Published: Friday 28 February 1997

-- A report recently released by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (fao) and the World Food Programe (wfp), has predicted that Rwanda will need substantial food assistance this year, following the influx of over one million returnees. This was stated in a un Information Centre press release around mid-January. The release quoted the report as saying, "The additional upsurge in food needs will undoubtedly strain the already fragile and unstable food supply situation in the country." The fao-wfp joint report warns that Rwanda's food production remains much below the 1994 pre-civil war average.

According to the press release, Rwanda will face a stiff food deficit of 30,000 tonne (t) of cereals, 45,000 t of pulses, 124,000 t of roots and tubers and 522,000 t of bananas and plantains in early 1997. The report said that only a part of this can be raised through commercial imports and emphasised that "there is also a pressing need for donor assistance with the implementation of a massive agricultural rehabilitation programme to restore food production to pre-crisis levels", without which Rwanda will remain heavily dependent on imports.

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