The overall picture emerging from this assessment unmistakably reflects a deepening crisis in poverty and food insecurity. The potential for change in 2004, for better or for worse, will be great, so that regular monitoring of people's access to agricultural inputs and markets, as well as their health/nutritional status, will be critical.
Compared to the five-year average before the current crisis, food crop production in Côte d'Ivoire will register a substantial decline for 2003, ranging from 6 -- 9 percent for plantains and tubers, 15 percent for rice, 16 percent for maize, 23 percent for sorghum and 27 percent for millet.
Major cash crops present a similar pattern, and exports of cocoa beans, coffee and cotton are forecast to drop by 14 percent, 29 percent and 25 percent respectively, compared to 2002.
Conflict-related problems, notably population displacement, labour scarcity, excessive transport costs and insecurity and concomitant market fragmentation in commodity trading, are among the major causes of this agricultural decline.
Cereal import requirements for 2004 are estimated at 1.4 million tonnes, of which about 1.2 million tonnes would be obtained on commercial terms leaving about 184 000 tonnes to be met through external assistance. As currently known food aid pledges amount to about 50 000 tonnes of cereals, the remaining gap -134 400 tonnes - needs to be closely monitored by the Government and international community for additional food imports. It should be noted that comprehensive and reliable data is not available for the entire country, as a result of the crisis, and as such the gap will need to be periodically updated as and when information becomes available.
The farming communities the mission met in the war-affected areas are in urgent need of rice and maize seeds and basic agricultural implements, including animal traction where applicable.
Lasting solutions to land tenure and migrant worker issues must be found in order for agriculture in Côte d'Ivoire to thrive anew.
In response to a request from the Government of Côte d'Ivoire, FAO and WFP undertook a Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CSFAM) to Côte d'Ivoire from 15 November to 12 December 2003. The purpose of the Mission was to analyse the food supply situation in the prevailing socio-economic context, assess existing marketing arrangements for major crops, appraise crop growing conditions in 2003, prepare a supply/demand balance for staple foods during the 2004 marketing year and make recommendations as appropriate for the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector.
The Mission was assisted by national consultants and by staff from the Ministry of agriculture and the Ministry of animal and fisheries production. Besides briefings at these ministries, the Mission visited other government departments, namely the ministries of trade, economy and finance, solidarity and social security. Work sessions were also held at UNDP and World Bank representations and the regional central bank (Banque centrale des états de l'Afrique de l'Ouest). Field trips, during which farming communities, traders, senior staff of agro-industries and officials were met, were conducted from 18 -- 28 November and 9 -- 12 December 2003. The areas visited included Yamoussoukro, Daloa, Bouake, Sakassou in the transition zone; Korhogo in the north; Man, Touba, Guiglo, Bin-Houyé, Grabo and Tabou in the west and southwest; and Bondoukou and Bouna in the northeast.
Information collected was used to appraise the country's current agricultural situation and prospects for 2004. Conflict-induced problems, notably massive population displacements that have produced acute labour shortages, the lack of agricultural support services in parts of the country under the Forces Nouvelles (FN), market segmentation and disruptions from insecurity and excessive transport costs resulting from the hefty levies at roadblocks, are all factors that have severely affected agricultural production in 2003. It is estimated that, compared to the average for the five years preceding the crisis, rice production will decline by about 15 percent, maize by 16 percent, millet and sorghum by 23 -- 27 percent, yams by 9 percent, cassava by 6 percent and plantains by about 6 percent. Likewise, cocoa bean exports are forecast to drop by 14 percent, coffee beans by 29 percent and cotton yarn by 25 percent compared to 2002. Small ruminant production, pig and poultry farms and fish ponds have been wiped out in war-affected areas. Cattle in the north have largely been spared, but the regular animal health programme, which includes vaccination campaigns, animal quarantines and meat hygiene, has virtually ground to a halt from lack of facilities and trained personnel.
To reverse the decline in cereal production, provisions of quality seeds of rice and maize and essential farm implements are urgently needed, not only in the war-affected areas in the west and southwest, but also in the transition and northern zones where cotton companies have ceased providing support to crop production. Farming families need a programme that should include an enhanced extension service backed by the resumption of seed multiplication.
For cash crops such as cocoa, coffee and palm oil, the most serious problem is labour scarcity, which is linked to issues related to land tenure and migrant workers who have been compelled to leave the country. While the search for lasting solutions to these problems is currently top priority for the government and its development partners, the indigenous communities visited by the Mission favoured the return of migrant workers under mutually agreed conditions supported by the local administration.
In the medium to long term, aging cocoa farms will need to be replanted. Varieties resistant to stem borer will also have to be adopted to boost sugar cane production. Staff training will be required in this area.
To allow efficient flow of agricultural produce to consuming areas, unnecessary roadblocks must be removed and security ensured across the transport network. Feeder roads must also be regularly maintained.
Steps must be taken to conduct animal vaccination campaigns and to restore veterinary services in areas under rebel control. The rehabilitation of livestock production and fisheries in areas where they have been devastated should be a high priority, with adequate funding. And for the agricultural sector as a whole, a formal credit system is needed.
Although the effects of the increasingly precarious food situation are not yet apparent in most segments of the nation's population, a food security monitoring unit has been set up along the lines of a project document prepared by WFP in February 2003.
(pdf* format - 237 KB)