FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 2/01 - Ethiopia

The planting of the 2001 secondary "belg" season crops has commenced in several locations. Scattered showers fell in February but substantial rains were received in March. The "belg" crop accounts for around 8 to 10 percent of annual cereal and pulses production but in some areas it is the main harvest. Harvesting of the main 2000 "meher" season crops was completed in December last year. The meher crop had recovered strongly from earlier expectations due to abundant rainfall which continued through October, benefiting late sown crops. The meher harvest is estimated at 11.61 million tonnes of cereals, about 7.3 percent higher than the 1999 postharvest estimate, mainly due to an increase in area planted.
Livestock, particularly in the pastoralist areas, was devastated last year by a prolonged drought, which caused acute water and fodder shortages, exacerbated later by infectious diseases and parasites. The southern pastoralist areas of Somali, Borena, Bale and South Omo were worst hit and cattle losses at levels of up to 50 percent have been noted. Consequently, animal production among pastoralists and agro-pastoralists has been severely reduced and will take several years to recover. The late meher rains in 2000 helped considerably in regenerating pasture and browse and recharging water points. Animals in belg-dependant zones and woredas in the settled farming areas also suffered and draught animal numbers are reported to be lower than needed, affecting area planted and quality of land preparation.

The improved availability of cereals has resulted in falling grain prices in most markets. However, despite the good harvest, some 6.5 million people will require food assistance. The food aid requirement, including displaced and refugee needs, for 2001 marketing year (January/December) is estimated at about 640 000 tonnes. Donors are urged to support local purchases to provide some strength in the market.

The UN country team has recently launched an appeal for US$203 million to assist the 6.5 million people affected by drought and war.

Food aid pledges for 2001 amount to about 550 000 tonnes of which 125 000 tonnes have already been delivered.