Ghion Hagos, PANA Correspondent
Prospects for the 1999 main season cereal crops are generally favorable. Crops stressed by a long dry spell in April in western parts recovered, as rainfall improved in May. Northern and north-eastern Uganda, where the season starts later, have received well-distributed rainfall since early April. The rains also improved pasture and livestock conditions in pastoral areas in the north-east.
The outlook for the 1999 main "Gu" cereal crop, accounting for some 80 percent of annual production in normal years, is unfavourable. The area of maize and sorghum is expected to decline as a result of delayed and erratic rains since the beginning of the season, coupled with unusually high temperatures that resulted in the wilting of crops. Water levels in the Shabelle River are also reported to be below normal, reflecting below-average precipitation. In addition, armyworm infestations have been reported in Lower and Middle Juba, Lower Shebelle, Bakool and Hiran regions.
A drought considered to be the worst this century, severely damaged 1999 winter crops. Total precipitation in the rainfall season from October 1998 to March 1999 was about a third of average in most parts. Water levels in major rivers fell by more than 50 percent. In addition, crop production was constrained by serious shortages of essential agricultural inputs and the widespread incidence of pests, weeds and animal diseases. Recent reports indicate that more than 4.6 million donums under cereals, about 46 percent of total cultivated area, have been severely damaged.
Prospects for the 1999 Belg crop, now being harvested, are unfavourable, due to below-normal rains. Although Belg production accounts for only 7 percent of total cereal production, it is important in several areas where it provides the bulk of annual food supplies. The 1998 Meher harvest was satisfactory. However, several areas failed to produce enough and are in need of food assistance. With the anticipated reduction in Belg production, the magnitude of food shortages has increased in terms of numbers and areas affected.
Planting of 1999 main season cereal crops has started. Early prospects are favourable due to heavy rains during April and May. Pasture conditions are reported to be satisfactory in most regions, especially in the Upper Nile which was flooded last year.
Karachi (dpa) - Pakistan Saturday released a group of 107 Indian fishermen along with their 17 fishing boats and handed them over to a visiting Indian fishermen delegation, officials said.
J. J. Paramar, head of the Indian delegation who received the fishermen, told Pakistani officials that they were on their routine fishing trips when pushed into Pakistani waters by the recent cyclone.
A tropical cyclone hit India and coastal Pakistan recently killing hundreds of people and rendered homeless thousands others.
Information from the week ending June
With peace pending, MSF has to consider the logistics behind returning to Kosovo and has assembled a coordination team for the possibility. MSF is cooperating with the UNHCR and other NGOs and shall update the information as it becomes available.
MSF presence in Macedonia
Total number of expat staff: 45
Total number of local staff: approx. 150
Current number of refugees in camps: approx. 95,000
TRIPOLI, Libya (PANA) - Experts in the committee charged with implementation of the peace agreement signed by Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Syrte on 18 April arrived in Kinshasa Friday, informed sources said in Tripoli Saturday.
BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (PANA) - Congo observed the second anniversary of the civil war Saturday amid a severe economic crisis and mounting violence between government troops backing the current president Denis Sassou Nguesso and rebels backing his predecessor, Pascal Lissouba.
BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (PANA) - Armed dissidents ambushed and killed 63 people two days ago near Kinkala, the Pool regional headquarters, 75 km south of Brazzaville, it was revealed Saturday.
Harvest of the 1999 second season foodcrops is underway. The outlook is uncertain. A delay in the start of the rainy season was followed by abundant and well distributed precipitation in March. However, rains were below average in April and ceased early than normal, particularly in eastern parts. As a result, yield reductions are anticipated in several areas. The negative impact on cereal crops of armyworms attacks this season, was limited by control measures undertaken by the Government with the assistance of FAO and donors.
Skopje, 4 June 1999. The international medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is calling upon all actors in the Balkans conflict to ensure that humanitarian assistance and the resettlement of refugees be under civilian - and not under military - authority. This should be clearly stated in all agreements regarding repatriation of Kosovar refugees.
Moscow/Baku (dpa) - An earthquake in the Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan left one person dead and injured ten, government officials in the capital, Baku, said on Friday.
The earthquake on Thursday night registered seven on the Richter scale. All of the casualties were in the town of Agdash in the centre of the republic, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Larry Hollingworth returns on Sunday 6 June and is available for interview