 850 107 171 63
Sidama 2 391 301 196 -105
Gedeo 659 83 9 -74
N.Omo 3 046 384 160 -224
S.Omo 383 47 22 -24
Kaffa Shaka 848 107 135 28
Bench-Maji 381 47 29 -17
Yem 76 10 9 -1
Amaro 115 14 5 -9
Burgi 45 5 4 -2
Konso 184 30 8 -22
Derasha 105 17 19 2
SNNPR Total 12 132 1 536 1 360 -177
Gambela All 206 32 7 -24
Harar All 154 25 7 -18
Addis Ababa All 2 424 398 8 -390
Dire Dawa All 306 50 7 -43
Ethiopia Total
61 672 9 251 9 795 543


Total consumption requirements for each zone are set against the net production forecasts after allowing for seed, waste and animal feed. The consequent surpluses and deficits are shown in the final column of table 4. Figure 1 maps the size of the zonal deficits/surpluses in relation to the population by expressing the figures "per caput". The table is intended to be useful for identifying surplus areas for possible local purchases for food aid, and the map identifies those areas where the deficits are largest. It should be noted that, contrary to the national food balance, no account is taken of stock changes or trade into or out of a zone. The figures merely compare consumption needs with net production.

Thus, Table 4 indicates that the largest surpluses will be in East Shewa, West Shewa, Arsi and West Gojam. Areas where the deficits are highest per person are in Somali and Afar regions and in West Hararghe, Borena, Konso and Gedeo.

On this basis, for the country as a whole, the surplus is 540 000 tonnes or 9 kg per caput. At national level this surplus will be allocated as exports or kept as stocks.

Figure 1: Net Surplus or Deficit per caput by Zone 1999

Source: Mission estimates of Production and consumption – CSA Population Census


6.4 Food aid requirements

6.4.1 Review of relief food aid distribution in 1998

Relief food aid requirements and actual distributions in Ethiopia have varied considerably in recent years. Relief food aid needs were estimated at 427 000 tons for 1995 with 347 379 tons (81 percent) actually distributed, 291 000 tons for 1996 with 219 000 tons (75 percent) actually distributed and 186 000 tons for 1997 with 306 000 tons (165 percent) actually distributed. The high level of distribution compared with the original estimate of relief food needs for 1997, a surplus grain production year, can be attributed to several events that negatively affected food security during the course of the year. These events included drought in pastoral areas as well as crop damages caused by pests, excessive long rains and late commencement of the short rains, leading DPPC to eventually revise the relief food aid requirements to 329 450 tons.

In December 1997 the joint FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission estimated that Ethiopia would require 420 000 tons of relief food aid in 1998, covering the needs of 5.3 million persons. The beneficiaries identified by the mission as eligible for relief were mostly farmers whose agricultural production had been affected by poor belg-rains followed by late, low and erratic rainfall during the meher-growing season, particularly in lowland areas, exacerbated by unusually heavy rains at harvest time. The mission estimated that the average duration of assistance during 1998 would be five months.

The Government of Ethiopia’s Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) launched an appeal for emergency food assistance in December 1997 estimating the relief food needs at 572 835 tons for 5.8 million people affected by crop losses. The difference between the food aid requirement estimates of the FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission and DPPC was over 150 000 tons. This was mainly due to the fact that DPPC considered beneficiaries to require assistance for a longer period of time than was deemed necessary by the FAO/WFP mission.

As of December 1998, 331 286 tons of food had been pledged by donors against the 1997 mission’s estimated relief requirement of 420 000 tons. Of these pledges, 285 588 tons had been delivered, including borrowings from the Emergency Food Security Reserve (EFSR) against undelivered but confirmed pledges. As in previous years, the slow rate of food aid deliveries to Ethiopia was offset by borrowings from the Emergency Food Security Reserve. The carry over of relief food stocks and pledges from 1997 into 1998 is estimated to be 69 883 tons. In addition to food aid deliveries against relief requirements, Ethiopia received in 1998 some 69 736 tons of food for regular food aid programmes (mainly food-for-work development projects).

The mission projected that total relief food distributions by DPPC and NGOs in Ethiopia during 1998 will amount to some 294 932 tons which is 70 percent of total 1998 relief food requirements as assessed by the December 1997 mission. This leaves combined carry over stocks and pledges for 1999 of 60 539 tons. Late arrival of relief shipments to Ethiopia and shortages of EFSR food stocks for relief agencies to borrow from contributed to the relatively low level of distribution.

Table 5: 1998 relief food aid balance (tonnes)

1. Total relief food availability in 1998 355 471
Carry over stocks and pledges from 1997 69 883
1998 delivered relief pledges 285 588
2. 1998 estimated distributions 294 932
3. Carry over stocks and pledges into 1999 60 539


With the exceptions of East Hararghe and South Wollo, the nutritional situation in most parts of the country remained stable during 1998. In East Hararghe too little and too late rains led to significant yield reductions over last year. During the second half of 1998 the most affected woredas experienced an out-migration due largely to food stress. In South Wollo a poor 1997 agricultural season, a reduced 1998 belg harvest and an outbreak of malaria led farmers to exhaust their usual coping strategies and resort to consumption of wild plants and sale of their future meher harvest on credit. In both East Hararghe and South Wollo relief food distributions reportedly were inadequate to respond to the needs.

6.4.2 Methodology for assessing 1999 relief food needs

A joint DPPC and WFP workshop with donor and NGO participation on estimation of relief food needs in Ethiopia was held in Addis Ababa in June 1998. The objective of the workshop was to clarify the needs estimation methodologies used by DPPC and WFP, to improve the accuracy of needs estimation and to enhance collaboration between DPPC and WFP in assessing relief food needs. Subsequently, WFP and DPPC agreed on a common methodology as well as joint data collection and analysis for the assessment of 1999 relief food requirements. This collaboration avoided duplication of field work and ensured that there were no major differences in the assessment of relief food aid requirements for 1999 between the FAO/WFP mission and DPPC.

The relief food needs assessment methodology that was used by the mission this year is largely qualitative. This is due to the fact that at national level quantitative data on household food security in Ethiopia is scarce, often incomparable between different areas and too unreliable for making accurate assumptions on woreda and zone food deficits and on peoples’ coping strategies.

In estimating the 1999 relief food aid requirements the mission attempted to collect the following information for each area that was assessed:

1. Unusual events that had a negative impact on household food security;

2. Number of people affected by the event;

3. Percentage of the population unable to cope with the effects of the event due to their lack of income, assets, support networks, labour opportunities or other coping strategies;

4. Duration of relief food assistance needed for those people who are unable to cope.

It is difficult to separate emergency food aid needs from chronic food insecurity in Ethiopia. Even in good harvest years it is estimated that over 40 percent of Ethiopia’s farm households are food insecure, i.e. they do not produce enough food and income to meet their households’ basic nutritional requirements. Nevertheless, the mission attempted to identify any unusual events, particularly during the main cereal growing season between June and November 1998, that seriously affected household food security. These events were mainly related to agricultural production. Woredas where such events were identified and the populations involved are referred to in this report as "affected". Food aid requirements attributable to "poverty" and deemed by the assessment teams to be unrelated to any clearly identifiable events seriously affecting food security were not considered in assessing the 1999 relief food requirements.

Data for assessing the number of people requiring food assistance and the quantity of relief food needed in 1999 was collected by 12 joint DPPC and WFP assessment teams in October/November 1998. Representatives of donors and NGOs participated in the teams. The assessment teams used standardized checklists and forms to collect information on selected food security variables. A one day training workshop took place in Addis Ababa for all team members prior to departing to the field. The assessment teams visited a total of 36 zones and four special woredas (a woreda that reports directly to the region) reviewing information on a total of about 450 cereal producing woredas.

In order to determine the number of people requiring relief food assistance and the duration of the assistance, the assessment teams focused on performance of the meher-season, livestock conditions, other income sources, household resources, market conditions and household coping strategies. An additional factor in determining the duration of assistance was also meher and belg seasonality. Assessment teams visited a sample of affected farmers’ associations for the purpose of making direct field observations to verify the events that had reportedly affected household food security. During field visits, the assessment teams held discussions with zonal and woreda officials, NGO staff and farmers.

The data collected by the 12 assessment teams was reviewed in Addis Ababa jointly by DPPC and WFP. A system of scoring each woreda within a zone by the severity that it was affected by events having a negative impact on food security was devised. The scoring was based on the magnitude and severity of the event causing increased food insecurity, the number of people affected, and their ability to cope with the effects of the event. The results of this scoring were then compared with the ranking of the woredas based solely on the food aid requirements in tons as assessed by the teams. Any major discrepancies between the rankings of any woreda based on the two scores were further investigated with the corresponding assessment team.

According to the Central Statistics Authority (CSA) of Ethiopia [ 1995/1996 household income, consumption and expenditure survey, CSA statistical bulletin no. 170, 1997] , on average, 78 percent of the calories consumed by the rural population in Ethiopia are derived from cereals, cereal products and pulses. The Government of Ethiopia has set the minimum acceptable weighted average food requirements per person at 2 100 kcal per day. Applying the CSA estimate that 78 percent of calories in the Ethiopian diet are derived from cereals, cereal products and pulses, these food items constitute 1 638 kcal of the average daily per caput food intake. The mission used 15 kg of cereals, providing 1 650 kcal per person per day, as a general guideline in estimating the monthly food aid requirements of an affected person. This is also the standard relief ration used by the Government of Ethiopia throughout the country. In order to arrive at a total annual relief requirement per person for 1999, 15 kg was multiplied by the number of months that assistance was deemed necessary. Total 1999 food aid needs requirements were then calculated by aggregating the estimated food deficits of affected people first by woreda and then by zone.

6.4.3 Relief Food Aid Requirements in 1999

The mission estimates that relief food needs for Ethiopia in 1999 amount to 181 871 tons for almost 1.9 million affected people for an average duration of six months. This estimate of relief food aid requirements for 1999 is only 43 percent of the requirements for 1998 but is close to the estimate made for the previous good harvest year of 1997. Then the FAO/WFP joint assessment estimated that 186 000 tons of relief food aid was needed for 1.9 million people, although DPPC later revised this figure upwards to 329 450 tons following several events that negatively affected food security. Of the total relief food aid needs for 1999, 35 percent are required for the Amhara region, 33 percent for the Oromia region and 20 percent for the Tigray region. The balance is required for the rural woredas of Jijiga and Harar towns and for the displaced in Addis Ababa, with a contingency of 5 percent which may be used in pastoral or other regions as needed.

Table 6: Relief food requirements and beneficiaries in Ethiopia in 1999 (excluding pastoral areas and people displaced by the Ethiopia/Eritrea border conflict)

Number of beneficiaries Beneficiaries
% of
Average duration
in months
Relief food
in tons
Tigray 373 030 12 7 36 932
West Tigray 22 010 3 7 2 186
Central Tigray 122 210 13 7 11 992
East Tigray 157 530 28 7 15 593
South Tigray 71 280 10 7 7 161
Amhara 750 230 5 6 63 354
North Gondar 76 340 4 3 3 658
South Gondar 59 430 3 5 4 690
North Wello 146 170 11 7 14 891
South Wello 224 600 10 6 20 214
North Shewa 111 200 7 6 9 973
Wag Hemra 66 980 23 5 5 149
Oromia 65 510 14 5 4 779
Oromia 583 950 3 7 59 560
West Wellega 10 430 1 6 938
East Wellega 860 0.1 6 78
North Shewa 2 770 0.2 4 153
East Shewa 16 340 1 8 1 923
Arsi 23 880 1 7 2 644
West Hararghe 97 450 7 5 6 961
East Hararghe 432 220 22 7 46 863
Jijiga 154 630 22 5 11 057
Harar 13 300 20 4 798
Sub-total 1 875 140

171 701
5% Contingency

8 585
Addis Ababa (Displaced) 17 615
6 1 585
Grand total 1 892 755 4 6 181 871
Carryover stocks and pledges from 1998

60 539
Net requirement

121 332

Note: Relief food needs have been aggregated from data calculated at sub-woreda level (altitude zones) but duration of assistance is based on zonal averages.

The relief food aid estimate of 181 871 tons for 1999 does not include relief food needs for Ethiopians displaced by the Ethiopia/Eritrea border conflict nor relief needs for pastoral areas. The Government of Ethiopia estimates that 67 652 tons of relief food aid is needed for almost 400 000 displaced people and for Ethiopians expelled from Eritrea. Due to the special circumstances of the internally displaced and pastoralists, assessment of their relief food needs was beyond the scope of this mission. Separate assessments of the relief food requirements for these case loads should therefore be undertaken as soon as possible.

Taking into consideration that carry over pledges and stocks of relief food aid from 1998 into 1999 amount to some 60 539 tons, the net relief food aid requirements for 1999 are estimated to be 121 332 tons. As in previous years, this estimate assumes a normal belg-harvest in 1999 as well as normal preparations for the next harvest. It is of course possible that unexpected events may occur, in which case relief food aid requirements have to be adjusted.

6.4.4 Events affecting food security in 1999

The relatively low relief food aid requirements for 1999 are due to the excellent meher harvest throughout most of the grain producing areas of Ethiopia. However, a variety of events, both weather-related and man-made have had a negative impact on the food security of the most vulnerable rural people. Weather-related events in the form of excessive rainfall, occurred in some areas of Tigray and Amhara, mostly in the northeast highlands, while East Hararghe, West Hararghe and Jijiga zones suffered from inadequate and erratic rainfall. Man-made events that have reduced food security include the loss of trade and labour opportunities due to border closures and trade embargoes. In East Tigray, where a significant percentage of the work force normally migrates to Eritrea for wage labour income, migrant workers and their families have been negatively impacted due to the border closure. Similar trade-related economic shocks have also occurred in the east of the country. For example, in Jijiga zone of Somali region livestock assets and income have severely eroded due to a livestock trade embargo by some Gulf states. Worsening livestock terms of trade in East and West Tigray are due to the on-going conflict with Eritrea and the subsequent closure of the border.

More localized events affecting food security during 1998 include pest and disease outbreaks, hailstorms, waterlogging, floods and landslides. These incidents were widespread throughout numerous regions of the country although their geographical extent and the population affected were often small. Malaria outbreaks have negatively affected peoples capacity to work in many of the heavy rainfall zones of Amhara, Tigray and Western Oromia.

Concerns have been expressed about the worsening food security situation in East Hararghe and South Wollo. Food aid distributions in both zones during 1998 were reported to be inadequate either in quantity or in timing. Relief food aid distributions were continuing in East Hararghe at the time of the mission whereas in South Wollo a relatively good harvest is expected to ease the situation on the short-term. Both zones will require high quantities of relief food aid in 1999.

East Hararghe is perhaps the worst affected zone, with all woredas requiring assistance for a duration varying from three to nine months. The woredas of Fedis, Babile, Gursum, Girawa and Gola Oda are among the most severely affected in the zone. The lowland areas within these woredas are generally expected to suffer the most, stemming from very low crop yields due to low and inadequate rainfall from mid August to early September. Jijiga zone of Somali region, neighboring East Hararghe in the East, has also experienced poor rainfall. Many of the zones in the north east of the country experienced too much rainfall, with heavy rains damaging crops, causing flooding, waterlogging and landslides. Eastern Tigray, normally a rainfall deficit area, is an example of this.

The relatively low number of people estimated to require relief food assistance in Ethiopia in 1999 conceals the fact that a much larger number suffer from chronic food insecurity. While this mission estimates that only some 4 percent of the rural population will require relief food aid in 1999, the number of people unable to meet their basic nutritional requirements even in relatively good harvest years is estimated to be over 40 percent, or some 26 million Ethiopians. These are structurally food deficit households characterized by small land holdings, low productivity of land, meager assets and limited access to inputs and technology. Their chronically poor nutrition and food security situation reduces their ability to cope with the effects of local weather-related and man-made events such as those described above. As a result, many require relief food assistance for survival even in times of good national food availability.

The detailed map is available in PDF format (341 Kb)


6.4.5 Early warning and vulnerability assessment

Several organizations in Ethiopia are involved in early warning and vulnerability assessment activities. These include the Early Warning Department of the DPPC, USAID/EU Famine Early Warning System, WFP’s Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping Unit, SCF (UK) and CARE. The Mission commends the efforts undertaken by the Government of Ethiopia, NGOs, WFP and donors in recent years to coordinate vulnerability assessment activities through an Early Warning Steering Committee and to develop common methodologies and systems of data collection and analysis. Although the field work of this assessment was undertaken in a relatively short period of three weeks, the WFP VAM unit, in close collaboration with the Early Warning Steering Committee, has been continuously collecting and analysing information from a number of sources on a variety of food security indicators which have been used to assess the relief food aid needs throughout the country. As a result, despite the limited duration of the joint DPPC and WFP field assessment, the assessment teams had access to substantial amounts of information relevant to their estimation of relief food aid needs.



This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.

Abdur Rashid
Telex 610181 FAO I
Fax: 0039-06-5705-4495
E-mail:[email protected]

Mohamed Zejjari
Regional Director, OSA, WFP
Telex: 626675 WFP 1
Fax: 0039-06-6513-2839
E-Mail: [email protected]

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