FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.3, December 2000 5

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The 2000/01 cereal crops have been planted or are being planted in southern Africa. Main season crops in eastern Africa have been harvested or are being harvested although the wheat crop in Sudan will be harvested from March 2001. Secondary (short rains) crops are in the ground in several countries in eastern Africa. Harvesting of the main crop is largely complete in western Africa. The 2001 main season crops will not be planted until March in the coastal countries 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 the Democratic Republic of Congo 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, the main season cereal harvests have either been completed or are underway and the secondary season crops to be harvested in the coming months are developing under mixed conditions. The region's aggregate cereal and pulse production in 2000/01 is not anticipated to recover much from the 1999/2000 drought affected level. In Kenya, prospects for the 2000/01 "short rains" cereal crops in the bi-modal areas of the Western, Central and Eastern provinces, for harvest in February/March, are uncertain despite some recent good rains. The main season harvests, which normally accounts for 80 percent of total annual food production, have largely failed due to a severe drought. In Ethiopia, following the failure of the secondary "Belg" season crops due to drought, late but abundant rains in major cereal producing areas have raised hopes for increased yields of the 2000 main "Meher" season cereal crops. However, crop failures were reported in parts of eastern and southern Ethiopia due to erratic and insufficient rains. In Eritrea, despite improved rains in the major cereal producing regions of Gash Barka and Debub, prospects for 2000 main season cereal and pulse crops for harvest from November are bleak, due mainly to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of farmers by war with neighbouring Ethiopia. In Somalia, the 2000 main season cereal output, estimated at 212 000 tonnes, is about 22 percent above the post-war (1993-1999) average due to good rains and improved security. In Sudan, prolonged dry spells have seriously undermined the 2000 main cereal production. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which has just returned from the country is currently finalizing its assessment. An earlier FAO/WFP Mission to southern Sudan estimated a deficit in cereal production, particularly in North Bahr el Ghazal, Bahr el Jebel, East Equatoria, Jonglei and Juba. In Tanzania, following drought in several parts during the "short rains" season earlier in the year and erratic and poorly distributed rains during the "long rains" season, the 2000 cereal crop is estimated at 3.2 million tonnes, about 20 percent below the previous five years average. In Uganda, prospects for the 2000 second season food crops, to be harvested from next January, have improved with recent good rains. In Rwanda and Burundi, abundant rains in the past months, which followed prolonged dry weather, improved prospects for the 2001 first season cereal and pulses to be harvested from January.

The aggregate cereal import requirement of the sub-region in marketing year 2000/01 is expected to increase substantially. In the four countries that have entered their new marketing year, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania, import requirements for 2000/01 are estimated at 4.2 million tonnes, of which food aid requirements are estimated at 1.2 million tonnes.

In southern Africa, planting of the 2001 coarse grain crop is almost completed. Average to above average rains from the second half of October improved soil moisture for field operations and benefited early-planted crops. Overall, growing conditions are favourable so far. However, the aggregate area planted may decline this year. Anticipated planting reductions in South Africa, in response to low prices, and in Zimbabwe, following the planned resettlement of commercial farmers, are unlikely to be compensated by increases in other countries.

The sub-region's 2000 aggregate cereal production is provisionally estimated close to 23 million tonnes, 19 percent higher than the previous year. The good crop reflects abundant rains during the growing season, in spite of severe floods and crop losses in parts. Outputs increased substantially in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana. In Malawi, production of coarse grains remained at the same record level of last year. However, lower harvests were obtained in Mozambique, Madagascar, Angola, Swaziland and Lesotho. The aggregate cereal import requirement for marketing year 2000/01 (May/April) is estimated at 4.2 million tonnes. With commercial imports anticipated at 3.7 million tonnes, food aid requirements amount to 0.5 million tonnes.

In western Africa, a series of joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions were fielded in October to the nine CILSS member countries to review the outcome of the 2000 cropping season, including an assessment of the preliminary cereal production estimates made by the national agricultural statistical services. The 2000 aggregate cereal production of the nine CILSS member countries has been estimated by these missions at 9 million tonnes, 16 percent below 1999 record level and 2 percent below the average of the last five years. Below average figures are anticipated in Burkina Faso and Chad. Near average production is expected in Mali, Mauritania and Niger, and above average outputs are foreseen in Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and Senegal. A record figure has been reached in The Gambia. These estimates should be viewed as preliminary, as the national surveys were generally carried out before the end of the harvest and include forecasts for recession and off-season crops yet to be planted. The estimates may, therefore, be revised in the coming months, but it is unlikely that there will be a significant change in the overall picture which indicates average to above-average production in the main producing countries.

Following two successive good harvests in 1998 and 1999, farmers were able to replenish their grain stocks. The replenishment of the national grain reserves in 2000 has also been facilitated by low cereal prices on local markets, except in Chad where it remains at a very low level. Therefore, localized deficits following poor harvests can be covered by stocks or by transfers from surplus areas. However, populations may be at risk of food shortages and require external assistance in some areas of Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger. This is notably the case in the Sahelian zone of Chad where prices increased significantly. The most affected areas are Biltine, eastern Batha and Kanem provinces as well as northern Ouaddaï, northern Guéra, north-eastern Chari-Baguirmi and Lac provinces. Some rice producing zones in the Sudanian zone are also vulnerable. Early southwards movements of herds due to drying pastures in the north may cause problems with farmers who have not yet harvested their crops. Opportunities for releases from the national security stock are limited as it currently stands at the very low level of 1 350 tonnes (although an additional 1 600 tonnes are to be purchased soon). In Niger, the most affected areas are in Tillabery, Tahoua and Diffa departments, while in Burkina Faso, they are mainly in the centre and the east. In Mauritania, the "sesamia" pest is threatening recession crops. The aggregate cereal import requirement in the 2000/01 marketing year (November/October) of the nine Sahelian countries is estimated at about 2 million tonnes.

In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, 2000 cereal production estimates are not yet available, except for Benin where a record crop is anticipated. Harvest prospects are generally good in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo but less favourable in Guinea where rebel attacks from Sierra Leone in October affected activities in the fields in border areas. Rice production should increase in Liberia while it will decrease in Sierra Leone following civil disturbances in May, at the planting period, and again in October. Following the generally satisfactory harvests anticipated, the food supply situation is expected to remain stable in the region during the 2001 marketing year, with the exception of Liberia and Sierra Leone which will remain heavily dependent on international food assistance.

For the coastal countries, which have a January/December marketing year, the aggregate 2000 cereal import requirement was estimated at 4 million tonnes. Commercial imports were estimated at 3.7 million tonnes, while food aid needs were estimated at 320 000 tonnes, more than half for Sierra Leone. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of early December 2000 amount to 232 000 tonnes.


An outbreak of Desert Locusts began in October and continued during November in central and western Mauritania. Small swarms started to form and breeding was detected. Hopper groups and bands were reported in northern Brakna, eastern Trarza, south-western Adrar and in Inchiri. Ground control operations treated over 10,000 hectares in November. Current infestations may extend into areas of recent rainfall in Inchiri and into adjacent areas of southern Morocco. There is a strong possibility that some adults have already moved into the extreme north of Mauritania and started to lay in areas that have received rainfall. In northern Mali, few locusts remain, suggesting that the adult groups and swarms reported since early September may have migrated into northern Mauritania or southern Algeria where they dispersed. Scattered adults were also present in north-western Niger, in green wadis of south-western and south-eastern Aïr, in eastern Sudan and in northern Somalia.

In central Africa, crop prospects are generally favourable in Central African Republic and Cameroon. Agriculture is recovering in the Republic of Congo following civil disturbances in 1998 and 1999. Civil strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo has hampered agricultural and marketing activities.

For the countries of the sub-region which have a January/December marketing year, the 2000 cereal import requirement is estimated at 800 000 tonnes. The food aid requirement, estimated at 30 000 tonnes, is fully covered.

The table below summarises sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import and food aid requirements by sub-region.

Sub-Region 1999 Production 1999/2000 or 2000
Cereal import requirements Anticipated commercial imports Food aid Requirements  
Eastern Africa 19 627 5 398 3 349 2 049
Southern Africa 19 287 4 919 4 597 322
Western Africa 38 520 5 874 5 407 467
Central Africa 2 952 800 770 30
TOTAL 80 386 16 991 14 123 2 868

FAO/GIEWS - December 2000

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