ALGERIA (4 March)

The prospects for the 1997 winter crops, to be harvested from May, remain uncertain. Prolonged dry weather prevailed over winter grain areas resulting in spotty emergence and stunted plant growth, reducing yield prospects. Timely rain is needed soon for the remainder of the growing season to avert further decline in yield.

Winter production in 1996 is estimated at 2.5 million tons, 67 percent higher than last yearís below-average harvest of 1 million tons. Production of barley almost tripled to 0.7 million tons, while the output of oats increased by 60 000 tons to 110 000 tons.

Imports of wheat, excluding semolina, in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast to remain about the same as last yearís 3 million tons. Imports of coarse grains, mainly maize, are forecast at 0.7 million tons.

EGYPT (4 March)

Growing conditions are satisfactory for the mostly irrigated wheat crop to be harvested from mid-May. The area planted of wheat in 1996/97 is expected to be 3 percent higher than the previous year. Production of wheat in 1996 is estimated at 5.74 million tons, slightly above last year.

Imports of wheat and wheat flour in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast at 6 million tons, similar to last year. Import of coarse grains in 1996/97 (July/June), mainly maize, are expected to remain at the same level as last year.

MOROCCO (4 March)

Dry weather over winter grain areas continues to adversely affect 1997 winter grain crops. A combination of continued dryness and unusually mild weather has diminished soil moisture reserves and rain is needed soon to prevent crop stress.

Production of wheat in 1996, estimated at 5.9 million tons, was more than five times higher than last yearís drought- affected crop of only 1.1 million tons. The output of barley increased by 3.2 million tons to 3.8 million tons and that of maize is estimated at 235 000 tons, about five times higher than last yearís poor harvest.

Since rice production in 1996 is expected to be above 45 000 tons, the government imposed a licence requirement on rice imports to protect local production and support the sale of local rice.

Imports of wheat in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast to decline by 1.5 million tons to 1 million tons, whereas imports of coarse grains are expected to decrease by some 0.5 million tons, to 320 000 tons.

TUNISIA (4 March)

Above-average rains in January were followed by dry weather in February over winter grain areas. It is likely that prolonged dryness has caused spotty emergence, and stunted plant growth. Production prospects are unfavourable so far and rain is needed soon to prevent further declines in yield.

Production of wheat in 1997 is forecast at 0.9 million tons, some 57 percent lower than the record 2 million tons in 1996. Barley output in 1997 is estimated at 400 000 tons, about 52 percent lower than last seasonís record of 0.84 million tons. Pasture conditions are reported to be satisfactory.

Imports of wheat (soft) in 1996/97 (July/June) are estimated at 0.5 million tons, 50 percent below last year. Imports of maize are forecast at 150 000 tons, 25 percent lower than the previous year.