The forecast for global cereal production in 2014 has been raised closer to last year’s record, which is expected to boost inventories to a multi-year high.
Export prices of wheat and maize decreased further in September to multiyear lows, driven by expectations of large global supplies in 2014/15. Even rice prices, which had been rising in previous months, fell in September.
In Western Africa, the Ebola virus disease outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has disrupted markets, farming activities and livelihoods, seriously affecting the food security situation of large numbers of people. Moreover, irregular rains in several areas of the Sahelian belt result in mixed production prospects.
In Central Africa, food crop production in the Central African Republic is estimated to have increased from the sharply reduced 2013 output, but still remains well below average due to the impact of widespread civil insecurity.
In Eastern Africa, the overall food security situation is improving as harvesting has started in several countries. While food prices are generally stable or declining, they are at record high levels in Somalia and the Sudan.
In Western Africa, in spite of adequate cereal supplies at the regional level following last year’s above average harvests, humanitarian assistance is still needed in several parts, due mostly to conflict related population displacements
In Southern Africa, food security conditions improved significantly in response to bumper maize harvests and generally lower prices.
In North Africa, a slightly below-average cereal crop was gathered in 2014. Wheat production in Tunisia recovered from last year’s weather-stricken harvest, while reduced plantings following poor rains caused a sharp reduction in Morocco.
In Central America, drought conditions have significantly reduced the 2014 main first season harvest in key producing countries. In Mexico, cereal production is expected to remain above average due to better-than-expected yields.
In South America, higher yields offset reduced plantings, with coarse grains production estimated at an above-average level. Wheat production is forecast to recover strongly following two consecutive low crops, due to increased plantings.
In the Near East, drought conditions resulted in a below-average cereal harvest. Food security in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq continues to deteriorate as a result of the persisting conflict.
In the Far East, aggregate cereal output is estimated to be close to last year’s record level. A considerable drop in the exportable surplus from India is expected to reduce aggregate cereal exports in the 2014/15 marketing year.
In CIS Europe, cereal production is estimated at a record level. Accordingly, exports are forecast at an all-time high.
FAO estimates that globally 36 countries, including 26 countries in Africa, are in need of external assistance for food due to conflict, crop failures and the impact of localized high food prices on vulnerable groups.