ETHIOPIA: Near-record crops forecast 1998.12.30

ETHIOPIA: Near-record crops forecast 1998.12.30


NEWS RELEASE 29 December 1998


Addis Ababa - A joint report produced by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme predicts near-record crop yields in Ethiopia this year. But despite the expected excellent harvest, some 2 million people will still require 180,000 tonnes of food aid in 1999.

The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Agreement Mission to Ethiopia noted that cereal and pulse yields were forecasted to reach 11.69 million tonnes. That's up 36 percent from last year's poor harvest, but slightly less than the record crops of 1996.

WFP and FAO officials attributed the better crop yields to a favourable rainy season, increased use of fertilisers, improved seeds and few occurrences of crop diseases or pests. However, in some parts of the country, excessive rains cut short the planting season, flooded fields, damaged the barley and pulse crops and increased week infestation.

Ethiopia will have surplus crops available for export, but assuming that the Eritrean border remains tightly closed, this traditional outlet for surplus Ethiopian grain will not be available. Exports to neighbouring Sudan are also highly unlikely because of record harvests in that country. However, grain could be exported to Somalia, which suffered an estimated 125,000 tonnes deficit this year.

Even with improved yields, food insecurity has remained chronic in many parts of Ethiopia because of limited availability and access to food. In regions where food is scarce, incomes are extremely low. About half the population of Ethiopia lives below the poverty line.

The report noted that 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 the FAO/WFP mission estimated that only some 4 percent of the rural population will require food aid in 1999, approximately 26 million Ethiopians, or more than 40 percent of the farming population, do not produce enough food and income to meet their families' basic nutritional requirements.

The FAO/WFP mission said that total relief food distributions by the Ethiopian Government and NGOs will reach 294,932 tonnes of food this year. The report estimated a sharp drop in the food aid needs for Ethiopia in 1999, amounting to 181,871 tonnes for almost 1.9 million people for an average duration of six months. Of that total, 35 percent is required for the Amhara region, 33 percent for the Oromia region and 20 percent for the Tigray region. The report recommends that donors buy locally grown crops for food aid needs as much as possible to help bolster the market for local producers.

The FAO/WFP estimate does not include relief food needs for pastoral areas nor Ethiopians displaced by the border conflict with Eritrea. The Government has said that relief food is needed for almost 400,000 displaced people and Ethiopians expelled from Eritrea.


For additional information or to receive a copy of the report, contact:

Angela Walker Public Information Officer WFP Ethiopia Tel. (251-1) 515188 ext. 207 Fax: (251-1) 511241

Brenda Barton Public Information Officer WFP Kenya Tel. (254-2) 622312 Fax: (254-2) 622794

John Riddle Information Officer FAO Tel. (39-06) 5705-3269 Fax (39-06) 5705-3699

Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 10:02:39 +0300 From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: ETHIOPIA: Near-record crops forecast 1998.12.30

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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