Burkina Faso + 4 more

West Africa: Good grain harvests expected

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ABIDJAN, 19 November (IRIN) - Good harvests are expected in most Sahelian countries, the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) said in its latest report. Continued well-spaced rainfall has helped bring crops to maturity and provide pasture for animals in the region, it said.
A notable exception, however, is Mauritania, where rain-fed crop production is likely to be 14 percent less than in 2000-2001 due to an increase in short dry spells, while irrigated crop production is also down, the report said. Generally, national cereal output is expected to drop by about nine percent, but the decline could be worse as a result of grasshoppers and caterpillars.

The forecast for Burkina Faso is no less than 2.6 million mt of cereals, according to that country's Ministry of Agriculture. "Such a harvest would make a great difference in terms of food security - availability as well as access - since last year the overall national cereal production hardly exceeded 1.8 million mt," FEWS NET said.

In Mali, apart from localised pockets of drought which could affect crop yields, prospects for the 2001/2002 crop year are generally good. However, monitoring efforts will need to be stepped up to guard against pests such as grain-eating birds, "which are rapidly multiplying across a large part of the Niger River flood plain area," the report said.

In Niger, which had to appeal to donors for food aid after a disastrous 2000-2001 harvest, rainfall was generally plentiful and well distributed, especially in July. As a result, this season's harvest is expected to be good. Accumulated forage reserves will be sufficient to meet livestock needs until June 2002, FEWS NET reported.

The situation in Chad is generally good except in areas hit by flooding such as the northern region of Borkou. Conditions in another northern region, Kanem, remain "rather precarious" following an influx of people expelled from Libya, and some 5,000 families displaced from the Tibesti mountains, where armed rebels are operating.

[ENDS]

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