Good rains in the first two dekads of May maintained adequate growing conditions for the 1998 second season foodcrops, to be harvested from June. Despite favourable weather conditions since the beginning of the season and larger plantings due to the return of farm families from regroupment camps to their land, the recovery in this seasons production will be constrained by lower use of fertilizers as a result of the current trade embargo, and shortages of quality seeds following two consecutive reduced harvests.
The poor crop last season, the current embargo by neighbouring countries, insecurity in parts and displacement of a large number of people have resulted in increased food insecurity. Prices of food, which have risen sharply since late 1997, have stabilized at high levels during May. The food situation is particularly serious for some 600 000-700 000 most vulnerable people who have no access to their land or who have returned but have not been able to plant crops this season. Some 300 000 people are estimated to have suffered major food shortages. Increased malnutrition is also reported from displaced camps.