Africa: FAO Food Supply Report, 8/27/97

Africa: FAO Food Supply Report, 8/27/97

Africa: FAO Food Supply Report

Date distributed (ymd): 970827

Document reposted by APIC

This posting contains excerpts from a longer report, including individual data on 48 sub-Saharan African countries. It is available on the Web at FAOINFO/ECONOMIC/GIEWS/ENGLISH/EAF/eaf9708/httoc.htm [type previous two lines on one line]

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) Africa Report, August 1997


The food situation in Sierra Leone is deteriorating rapidly. The recent political upheaval and resulting widespread civil unrest have aggravated the already precarious food security situation in the country. There is a real possibility of famine. Insecurity is widespread, international aid workers have been evacuated and the rehabilitation projects started during the short-lived civilian administration have been put on hold. A large number of refugees have crossed into neighbouring countries, while repatriation of those outside the country prior to the upheaval has come to a halt. Food supplies in the main towns have dwindled and prices have skyrocketed. Planting and weeding of the main crops which normally take place from April to June have been seriously disrupted, while distribution of inputs has become exceedingly difficult. Thus, contrary to earlier hopes and optimism for recovery, prospects for food production in 1997 are very bleak and the country will continue to need large amounts of food aid to meet its consumption requirements.

Serious food supply difficulties persist in the Great Lakes region. In Burundi, a recent (June) FAO/WFP Mission estimated total food production in 1997 at one percent above 1996 and 4 percent below the 1988-93 pre-crisis average. Despite a relaxation of the embargo, food prices remain very high, ranging from one-third to 275 percent higher than a year ago. In neighbouring Rwanda, a similar Mission at the same time found that total food production in 1997 will be well below the pre-crisis level, despite the need to feed 1.6 million more people than a year ago. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the food and security situation of the remaining Rwandan refugees scattered in many places remains critical, with a high incidence of severe malnutrition.

Food supplies still tight in eastern Africa. The impact of the recent drought continues to be felt in this sub-region, but harvest prospects for the current season crops are generally favourable. In Kenya, the food supply situation remains tight with prices at high levels. In Uganda, prices of maize and beans have more than doubled over the past year. The situation is particularly difficult in the eastern part hit hardest by the drought and the northern part affected by civil strife. In Somalia, the recent drought worsened an already bad situation caused by previous poor harvests, input shortages and continuing civil strife. In Tanzania, the food situation in the drought-hit north and north-east is still difficult and prospects for the next harvest, about to start, appear to be yet unfavourable. In the southern unimodal rainfall areas of the country, cereal harvesting is nearing completion and production is projected at 18 percent below last year. An aggregate cereal import requirement of some 1 million tons for the whole country during the 1997/98 marketing year is provisionally forecast. Elsewhere in eastern Africa the main planting season has just began and the food supply situation is generally satisfactory, except in localized pockets.

Early growing conditions are favourable in western Africa. The rainy season is now well established in western Africa, planting is completed or in progress and crop growing conditions are normal so far. Following generally good harvests in 1996 the food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory until the next harvest in November/December.

Southern Africa's food supply situation remains stable. Harvesting of the main cereal crops is almost complete in most countries of the region. Total output is expected to be average, estimated at 17 million tons, but 12 percent below last year's bumper crop. With large opening stocks from the last harvest in several countries, the overall food supply situation is expected to be generally stable over the 1997/98 marketing year.

Sub-Saharan Africa's cereal import requirements in 1997 are expected to be lower than last year by some 21 percent, reflecting the generally satisfactory 1996 harvests in western Africa and parts of the Horn, and a relatively good harvest, now nearing completion, in southern Africa. However, the sub-region's food aid needs, though some 15 percent lower than last year, remain high, estimated at 2 million tons. Food aid pledges currently fully match the requirement but speedier deliveries are needed.


Despite a marked improvement in the security situation in the Great Lakes region, serious food supply difficulties persist, largely due to massive population movements in the recent past and continuing displacements.

In Rwanda, 1.6 million more people will need to be fed in the second half of 1997 than during the same period a year ago - an increase of 25 percent. Yet, overall food production in 1997 is estimated at 18 percent below the 1990 level. Access to food has become exceedingly difficult for those relying on market purchases as prices have soared. Thus, substantial food assistance continues to be required. However, this assistance will need to be carefully targeted to avoid an oversupply which could discourage food production later.

In Burundi, aggregate food production in 1997 is estimated to be 4 percent lower than the pre-crisis average, despite an improved input supply situation and somewhat better security recently. A significant proportion of the population in the conflict areas have not been able to cultivate their land in past seasons and are therefore highly food insecure, with high rates of severe malnutrition reported among them. Substantial emergency food assistance therefore continues to be needed.

The food situation remains critical in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Severe malnutrition is reported among the remaining Rwandan refugees and the security situation is still tense. Humanitarian sources estimate the number of remaining refugees whose location is known at around 24 000, in addition to about 190 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). ...


The impact of the drought that affected most of eastern Africa during the last (short rains) season is still being felt in all the affected countries.

In Kenya, the overall food supply situation remains tight with sharply increased food prices. Food aid distribution continues in pastoral and agriculturally marginal areas which were the most affected by the drought. However, prospects for the 1997 main "long rains" cereal crop, to be harvested from October in the main growing areas, are favourable due to generally adequate rainfall, despite the late start of the season and dry weather in May. ... Overall, early indications point to a maize output above last year's below-normal crop, but lower than the bumper crop of 1994.

In Uganda, following the below-average 1997 first season harvests in several areas of the country, the food supply situation has tightened. Prices of beans and maize have more than doubled their level of a year ago. The situation is particularly difficult in the eastern and north-eastern districts, which were affected by drought and floods and in the northern districts where insecurity is hampering food production as well as food aid distribution. The latest assessment estimates the number of persons affected by drought/floods in need of food assistance at 612 000. In addition, food aid is needed for about 150 000 internally displaced persons in the north and 268 945 refugees.

Prospects for the 1997 second season food crops are generally favourable following good rains in April and May. However in eastern and southern parts, where planting was delayed by one month due to the late start of the rains, and where precipitation was below average in May, significant yield reductions are anticipated. In the northern districts affected by continuous civil strife, production is anticipated to be reduced for the second consecutive season, reflecting reductions in the area planted due to population movements.

In Ethiopia, the food situation has been generally satisfactory in most areas, mainly due to the record main harvest at the end of last year. However, there are several areas, particularly in the pastoral south and south-east, where the food supply situation became critical, following the drought-reduced short season crops and deterioration of pasture and livestock conditions. In some of these areas, crops from the short rains season account for a high proportion of household annual food production. The deterioration of the food supply situation has been particularly serious in several areas of the Somali Region and the southern part of Oromia Region bordering Somalia and Kenya.

In Eritrea, where the 1996 cereal harvest was poor, the food supply situation remains fragile, although food prices are stable reflecting the inflow of supplies across the border from Ethiopia. Food aid continues to be needed, however, and the requirement for the current marketing year is estimated at 289 000 tons.

In Somalia, the food situation has deteriorated rapidly following the drought, coupled with the continuing civil strife. The main "Gu" crop harvested last September was also poor, and thus the aggregate 1996/97 cereal production is estimated at about one-half of the pre-civil crisis level. The difficult food supply situation is reflected in very high grain prices and increased selling of livestock. However, prospects for the 1997 Gu crop are favourable, reflecting good rains since late March, although plantings and crop yields were constrained by seed shortages, high input prices and continuing civil strife.

In Sudan, the overall food supply situation is generally satisfactory, reflecting the good cereal harvest last December, and the above-average wheat crop harvested recently. However, localized food shortages are being experienced in many areas, notably in Darfur and Kordofan, the Red Sea State and the south, with an aggregate food deficit estimated at around 600 000 tons. Although some of the deficit is expected to be met through normal internal trade, a large number of people will be unable to acquire adequate supplies to meet their consumption needs because of limited purchasing power. Emergency food assistance to cover the needs of vulnerable groups in 1997 is estimated at 74 000 tons of cereals, including 39 000 tons for an estimated 2.6 million displaced and war-affected people under Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS).

In Tanzania, the food supply situation is still tight in the drought-affected bimodal rainfall areas of the north and north-east and the coast. These same areas appear to be headed for yet another poor harvest during the current season due to erratic rainfall. Harvesting of the main season crop in the unimodal rainfall areas in the centre and south is in progress, but production is forecast to be below normal due to irregular rains in parts. Overall, the 1996/97 cereal production is forecast to decline by some 18 percent over past year. At this forecast level, a deficit of some 1 million tons is anticipated during the 1997/98 marketing year.


The rainy season is now well established in western Africa. So far, rains have been generally regular and widespread over most producing areas of the Sahel, except in the west. They started in late March/early April in Burkina Faso, becoming abundant and widespread in late May and early June. In Chad, Mali and Niger, the rainy season started in April in the southern parts, progressing northwards into the sahelian zone in May and June. The first significant rains reached the eastern part of Guinea-Bissau and south-eastern Senegal in early May and eastern Gambia in late May, becoming widespread thereafter, and reaching southern Mauritania in early June. In early July, widespread rains have been received in the main producing areas of Mali and Niger, although they were less than in late June. Also, rainfall in early July was quite abundant over Chad and south-western Mali, but much less in central and northern Senegal and northern Burkina Faso. In mid-July, precipitation was abundant over Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad, but decreased significantly in the western part of the Sahel, notably in Senegal and the Gambia.


Harvesting of the 1997 coarse grain crop is almost complete in most areas of southern Africa. Aggregate output is about average, estimated at 17 million tons, but 12 percent below last year's bumper crop. Rainfall in 1997 has been irregular, adversely affecting yields. Moreover, unusually cold weather in June delayed harvesting in some areas.

Cereal production in Angola is estimated to be 14 percent lower than in 1996, due to below normal rainfall. In contrast, harvest is expected to be above average in Mozambique and Namibia, due to favourable weather, increased plantings and higher yields. In Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, output is anticipated to be lower than last year's bumper harvest as irregular rainfall reduced yields. The maize crop in South Africa is expected to be about 8.5 million tons, well below the 10 million tons in 1996. In Madagascar, the 1997 paddy crop is forecast to be slightly above last year's level, but an outbreaks of locusts in southern parts may adversely affect output in those areas. Prospects for the sub-region's 1997 wheat crop are favourable, as abundant water is available in dams following a good rainy season.

Reflecting the 1997 average harvest, the sub-region's overall food supply situation during the 1997/98 marketing year is expected to be generally stable but much less favourable than in the previous year. However, the availability of large opening stocks in several countries will reduce the need for large imports of cereals. Commercial imports are expected to meet a large part of the food needs but in several countries, particularly Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar and Mozambique, food assistance, including emergency food aid, will be required for vulnerable people.

************************************************************ From: Message-Id: <> Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 22:03:01 -0500 Subject: Africa: FAO Food Supply Report

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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