TOC

EUROPE

COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES

ARMENIA* (2 February)

The early outlook for the winter grains, which form the bulk of the foodgrain harvest, is satisfactory. The area sown to winter wheat has likely remained around 100 000 hectares, close to last year's level. Domestic grain production in 1997 was around 330 000 tonnes, about half of the domestic cereal requirement estimated at 672 000 tonnes. Against the cereal import requirement, estimated at 340 000 tonnes, some 147 000 tonnes of food aid have been pledged to date and most of the balance is expected to be imported commercially. However, economic recovery slowed in 1997 and some 400 000 vulnerable people continue to be in need of humanitarian assistance. Food relief needs for targeted distribution have not yet been covered. WFP, which is targeting 220 000 people with takehome rations or food-for- work projects, urges donors to confirm and make further contributions against its 1998 shortfall of 17,600 tonnes of food. NGOs are also providing targeted food assistance.

AZERBAIJAN (3 February)

Early indications are that the area sown to winter grains, for harvest in 1998 has declined by up to 12 percent from last year’s peak, partly in response to localized shortages of seed after last year’s floods. Indications are that the shift out of barley into wheat has continued. Official data indicate that the area sown to barley has halved to about 60 000 hectares while the decline in the wheat area (to 536 000 hectares) is less pronounced. The decline in the area sown to grain may not be as steep as initially indicated. With the farm privatization process now underway it is more difficult to obtain representative information over both the public and private sectors. Following the 1997 grain harvest, estimated by FAO at about 1.2 million tonnes, the cereal import requirement is estimated at over 400 000 tonnes of cereals in the 1997/98 marketing year. Against this requirement, food aid pledges amount to 53 000 tonnes, and most of the balance is expected to be made commercially. Food aid pledges include 35 000 tonnes of wheat to provide a revolving fund for imports from the Strategic Cereals Reserve. Relief food aid for targeted distribution continues to be needed by the vulnerable population, including the internally displaced. GDP has grown by about 5 percent in 1997 but the unresolved issue of the status of Nagorno Karabakh and surrounding areas means that a large number of people continue to be internally displaced. WFP plans to reach some 245 000 beneficiaries during the winter months and reduce the caseload to 200 000 in the spring. Beneficiaries include IDPs, social institution inmates, hospital patients, children living in boarding schools and Chernobyl victims. WFP needs for 1998 amount to 13 000 tonnes, of which 7 000 tonnes are still not covered.

BELARUS (4 February)

The bulk of grains are not planted until the spring. The official target is to expand agricultural production by 4-5 percent in 1998 and to increase grain yields substantially. To this end, the government has announced a new programme under which agriculture will receive some 13.2 trillion Belarussian roubles (US$ 2.2 million) in subsidies, credits and advances to finance machinery repairs, spring fieldwork and input applications. The extension of soft credits in previous years has not had a significant effect on grain yields, which have remained fairly stable at a level some 20 percent below the 1986-90 average. The final official estimate for the 1997 grain harvest is 5.8 million tonnes, cleaned weight, below target (6.3 million tonnes) but very close to last year’s level, despite some 25 percent increase in fertilizer application and better weather conditions. Wheat output is estimated at 650 000 tonnes, about 8 percent higher compared to last year, reflecting a 5 percent growth in sown area and better yields, while coarse grain output declined. In 1997/98 imports are estimated to increase marginally to nearly 0.9 million tonnes as the country is expected to take advantage of cheap feedgrain supplies in the neighbouring countries. Imports are likely to be sourced mainly from the Russian Federation, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

GEORGIA* (4 February)

The outlook for the 1998 winter grains, mainly wheat and some barley, is uncertain as dry conditions in the autumn and a short spell of extreme cold in December may have caused crop damage. Agricultural production is recovering strongly, but processing capacity remains a major bottleneck. Despite mixed growing conditions, the 1997 grain harvest reached a record 820 000 tonnes and included some 300 000 tonnes of wheat, still less than half of the annual requirement. Against the 1997/98 cereal import requirement of some 400 000 tonnes, the country has received food aid allocations amounting to 127 000 tonnes and the balance is expected to be imported commercially. However, there are still some 300 000 vulnerable people needing targeted assistance and the food aid requirement for humanitarian relief has not yet been fully covered. The WFP target population was scaled down to 170 000, including IDPs and vulnerable families involved in food-for-work projects. The remaining beneficiaries are covered by NGOs. WFP food aid needs for 1998 are 15 000 tonnes, of which 7 000 tonnes have not yet been mobilized.

KAZAKHSTAN (4 February)

The bulk of grains are sown in the spring. Of the 14 million hectares sown to grain in 1997 only some 600 000 were sown in the autumn. Poor profitability of grains in marginal areas coupled with a continued recession in the livestock industry has led to a sharp reduction in the areas sown and this trend could continue in 1998. However, provided growing conditions are satisfactory, better average grain yields could offset the area reduction, as in 1997. The 1997 grain harvest is officially put at 12.4 million tonnes, nearly 11 percent more than in the preceding year, despite a reduction of 2.5 million hectares in the areas sown. Production of wheat increased by 17 percent to 9 million tonnes, despite an 11 percent reduction in area, while that of coarse grains fell by 5 percent to 3.1 million tonnes, reflecting an area reduction of 26 percent.

In 1997/98, cereal exports in 1997/98 are tentatively forecast at 3.2 million tonnes (compared to 4.6 million tonnes in 1996/97), mainly wheat, to other CIS countries. Relatively low cereal opening stocks, low import demand for barley in neighbouring countries and little progress in opening markets beyond the CIS are expected to reduce coarse grain exports to 0.3 million tonnes.

In the absence of an adequate social safety net, enterprise privatizations, increasing unemployment and erratic power supplies have increased hardship for many people, particularly those in regional industrial towns. Despite the exportable surplus of grains, the country has over 600 000 people who are so poor as to need targeted assistance to survive the winter months.

KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (4 February)

Early indications are that the area sown to winter grains (mainly wheat) for harvest in 1998 could remain near last year’s level, as crops other than wheat (e.g. tobacco) become more remunerative. In an effort to achieve greater domestic self sufficiency, the wheat area has doubled in recent years to reach 553 000 hectares. As a result the 1997 grain harvest is officially estimated at 1.7 million tonnes, 21 percent more than last year and above target. Output of wheat is put at 1.4 million tonnes and the country has an exportable surplus of up to 300 000 tonnes of wheat. At the same time, the country also imports wheat for the grain deficit areas in the south-west, partly as a result of the mountainous terrain and poorly developed domestic transport and marketing infrastructure.

In 1997/98 the domestic cereal utilization is estimated at 1.7 million tonnes including 0.7 million tonnes for human consumption, 0.7 million tonnes for feed and the balance for other uses, mainly seed. Imports are estimated at 120 000 tonnes, and include 83 000 tonnes of food aid already pledged to assist Tajik refugees and other vulnerable people in the country.

MOLDOVA (4 February)

The early outlook for the 1998 winter grains (mainly wheat and barley) remain satisfactory, although a very cold spell in December 1997 has caused some winterkill. The 1997 grain harvest recovered sharply to 3.0 million tonnes, in response to good precipitation and an 11 percent increase in the areas sown. Pending final official estimates, wheat production continues to be put at 1.2 million tonnes and output of coarse grains at 1.75 million tonnes in response to a sharp increase in both the areas sown and yields.

The country has an exportable surplus in 1997/98, but official restrictions on the export of grain other than through official channels, coupled with low purchasing prices paid by the official bodies, could limit exports. As a result, registered exports are expected to remain small, around 0.3 million tonnes at most and feed use of grains and stocks are likely to increase. In addition the country is likely to continue to import some high quality wheat to mix with domestic produce for bread-making. To date the country has received food aid pledges amounting to 60 000 tonnes.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION (4 February)

The early outlook for winter grains remains (cautiously) satisfactory. However the final harvest outcome will depend crucially on the extent of spring grain plantings and weather until the completion of the harvest in September/October. Final data of the area sown to winter grains by all grain producers is not yet available but early indications are that it could remain close to last year’s level of about 14 million hectares. On the (reorganized) state farms, 13.5 million hectares have been sown, only 2 percent less than in the preceding year, despite the difficult and drawn-out 1997 harvest campaign. However, in the high-yielding North Caucasus region the area sown declined by almost one fifth. Growing conditions have been somewhat mixed but satisfactory overall. A short but very cold spell in December 1998 caused some crop damage and the subsequent thaw has left grain at risk in the more southern producing areas but to date snow cover may have been just adequate in the major areas to prevent major damage. Nevertheless, winterkill could be more than last year’s very low level (about 1 million hectares). The final outcome will depend crucially on the extent of spring grain plantings. These could decline in response to a surplus availability of feedgrains from the large, but poorquality crop of 1997 and the sharp reduction in the area ploughed in the autumn after the late harvest.

The final official estimate of the 1997 grain harvest is 88.5 million tonnes, including 44.2 million tonnes of wheat, 42.2 million tonnes of coarse grains, 328 000 tonnes of paddy (despite earlier more optimistic forecasts) and 1.8 million tonnes of pulses. Export opportunities of feed grain are limited by ample supplies and low prices on the international markets and by the high domestic costs associated with grain assembling, handling and transportation and also by the limited facilities at the ports. Cereal exports (including intra-CIS trade) in 1997/98 are tentatively estimated at 3.4 million tonnes, mainly barley and some feed wheat. Extra-CIS trade is tentatively forecast at over 2 million tonnes of wheat and 0.4 million tonnes of coarse grains (barley).

Cereal imports are forecast at 3.4 million tonnes, including 2.6 million tonnes of wheat, 0.3 million tonnes of rice and 0.5 million tonnes of coarse grains. Imports from abroad are, again tentatively, forecast at 1 million tonnes, including 0.6 million tonnes of food quality wheat, 0.3 million tonnes of rice and a small quantity of maize.

TAJIKISTAN* (4 February)

The early outlook for 1997 winter grains for harvest in 1998 is satisfactory. Early indications are that the area sown has expanded further but that yield potential will continue to be constrained by a shortage of funds for inputs and machinery. The 1997 grain harvest is estimated by FAO and the EC-TACIS in-country staff at about 0.6 million tonnes, even higher than the good 1996 harvest now officially estimated at 543 000 tonnes. Official estimates indicate that the output of cotton, the major cash crop, increased by 15 percent to 358 000 tonnes.

Even with the higher cereal production in 1997, the country could face a foodgrain deficit of nearly 300 000 tonnes, given a resident population of 5.5 million. The commercial import capacity is unlikely to exceed last year’s level, estimated at some 160 000 tonnes, leaving a food aid requirement of 137 000 tonnes under this population scenario. The food supply situation remains difficult in view of the fragile security situation, widespread unemployment or underemployment and increasingly ineffective social security provisions. Over 16 percent of the population are food insecure and cannot afford an adequate diet without targeted assistance. The humanitarian relief needs for the vulnerable populations remain large. It has been estimated that during 1998 about 900 000 people, equal to the 1997 level, will require food assistance. WFP plans to provide assistance to 500 000 people while the remaining 400 000 people will receive food from various NGOs. Against the food aid requirement, estimated at 137 000 tonnes in 1997/98 some 100 000 tonnes have been pledged to date.

TURKMENISTAN (5 February)

Current indications are that the areas sown to winter grains (mainly wheat) has increased slightly to about 500 000 hectares. The early outlook is satisfactory. Reforms introduced in 1996/97 - including land privatization and the availability of production credit - led to a sharp recovery in grain production in 1997 (730 000 tonnes) and could result in better yields also in 1998. However, even if, as planned, the availability of nitrogenous fertilizer improves, the target output, 1.2 million tonnes of grains is unlikely to be achieved. Even with favourable weather conditions, average yields are likely to remain low, due to the use of poor quality seed, inadequate use of inputs, equipment shortages and the poor state of the irrigation system.

The food supply situation remains mixed and precarious in disadvantaged areas. People in depressed industrial areas and infertile rural areas are experiencing difficulties. Returns for farmers remain low and for a large part of the population, lack of purchasing power limits access to a varied diet and higher priced foods.

Annual domestic cereal utilization has decreased to about 1.2 million tonnes. Cereal stocks were drawn down in 1996/97 and are to be replenished this year. Against the total requirement of 1.42 million tonnes, domestic availability (stocks and production of cereals) are estimated at 852 000 tonnes. Allowing for some stock replenishment this leaves an import requirement of nearly 560 000 tonnes for 1997/98. This is expected to be covered commercially, mainly in Kazakhstan and the Ukraine but about 100 000 tonnes could be imported from outside the CIS.

UKRAINE (5 February)

Early indications point to a reduced grain harvest in 1998. The area sown to winter grains (mainly wheat and rye) is about 1 million hectares lower than in the preceding year in response to adverse weather during the 1997 grain harvest as well as shortages of working capital, fuel and machinery. In addition, winterkill, already anticipated to be about 10 percent of the area sown, is expected to be higher than last year. The area ploughed in the autumn ready for spring sowing also fell adding to the burden of spring fieldwork. Finally the large, but low-quality grain harvest of 1997 has resulted in a surplus of feedgrains and lower prices for producers, further reducing credit viability and the availability of working capital.

The 1997 grain harvest is officially estimated at 35.4 million tonnes, but is probably closer to 37 million tonnes, given the ample motivation to increase earnings and working capital (barter) by under-reporting production. At 37 million tonnes, output is about 40 percent higher than FAO’s estimate for output in 1996 in response to a sharp increase in the areas sown, better weather and increased use of inputs. Output of wheat is estimated by FAO at 19 million tonnes, some 4 million tonnes more than FAO’s estimate for the preceding year. Production of coarse grains increased by almost two-thirds to 16.7 million in response to an increase in the sown area, better yields and a sharp increase in maize production, officially estimated at 5.3 million tonnes (1.8 tonnes in 1997). Output of rice declined to 65 000 tonnes (1997: 82 000 tonnes) while that of pulses increased somewhat to 1.2 million tonnes, remaining well below average owing to poor growing conditions at planting.

The recovery in agricultural production and export competitiveness remain limited by the lack of significant progress in genuinely privatizing agricultural production and marketing. Despite the ongoing privatization of about 50 grain elevators, the state remains heavily involved in production, trade and marketing. Numerous and costly barriers to the free flow of grains, limited demand for feed-quality grain in the CIS and keen competition for export markets from the Russian Federation and other countries, could limit the country’s exports this year to about 1.7 million tonnes compared to 1.8 million tonnes in 1996/97 and 3.6 million tonnes in 1995/96.

UZBEKISTAN (5 February)

The early outlook for winter crops, to be harvested in the summer of 1998 is satisfactory. On the state farms, winter grains, (mainly wheat) have been planted on just over 1.3 million hectares (of which 1 million hectares irrigated). As at least a further 100 000 hectares of winter grains have to sown on household plots, the winter grain area is 1.4 million hectares, of which about 1.3 is likely to be wheat. As planned, this is about 100 000 hectares less than last year as rainfed land is taken out of wheat production in an effort to improve average yields. Latest reports indicate that crops germinated and developed satisfactorily on at least 75 percent of the area sown on the collective farms. The latest official estimates put the 1997 grain harvest at 3.8 million tonnes, including 3.1 million tonnes of wheat, and 0.4 million tonnes of paddy. This is 7 percent more than output in the preceding year, due to better growing conditions and yields, as the area sown remained stable at 1.7 million hectares of which nearly 1 million were irrigated.

Aggregate direct food consumption of cereals and other foodstuffs is limited by low purchasing power. In rural areas grain supplies remain very tight as the cereal delivery quotas have to be met irrespective of whether the production target is achieved. In 1997/98, domestic utilization of cereals is now estimated at 4.6 million tonnes, including 3.5 million tonnes for human consumption. Given the 1997 grain harvest of 3.65 million tonnes (rice in milled equivalent) and no change in stocks, cereal imports in 1997/98 are estimated at almost 1 million tonnes, mainly wheat for human consumption. Some 0.5 million tonnes are expected to be sourced in Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation (to complete a 1996/97 barter contract for cotton), and the balance to come from outside the CIS.

EC (20 February)

The aggregate 1997 cereal output is estimated at 207 million tonnes virtually unchanged from the previous year's crop. Although wheat production fell by 5 million tonnes to 95 million tonnes, this was mostly offset by a larger coarse grains crop. Early prospects for the 1998 cereal crops are generally satisfactory. Precipitation has generally been above average throughout the EC maintaining favourable levels of soil moisture. However, rainfall has been particularly heavy in Portugal, southern Spain and southern Italy, causing some flooding and delays in winter grain planting. In the Community, aggregate winter grain plantings are estimated to have increased slightly. Latest information indicates larger areas of wheat, rye and triticale but less barley. As the land set-aside rate for 1997/98 remains at 5 percent some reduction in spring plantings is likely.

ALBANIA (12 February)

Cereal production in 1997 recovered somewhat, compared to the previous year, to about 600 000 tonnes. Of the total wheat is estimated to account for 350 000 tonnes. However, with total domestic utilization of wheat estimated at about 700 000 tonnes in 1997/98, imports of about 350 000 tonnes of wheat or the equivalent in wheat flour are expected to be necessary until the end of the marketing year in June. Most of this shortfall is expected to be covered as food aid from the EC. As of February reports indicate that the market continues to be adequately supplied with flour.

As regards the winter grain crops for the 1998 harvest, indications are that farmers had sufficient incentive and adequate access to inputs to ensure an area at least similar to the previous year’s has been sown.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA* (1 February)

The area sown to the 1998 winter grains (wheat) has declined sharply. In BiH, only 60 percent of the area to be planted to winter crops had been sown by mid November; even with favourable conditions plantings are expected to remain about 10 percent below target (71 000 hectares). In the Republika Srpska the area also fell. In 1997 the area sown to wheat area fell by about 15 percent while, by contrast, both the area sown and average yields of maize and potatoes increased sharply. This is mainly due to ample availability of imported wheat and flour in the market and the poor profitability of wheat vis-à-vis other crops, notably maize and potatoes, which are also easier to grow by smallholders experiencing shortages of machinery and working capital. Wheat remains an important staple but in view of the gradual but steady improvement in the agricultural situation and in particular the increase in the output of potatoes, the dependence on this commodity is diminishing gradually. In 1997/98 the aggregate cereal import requirement is now tentatively estimated at around 275 000 tonnes, mostly for the BiH Federation. In the Republika Srpska, the wheat harvest is reported to be adequate to cover human consumption needs. The World Food Programme is expected to provide 60 000 tonnes of food aid in Bosnia & Herzegovina in 1998, for which the outstanding needs are 19 000 tonnes. Most of this food will be used in targeted distributions, providing monthly rations to some 600 000 vulnerable people currently, though the target population is expected to decrease to some 200 000 by the end of 1998. Some 6 700 tonnes of food will be utilized for a variety of small-scale income-generating rehabilitation activities in an effort to help people in the transition from dependence back to self-sufficiency.

BULGARIA (12 February)

Aggregate cereal output in 1997 is estimated at 6.2 million tonnes, well up from the reduced crop of just 3.4 million tonnes in 1996. Wheat output recovered sharply to 3.8 million tonnes (1996: 1.8 million tonnes) but the crop was reported to be generally of poorer quality than normal because of exceptionally wet weather during the harvest.

With regard to the winter grains for the 1998 harvest, latest official reports indicate a marginal increase in the area sown to wheat and a similar area of barley compared to the previous year. However, adverse weather last autumn delayed planting and a significant proportion of the crop was likely sown after the optimum date in late October. Winter weather conditions have been satisfactory so far and snowfalls in late January ensured some replenishment of soil moisture after earlier dry and mild conditions which depleted reserves.

CROATIA (5 February)

The outlook is for a lower wheat harvest than last year’s 936 000 tonnes. The winter crop area target of 344 000 hectares was not achieved, in part as floods, high winds and cold weather in mid-November put a stop to plantings. Of the 282 000 hectares sown to winter crops, 260 000 were sown to cereals including 230 000 hectares of wheat. The aggregate area sown to wheat appears higher than last year (206 000 hectares) but this is misleading as the boundaries of the country have changed following the reintegration of eastern Slavonia. Growing conditions have been very mixed and last year’s bumper yield of 4.5 tonnes per hectare may not be repeated.

The 1997 cereal harvest is estimated at a bumper 3.2 million tonnes, some 17 percent above 1996. This is attributed to an 8 percent increase in the areas sown and better yields. Production of coarse grains is estimated at 2.2 million tonnes, some 7 percent above the previous year.

CZECH REPUBLIC (12 February)

Based on latest official information, the estimate of the 1997 aggregate cereal harvest remains at 7 million tonnes. This is about 5 percent up from 1996 and above the average of recent years, despite summer flooding which hampered the harvest. The winter grain area for harvest in 1998 is reported to be similar to that of the previous year, and weather conditions have been satisfactory this winter so far.

ESTONIA (5 February)

The early outlook for winter grains remains satisfactory. The area sown has remained fairly stable. The 1997 grain harvest reached 700 000 tonnes, some 9 percent more than the previous year’s output now officially put at 642 000 tonnes. In 1997/98 cereal imports are estimated at 170 000 tonnes, including 45 000 tonnes of food quality wheat and rye. The country appears to be importing a substantial volume of grains from the Russian Federation, but this could be transit trade through the port of Novotallin.

FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (12 February)

Output of the 1997 cereal harvest is estimated at 600 000 tonnes, about 15 percent up from 1996. Output of wheat is estimated at 320 000 tonnes, that of barley at 125 000 tonnes and maize at 130 000 tonnes.

HUNGARY (12 February)

Cereal output in 1997 is estimated at nearly 14 million tonnes, some 20 percent up from the 1996 reduced level. Output of wheat is officially estimated at 5.3 million tonnes, compared to 3.9 million tonnes in 1996, but the quality of the crop is generally poorer than normal due to heavy rainfall in the early summer, and a surplus of feed wheat is expected. With regard to maize, a bumper crop of some 6.5 million tonnes is estimated, adding to this year’s large surplus of feed grains.

Prospects for the 1998 winter grains are uncertain. Exceptionally mild temperatures throughout late December and most of January allowed most grains to recoup the growth delays suffered during a very dry autumn. However, temperatures returned to freezing levels at the end of January and a prolonged cold spell could damage crops, especially as protective snowcover is limited. With the area sown to winter grains already limited by the earlier dry conditions, additionally a significant amount of winterkill could result in a substantial overall reduction in harvested area compared to the previous year. Furthermore, yield prospects are not favourable. Depressed grain markets cut farm revenues in 1997 and farmers resources for the 1998 crops are limited. Less certified seeds have been planted and fertilizer applications and pest control measures are expected to be reduced.

LATVIA (4 February)

Winter grains for harvest in 1998 have benefited from mostly satisfactory growing conditions and the outlook remains positive. The 1997 grain harvest is estimated at 1.05 million tonnes, 8 percent more than last year in response to better weather and an increase of 9 percent in the area sown to 492 000 hectares. Nevertheless, output is not adequate to cover the domestic requirements for foodgrains and imports of some 25 000 tonnes of wheat and rye are officially reported to be necessary. In addition some 75 000 tonnes of feedgrains are likely to be imported.

LITHUANIA (4 February)

Planting and growing conditions for winter grains for harvest in 1998 were satisfactory but plantings have likely declined in response to last year’s bumper harvest, domestic surpluses from 1996 which are proving difficult to market and lower prices for sales to the government agencies. All restrictions on grain exports have been lifted but there is keen competition for available markets.

The 1997 grain harvest reached a post-independence record of 3.05 million tonnes, nearly 0.3 million tonnes (or 11 percent) more than the previous year, in response to an 8 percent increase in the area sown to grains (1.2 million hectares) and good growing conditions.

POLAND (12 February)

Cereal output in 1997 is estimated at 25 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from the previous year, despite heavy rains and flooding in July which led to significant crop losses in some parts. Reduced wheat and rye output was mostly offset by a larger barley crop.

Latest official reports indicate that winter grains for the 1998 harvest have been sown on nearly 5 million hectares, just marginally less than the estimated area sown in the previous year. The winter wheat area is estimated at around 1.9 million hectares, that for rye at 2.3 million and barley at 200 000 hectares.

ROMANIA (12 February)

The 1997 cereal output is now estimated at 21.5 million tonnes, some 7 million tonnes up from the previous year’s drought-reduced level and well above the average of the past few years. Of the total, wheat is estimated to account for 7 million tonnes and the maize crop is estimated at a bumper 12 million tonnes.

The early outlook for the 1998 winter crops points to decline in output. Due to adverse weather and shortages of machinery last autumn, winter grain planting was delayed and the area reduced somewhat compared to the previous year. Moreover, although the development of the winter crops is reported to be satisfactory so far, there are concerns that fertilizer use may be limited having an adverse affect on yields. Farmers are being urged to make use of the government voucher scheme which should be available from February, to purchase fertilizer for winter crop areas.

SLOVAK REPUBLIC (12 February)

The 1997 cereal output is estimated at 3.8 million tonnes, 500 000 tonnes up from 1996 and the largest crop of the last 5 years, despite damage to some crops due to heavy rains and flooding during the summer. The area of winter grains sown last autumn for the 1998 harvest is expected to have remained close to the previous year’s level and weather conditions have been generally satisfactory so far.

SLOVENIA (12 February)

Cereal output in 1997 increased by some 10 percent to about 600 000 tonnes. The winter grain area for the 1998 harvest is expected to have changed little from the previous year and weather conditions have been generally satisfactory so far.

YUGOSLAVIA, FED. REP. OF (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO)* (1 February)

Winter crops were sown on only 891 000 hectares, some 2 percent less than last year and well below the target of 1.05 million hectares. This was due in part to inclement weather which delayed autumn harvesting activities and unseasonable cold in November. However it also reflects chronic shortages of working capital, quality seed, inputs and operational machinery. After a difficult start, crops initially benefited from mild winter but cold, wet weather led to frosts in January and likely caused damage. Macro-economic imbalances and the need to control inflation could limit the amount of funding available for spring plantings.

Following a bumper grain harvest in excess of 10 million tonnes in 1997 (almost 3 million tonnes of wheat and 7 million maize), the country has a large exportable surplus in excess of 2 million tonnes, including 400 000 tonnes of wheat. However, high domestic prices and handling costs could limit exports.


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