FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 1-2/00 - Somalia

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 secondary "Deyr" cereal crop, normally accounting for some 25 percent of annual cereal production, is underway. Preliminary estimates of the area planted indicate an increase of about 18 percent compared to the previous Deyr season for the sorghum crop, to 190 000 hectares and an increase of 4 percent for the maize crop, mainly in irrigated areas, to nearly 100 000 hectares. At crop establishment, the total cereal production for the 1999/2000 Deyr season is, therefore, forecast at about 130 000 tonnes, 85 percent above the post-war (1993-1998) average.
Despite expected food supply improvement in parts of southern Somalia with better Deyr harvest, nearly 68 000 agro- pastoralists in Bakool Region are facing severe food shortages due to poor rainfall. Hardest hit are farmers in Huddur, Wajid and Rab-Dure districts, where many have left their villages in search of food assistance. Furthermore, the food supply situation remains tight for the agro-pastoralists in Gedo, Bay and Hiran regions due to successive poor harvests and displacements. Poor rainfall in rainfed areas has equally affected crops, water sources and pasture availability, and the mainstays of the food economy. The vulnerable population in southern Somalia is estimated at over 500,000 people.

The main 1999 "Gu" season, harvested until last September, was estimated by an FAO/WFP Mission at 135 683 tonnes of cereals, about 32 percent below the post-war average due to low and poorly distributed rains, pests and displacement of farmers.

Elsewhere, in north-western Somalia (Somaliland) and north- eastern Somalia (Puntland), heavy rains during October/November caused some damage to property but improved water availability and pasture. However, the food situation remains precarious for poor pastoralists, estimated at 40 000 to 60 000 people, from the Haud region of Sool and Togdeer.

Food aid deliveries during the last quarter of 1999 were reported to be below the estimated needs due to security conditions and heavy rains that blocked roads. WFP distributed close to 230 tonnes of food during the month of December, mostly in southern Somalia bringing the total distributed from January to December 1999 to 20 480 tonnes.