FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.2 - April 1999 p. 4

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The outlook for the region's 1999 wheat crop is mixed. In China, the winter wheat area fell by an estimated 1 percent compared to the previous year. A prolonged drought in major wheat producing areas in northern and north-western parts of the country has affected millions of hectares of developing crops. The first major snowfall of the winter in early March provided some beneficial moisture, but widespread pest and disease infestations, due to the drought, have reportedly hit about one-third of the wheat crop. The full extent of the damage in terms of loss of yield potential is not yet known but it is likely that the 1999 output will be substantially below that in 1998. In India, a good wheat crop is in prospect reflecting favourable weather and an increase in cultivated area. Crop prospects are also good in Bangladesh due to favourable weather conditions. In Pakistan, wheat crops in the rainfed areas have been affected by a prolonged dry spell, but the 1998/99 wheat output is still officially forecast to rise slightly (to 19 million tonnes) from the previous year. In Afghanistan, production of winter grains in 1999 is expected to be again limited by the adverse effects of civil strife and short supply of agricultural inputs. Prospects for the region's 1999 winter coarse grains crops about to be harvested are favourable. Land is being prepared for the planting of the 1999 main season coarse grains crop, which normally starts in April.
Harvesting of the 1998 main rice crops in Asia is complete and, in some countries in the northern hemisphere, the second or third rice crop seasons are nearing conclusion. The region's aggregate paddy output is estimated at 512 million tonnes, down by 15 million tonnes from the 1997 record. The 1999 season is just getting started in the northern hemisphere countries while it is already quite advanced in the southern hemisphere and around the equatorial belt.

In China (Mainland), planting of the 1999 early rice crop is underway and preliminary reports suggest an expansion in rice area. However, drought conditions across parts of the country may have a significant impact on crop performance. In Viet Nam, where harvesting of the winter-spring crop is underway in some parts of the Mekong Delta, yields may have been affected by the lower than usual water levels available during part of the growing season. The area planted to the winter-spring crop is estimated at 2.7 million hectares, about 86 percent of the original target. Encouraged by the high prices that prevailed at planting time, farmers in Thailand did not heed the Government's call to save limited water reserves by reducing the dry season rice area. The arrival of some rain towards the end of January and beginning of February improved conditions for developing crops but nevertheless, output is likely to be less than in the previous season. In the Philippines, harvesting of the second-season crop is in progress amidst reports of flood damage to rice crops in some parts of the country. Planting of the main season crop starts in April. In Myanmar, the dry season crop harvest is underway and planting of the main season crop is expected to commence in April, assuming normal weather conditions. The paddy production estimate for 1998-99 is 17.8 million tonnes, up from 16.7 million tonnes in the previous year due to increased area. In Cambodia, earlier fears of a critical water shortage and pest infestation affected rice production less severely than originally thought. A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in January 1999 estimated the main season paddy output at 2.88 million tonnes, up by 8 percent from the previous year. Overall, output during the 1998-99 season is estimated at 3.5 million tonnes, compared to 3.4 million tonnes during the previous year. Planting of the 1999 rice crop in Japan is expected to start in May. The rice production adjustment area for the year has been set at about 960 000 hectares by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the same level as last year.

In India, harvesting of the 1998 Kharif crop is virtually complete and the Rabi crop is in the heading stage. Paddy production for the 1998-99 season is forecast at 123.5 million tonnes, similar to the previous year. Planting of the 1999 Kharif main season will not start until the arrival of the south-west monsoon in early June. There are reports of a price hike for fertilizers, which could reduce applications and result in lower yields. In Bangladesh, floods that affected most of the country from July through September severely damaged the paddy fields. The total 1998-99 paddy output is estimated at 26.7 million tonnes, about 2 million tonnes down from the previous season. Planting of the Aus crop is underway. Overall, a slight increase in output is anticipated in the 1999-2000 crop year owing mostly to an expected recovery in the planted area.


  Coarse grains
Rice (paddy)
(Total 1/) 
( . . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . . . . . . . )
Central America
South America
North America
570 2/
2 062.6
2 040
Developing countries
1 197.1
1 195
Developed countries

1/ Total cereal, including rice in paddy terms. 2/ Highly tentative.

In the southern hemisphere and the equatorial belt of Asia, the 1999 paddy season is well advanced. In Indonesia, the first tentative forecast of 1999 paddy production by the Central Bureau of Statistics is 48.6 million tonnes, compared to the Government target of 52 million tonnes. Harvesting of the country's main season crop is in progress and is expected to continue through May. There have been reports of rain disrupting harvesting in Java, where most of Indonesia's rice is produced. Overall, however, harvested area and yields are anticipated to be higher than in the previous year when the El Niño-related drought affected the crop. In Sri Lanka, the harvest of the main season, Maha, crop is underway but output is expected to be smaller than in the previous year as planted area was lower owing to insufficient rainfall.


NORTHERN AFRICA: Prospects for the subregion's 1999 wheat crops, to be harvested from May-June, are generally favourable. Output is expected to be similar to the 14 million tonnes harvested in 1998 if normal weather prevails in the coming months. In Algeria, recent rainfall maintained adequate moisture for the 1999 wheat and barley crops but below-normal temperatures delayed crop development somewhat. However, additional timely rains will be required during the remainder of the growing season to avert loss of yield potential. In Morocco, the area sown to wheat and barley is reported to be lower than the average for the previous five years. Widespread moderate rains in mid-January improved moisture conditions for the 1999 winter grain crops previously stressed by unfavourable weather. Dry weather conditions returned recently to winter grain areas but lower than normal temperatures limited crop stress. Widespread timely rains will be needed in the coming months for normal crop development. In Tunisia, prospects for the 1999 winter grain crop are favourable. Cumulative rainfall since the beginning of the growing season is reported to be above normal particularly in the major producing northern areas. The area sown to cereals, mainly wheat, in 1998/99 season is estimated at 1.3 million hectares, slightly lower than the target due to inadequate rainfall in the central cereal growing areas at sowing time. However, use of high quality seeds and adequate availability of fertilizers should result in higher cereal yields. In Egypt, early prospects for wheat (mainly irrigated) and barley to be harvested from mid-April are favourable. Aggregate output of coarse grains in the 1999 in the subregion is also expected to remain similar to the previous year's level of about 11 million tonnes.

Preparation for the 1999 paddy season is underway in Egypt but there is no clear indication as to the area to be planted, a decision that is usually dependent on the availability of irrigation water. For 1998, the paddy crop is estimated at 4.6 million tonnes from an area of about 500 000 hectares, compared to 5.5 million tonnes and an area of 650 000 hectares in 1997. The Government has a policy of reducing rice area with the aim of conserving irrigation water for use in the production of alternative crops.

WESTERN AFRICA: A record cereal harvest was gathered in late 1998 in the Sahelian countries. Based on the findings of a series of joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions in October/November 1998, aggregate 1998 cereal production of the nine CILSS countries is estimated at a record 10.9 million tonnes, which is 34 percent higher than in 1997 and 20 percent above the average of the last five years. Record crops were gathered in Chad, Mali and Niger. Output was above-average in Burkina Faso, The Gambia and Mauritania, close to average in Senegal but below average in Cape Verde. Cereal production in Guinea-Bissau is estimated to have been below average due to civil disturbances that hampered agricultural activities. Output has clearly increased relative to 1997 in all the major producing countries of the Sahel. It was below the 1997 level in Guinea-Bissau and in Cape Verde where very poor crops were again harvested.

The 1998 aggregate cereal output in the eight coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea amounts to about 29 million tonnes, which is similar to the previous year's level. Production was above average in Benin and Nigeria, and below average in Sierra Leone and Togo. The rainy season is starting in the southern part of the coastal countries. Land preparation and planting of the first 1999 maize crop are progressing northwards following the onset of the rains. Liberia remains heavily dependent on international food assistance despite some improvement in food production. In Sierra Leone, following the recent escalation of violence, the food supply situation has seriously deteriorated, and prospects are unfavourable for the forthcoming growing season.

CENTRAL AFRICA: In the Democratic Republic of Congo, maize is growing satisfactorily in the centre and the south. Civil strife disrupted agricultural activities, notably in the east where harvesting of the A-season is underway. Prospects for the second season are poor due to shortage of seeds and insecurity. In Kinshasa, the general deterioration of the economic and financial situation in the city has dramatically reduced vulnerable people's access to basic food supplies. In the Republic of Congo, the food supply situation deteriorated significantly following the resurgence of civil disturbances and subsequent population displacements. Large sections of the population face food access difficulties due to loss of jobs, high food prices and a seriously disrupted food marketing system.

EASTERN AFRICA: The subregions 1998 wheat output is estimated at 3.3 million tonnes, some 25 percent up from 1997. In Ethiopia, the wheat crop harvested late in 1998 was a record 2.3 million tonnes. In Kenya, output remained around the good level of the previous year. The 1999 wheat crop is already being harvested in Sudan. Prospects are unfavourable reflecting a decline in plantings in response to high production costs and cheaper imported wheat. Low yields are also expected following high temperatures in the past months. Recent official forecast indicate a crop of 280 000 tonnes, about half of last year's bumper crop. Harvesting of the 1998/99 secondary coarse grains is complete in the subregion. Production of this crop was reduced in most countries due to erratic and insufficient rains during the growing season. However, since the 1998 main season crops were generally good, the aggregate 1998/99 coarse grains output would be a record 23 million tonnes, substantially higher than in 1997/98. Country details are as follows: in Somalia, both the main "Gu" and the secondary "Deyr" season crops were reduced by dry weather. Latest estimates put the 1998/99 coarse grains output at 176 000 tonnes, 38 percent lower than last year and well below the pre-civil strife average. In Ethiopia, the main "Meher" crop is estimated at a record level of 8.7 million tonnes. Coarse grains production also reached a record level in Sudan in 1998. Aggregate output (mainly sorghum and millet) is put at 5.5 million tonnes compared with 3.2 million tonnes in the previous year. In Tanzania, the recently harvested secondary "Vuli" coarse grains crop was 60 percent lower than the previous year's due to unfavourable weather. However, the main season was good and the aggregate 1998/99 output is estimated at 3.3 million tonnes, 25 percent up from 1997/98 and above average. In Kenya, the secondary "short rains" coarse grains output is estimated to be only one-quarter of the normal level due to insufficient precipitation, but production of the main "long rains" season was above normal. In aggregate the 1998/99 output is put at 2.7 million tonnes, only slightly above the previous year's level. In Uganda, the 1998/99 second season maize crop recently harvested is estimated to be about 40 percent down from normal levels due to delayed and irregular rains. However, following a good first season, the aggregate 1998 coarse grains output is up from 1997's level. Insufficient rains during the 1999 first season also affected coarse grains production in Rwanda where output is tentatively estimated at 64 000 tonnes, 15 percent down from the previous year. In Burundi, production of the 1999 first season coarse grains declined 5 percent to 85 000 tonnes.

The 1999 paddy crop in Tanzania, the largest producer in the subregion, has been affected by drought which is expected to result in a delayed and reduced harvest. In 1998, the country produced an estimated 1 million tonnes of paddy, up significantly from 1997, due to abundant rainfall during the growing season together with a 12 percent rise in area.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Harvest prospects are generally favourable for the 1998/99 coarse grains crops in the subregion following abundant and widespread rains between November and January. If favourable conditions continue, a recovery in production is anticipated in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, while good harvests are in prospect in Malawi, Mozambique, and Swaziland. However, reduced production and tight food supplies are expected in Angola due to renewed fighting since late 1998. Emergency assistance is also required in parts of central Mozambique where torrential rains in late February and early March resulted in flooding with loss of human lives, property and crops. In South Africa, a prolonged dry spell in February-March in some maize growing areas has raised concern for yields, but the final outcome of the season will depend on conditions in the next few weeks. Overall, indications are that the subregion's 1999 coarse grain crop will exceed the poor 1998 level but the extent of the recovery remains uncertain.

The 1998/99 wheat crop harvested late in 1998 is estimated at 1.8 million tonnes, 32 percent below the previous year's production. The reduction mostly reflects reduced plantings, particularly in South Africa, in response to lower international and domestic wheat prices.

Prospects are favourable so far for the 1999 paddy crop in the subregion. Rainfall has been abundant and widespread in Madagascar and Mozambique, the major rice growing countries. Although locusts continue to be a threat to crops in Madagascar, control measures are reported in affected areas, with assistance from the donor community. Assuming favourable conditions continue for the remainder of the season, paddy production in the subregion may exceed last year's output of 2.5 million tonnes.


Harvesting of the 1999 wheat crop in the main producing irrigated areas in the northwest of Mexico is about to start. Despite low reservoir levels, due to extremely dry weather conditions since the beginning of the year, the outlook is good and output is tentatively forecast at an about-average 3.4 million tonnes compared with 3.2 million tonnes in 1998.

Harvesting of the 1998/99 third season maize (and beans) crops in some Central American countries, affected by hurricane "Mitch" in 1998, is almost completed. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, production is expected to have been boosted to above normal levels in reaction to the severe losses incurred by the earlier crop. This is largely due to the emergency rehabilitation programmes implemented by the respective Governments in collaboration with the international community. In Honduras, a good third season maize crop is also expected as farmers actively continued planting after the passage of the hurricane and the newly planted crops benefited from good weather. Fieldwork has started in most countries under generally normal weather conditions in preparation of planting of the 1999 cereal and bean crops, with the arrival of the rainy season, in late April or May. In the Caribbean, harvesting of the 1999 first season maize crop in the Dominican Republic is underway and a recovery is expected from last year's El Niño-affected crop. By contrast, in Cuba, poor soil moisture reserves, particularly in the eastern parts of the country, threaten the outturn of some minor foodcrops. In Haiti, favourable weather conditions have benefited planting of the 1999/2000 first season maize crop currently underway.


Harvesting of the 1998/99 wheat crop is complete in the southern countries of the subregion (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile). Aggregate output of these countries is estimated at 14.2 million tonnes compared to 19.7 tonnes in the previous year. The decline mostly reflects farmers' decision to reduce plantings in anticipation of adverse weather and lower than normal yields. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, normal rains have resumed since the end of February, benefiting the development of the 1998/99 main wheat crop, mostly grown in the eastern department of Santa Cruz. Harvesting is about to start and an above-average output is tentatively forecast. In Ecuador, where wheat is mostly grown in the highlands, the crop continues to develop under normal conditions for harvesting from June, while in Peru, the bulk of the harvesting operations should start in April.

Harvesting of the 1999 coarse grains crops has started in some southern countries. In Argentina, where maize plantings were reduced with respect to the previous year largely because of less attractive prices, output is tentatively forecast at 13.5 million tonnes, down from the 1998 record of 19.4 million tonnes, but still well above average. In Brazil, maize is expected to recover from the 1998 drought-affected level. Despite relatively low yields obtained so far in the main growing states because of adverse weather at planting, aggregate output (both crops) is provisionally forecast to be about average at between 33.5 to 34 million tonnes. In Uruguay and Paraguay, maize output is expected to be lower than last year's but would still be above average. In Chile, weather conditions in some of the main growing regions have slightly improved since mid-February, following months of dry weather which seriously affected planting of the 1998/99 maize crop. Harvesting has only started and a below-average output is anticipated. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, production of the 1998/99 first season coarse grains crops is expected to significantly improve from last year's drought-affected crop, despite irregularly distributed rains in recent weeks. In Ecuador, despite localized damage to plantings caused by excessive rains, the 1998/99 first season maize crop is also anticipated to recover from last year's sharply reduced level. In Peru, harvesting of the 1999 maize (white and yellow) crops is underway and aggregate output is expected to be above average. In Colombia and Venezuela, weather conditions have favoured land preparation for planting of the 1999 coarse grain crops which is about to start.

Harvesting of the 1999 paddy crop has started in some countries of the Latin America region. Growing conditions have been generally good and record outputs could be achieved in some countries, in sharp contrast to the previous season, when El Niño-related weather anomalies hit the crops. The expected increase in production is partly a reflection of area expansion prompted by relatively high prices at planting time. In Argentina, the paddy harvest is in progress and production is forecast to reach a record 1.3 million tonnes, up from 1 million tonnes produced last year. In Brazil, the rice area increased by 22 percent to 3.9 million hectares in 1999. Assuming average yields, output is forecast to recover to 11.3 million tonnes, which would be 33 percent up from 1998. In Uruguay, the other big producer in the region, a record paddy crop of 1.1 million tonnes is anticipated, up by over 30 percent from the previous season.


In the United States, a significant reduction in wheat output is expected in 1999. Latest official estimates put winter wheat plantings at 17.6 million hectares, the lowest since 1972/73 and down 7 percent from 1998, while early indications for spring wheat plantings point to an area similar to the previous year's level of 8 million hectares. Assuming the forecast spring wheat area materializes, even if normal conditions prevail for the rest of the growing season, wheat output in the United States is forecast to fall to about 59 million tonnes, compared to some 69 million tonnes in 1998. In Canada, the bulk of the 1999 wheat crop is due to be sown from May to June. Farmers' planting intentions are uncertain and are likely to be influenced by market developments in the coming weeks. However, latest indications based on recent projected returns for Canadian producers in 1999, which indicate little change over the previous year, point to an unchanged wheat area and output. In the United States some early coarse grains crops are already in the ground in southern parts, but the bulk of the maize planting in the Corn Belt states takes place from late April. Early indications in the USDA Prospective Plantings report point to a slight reduction in maize plantings this year, to 31.7 million hectares. The sorghum area is also expected to decrease somewhat. In Canada, the bulk of the coarse grains crops will be sown in May-June. As for wheat, early indications point to little change in the area sown from the previous year.

In the United States, the area under rice is expected to decline by between 4 and 5 percent from the previous season to slightly less than 1.3 million hectares owing to the prevailing lower rice prices. Accordingly, production is also anticipated to decline marginally. Planting of the rice crop usually starts around March/April.


Latest indications for the region's 1999 cereal crops continue to point to a downturn in production. In the EC, adverse weather conditions in some parts last autumn, weaker prices, and a 5 percent increase in the compulsory set-aside requirement led to a smaller winter grain area, with most of the reduction in wheat. In addition, excessive winter rainfall in some northern parts and, by contrast, a long dry spell in southern Spain and Portugal will likely pull down average yields. Spring planting is underway throughout much of the Community but the outlook is uncertain. Plantings are somewhat behind normal in some northern parts due to excessive soil moisture after abundant winter rains, while it is still unclear exactly how much of the 5 percent increase in compulsory set-aside has been accounted for by smaller winter plantings and thus how much adjustment may have to be made in spring crop areas. At this early stage, FAO tentatively forecasts a reduction of about 5 percent in the Community's wheat output in 1999 from last year's bumper level, and a 2-3 percent reduction for coarse grains. Elsewhere in Europe generally smaller cereal crops are also expected in 1999. Limited demand made it difficult to sell grain surpluses in 1998 in many central and eastern European countries, dampening farmers' incentive to plant winter cereals for the 1999 season and, in many cases, aggravating the tight financial situation which many farmers face. Bulgaria's wheat output is expected to fall by about 15-20 percent in 1999 from the estimated 3.3 million tonnes last year. The winter wheat area is estimated at about 900 000 hectares, down from 1.08 million hectares in the previous year, and yields are expected to fall due to late planting and limited use of inputs. In the Czech Republic, official estimates put the winter grain area for harvest in 1999 at some 980 000 hectares, about 13 percent down from the previous year's level. Of the total, wheat is estimated to account for about 730 000 hectares compared to 850 000 hectares in the previous year. In Hungary, official reports indicate that winter wheat was sown on a total area of 700 000 hectares last autumn, 500 000 hectares down from the previous year's level. After getting off to a bad start due to excessive moisture and early frosts, crop development this spring is now threatened by floods due to rapid thawing of this winter's thick snow cover. In Poland, the winter grain area for the 1999 harvest is estimated to be similar to the previous year's. The areas sown to wheat and rye are put at about 2 million hectares and 2.3 million hectares respectively. In Romania, the winter wheat area is estimated at about 1.6 million hectares compared to some 2 million hectares in the previous year. However, crops are reported to have germinated well under generally favourable conditions. The Slovak Republic faced adverse weather last autumn like neighbouring countries, and the winter wheat area is reported to have been limited to no more than half the planned 400 000 hectares.

In the EC, the 1999 paddy season is getting underway, but information on area to be put under rice is still lacking. The current production estimate for the 1998 crop stands at slightly over 2.6 million tonnes, almost identical to the 1997 revised figure.


In the CIS, the 1999 aggregate cereal and pulse harvest could recover from last year's poor level, but is likely to remain below the 1994-1998 average. A return to normal weather could lead to a recovery in yields from last year's drought-reduced levels. However, at the same time, yields could be affected by the accumulated farm debt and the financial constraints in virtually all countries, which are likely to make access to credit and inputs-in-kind even more difficult than in past years.

The area sown to winter grains declined marginally, mainly on account of lower plantings in the Russian Federation (by 4 percent). The outlook for the winter grains (mostly wheat and rye) has improved somewhat, particularly in the important North Caucasus area of the Russian Federation. Current indications are that the extent of crop damage by winterkill in the CIS could be about 1 million hectares less than was earlier expected, but even so, up to 2.5 million hectares or over 10 percent of the aggregate winter grain area may still need to be reseeded.

The early spring has provided a window of opportunity to catch up on the substantial backlog of autumn ploughing. Spring grain planting has just begun in southern parts but it is too early to determine whether or not spring grain planting targets of 38 million hectares in the Russian Federation and 7.6 million hectares in the Ukraine will be achieved in view of the material and financial constraints. In Kazakhstan, the area to be sown is expected to decline by another 1 million hectares to 12 million hectares. The financial crisis in the Russian Federation has disrupted trade in the region with the result that many smaller countries are also having trouble in mobilizing seeds and other inputs.

Based on the current condition of winter grains and expectations for spring plantings, and assuming normal growing conditions until the completion of the harvest, FAO tentatively forecasts the 1999 grain and pulse harvest in the CIS to recover to 125 million tonnes from an estimated 108 million tonnes in 1998. Output of wheat could increase by 6 million tonnes to 68 million tonnes, as better yields are expected to offset winterkill and the area decline. Output of coarse grains is tentatively projected to increase by about 10 million tonnes to 53 million tonnes, mainly reflecting expectations of better yields. Production of rice is thought likely to continue its declining trend but to remain around 1.2 million tonnes. Output of pulses could recover to an estimated 3 million tonnes (1998: 2.5 million). However, the bulk of spring crops and particularly coarse grains and pulses have still to be planted in a very difficult and uncertain environment and these forecasts remain highly tentative.

In the Russian Federation, where winterkill could be less than 2 million hectares, grain production in 1999 is currently forecast at 65 (1998: 55 ) million tonnes, and to include 32 (1998: 30) million tonnes of wheat and 30 (1998: 23) million tonnes of coarse grains. Farmers may increase coarse grain plantings in response to the shortage of feedgrains, winterkill and the planned arrival of significant quantities of imported wheat. In the Ukraine, grain and pulse production is forecast at 32.5 (1998: 29.5) million tonnes, including 18 (1998: 17) million tonnes of wheat and 13.5 (1998: 11.5) million tonnes of coarse grains. In Kazakhstan, the bulk of grain will not be planted until May. Some recovery in yields could result in a harvest of some 9.5 (1998: 7.3) million tonnes including 7.5 (1998: 5.5) tonnes of wheat.

1/ The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) includes 12 member states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Ukraine and Uzbekistan).


In Australia, planting of the main 1999 wheat and coarse grains crops is due to start in May. Early official forecasts indicate a marginal increase in wheat production based on slightly improved price prospects foreseen for Australian producers in 1999/2000, who will harvest their crops towards the end of the year, and several months after the other major exporters' harvests which are expected to be smaller in 1999. By contrast, other forecasts based on less optimistic price projections would point to a small reduction. However, current opinions vary within a relatively narrow range and assuming normal weather, another good crop of around 20 million tonnes seems likely. The final area planted will depend greatly on weather conditions and developments in international markets during the planting season. Prospects for the winter coarse grains are similarly uncertain pending clarification of the wheat situation and developments in feed grains markets in the coming weeks. However, output of barley, the major winter coarse grain, is expected to remain at some 5 million tonnes. Harvest of the minor 1999 summer coarse grains crop, mainly sorghum and maize, is due to start soon and a bumper output is expected after favourable winter rains encouraged increased plantings.

The 1999 paddy season in Australia benefited from very favourable growing conditions and harvesting of the crop is ongoing albeit at a slower pace than in the previous two seasons. The current forecast is for an output of 1.35 million tonnes, up slightly from the previous season. However, the impact of recent torrential rains on rice output in the state of New South Wales, where most of the country's rice is produced, is yet to be ascertained.

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