Food Security Snapshot
- Cereal production in 2017 forecast to increase from last year’s reduced level but remain below average
- Cereal import requirements in 2017/18 forecast to decrease from last year’s high level
- Acute food insecurity persists in some pocket areas
Cereal production in 2017 to increase from last year’s reduced level but remain below average
Harvesting of the 2017 main season maize crop was completed by May and paddy is currently ongoing and will be completed by end-July. Near-average and well-distributed rains during the cropping season over the main agricultural areas located in the eastern parts of the country, coupled with good supplies of irrigation water, benefitted the 2017 main season crops. By contrast, in some other producing areas, including the municipalities of Aileu, Baucau, Cova Lima, Oecussi and Manatuto, a period of below-average rains from May to June 2017 have affected the yields of the main season paddy crop. In these areas, there is also some concern over the 2017 secondary season maize and paddy crops, which are currently in vegetative to reproductive stage of development. The weather forecast points to an increased likelihood of below-average rains during July-September period, which may negatively affect the 2017 secondary season crops, particularly the predominantly rainfed maize crop. Still, considering the generally favourable outcome of the 2017 main season crop, the 2017 aggregate paddy and maize output is forecast by FAO at 155 000 tonnes, recovering from last year’s reduced level, but still below the previous five-year average.
Cereal import requirements in 2017/18 forecast to decrease from last year’s high level
The country heavily depends on imports to meet its consumption needs. Cereal import requirements in the 2017/18 marketing year (April/March) are forecast to decrease by almost 20 percent to 153 000 tonnes compared with the 2016/17 high level, reflecting the expectation of improved domestic output. However, at this level, imports will remain above the five-year average.
Pockets of acute food insecurity persist
Severe and prolonged droughts during 2015 and 2016 affected approximately 350 000 people (one‑third of the total population), mainly located in central highlands, eastern and southwestern parts of the country. According to a joint rapid assessment conducted in July 2017 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and international organizations operating in the country, most of the drought-affected population have not fully recovered and still require humanitarian assistance. The areas of major concern are the municipalities of Baucau, Bobonaro, Covalima, Lautem, Oecussi and coastal regions of Viqueque. Access to food also remains a major challenge in most upland areas and some remote villages.