Harvesting of the 1997/98 second season cereal crops has been nearly completed. A low maize output of 900 000 tonnes, the main cereal, is tentatively estimated for the whole year due to the severe drought induced losses to first season crops and the intensive rains and flooding at planting of the second season crops. Production of sorghum is also expected to be a below- average 40 000 tonnes. The food situation is tight for the affected rural population, of about 50 000 persons. Ministries and various other institutions have adopted a wide range of emergency and protective measures, such as improvement in infrastructure, sanitary precautions, information system to rural communities, which should help mitigate the effects of El Niño. An appeal for emergency food aid and technical assistance for the rehabilitation of agricultural activities has been made to the international community.
Wheat imports in marketing year 1997/98 (November/October) are expected to decline from 320 000 tonnes in the previous year to some 275 000 tonnes, mostly as a consequence of large carryover stocks. Maize imports (July/June) should increase from 400 000 tonnes to about 610 000 tonnes to cover production losses and help meet the strong domestic demand. Rice imports in 1998 (January/December) should be about 35 000 to 40 000 tonnes.