FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.3, June 2000


EC (2 June)

The outlook for the 2000 cereal crops is generally favourable in most countries throughout the EC. Conditions improved significantly in southern parts in late April and early May following good rainfall. Latest information confirms expectations of a significant increase in aggregate wheat output in the Community after planted area increased in many member states at the expense of oilseeds. FAO forecasts the aggregate crop in 2000 at 105.6 million tonnes, compared to 97.6 million tonnes in 1999. A larger coarse grains crop is also expected this year. Oilseeds have been displaced in favour of barley, the major coarse grain crop. Following recent improvement in moisture conditions in the south, maize planting is also expected to increase. FAO forecasts the Community's aggregate coarse grains output in 2000 at 105.7 million tonnes compared to 102.2 million tonnes in 1999. Rice planting in Italy, the largest producer in the EC, has been completed under generally favourable weather conditions. The area is estimated at about 221 000 hectares, similar to last year's. However, elsewhere in the Community, the conditions have not been as favourable. Earlier drought conditions in southern parts of Portugal and Spain may lead to depressed plantings. Overall, output for the EC is forecast to decline slightly from the previous year.

ALBANIA (2 June)

Aggregate cereal production is expected to be about average this year at between 550 000 to 600 000 tonnes. Food assistance continues to be provided by WFP for some 60 000 persons who have been rendered vulnerable by the Balkan crisis.

BELARUS (3 June)

Untimely frost in May, with temperatures falling as low as -16oC reportedly caused crop damage on 14 percent of the winter crop area, 5 percent of the spring crop area, to perennial grasses and 566 hectares of vegetables. Indications are that 200 000 hectares of the targeted 2.7 million hectares to be sown to grains have been affected. Official reports indicate that the area sown to winter grains is above target at 1.155 million hectares; that sown to wheat increased by 4 percent to 240 000 hectares. Reflecting, in addition, pervasive economic problems in the sector and inadequate use of fertilizer and other inputs, the production target of at least 5 million tonnes in 2000 may not be met.

In 1999, agricultural output fell by 10 percent, over one third of agricultural enterprises worked at a loss and the grain harvest fell to 3.6 million tonnes, almost 40 percent below the average of the last five years, and 25 percent less than the poor harvest of 1998. Output of livestock products also decreased, significantly in the case of milk and the government has issued orders for the procurement and stockpiling of food products for the population in the coming winter. Over 80 percent of the population have salaries below the poverty line.

Following the second poor cereal harvest in succession, the country needs to import cereals for human consumption and animal feed. Food needs are likely to be met but foreign exchange constraints could limit the volume of feedgrains purchased, pointing to a further decline in livestock production in 2000. Aggregate cereal imports in 1999/2000 are now estimated at about 1.4 million tonnes.


The downward trend in winter grain plantings is continuing, reflecting poor profitability of wheat in both BiH and Rep. Srpska. By contrast, the area sown to maize continues to increase. To meet consumption demand, wheat imports have increased steadily and in the 2000/01 marketing year are projected to increase beyond the 300 000 tonnes imported in 1999/2000. The economy has been negatively affected by civil unrest in the region but indications are that the crop and overall food supply situation have not been unduly disrupted.


Weather conditions are reported to have been generally favourable so far for this season's cereal crops and wheat output in 2000 is forecast at about 3 million tonnes, similar to production in 1999. Regarding maize, the major coarse grain crop, latest indications rule out the likelihood of an area increase as was earlier expected. The area planted by mid-May was reported to be some 300 000 hectares, and with the normal planting period ending by late May, the final area is likely to reach about 550 000 to 600 000 hectares, similar to the previous year.

CROATIA (3 June)

The early outlook the 2000 food crop harvests is satisfactory. The area sown to winter cereals recovered in response to a 38 percent increase in wheat plantings to a record 234 000 hectares in the wake of the poor harvest last year. The budget allocation for farm support has been increased by 10 percent. Subsidies per hectare for arable crops have increased by varying amounts, ranging from 30 percent for wheat production and 100 percent for barely. New subsidies have been introduced for maize and livestock farming. Nevertheless, economic problems on farm persist.

The 1999 cereal harvest fell by 10 percent to 2.9 million tonnes. Good yields for maize only partially offset the 46 percent fall in wheat production to 558 000 tonnes. Economic problems, which reduced winter grain plantings, were exacerbated by poor weather.


The winter wheat area is estimated to have increased this year by about 15 percent to over 1 million hectares. However, yield prospects are somewhat uncertain after unseasonably high temperatures and drought conditions set-in in early May. It is too early to know the extent of the damage so far, but if significant rainfall doesn't arrive soon, sharp yield reductions will be likely. The spring-sown crops, which are in the early stages of development, are expected to be the worst affected.

ESTONIA (3 June)

The outlook is for some recovery in cereal production in 2000. The area sown to winter crops has increased; with grains overwintering well and benefiting from warm spring temperatures. Spring planting is well advanced. Grain production in 1999 is officially estimated at almost 500 000 tonnes, some 15 percent lower than output in 1998 in view of a reduction in the area sown. Production of livestock products fell in response to reduced import demand from the Russian Federation. The country has become a member of the WTO and signed an agreement with the EU aimed at further liberalizing trade between the two countries prior to full accession. Since 1995, the country has become a net food importer. Exports include dairy products, livestock, fish and beverages while imports consist mostly of high value added food products including grains, fruit and vegetables. Recently imports of beef, poultry and pork have increased. Cereal imports have fluctuated between 200 000 to 250 000 tonnes per annum.


No significant change is expected in cereal production in 2000. Weather conditions for the winter crops are reported to have been generally favourable. Output of wheat is expected to remain at around 350 000-400 000 tonnes. Food assistance continues to be provided by WFP for about 20 000 persons rendered vulnerable by the Balkan crisis.

HUNGARY (2 June)

In Hungary, prospects for the 2000 cereal crops have deteriorated over the past few weeks due to a period of unusually hot and dry weather. Although it is still too early to know the full extent of the damage, it is now uncertain if the expected output of 4.5 million tonnes will be achieved. Also the maize crop that has been sown on an estimated area of about 1 million hectares, is affected by the hot and dry weather, and yields will fall well below average if no significant precipitation arrives soon.

LATVIA (3 June)

Early indications are that the 2000 cereal harvest could recover from the low level of 787 000 tonnes in 1999. The area sown to winter grains increased, over wintering and spring growing conditions were mostly satisfactory. Spring grain sowing is well underway. Restrictions on pork imports have been lifted; in compensation pig farmers are to receive subsidies. With livestock production remaining depressed, imports of cereals in recent years are limited to about 50 000-70 000 tonnes per annum, mainly of bread quality wheat.


The outlook for 2000 grain harvest is satisfactory to date. The aggregate area to be sown, at 1.1 million hectares, is expected to remain about average. Good growing conditions to date and some slow but steady improvements in yields as farmers adjust to farming under in a market economy, are likely. The 1999 grain harvest fell by 25 percent to 2.1 million tonnes in response to a cutback in the area sown and lower yields.

MOLDOVA (13 June)

The outlook for the 2000 grain harvest has been compromised by untimely frosts and persistent dry conditions which have affected grains, fodder, fruit and grape production. Wheat production initially targeted at 1 million tonnes could be up to 50 percent less and barley yields are also affected. The outlook for the recently planted maize crop, targeted to reach 1.5 million tonnes, is uncertain at this stage, but official forecasts are pessamistic. FAO tentatively forecasts the 2000 grain harvest at 1.65 million tonnes, only two-thirds of average and 25 percent below last year's harvest.

The aggregate 1999 grain harvest fell to 2.18 million tonnes, (from 2.5 million tonnes in 1998) in response to a 6 percent reduction in the area sown to wheat and dry conditions, which affected spring grains. In an attempt to ensure domestic supplies, and limit the need for imports of wheat, the government has banned exports of wheat and flour until 31 August 2000. The country exported 330 000 tonnes of cereals in1999, including 158 000 tonnes of wheat.

POLAND (2 June)

Latest indications point to a likely reduction in cereal output in 2000, after an about-average crop of 26 million tonnes in 1999. Preliminary official estimates indicate that the overall area of winter and spring cereals planted for the 2000 harvest has shrunk by about 1 percent compared to the previous year. Moreover, an assessment of the crop conditions in mid-May points to lower yields than in 1999, largely reflecting drought conditions this spring.

ROMANIA (2 June)

The area sown to winter wheat is estimated at 1.9 million hectares, about 12 percent up from the 1999 reduced level. However, yield prospects are uncertain as much of the crops was reported to have been planted after the optimum date and fertilizer applications and other normal husbandry are expected to be generally less than adequate because of farmers' lack of funds. Moreover, unusually hot and dry weather recently, which prevailed in a large part of the central European area, is expected to limit yields. FAO tentatively forecasts the 2000 wheat crop at about 4.0 million tonnes, down slightly from the previous year, despite the larger area, as a reflection of lower average yields projected. However, if the recent exceptionally dry weather continues, yield potential will be reduced even further and a downward revision of the production forecast will be likely. Information is still lacking on the full extent of spring sowings, but as of early May, fieldwork was reported to be progressing on schedule. Nevertheless, as for the winter cereals, the potential spring crop output in 2000 will remain limited by farmers' lack of funds for inputs.


The outlook for the 2000 grain harvest has deteriorated somewhat. The outlook for winter grains in 2000 remains satisfactory but untimely frost and cold weather in May caused some crop damage and slowed spring grain planting. Warmer weather has now returned. Of the 14.16 million hectares sown to winter crops, (including some 13.4 million hectares sown to grains) latest indications are that 1.5 million hectares have been damaged. This is markedly less than in the preceding year, when 1.9 million hectares were damaged. Roughly half of the winter crop area (6.3 million hectares), and more than last year, has been fertilized and winter grain yield expectations are satisfactory to date. Spring grain plantings progress has been slow, delayed by cold weather, shortages of seeds as well as rain and snowfalls particularly in the New Lands. The area sown is some 10 million hectares less than in the preceding year. That sown to spring grains, 27.9 million hectares in the State sector by 6 June, is at least 10 percent less than at the corresponding time last year. Spring grain planting progress could pick up if the weather improves but late planted crops remain at risk of late season dryness and frost in the Urals, Siberia and Povolsk regions and of poor weather at harvest time. Indications are that the spring grain area could be less than last year, and below target.

Current indications area that the 2000 grain harvest could be about 10 percent higher than the 60 million tonnes (FAO estimate) harvested last year. The overall food supply situation remains tight but imports of up to 8 million tonnes of cereals in 1999/2000 helped ensure human consumption needs. The country will remain a net imported of cereals in 2000/01. The livestock feed situation is easing with the advent of spring, but feedgrain prices remain high.

In Chechnya, the outlook for agricultural production in the current year remains poor due damage to the existing infrastructure, livestock and grape industry and the need to first clear mines from arable land. Nevertheless, reports indicate that some land has been sown with spring crops. The security situation and timely arrival and distribution of necessary funds and harvesting machinery remain problematic. Food distribution to populations in Chechnya is underway. Considerable humanitarian assistance is needed over a broad spectrum including food aid, shelter, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, education, income generation and preparatory rehabilitation activities, logistics and co-ordination, both for people living in Chechnya and for IDPs and the host families in neighbouring Ingushetia. Health remains a major problem in both Chechnya and Ingushetia, reflecting inadequate water and sanitation facilities.


Recent hot dry weather has affected developing cereal crops. With early season weather conditions reported to be generally favourable, previous indications pointed to a recovery in cereal output in 2000 from the sharply reduced level in 1999. However, the outcome of the coming harvest is now somewhat uncertain. One report based on crop conditions in early May indicates that average wheat yields may be down by about 25-30 percent from normal, and those for barley down by about 30-50 percent from normal.


In Slovenia, cereal output is expected to rise by some 20-30 percent this year from the 1999 reduced crop. Weather conditions were generally favourable for winter crops and spring sowings were virtually complete by the beginning of May. The aggregate cereal crop in 2000 is forecast at about 560 000 tonnes.


The outlook for the 2000 grain harvest has deteriorated. The reorganisation of former state farms in the wake of a government decree of 3 December 1999, without proper resolution of the problem of debts to private input providers, has left between one quarter and one half the number of farms with little sound basis for negotiating credit for inputs. The Government has allocated funds for up to 50 percent interest compensation but due to the proven high risks, banks and many input providers are wary of lending to producers. In addition to the difficult financial situation on farm, persistent hot, dry weather is compromising the yield of both winter and spring grains in the south.

The area sown to winter crops, prior to the farm reorganisation reached 7.9 million hectares; crop conditions are better than expected earlier and latest indications are that only 0.750 million hectares required reseeding after winter. Spring crop sowing with the exception of maize is virtually complete but information on the area sown is conflicting. The estimate of the Office of Statistics (11.1 million hectares including 4.3 spring grains) is substantially lower than that of the Ministry of Agriculture (12.7 million hectares, including 4.78 million hectares to spring grains excluding maize).

Whatever the area sown, frosts, and dry conditions in April and most of May in southern Ukraine, have lowered yield potential and the outlook is for a harvest of cereals no more than that of 1999, estimated by FAO at 27 million tonnes. Following the second poor harvest in succession and large exports (5.8 million tonnes in 1998/99 and 3.0 million tonnes up to April 2000), FAO tentatively forecasts 1999/2000 cereal exports at 3.1 million tonnes, including 2.0 million tonnes of wheat, and cereal imports at only 0.3 million tonnes, mainly wheat and rice.


The 1999/2000 agricultural year is proving very difficult. Agricultural production has been more resilient than other sectors of the economy but nevertheless, the effect of sanctions over the years, the damage caused during the war last year, rapid inflation and price controls on basic foodstuffs has severely undermined the sector's potential and destabilised the livestock industry.

The outlook for 2000 food crops, and particularly those for which marketing is affected by government regulation, is not good. Low official prices for wheat, payment delays, poor returns for 1999 crops, shortages of fuel and fertilizer, working capital and delays in harvesting the 1999 crop have kept winter crop planting well below target. Latest reports indicate that, contrary to expectations, the area sown to winter wheat fell further to only 640 000 hectares from a below average 702 000 hectares in the preceding year. Growing conditions for the crop have been mixed. Flooding and waterlogging in parts of the Voyvodina were followed by hot and dry conditions in April/May which are compromising yields of maize and oilseeds. Fertilizer use has likely remained low in response to a sharp increase in prices on the black market and the fact that it is only released by the government against payment of wheat in kind after the harvest. Quality seed has also been very expensive. All indications point to another poor wheat harvest in 2000.

The State still officially controls prices for five staple products, - bread, milk, meat, sugar and vegetable oil. However, with rapid inflation, price controls are ineffective and apply only to goods sold in the state sector shops, which are frequently short of supplies, while much higher priced goods are available in the private sector. In an attempt to keep retail prices low, flour, and the fuel and energy used by bakeries, is subsidized.

In 1999, a record maize harvest of 6.1 million tonnes offset the poor wheat harvest of only 2 million tonnes, and aggregate cereal output is officially estimated at an about average 8.6 million tonnes. Early indications are that the 2000 grain harvest could be lower. The country has exported 150 000 tonnes of wheat as well as maize in 1999/2000. However, agri-food exports in the first three months of this year was one third lower than at the corresponding time of 1999 last year trade, although trade in fruit and vegetables, production of which is almost entirely in the private sector, remains strong.

The country is in a state of acute economic crisis in the wake of the conflict over Kosovo and several successive years of economic sanctions. In 1999 food prices doubled, while salaries fell. WFP is providing food assistance for nearly 1 million beneficiaries in Serbia (excluding Kosovo Province) and Montenegro, including refugees and economically and socially deprived people. Other organizations are providing assistance for a further 200 000 IDPs in Serbia.

In the Kosovo Province, prospects for the 2000 cereal crop remain generally satisfactory. Wheat harvesting is about to start and early indications point to a crop of about 200 000 to 250 000 tonnes. As earlier anticipated, the amount of food assistance being provided in the Kosovo Province has been scaled down in the second quarter of 2000, in line with increased employment opportunities as the economy gradually recovers, and thus improvements in household incomes, and also as winter expenditures decrease. The total estimated caseload of beneficiaries in the April-June period is estimated at 620 000 of which WFP is covering 330 000 and CRS/MCI 290 000.

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