, DAKAR, Nov 11 – The cereal crop will decline sharply in Chad, Niger and Mauritania in 2009-2010 because of drought, the permanent Inter-state Committee to Fight Drought in the Sahel (CILSS) announced Tuesday.
"Compared with last year, drops in cereal production are expected in Chad (34 percent), Niger (36 percent), Mauritania (24 percent), Burkina Faso (10 percent) and Cape Verde (eight percent)," the CILSS said in a statement received in Dakar.
The regional organisation, based in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, also anticipated a better crop than last year in "Benin (up by 45 percent), Ghana (44 percent), Gambia (18 percent), and Togo (13 percent)."
From a regional point of view, "provisional cereal production in 2009/2010 in the countries of the Sahel and west Africa, with the exception of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali, is estimated at 48.2 million tonnes, a drop of four percent compared with 2008/2009," the organisation said.
"With the arrival of the first harvests on the market, the food situation of households is improving across the whole region, but remains precarious in the zones at risk and affected by drops in production."
Moreover, the problem of the supply of grazing land was "critical in Niger, in northeast Mali, in the Sahel part of Burkina Faso, in Chad and in the centre north of Mauritania."
"The level of the water table remains low and the herbaceous ground cover is mediocre. This situation has already led to the early departure of herdsmen on seasonal migration, which raises a risk of conflict with farmers in the zones" where they go, the organisation warned.
"In the central and western Sahel, the rains have been late, with dry episodes that have caused major delays in the planting and development of crops," the CILSS said.
"In hydrological terms, in the Sahel, the levels of water registered are inferior to those of 2008, with the exception of the few zones which recorded heavy rain in September (Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia and Sierra Leone)".