FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.1, March 2001

ASIA

AFGHANISTAN* (14 February)

The country is gripped by a grave food crisis, following two consecutive years of drought, continuing civil conflict and a harsh winter. Recent reports indicate increasing number of deaths from freezing temperatures in western and northern parts.

The 2000 drought has devastated crops and livestock across the country, with more than 3 million people severely affected. In addition, intensified civil conflict, particularly in northern parts, has resulted in fresh waves of population displacement, aggravating the already precarious food situation. Large-scale movement of people, particularly from remote districts in Ghor, Badghis and Faryab Provinces has already begun with destitute households now being accommodated in camps at the edge of Herat, the main urban centre in the west. Furthermore, in the past five months alone, an estimated 150 000 people have crossed into northern Pakistan and are living in grim and freezing conditions in camps around Peshawar.

Prospects for the 2001 cereal crops, for harvest from May/June, remain uncertain mainly due to persistent insecurity in the provinces of the north, which contain some 40 percent of the country's irrigated area.

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the country in the middle of last year warned of the emerging serious food crisis in the country. The Mission estimated total cereal production in 2000 at 1.82 million tonnes, about 44 percent below 1999 and 53 percent compared to 1998. Cereal import requirements in the 2000/01 (July/June) marketing year, estimated at a record 2.3 million tonnes, are nearly double the 1999/2000 estimated volume of 1.3 million tonnes. Low precipitation last winter and insufficient vegetation growth in most highland pastures in the western and southern regions during the spring have resulted in extremely high losses of livestock for the nomadic population.

In 2000, WFP distributed some 161 000 tonnes of food to 3.3 million worst affected people, compared to 82 631 tonnes for the same period last year. The UN has renewed a US$220 million appeal launched last November where less than US$14 million has been pledged by the end of January 2001.

ARMENIA* (1 February)

The outlook for the 2001 grain harvest is uncertain. Persistent drought in 2000 reduced grain production by 27 percent to 219 000 tonnes and has resulted in a shortage of seed. As a result early indications are that the area sown to winter grains (mainly wheat) for harvest in 2001 has fallen by a third to 65 000 hectares. Good rains late in 2000 helped to redress moisture shortages but precipition has eased off since then and much more is needed. Satellite imagery clearly shows that crop development in the north,(parts of Shirak, Lori, Tavouch and adjoining areas of Kotaik and Geharkunik, in a belt stretching from Lake Sevan to the border) is markedly less than last year. However, the reduction in the areas sown to winter crops in these areas also contributes to this finding. Crop condition is markedly better than last year only in Siunik marz. The food supply outlook in 2001 will depend crucially on increasing the areas sown to lower yielding spring grains, and the mobilization of seed potato to enable farmers to plant this staple crop. Animal feed and pastures were also affected.

An FAO crop and food supply assessment mission in August estimated the cereal import requirement in 2000/01 (July/June) at 515 000 tonnes including 458 000 tonnes of wheat, and 44 000 tonnnes of feedgrains to provide survival rations for livestock, a major source of protein and income for rural households. The import requirement is well above average and includes 146 000 tonnes of food aid. Against the import requirement, some 200 000 tonnes of cereals had been imported up to the end of 2000, including 68 000 tonnes of food aid.

Debilitating economic, social and political problems over the past decade have resulted in massive unemployment and food insecurity, with some 15 percent of rural children facing chronic malnutrition even under normal circumstances. WFP plans to provide targeted emergency food assistance to an estimated 297 000 subsistence farmers and other vulnerable households with 22 480 tonnes of iron-fortified wheat, vegetable oil and pulses from 1 November 2000 until 1 July 2001. The proposed Emergency Operation (EMOP) will be fully integrated with the ongoing Protracted Relief and Rehabilitation Operation (PRRO), also effective until June 2001, which targets another 170 000 beneficiaries. The combined outstanding tonnage of the planned EMOP and the ongoing PRRO amounts to more than 28 000 tonnes up to mid- 2001.

AZERBAIJAN (1 February)

Early indications are that the area sown to winter wheat and barley has continued to increase. In the wake of two years of below average precipitation and difficulties in marketing cash crops such as grapes and cotton, farmers are switching to winter grains which mature in June, before the onset of summer heat and peak water needs. Water supplies for irrigation in the reservoirs are low after last year’s drought in their catchment areas in neighbouring countries and harvest prospects will depend crucially on precipitation in February- March and snowmelt in May-June. Emergency works carried out this winter (deepening irrigation canals etc.) could help to maintain production levels of remunerative crops.

An FAO drought assessment mission fielded in January 2001 confirmed that the 2000 wheat crop had by and large escaped the effects of the drought, which affected mostly spring planted crops (potatoes, vegetables, cotton, fodder) and in particular on cropping areas at the end of the canal systems, in higher areas or where pumps could not lift water due to high suction associated with very low water levels. The areas sown to cereals had increased markedly. The 2000 grain harvest is officially estimated at 1. 5 million tonnes of grain, some 400 000 tonnes above the 5 year average reflecting a sharp increase in the area and yield of wheat, as the drought and shortages of irrigation water mainly affected spring sown crops (including potatoes, vegetables), fodder and the fishing industry.

Following the better than average harvest, the cereal import requirement is expected to decline somewhat. However, grainfeed for animals is likely to rise, as fodder supplies are low and domestic farmers face import competition. The bulk of the cereal import requirements will be covered commercially, though vulnerable groups, including the internally displaced, still need targeted food assistance. WFP continues to support 485 000 beneficiaries through a 3- year Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation which started in July 1999. Total food commodities committed for the life of the project amount to 47 880 tonnes of food aid.

BANGLADESH (5 February)

Currently the country is in its winter season, the main crops in the ground being wheat and irrigated Boro rice. Wheat is planted in November/December for harvest from late March, whilst the boro crop is planted from November through January for harvesting from April. Boro rice accounts for approximately 45 percent of aggregate rice production annually, the monsoon (Aman) a further 45 percent, whilst roughly 10 percent comes from the third Aus crop. In 1999/2000, a combination of an increase in area planted, favourable weather and adequate input supplies, resulted in bumper rice (milled) production of 22.78 million tonnes, some 14 percent above the previous year. The forecast for the current 2000/01 marketing year is slightly higher at 23.4 million tonnes of paddy, with the 2001 boro crop anticipated at around 11.1 million tonnes.

The overall food situation remains satisfactory with adequate government food grain reserves. At the end of January there was a total of 1.1 million tonnes of grain in stocks including some 800 000 tonnes of rice and 332 000 tonnes of wheat in the Public Food Grain Distribution System.

CAMBODIA (5 February)

In September 2000 the country was affected by one of the worst floods in recent history. This resulted in several hundred deaths and large scale destruction of crops, principally rice, infrastructure, property and lines of communication. An estimated 3 million people were affected, half a million displaced from homes and almost four hundred died. The September floods exacerbated existing problems following earlier floods last July.

Following the floods, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment mission was fielded to the country between 6 and 15 December, to assess the overall food supply situation and the need for possible food aid intervention for the 2001 marketing year (January/December). The mission found that the cumulative effects of the floods this year reduced overall wet season rice production on some 400 000 hectares, though recovery was possible on around 60 000 hectares of the area lost. Notwithstanding the loss due to floods, rainfall this year was generally above average, as a result of which the overall season was favourable and yields were above 1999, which was a bumper year. Although harvesting is still underway, the mission estimates that the likely area harvested in the 2000 wet season will be around 1.64 million hectares in total, some 5 percent below average for the past four years and the lowest since 1996/97, which was also affected by serious floods. Based on average yields of around 1.85 tonnes/hectare, wet season paddy production is estimated at some 3.03 million tonnes. In addition some 20 percent of aggregate annual rice production comes from the recession and dry season crops. Overall prospects for the dry season are generally favourable, given the abundance of residual surface and soil moisture and silt deposits. Though tentative at this stage, as the crop will not be harvested till March/April, dry season production is forecast at 735 000 tonnes, similar to 2000. Overall 2000/01 paddy production, therefore, is estimated at 3.76 million tonnes or 2.33 million tonnes in rice equivalent. In addition to current year production, the mission assessed that there were reasonably large in-country stocks of rice due to a generally sluggish domestic and cross- border market. This is reflected in prices which remain lower than last year. Taking into account these stocks, overall rice availability for the 2001 marketing year is estimated at 2.433 million tonnes. Against this total utilisation, food, seed, feed, other uses and stock draw-down, to cover the shortfall in wet season production, is estimated at 2.478 million tonnes leaving an uncovered deficit of around 45 000 tonnes. This deficit, however, will be covered entirely by pipeline food assistance, leaving an overall balance in rice supply and demand for 2001 with no import requirement.

Despite a relatively satisfactory rice supply/demand situation from a national perspective, this year's floods made a large number of people, who are normally on the borderline of subsistence and food insecurity, more vulnerable to food shortages. In general, there are three broad categories of "food insecure" people in the country. The largest group currently are the chronically food insecure, comprising approximately 2 million people. The second group are the "vulnerable groups" (handicapped, disease victims, orphans, etc.), which accounts for a further 500-600 000 people. The third group are the "transitory food insecure", due to factors such as fires, floods, and droughts, and would normally account for some 50 000 people. This year, however, due to the exceptional flooding, the number classified as transient food insecure is estimated at 3 million people. Of these, vulnerability analysis indicates that some 500 000 people would be classified as the most food insecure. Given the magnitude of the problem, this group could become chronically food insecure, if they have to resort to extreme coping strategies such as sale of land, incurring high interest debt, etc, to meet the household food deficit resulting from flood damage. However, if targeted food assistance is provided, almost all this group can be expected to recover by the next harvest. To cover the food needs of the half a million people who are most at risk, the mission advocates additional food assistance for four months. Part of the requirement (one and half months) will be met through a current Emergency Operation (EMOP 6296.00), whilst an additional 16 000 tonnes will be required to meet the remainder of food needs.

CHINA (5 February)

In the past few weeks the coldest winter in 50 years resulted in the death of some 30 people and several hundred thousand livestock in the northerly region of inner Mongolia. As the cold wave continues concerns are mounting for the welfare of the large number of nomadic families in the region who rely entirely on livestock and livestock products for their livelihood and income. More generally in the northern part of the country adequate snow cover protected dormant winter wheat, which was planted in October/November last year for harvest in May/June. Winter wheat accounts for most of the country's wheat produced annually. Due to declining support prices for staples, the area under wheat production declined further for the 2000/01season as farmers continue to switch to other more lucrative crops. The area planted is estimated at around 23 million hectares, 1.17 million hectares or and almost 5 percent below 1999. In 1999/2000, due to a combination of severe drought and falling acreage, wheat production declined to around 101 million tonnes, some 94 million tonnes from winter wheat and 7 million tonnes from the spring crop. This was some 9 percent below normal for the preceding five years and the lowest level since 1995. Due to the drought, maize production also fell significantly to 105 million tonnes, some 18 percent below the previous year. Paddy production in 2000/01 is forecast at some 188.2 million tonnes around 5 percent lower than the previous year.

CYPRUS (14 February)

Sowing of the 2001 wheat and barley crops for harvest from May has been completed under generally normal weather. Aggregate wheat and barley output in 2000 is estimated at 101 000 tonnes, some 20 percent below the previous year's but about average.

Imports of wheat in 2000/01 (May/April) are forecast at 95 000 tonnes, while aggregate imports of barley and maize are forecast at some 540 000 tonnes, unchanged from last year.

EAST TIMOR (5 February)

The main rice and maize crops, planted in November/December are currently emerging and will be harvested from April/May. Despite disruption to the agriculture sector due to civil disturbances in 1999, agriculture recovery continues with improvements in access and marketing. Rice and maize production in 2000 was estimated by FAO at around 30 500 tonnes (milled) and 94 000 tonnes respectively.

GEORGIA* (1 February)

The outlook for the 2001 harvest is pessimistic. Crops are still developing satisfactorily but the area sown to winter cereals was reduced as a result of drought damage in 2000 and consequent seed shortages, particularly in the eastern and southern wheat growing areas. In addition, precipitation during the winter months has again been below average. Rodents are also proliferating. Despite emergency measures to mobilize winter wheat seed, it is estimated that between 62 percent of the area normally planted (some 110 000 hectares) has been sown. It is hoped to mobilize enough seed to increase the area sown in the spring to potatoes and maize, to offset the expected smaller wheat harvest.

Drought and the poor state of the irrigation system have resulted in a sharp fall in 2000 foodcrop production. The aggregate 2000 cereal harvest is less than 400 000 tonnes, nearly half that achieved in 1999 and 40 percent below average. Output of potatoes and other basic foodcrops is also down and livestock production is affected by reduced feed supplies.

With a minimum national cereal consumption requirement (including food, feed seed, losses) estimated at 1.1 million tonnes, Georgia’s cereal import requirement in 2000/01 is estimated at 748 000 tonnes (620 000 tonnes of wheat, 88 000 tonnes of maize, 35 000 tonnes of barley and 5 000 tonnes of rice). Commercial imports are difficult to estimate. However, overseas food aid deliveries of wheat are proving difficult to market as cheaper supplies are being sourced in the CIS. Registered cereal imports between July and December 2000 have amounted to 104 000 tonnes, but substantial volumes enter informally. Against the estimated food aid requirement of 311 000 tonnes, confirmed pledges to date amount to 76 000 tonnes.

Emergency food aid is required for an estimated 696 000 worst affected drought victims and WFP has appealed for almost 66 000 tonnes for a period of 8 months (November to June), until the next main harvest.

INDIA (5 February)

The worst earthquake in fifty years measuring almost 8 on the Richter scale, ravaged the western state of Gujarat with an epicentre near the town of Bhuj. In addition to the economic cost of the devastation, current estimates indicate that the death toll could run in to tens of thousands. In view of the magnitude of the problem, many countries have offered various forms of humanitarian assistance, including urgent food, water and medical supplies.

The earthquake exacerbated existing food and water problems in the state which has been seriously affected by the second drought in succession, following a poor monsoon last year. Ground water tables had already fallen appreciably, whilst many people had started to migrate. Consequently even before the earthquake, the Government had already made provisions for providing some 670 000 tonnes of food grains for relief operations in eight drought affected states, which included Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal. Of these, Gujarat, Rajasthan. The country has had to endure a succession of natural disasters last year and this including earlier drought and severe flooding in a number of states, during the last monsoon season, which left many dead and thousands homeless.

Late winter rains and a cold spell in January, favoured winter wheat an improved prospects somewhat, following an earlier dry spell, which reduced the area under the wheat crop for the 2000/01 and season principally in states where the crop is rain fed, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and parts of Uttar Pradesh. Current forecasts suggest that there may be an extended winter this year, which could improve prospects. In 2000 the country produced a record wheat crop of around 76 million tonnes. The overall food grain production target for the 2000/01 marketing year is 212 million tonnes, compared to 209 million tonnes for 1999/2000.

Government wheat stocks at the beginning of December last year stood at a high 26.0 million tonnes, compared to 18.5 million tonnes in the previous year. In view of large wheat inventories, the Government had authorised exports of 2 million tonnes, though to off take has been generally slow. The Government has also authorised the export of 2 million tonnes of rice to reduce stocks. Rice stocks at the beginning of December last year stood at 19.5 million tonnes, compared to some 13.3 million tonnes the year before.

INDONESIA* (5 February)

Seasonal rain during the last dekad of January provided moisture for main season rice in the main producing province of Java. The crop is planted in the period November to January for harvest from April. At the end of January a mild earthquake, measuring 5.7 on the Richter, hit Irian Jaya though reports have been received of casualties or damage.

Paddy production for the 2000 calendar was around 51 million tonnes, some 2 percent above last year and some 4 percent above the five year average . Higher production is attributed to a long wet season and only minor incidences of pests and disease. The area harvested remained around an average 11.5 million hectares. Due to higher domestic production, the estimate for imports in 2000 may be revised down somewhat. Since late 1998 the Government has allowed private imports of rice.

The humanitarian and food security situation is precarious in central Kalimantan, following an eruption of civil unrest and violence, which has already claimed several hundred lives and displaced thousands of people.

The overall food situation in the country continues to stabilise, following the economic crisis in 1997/1998, which was also compounded by a poor agricultural year due to El Niño. However, reports indicate that 11 of the 14 districts in the province of East Nusa Tenggara are suffering food shortages due to drought and crop failure.

IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (5 February)

In the last dekad of January light rain was received in western parts of the country becoming generally heavier around the Caspian Coast. The country's main staple wheat is normally planted in September/October and harvested in April/May. Rain fed barley which is essential for livestock feed is also planted from September onward for harvest in March.

In 2000 the affect of two successive years of drought seriously affected agriculture and livestock production. The drought was the worst since 1964 and affected an estimated 37 million people or over 50 percent of the population. Consequently 2000 wheat production is estimated to have fallen to around 8 million tonnes, some 700 000 tonnes lower than the already drought reduced crop in 1999 and almost 2 million tonnes below the five year average.

IRAQ* (14 February)

Prospects for the 2001 cereal harvest in May/June remain uncertain. Production is also likely to be constrained by the lingering effects of two consecutive years of severe drought and inadequate availability of essential agricultural inputs. An FAO/WFP/WHO Food Supply and Nutrition Assessment Mission in May 2000 found that in the most affected centre/south areas, not only were the plantings reduced, but also some 75 percent of the cropped area under wheat and barley was heavily damaged and mostly used as grazing for livestock. Cereal yields were reduced to all time low levels. As a result, total cereal production in 2000, estimated at some 796 000 tonnes, is about 47 percent below 1999 and 64 percent below the average of the past 5 years.

Cereal imports under the SCR 986 oil-for-food deal have led to significant improvements in the food supply situation. However, long delays in the flow of food imports continue to be reported. Also, despite significant increases in the food ration since SCR 986, child malnutrition rates in the centre/south of the country do not appear to have improved significantly and nutritional problems remain serious and widespread. The existing food rations do not provide a nutritionally adequate and varied diet which is lacking in vegetables, fruit, and animal products and is therefore deficient in micronutrients.

ISRAEL (14 February)

Recent rains improved prospects for the 2001 wheat and barley crops, to be harvested from April. Domestic production of wheat in normal years covers less than one-fifth of total requirement, the rest being imported commercially. Wheat production in 2000 was estimated at 50 000 tonnes, about 58 percent below average, due to the severe drought that affected several countries in the Near East. Imports of cereals in 2000/01 (July/June) are forecast at some 2.9 million tonnes.

JAPAN (1 February)

The only crop currently is winter wheat in parts. Since 1995, as part of the country rice area adjustment programme, area has declined by some 16 percent. As a consequence domestic (milled) rice production has declined from some 11 million tonnes in 1994 to an average of around 9 million tonnes in the last five years.

In view of falling agricultural prices, and the disincentive this is providing farmers, a price policy review and plan is likely to be undertaken. An official panel has proposed aid to about 400 000 farmers, including agricultural corporations to offset the effect of falling farm revenues.

JORDAN (14 February)

The prospects for the 2001 wheat and barley crops, for harvest in May/June, remain uncertain due to the lingering effects of two consecutive years of severe drought and erratic rainfall during the current season. In 2000, aggregate output of wheat and barley, estimated at 42 000 tonnes, was more than double the previous year’s output, but still about 54 percent below average. The livestock sector was also seriously affected, particularly small scale sheep herders.

However, despite the serious impact of the drought on rainfed crops and livestock, vegetable production from the irrigated Jordan Valley has increased substantially. As a result, vegetable prices plummeted affecting farmers incomes. Lack of adequate processing facilities and export markets are major constraints.

An FAO Mission which visited the country in September 2000 identified priority needs for assistance to mitigate the impact of drought on agricultural production. Accordingly, an appeal for US$ 13.5 million was launched, on 21 December 2000, to provide seeds and other inputs for the 2001 cropping season, to assist in the distribution of animal feed and health services, and to support in forest and range land reserves.

KAZAKHSTAN (12 February)

The bulk of cereals are sown in the spring. The planting target is 11.7 million hectares to be sown to cereals and output is targeted at 11.6 million tonnes.

The preliminary official estimate of the 2000 harvest is 11.6 million tonnes of cereals and pulses, including 9.1 million tonnes of wheat. This is less than the previous years bumper harvest of 14 million tonnes but will still allow the country to cover domestic requirements and export between 4-5 million tonnes of cereals.

The country exported nearly 7 million tonnes of cereals in 1999/2000 including 6 million tonnes of wheat, mainly to other CIS countries.

KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF* (8 February)

There are renewed concerns regarding the food supply situation in the county following the widespread effects of the coldest winter in decades. In mid-January temperatures are reported to have fallen to the lowest levels recorded in 50 years. In the northern province of Chagang the temperature fell to minus 37 degrees Celsius and in Pyongyang, the capital, minus 27. The situation is becoming increasingly precarious for large segments of the population who have already been weakened by years of food shortages, limited access to utilities, basic health services, and lack of electricity and fuel wood for heating.

Reports also indicate that due to the poor harvest in 2000, food provision through the public distribution system (PDS) may cease by the end of January in parts of the country. From February to late June, when potatoes and some of the double crop is harvested, the only source of food will be food aid, and alternative foods. In parts WFP food monitors report that food distributions via the PDS are at around 200 grams of cereals per person per day, which translates into some 720 k/cal. The minimum requirement for an adult to survive is 2 200 k/cal per day.

Last November an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, assessed domestic grain availability, in cereal equivalent, for the 2000/01 marketing year at 2.92 million tonnes compared to grain demand for food and other utilisation needs of 4.79 million tonnes. The import requirement, therefore, was estimated at 1.87 million tonnes, of which commercial imports were anticipated to cover 200 000 tonnes, whilst a further 600 000 tonnes of the import requirement was envisaged through pledged food assistance through WFP and 500 000 more through bilateral concessional imports. Taking these into account, the uncovered import requirement is estimated at 665 000 tonnes, with which the country still needed assistance to meet minimum food needs. To-date pledges stand at 651 000 tonnes, of which 140 000 tonnes have been delivered.

KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (5 February)

Prospects of economic recovery and growth, in the aftermath of the financial crisis in Asia, continue to improve signalling stronger demand for grains for food and feed. Wheat and maize are almost entirely imported, whilst the country on average produces around 5 million tonnes of rice (milled) per annum, during the main season which extends from around May to October. In general, the number of productive farms and rice acreage is declining in the country as more land is made available to infrastructure and urban development. Any future expansion will come mainly from marginal and reclaimed land, including land subject to flooding.

KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (12 February)

Much of the country is now covered by snow, but crop development in the SyrDarya valley is satisfactory. A cold winter and heavy snows are helping to recharge irrigation water supplies. The 2000 grain harvest is now officially estimated at 1.57 million tonnes including 1.04 million tonnes of wheat. This is somewhat less than the previous year’s harvest (1.63 million tonnes) reflecting crop losses due to dry weather and early snows. The 2000 harvest also fell short of the target of 1.704 million tonnes of grain.

The overall food supply situation remains satisfactory and indeed the country exports cereals to neighbouring Tajikistan and Afghanistan. However, a significant proportion of the population is poor, and access to adequate food is a problem for the poorest with high food prices in the hard winter months. The country also imports wheat in part due to the demand for quality wheat, to supplement the State Security Reserve (via food aid deliveries), and to poor internal communications.

LAOS* (5 February)

As part of a wider phenomenon, which affected neighbouring countries in the region, extensive floods damaged large areas of the country. Overall, seven central and southern provinces were flooded during the monsoon season resulting in serious damage to crops and, to a lesser extent, livestock and fisheries. Rice crops in some areas remained submerged for up to three weeks. The worst affected provinces were Khammouane, Savannakhet, Saravane and Champasack. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry described the floods as the worst to have hit the country since 1978. Some 450 000 people were affected, many of whom were made homeless. The floods are likely to lead to slower growth in agriculture and will have a severe impact on the food security of the most vulnerable and at risk population as rice prices are anticipated to rise and incomes and access to food fall. Rice is the country's principal crop accounting for 85 percent of total cropped area. Other crops grown include maize (second largest in acreage), sugarcane and groundnut. Most of the rice is produced in the wet season (June to November), largely under rain fed conditions and in the central and southern provinces along the Mekong River Valley, where annual rainfall ranges from 1500 mm to 2200 mm, 70 percent of which is received between May and October. Farmers do not generally apply any fertilizers to rice under rain fed conditions during the wet season. Serious floods in 1995 and 1996 resulted in substantial rice deficits, resulting in the country requiring external food assistance for vulnerable groups.

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently assessing the food supply situation and the need for any food assistance. In addition, FAO will provide urgent rice and vegetable seeds to some 8 000 rural families affected by last year's floods.

LEBANON (14 February)

Prospects for the 2001 winter harvest in June/July are favourable so far. However, domestic cereal production usually covers only about 10 percent of consumption requirements. Aggregate production of wheat and barley in 2000 is estimated at 62 000 tonnes, similar to the previous year.

Imports of wheat in 2000/01 (July/June) are forecast at some 0.51 million tonnes, similar to last year.

MALAYSIA (5 February)

The country normally produces around 2 million tonnes of paddy annually, of which 60 percent is from the main and 40 percent from the off season crop. Normally a third of domestic consumption requirements of rice are imported into the country, whilst wheat and maize are almost entirely imported. To enhance production, the Government recently announced various strategies to enable sustainable food production to reduce dependency on imports. These include improving efficiency and productivity, introducing food production zones, strengthening marketing systems and food processing industries, developing infrastructure and human resources. The priority areas will be on rice, fruit, vegetables, fisheries and poultry farming.

MONGOLIA* (5 February)

Following the worst winter in decades last year, which seriously undermined the food security of large numbers of people especially nomadic herders, this year again the country faces a devastating winter which will greatly exacerbate food supply problems. Thick snow has blanketed pastures on which herds usually feed in winter and temperatures have fallen to as low as minus 50 Celsius. Already the conditions have killed eight herders and about 500 000 animals, on which a third of the population rely entirely for their livelihood and income. Due to the conditions, there are also considerable problems in transporting food and medical supplies to areas where the population is particularly vulnerable to food shortages. The cold winter also comes on top of a summer drought which reduced the fodder crop for animals. The conditions are expected to deteriorate further as the winter progresses. An urgent UN appeal was made in January for international assistance to the country.

The impact of another cold winter and reduced fodder supplies on livestock will be of immense importance. The sector plays an extremely important part in the economy providing the main source of household income and contributing a major source of foreign exchange. The heavy loss of livestock and the consequent reduction in meat supplies, have also meant that there has been a large increase (up to 40 percent) in livestock prices. This is turn has had a knock-on effect on inflation and the cost of living further exacerbating the food security of the poor and vulnerable groups. In addition to meat there is also serious shortage of milk, especially in rural areas, further restricting an important source of protein and nutrients in the diet. It has also been very difficult for nomadic herd families to find alternative sources of income, as most are poorly educated and trained for alternative employment. Nonetheless many have migrated to towns and urban centres compounding existing problems of unemployment and vulnerability to food shortages.

Current food shortages, follow several years in which nutritional standards in he country have been falling due to significant changes in economic circumstance of large sectors of the population as the economy has been reoriented from one which was centrally planned to one which is market driven. This in particular has left many groups who were formally dependent on state employment and welfare exposed to economic uncertainties due to limited alternative earning potential. Various reports in the mid 1990s indicated that those most affected by poverty and food insecurity, included the unemployed, the elderly, female headed households, children, pensioners and small herders. Recent studies by NGOs report high levels of chronic malnutrition persist in a number of nomadic areas, with many families living in extreme poverty with almost no resources.

A UN interagency Mission, including FAO, visited Mongolia in January to appraise the situation and has launched an appeal for emergency relief. The focus of the UN appeal would be on vulnerable populations in the most severely affected provinces and on building the disaster management and co- ordination capacity of the State Emergency Commission (SEC) and other relevant national partners to enhance preparedness and future response. The appeal covers a period of four months, from 1 February to 31 May 2001 and is for US$7 million in cash and US$4.7 million in kind to assist beneficiaries in 73 affected counties. The appeal will focus assistance on the following sectors: livestock (US$4 million in cash and US$4.7 million kind, health, water and sanitation US$2.3 million and nutrition US$608 000.

MYANMAR (5 February)

Harvesting of the main (monsoon) rice crop is complete. Main season rice normally accounts for around 85 percent of aggregate production the remaining 15 percent coming from the second, or dry season crop, which is planted in October/November for harvest the following April/May. Current forecast is that paddy production in the 2000/01 marketing year will be similar to the 19.8 million tonnes produced in 1999.

NEPAL (5 February)

Main season rice harvesting is complete, with current estimates indicating paddy production around an average 3.7 million tonnes.

Reports indicate that the government may assist farmers affected by falling agricultural prices, by introducing fixed support prices. Last year, the price of paddy fell sharply compared, due to imports from India. The cost of production has also risen as various subsidies have been removed on inputs, like fertilizers and irrigation

PAKISTAN (5 February)

The main crop currently in the ground is winter wheat which is planted in October/November for harvest in April/May. Crop prospects improved somewhat recently due to late season rain in December and lower temperatures in January, following concerns that production would fall in 2001 due to high temperatures and dry conditions earlier. The country produced a record wheat crop of some 21 million tonnes last year and before the recent improvement in weather conditions forecasts indicated that there would be a 9 percent reduction in output.

In Baluchistan in the North West and Sind in the south, concerns are again mounting of food and water shortages due to successive drought which resulted in the loss of harvest and drop in ground water sources. The provinces were also seriously affected last year due to drought. Reports indicate that the situation for vulnerable groups is becoming critical.

PHILIPPINES (5 February)

Heavy rainfall in the latter part of January in eastern parts increased moisture levels and resulted in localised flooding in parts. The Institute of Vulcanology and Seismology warned recently of possible eruptions by Mayon volcano, from which ash was recently seen. The 8 000 foot volcano is in Albay province, 330 km south east of the capital Manila.

Harvesting of main season rice is complete, while planting of second season rice and maize, for harvest from around February/March should be well advanced.

Paddy production for the 2000 calendar year was put at a record 12.2 million tonnes, up 2 percent from the previous year's harvest, whilst maize output was 4.5 million tonnes, some 2 percent lower than 1999. The increased availability of water in traditional maize producing areas led farmers to switch from maize to rice, which accounted for the reduction in maize production.

SAUDI ARABIA (14 February)

Following recent good rainfall, prospects improved for the 2001 wheat crop, to be harvested in April/May. Production of wheat in 2000 is estimated at 1.5 million tonnes, similar to the previous year but about 9 percent below the previous five year average.

Import of cereals in 2000/01 (July/June) is currently forecast at about 7 million tonnes, slightly higher than last year.

SRI LANKA (5 February)

The main crop in the ground is currently the main Maha rice crop, which is planted in October to December for harvest from March. The crop is grown during the country's main rainy season; the north east monsoon. The main crop accounts for two thirds of annual production the rest coming from the dry season (Yala) crop. Paddy production has averaged around 2.5 million tonnes in the last five years from 1995 to 1999. In addition to rice, the country's main staple, some 850 - 900 000 tonnes of wheat are imported annually to meet demand for bread and other wheat based products.

SYRIA (14 February)

Prospects for winter grain crops, to be harvested from mid- May, are favourable due to good rains so far. Crop and livestock production in 2000 has recovered from the drought reduced harvest in 1999. The 2000 wheat production, estimated at 3.6 million tonnes, is about 31 percent above the previous year’s crop and about average. Barley production, which is almost entirely rainfed, is estimated at 800 000 tonnes, double the 1999 crop, but still about 28 percent below the previous five-year average.

TAJIKISTAN* (12 February)

Cold weather and snowfall are needed to help to replenish irrigation water supplies for the coming spring/summer but the weather in January has been unusually mild. In addition, the outlook for the 2001 cereal harvest remains clouded by shortages of seed after last year’s drought-reduced crop, the poor state of the irrigation/water management system and inadequate drainage which is causing salination. A severe drought has reduced the 2000 cereal harvest to 236 000 tonnes, down by 47 percent compared to 1999. Output of all other crops, including potatoes, vegetables and cotton have also been affected.

The severe drought last year has rendered almost half of the 6.2 million people in the country vulnerable to food shortages and donor response to the appeals for food aid have been slow. The cereal import requirement in the 2000/01 marketing year (July/June) is estimated at 791 000 tonnes. After taking into account a projected commercial import of some 400 0000 tonnes and pledged food aid of 104 000 tonnes, the uncovered food aid requirements remains at 285 000 tonnes. A shortfall of this magnitude for this impoverished country, if not addressed by the international community, could have disastrous implications for the population. Many households are already in dire conditions and the situation will worsen for increasing numbers in the lean season (late winter - spring) when they exhaust whatever food stocks they have, as well as other means of coping. An estimated 3 million people fall in this category, with about 2 million facing a desperate situation. The evolving critical food supply, production and access situations need to be monitored carefully with a view to making adjustments to the ongoing assistance programmes and/or designing appropriate new ones.

WFP has launched an appeal for 126 000 tonnes of food aid worth $62 million to implement an emergency operation to assist over one million people threatened by famine over the next nine months. Without assistance, about 1.2 million people will face a desperate situation with virtually no employment opportunities or other sources of income to purchase food from the market.

THAILAND (5 February)

Widespread rain during the last dekad of January increased soil moisture reserves. Harvesting of the main wet season rice crop should be complete while planting of the second dry season crop should be underway in parts. The latest forecasts from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that the paddy production from the main 2000/01 crop would be around 19.04 million tonnes, whilst the current second crop, harvested in May/June next year, is expected to be yield around 4.95 million tonnes. Total production therefore will be around 24 million tonnes, or 16 million tonnes in rice equivalent.

Rice exports reached 6.6 million tonnes last year, down 100 000 tonnes from the previous year.

TURKEY (14 February)

Prospects for the 2001 winter crop are favourable so far reflecting good rains in the agriculturally important areas. The 2000 wheat production is estimated at 19 million tonnes, about 5 percent above the previous year’s reduced crop but about average.

The government has significantly reduced its grain support prices in June 2000 with the objective of reducing inflationary pressures and lowering government outlays. For instance, support prices for Anatolian Hard Red Wheat, which is most commonly produced, has been reduced by about 14 percent to 166 US$/tonne compared to 1999.

Turkey's state grain board (TMO) purchase from farmers in 2000 is estimated at about 4.5 million tonnes of cereals.

TURKMENISTAN (12 February)

Official reports indicate that the 2000 winter grain harvest reached 1.7 million tonnes, above target (1.645 million tonnes) and some 280 000 tonnes more than in 1999. The increase is mainly in response to private responsibility for production under leasehold and has been achieved despite shortages of irrigation water in some production areas and in most neighbouring countries. The bulk of cereals are sown in the winter and escaped damage as a result of hot weather and shortages of irrigation water. The outcome of the irrigated rice production is still uncertain, but is likely to be well short of target as was the 2000 cotton harvest, which fell by 20 percent to 1.03 million tonnes.

An earthquake damaged western parts of the country (Nebit Dag) and surrounding areas in December, causing loss of life and damages to housing and food stocks, not so much in the regional capital but in nearby villages.

UZBEKISTAN (12 February)

At this early stage of the season, crop development is less than at the corresponding time last year. However, this could be due to colder weather and/or later plantings. Overall the early outlook for winter grains is satisfactory. Early reports indicate that the area sown to winter cereals has increased slightly, despite late and reduced planting in the northern areas affected by severe water shortage in the summer and autumn of 2000. The final outcome will depend crucially on good snowfall in the glacier mountains in the neighbouring countries feeding the two major rivers on which the country depends for irrigation water supplies.

The 2000 grain harvest is officially estimated at 3.916 million tonnes, below target (5.8 million tonnes) and some 10 percent below the previous year. Output was reduced as a result of a below normal winter precipitation, a shortage of irrigation water following a mild winter and poor management of water resources, with catastrophic impacts on agriculture in the down river regions of the AmuDarya, the Autonomous Region of Karakalpakstan and Khorizem, but particularly the former. Output of cotton, a major export crop with which imports of wheat and machinery are financed, has fallen to 3 million tonnes compared to 3.6 million tonnes last year. The rice harvest (irrigated) is also sharply down to 155 000 tonnes from 421 000 tonnes in 1999.

Imports of foodstuffs have declined in recent years in part due to a sharp increase in cereal production (notably wheat), and in part, because imports have been kept low to maximize funds available for the creation of import substituting industries. Nevertheless, the import requirement for wheat in 2000/01 is estimated at over 800 000 tonnes. The bulk of cereal imports will be mobilized commercially but the government has requested (and received) 38 200 tonnes of durum wheat for pasta production.

Larger volumes of cereals than normal will have to be transferred to drought affected populations. Budget constraints may reduce the capacity of the government to make adequate provision for the affected populations but the central government has not requested any additional emergency assistance. A rapid nutrition assessment in November-December in Karakalpakstan showed low levels of acute malnutrition (2.6 percent of children under 5 with MUAC<13.5cm), but quite a bit of chronic malnutrition compared to the NCHS/CDC reference (15.4 percent).

VIET NAM (5 February)

Seasonably dry weather favoured land preparation and planting of winter/spring rice through most of January. In the north the crop is planted in January to March for harvest in June/July, whilst in the south planting and harvesting are around a month earlier. In view of weaker prices, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reports that cropped area in the north declined sharply. The area under maize is reported to have be some 29 percent down on the previous year, whilst the area under sweet potato and soya beans decreased by 27 percent to 91 000 hectares and 19 000 hectares respectively. In some areas farmers are substituting these crops for sunflower and wheat.

Due to a slow down in rice trade in the world market, rice export revenues were lower in 2000 than anticipated. Compared to a revised target of 3.8 million tonnes some 3.7 million tonnes were exported.

YEMEN (14 February)

The output of the 2000 recently harvested sorghum crop is estimated at 380 000 tonnes, some 8 percent lower than the average for the previous five years, due to reduced yields.

The Desert Locust situation remains calm but with recent winter rains along the Red Sea coastal plains, conditions are likely to be favourable for breeding.

Imports of cereals in 2000, mainly wheat, are estimated at some 2.6 million tonnes.


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