Mozambique would require relief food through 2000

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - Food security in southern Mozambique has been seriously jeopardised by the worst floods for nearly half a century, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation noted Friday, saying the country would require relief food through 2000.
The organisation said in a news release that severe damage and destruction have been inflicted to crops (both in the fields and stores) and livestock, as well as to housing, communication infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railways and telephone lines, among others.

A full assessment of the agriculture and livestock damage is not yet possible, the release noted.

However, near-total crop losses are almost certain in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, where the most productive areas such as Boane and Chokwe are completely submerged, while serious losses are expected in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala.

The FAO said preliminary estimates from provincial authorities indicate that at least 150,000 hectares of food crops have been lost to the floods in the five affected provinces.

Livestock losses for the three southern provinces are provisionally estimated at 30 percent of the total cattle population.

Extensive losses of small animals, such as goats and chickens, are also reported.

"In these traditionally food-deficit provinces, the sharp reduction in cereal production in 2000 will be compounded by loss of farmers' food and seed stocks in household granaries," the organisation said.

"Although the major cereal growing areas of the north have not been affected by floods, at least up to now, and have benefited from good rains in January and February, overall prospects for the harvest from April have deteriorated," it added.

Southern provinces ravaged by flood account for some 13 percent of the total cereal production, and those affected in the central region for an additional 20 percent.

Therefore, about one-third of national cereal production has suffered serious losses and yield reductions.

However, the final outcome will depend on the weather in the remaining part of the growing season, particularly in the north.

Following five consecutive years of increasing production, Mozambique had achieved exportable surpluses of maize estimated at 150,000 tones in marketing year 1999/2000. The floods will erode these gains.

Despite relatively better harvest prospects in the major maize production areas in the north, limited imports of maize may be necessary in 2000-2001.

The release said an FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission would tour the area when the floods recede to assess the food situation.

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