FAO/GIEWS: Africa Report No.2, August 2001 5

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The harvesting of the 2000/01 coarse grain crops is virtually complete in southern Africa. In several countries of eastern Africa, the main season crops are either being harvested or are in the ground, however, the planting season of the main cereal crops has started in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. Coarse grain crops are maturing in parts of the coastal countries of western Africa and are at flowering or grain formation stages in parts of central Africa. In the Sahelian countries of western Africa main season cereal crops have just been planted.

Cereal Crop Calendar

Cereal Crops
Eastern Africa 1/
Southern Africa
Western Africa
- Coastal areas (first season)
- Sahel zone
Central Africa 1/

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 outlook for the 2001 foodcrops is mixed. In Somalia, prospects for the main Gu cereal crops are poor reflecting erratic rains; production of sorghum is forecast to be less than half of the post-war average and just one-third of last year's good crop. In Sudan, early prospects for the 2001 main season cereal crops now being planted are unfavourable due to delayed rains. In southern parts, where crops are nearing maturity, the outlook is not promising due to an escalation of the civil conflict which has displaced large numbers of farmers, coupled with insufficient rains. In Eritrea, the outlook for the 2001 main season cereal and pulse crops is also unfavourable, reflecting failure of the spring (short) rains from March to May that are necessary for early land preparation and regeneration of pastures. Furthermore, in the main producing regions of Gash Barka and Debub, only a fraction of the war displaced farming population have returned to their villages so far and large tracts of land are still inaccessible due to landmines. In Kenya, prospects for the 2001 main season cereal crops are uncertain. Abundant precipitation in April was followed by drier than normal May and June, affecting growing crops. However, crop conditions remain favourable in the key producing areas of the Rift Valley, Western and parts of Nyanza and Central Provinces. But parts of Eastern, most of Coast and lowland areas of Central Provinces have seen deteriorating crop conditions, particularly for the maize crop that has exhibited severe moisture stress. Initial forecasts for the maize crop of about 2.34 million tonnes may now be difficult to achieve. In Ethiopia, the secondary Belg crop, being harvested, is favourable reflecting generally adequate rains. Early prospects for the 2001 main season "meher" crops are generally favourable but largely depend on favourable weather conditions until harvest in November/December. Elsewhere, the outlook is generally encouraging in Uganda and Tanzania with adequate rainfall received so far.

In Rwanda and Burundi, the overall food availabilities have improved with increased foodcrop production in 2001. However, severe food difficulties remain for large sections of the population.

The aggregate cereal import requirement of the sub-region in marketing year 2000/01 is estimated at 5.7 million tonnes. Commercial imports are estimated at 3.9 million tonnes and the food aid requirements at some 1.8 million tonnes. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of mid-July amount to 0.9 million tonnes, however, only 500 000 tonnes have been delivered so far.

In southern Africa, harvesting of the coarse grains and planting of the wheat crop are almost complete. The aggregate 2001 coarse grain production of the sub-region is estimated to be sharply reduced reflecting a decline in the area planted, coupled with reduced yields due to a mid-season dry spell and excessive rains. Including a forecast for the wheat crop, which has just been planted, latest forecasts indicate aggregate 2001 cereal production of 18.7 million tonnes, against 24.3 million tonnes last year. Maize, the main staple, is estimated over one-quarter down on last year. In South Africa, maize production is forecast at 7.2 million tonnes, one-third lower than in 2000. Despite large carryover stocks, the country's exportable surplus for marketing year 2001/02 is not expected to cover import requirements in the sub-region. FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions to Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho in May have confirmed earlier unfavourable production forecasts. In Zimbabwe, maize output is estimated over one-quarter below the level of last year as a result of both lower plantings and yields. The overall food supply situation is expected to be very tight as the country faces severe shortages of foreign exchange, which constrain commercial imports. At household level, food difficulties are anticipated in southern and eastern parts, where the cereal harvest was sharply reduced. In Lesotho, cereal production is forecast at 80 000 tonnes, about 55 percent below last year and 60 percent below the last five years average. As a result, cereal import requirement for 2001/02 (April/March) is estimated substantially higher than average. In Swaziland, cereal production is forecast at 74 000 tonnes, around last year's level but 66 percent of the last five years average. Import requirements have doubled from last year and the food supply position is anticipated to be tight. Sharply reduced coarse grain crops were also gathered in Zambia, Namibia and Botswana where production was affected by adverse weather. In Malawi, maize output is estimated close to 1.9 million tonnes, 24 percent below the bumper level of the previous year. However, the country will remain self-sufficient in maize. By contrast, in Angola a recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission estimated the 2001 cereal production significantly above last year due to improved IDPs' access to land, increased agricultural input distribution and generally favourable weather. However, over 1.3 million internally displaced people are in need of emergency food aid. In Mozambique, the maize crop is officially estimated 12 percent higher than last year, at 1.14 million tonnes, due to larger plantings and overall favourable weather, despite excessive rains in northern and central parts and drought in southern provinces.

The cereal import requirement of the sub-region in marketing year 2001/02 is estimated at 4.07 million tonnes, a substantial increase from the previous year. Commercial imports are forecast at 3.68 million tonnes and the food aid requirement at 389 000 tonnes. Food aid pledges reported to GIEWS as of mid-July amount to some 163 000 tonnes, leaving an uncovered requirement of 216 000 tonnes.

In western Africa, rains started in March or April in the south of the countries along the Gulf of Guinea, allowing planting of the first maize crop. Precipitation was generally adequate in May but decreased in early June and was well below average during the second dekad of June, picking up again in the third dekad. Agricultural activities have been disrupted by civil conflicts in border areas of Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as in Lofa county in Liberia. The 2000 aggregate cereal output for the eight coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo) is estimated at around 27.1 million tonnes compared to 26.2 million tonnes in 1999. Liberia and Sierra Leone remain heavily dependent on international food assistance despite some improvement in food production.

In the Sahel, the growing season is now well established, except in Chad. Plantings have been undertaken satisfactorily as seed availability was generally adequate, except in some areas of Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger affected by poor crops in 2000. Growing conditions are generally favourable so far. Rains started in early April in the extreme south of Chad, in mid-April in southern Burkina Faso and Mali, in May in Niger, in early June in Guinea Bissau, the south-east of Senegal and the east of The Gambia and in late June in southern Mauritania. In late June, rains covered the whole of Senegal and The Gambia. Rains are expected shortly in Cape Verde. This corresponds to the normal pattern in the Sahel, except for Niger where the onset was somewhat earlier than usual. In early July, above-normal rains were received in Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, southern Mauritania, western Mali and most parts of Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal. Precipitation was less abundant in central and southern Mali and below normal in central Chad.

Crops are generally performing satisfactorily in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal. Erratic rains in Chad are likely to cause water stress to recently planted coarse grains or necessitate replantings. Pastures are starting to regenerate and the pest situation is mostly calm.

In the countries along the Gulf of Guinea, the food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory through the 2001 marketing year, except in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where production and marketing activities have been affected by current or past civil strife. In the Sahel, the food supply situation is expected to be stable until the next harvest from October, except in several areas of Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger which gathered poor crops. As a result, cereal prices increased significantly in those areas, but due to substantial cereal distributions or sales at subsidised prices by the governments or donors, cereal prices have stabilized or even slightly decreased in May/June in Burkina Faso and Niger. In Chad, food assistance remains well below requirements and the food supply situation is deteriorating. Food needs assessment missions to the affected areas organized by CILSS, with participation of FEWS-NET, USAID-OFDA, WFP and FAO, are planned for late July in Chad and Mauritania and in August in Burkina Faso and Niger.

The aggregate cereal import requirement of the western Africa sub-region in the 2000/01 or 2001 marketing year is estimated at 7.1 million tonnes. Commercial imports are estimated at 6.7 million tonnes and food aid requirement at 400 000 tonnes, mainly wheat and rice.


The Desert Locust situation remains calm. Ecological conditions have become favourable in parts of the Sahel in West Africa from south-eastern Mauritania to Tamesna, Niger. The rains that fell during June are thought to be sufficient for conditions to be favourable for breeding in most of these areas. As locust numbers are extremely low, it will take several generations before they build up to significant levels. This will depend on the continuation of rains during the summer in the breeding areas.

Good rains also fell in the summer breeding areas of Sudan where conditions are becoming favourable and small scale breeding is expected. In northern Somalia, breeding conditions remained favourable.

In central Africa, crops are generally developing satisfactorily in Central African Republic and Cameroon. In the Republic of Congo, food production is recovering following the peace agreement, but food assistance is necessary for refugees and internally displaced persons. For the 2001 marketing year, the cereal import requirement for the seven countries of the sub-region is estimated at 826 000 tonnes, with commercial imports anticipated at 809 000 tonnes and food aid requirement at 17 000 tonnes. Food aid pledges and deliveries reported to GIEWS as of mid-July amounted to 17 000 tonnes.

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

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

2000/01 or 2001
Food aid
Eastern Africa 20 083 5 738 3 926 1 812
Southern Africa 24 305 4 419 3 950 469
Western Africa 36 048 7 113 6 709 404
Central Africa 2 858 826 809 17
TOTAL 83 294 18 096 15 394 2 702

FAO/GIEWS - August 2001

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