FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.4, September 1999 - Page 4

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In northern Africa, harvesting of 1999 winter grains is complete; 1999 wheat output is estimated at about 13 million tonnes, some 9 percent below the 1998 crop but 4 percent above average. The coarse grains crop is estimated at 11 millions tonnes, similar to last year. However, conditions have been mixed in the sub-region. In Morocco, production is estimated to be 41 percent below 1998 due to inadequate rainfall and reduced plantings. In contrast, favourable conditions in Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia benefited crops and cereal output is estimated to be above average and higher than last year.

In western Africa, overall harvest prospects are favourable in the Sahel and crops are developing satisfactorily in coastal countries. Unusually heavy rains caused serious flooding in Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. Although this benefited crop and pasture development particularly in Mauritania, northern Senegal and Mali, but excess water may reduce potential yield in low-lying areas. Fighting in Liberia continues to hamper rehabilitation activities but the food supply situation continues to improve. Security remains volatile in Sierra Leone and crop output is expected to remain similar to last year. The overall situation, however, is improving following implementation of the peace agreement.

In central Africa, growing conditions are favourable so far in Cameroon and the Central African Republic. The security situation is improving in the Republic of Congo; it should also ease in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo following the ceasefire in late August.

In eastern Africa, favourable rains in July and August improved prospects for 1999 foodcrops for harvest later in the year. In Eritrea, crops are developing satisfactorily despite moisture stress earlier due to dry conditions. In Sudan, heavy rains in early September resulted in floods but crop damage was small. However, in Ethiopia, drought conditions earlier in the year resulted in failure of the "belg" crop and delayed planting of main season crops, which may affect yields. In Somalia, despite some improvement over last year's poor harvest, this year's "Gu" crop was also poor due to drought. In Kenya, the 1999 main maize crop is anticipated to be poor due to drought and pest infestation in major producing areas. In Tanzania and Uganda, where harvesting is complete, below-average cereal crops are forecast due to drought.

In southern Africa, latest estimates put aggregate 1999 coarse grains production only slightly higher than last year's below average crop. Favourable rains early in the season encouraged increased planting, but yields were negatively affected by excessive rains in some areas and by prolonged dry spell in others. In South Africa, the sub-region's largest producer, maize output declined from the already reduced level of 1998. Production of maize decreased also in Angola due to disruption in the agriculture sector caused by increased civil unrest. In Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe coarse grain output increased over last year but remained below average. In contrast, in Malawi and Mozambique bumper maize crops were harvested, which resulted in an exportable surplus in the 1999/2000 marketing year (April/March). In Madagascar, the 1999 main paddy crop was estimated to be higher than average production last year.

In Asia, an erratic monsoon this year led to localised drought in parts and floods in others. Following dry conditions earlier in parts of northern China, in late August/early September scattered rainfall increased soil moisture for wheat planting to commence shortly. In southern parts, moderate to heavy showers in the first dekad of September, maintained moisture supplies for late double-crop rice but slowed harvesting of single-crop rice. In India, hot, dry weather persisted over western and southern parts, further stressing crops. In Pakistan, rainfall was generally adequate for paddy crop in key producing areas, which may result in some increase in overall production. Heavy rainfall resulted in renewed flooding in southern most parts of the Rep of Korea, whilst, dry weather continued to stress filling crops across Korea DPR. In Vietnam, moderate to heavy showers increased moisture supplies for rice and bumper production is anticipated. In Indonesia, showers in main producing areas in Java supplemented irrigation supplies for irrigated second rice. In several countries of the Near East, the worst drought in decades severely reduced food production, notably in Iraq, Jordan, Syria and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Afghanistan, a sharply reduced cereal crop will result in record cereal import requirement for 1999/2000. In the CIS countries in Asia, 1999 grain output in Kazakhstan could recover to about 9 million tonnes, provided conditions remain favourable until the harvest. In Turkmenistan, 1999 grain output was a record 1.5 million tonnes due to better incentives and seed and fertilizer use. By contrast, in Kyrgyz Republic, the trend to diversify out of grains continues and wheat production in 1999 could fall. In Tajikistan, output is likely to remain poor due to low yields. In the Caucasus, the outlook is also for reduced output in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

In Central America and the Caribbean, normal rains favoured development of first season cereal and bean crops. A recovery in production from last year, which was affected by hurricane "Mitch", is anticipated in most countries, with the exception of Honduras where low prices deterred farmers from planting. In Mexico, normal rains in the southern plateau and Yucatan peninsula benefited development of important spring/summer crop for harvesting from late September. In the Caribbean, average maize and paddy production is forecast in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, while in Cuba, soil moisture deficits have affected development of minor foodcrops.

In South America, planting of the 1999/2000 wheat crop has been completed in southern countries. A recovery in production from the 1998/99 weather affected crops is anticipated in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, while in Brazil, harvesting has already started and an average output is provisionally forecast. Land is also being prepared in southern countries for planting 1999/2000 coarse grains crops. In the Andean countries, land preparation is underway in Bolivia for planting coarse grain crops, while in Ecuador and Peru average to above-average output of recently-harvested maize crop is provisionally estimated. In Colombia, harvesting of 1999 maize is well advanced and average production is expected. In Venezuela, recently affected by heavy rains and flooding, harvesting of 1999 maize and paddy crops is underway.

In Europe, aggregate 1999 cereal production in the EC is forecast at 200 million tonnes, about 5 percent below last year due to increased compulsory set-aside and poor weather in parts. Lower cereal output in 1999 is also expected in some eastern European countries due to reduced planting and/or adverse weather. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), 1999 cereal production is significantly lower than last year due to adverse weather, shortage of farm funds/inputs and the conflict. In the CIS countries west of the Ural Mountains, the outlook for the 1999 cereal harvests is mixed due to unfavourable conditions and economic problems. In Belarus, 1999 grain output is likely to be lower than last year's 4.8 million tonnes. In Moldova, aggregate cereal output is likely to be less than last year's 2.5 million tonnes. In the Russian Federation, average yields, better than last year, are in prospect, but fuel shortages are slowing harvesting in parts. The projection is for increased production, possibly to about 60 million tonnes, despite an 8 percent fall in planting and unfavourable weather in parts. In the Ukraine, yields were affected by hot/dry weather in June and July; grain production in 1999 is forecast at about 27 million tonnes. In the Baltics, aggregate area sown declined somewhat in Latvia and Lithuania, and the outlook is for 1999 wheat output to remain close to last year's level and that of coarse grains to increase marginally. In Croatia, 1999 wheat output fell 50 percent while coarse grain planting also fell sharply due to economic problems and excessive rains. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the current outlook is for both wheat and coarse grain production to remain stable at about 200 000 tonnes and 900 000 tonnes respectively.

In North America, due to lower planting, total 1999 wheat production in the United States is forecast at 62.8 million tonnes, 9 percent below last year. Prospects for 1999 maize have deteriorated due to dry, hot conditions in key producing areas in late July/August. Based on crop conditions in early-September, maize output is forecast at 238 million tonnes, some 4 percent lower than the above-average crop in 1998. The 1999 rice crop is in good condition and a record harvest of 9.7 million tonnes is forecast. In Canada, the 1999 wheat harvest is well underway under generally satisfactory conditions and an output of 25 million tonnes is expected, slightly above 1998. However, output of coarse grains will be lower as farmers have switched land to other non-cereal crops.

In Oceania, the outlook for 1999 winter wheat and coarse grains in Australia is satisfactory so far. Another good wheat harvest, of nearly 22 million tonnes is expected provided weather remains favourable until the harvest. However, coarse grain output could decline due to lower planting. The 1999 paddy harvest is almost complete and output is forecast at a near record 1.35 million tonnes.

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