Angola + 24 more

Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa No. 1

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More food aid needed for some sub-Saharan African countries
But in southern Africa, overall harvest prospects have improved since last year

Rome , 7 May 2003 -- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a report released today called for more food aid pledges and accelerated emergency food deliveries in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Mauritania to avert possible famines. Calling overall harvest prospects in southern Africa "generally favourable" with the exceptions of Zimbabwe, parts of Swaziland and southern Mozambique, the report warned that food and crop prospects in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa remain unfavourable with 25 countries facing food emergencies.* That number remains unchanged since FAO issued its last report on the region in December 2002.

Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa reports that the food supply situation in several countries of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Zimbabwe, remains grim mainly due to severe droughts in previous agricultural seasons. The report also calls for "specific measures," such as feeding and watering points and easier access to markets, to provide relief to the livestock sector. The escalation and/or continuing conflict in a number of countries, including Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Liberia, has aggravated food insecurity by disrupting agricultural activities. There has been widespread destruction of assets, looting and population displacement in the Central African Republic, which suggests reduced food production for this year. In the Republic of Congo, a resurgence of fighting in the areas surrounding the capital of Brazzaville has displaced at least 84 000 people. An Ebola outbreak in the Cuvette region has further aggravated the humanitarian situation.

For the many countries affected by conflict and adverse weather, including Angola, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the report calls for agricultural rehabilitation assistance that provides such things as seeds, hand-tools and fertilizer to help farmers resume agricultural production. In southern Africa, the report says that farmers need help in marketing any available surplus under favourable conditions, and in preparing for next cropping season.

The report indicates that cereal import requirements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2003 are expected to remain high, reflecting mainly the effects of last year's droughts in southern, eastern and western Africa. FAO puts the total food aid requirement at 4.6 million tonnes, against the 2 million tonnes it estimated in 2001/02. Cereal food aid pledges for 2002/03, including those carried over from 2001/02, amount to 2.1 million tonnes of which 1.7 million tonnes have so far been delivered.

Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa is based on information collected by FAO from various sources in the field, including UN agency staff, governments, non-governmental organizations and representatives of the Southern African Development Conference (SADC) and the Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de lutte contre la sécheresse au Sahel (CILSS). Additional and more detailed information will be available once ongoing joint FAO/World Food Programme Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions to Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are completed.

*The 25 countries facing food emergencies are:

Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION AND CROP PROSPECTS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

INTRODUCTION

This is the first of the three 2003 issues of this report prepared by the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) on the food supply situation, cereal import and food aid requirements for all countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The report is designed to provide the latest analysis and information on the food situation in these countries to governments, international organizations and other institutions engaged in humanitarian operations.

Starting with this issue the report, particularly in Part I, attempts to consolidate and streamline information previously contained in different sections.

In this introductory part, countries in the sub-region facing serious food shortages are listed with principal causes of food insecurity. This is followed by the Highlights of the report. Part I provides a country-by-country review of the food supply situation by sub-region, as well as current crop prospects. The accompanying tables (Tables 2-7) have been streamlined and clarified, to provide data on production, cereal import requirements and food aid needs. The information on food aid pledges, triangular transactions and local purchases is based on data transmitted to GIEWS as of late April 2003 by the World Food Programme.

Part II, renamed "Cereal Supply/Demand Situation in Individual Countries" provides country cereal balance sheets (CCBS), highlighting cereal import and food aid requirements of individual countries, as well as other important data.

HIGHLIGHTS

Eastern Africa

More food aid pledges and accelerated deliveries are urgently needed in Eritrea and Ethiopia to avert a worsening of the food situation.

In Tanzania, drier than normal conditions in most areas threaten the country's food security.

In northern Somalia (Somaliland and Puntland) serious water and pasture shortages are reported.

Over the whole sub-region, the onset of the 2003 first rainy season has been late by more than three weeks over key agricultural areas.

Western Africa

Serious food shortages have emerged in several countries of the sub-region mainly due to drought and civil strife, and emergency food assistance is needed for large numbers of people. Emergency provision of agricultural inputs is also needed to enable affected farmers to resume agricultural production.

In the west of the Sahel, drought-reduced cereal harvests in 2002 in Cape Verde, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal have led to serious food shortages for an estimated 600 000 people.

In Mauritania, the worst-hit country following three consecutive years of drought an estimated 420 000 people need emergency food assistance.

In Côte d'Ivoire, at least one million people have been internally displaced by the on-going civil war while another 200 000, mostly migrant workers, have returned to their countries of origin.

In Liberia, thousands of people have crossed into Sierra Leone and Guinea due to a resurgence of civil strife.

Central Africa

In Central African Republic and Republic of Congo, civil strife has displaced thousands of people but humanitarian assistance is hampered by insecurity.

The escalation of the civil conflict in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past month has disrupted agricultural production and hampered distribution of food aid to large numbers of vulnerable people.

In Burundi, late and insufficient rains since the beginning of the 2003 second season have adversely affected harvest prospects.

Southern Africa

While overall harvest prospects in the sub-region are generally better than last year, another poor harvest is anticipated in Zimbabwe, as well as in southern Mozambique and parts of Swaziland.

Prices of maize, the main staple, have started to decline in several countries of the sub-region.

Increased food aid distributions since the beginning of the year have improved the food supply situation in the sub-region.

Joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions are currently underway in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and one is planned for Angola in mid May.

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