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

EUROPE

EC (13 February)

In the EC, the 2000 autumn conditions were generally unfavourable for winter grain planting and the area sown overall for the 2001 harvest is expected to have declined. The bulk of the decline is expected in wheat as, in addition to weather problems, a switch of land to feed cereals and oilseed crops is expected this year in anticipation of increased demand from the feed industry following the ban on the use of meat and bone meal. Significant reductions in winter wheat area are reported in France and the United Kingdom, which are likely to more than offset increases reported in some other countries, namely Austria, Germany and Sweden. One positive feature of the autumn period in 2000 was above-normal temperatures, which favoured good establishment of crops so yield prospects at this stage could be somewhat above average.

BELARUS (13 February)

Growing conditions for the 2000/01 winter cereal crop have been satisfactory to date. The 2000 cereal and grain harvest is officially reported at 4.7 million tonnes, a good recovery form the poor 3.6 million tonne harvest in 1999 but still below average.

In 2000/01, the country will need to import cereals for human consumption and has already contracted some 350 000 tonnes from Kazakhstan.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA* (13 February)

The early outlook for winter grains is satisfactory. However, the downward trend in winter grain plantings is likely to persist, reflecting poor profitability of wheat. To meet consumption demand, wheat imports have increased steadily and in the 2000/01 marketing year are projected to increase beyond the 290 000 tonnes imported in 1999/2000.

BULGARIA (13 February)

In Bulgaria, the winter wheat area is officially estimated at some 1.2 million hectares, up about 10 percent from 1999. The barley area is also estimated up at about 230 000 hectares. Prospects for the crops improved in mid-January with the arrival of snow, which will provide much needed moisture for crop development this spring. Latest reports as of late January indicate the crop is generally in good condition and almost certainly better than last year’s at the same time.

CROATIA (13 February)

The early outlook is uncertain. The 2000 drought persisted into the autumn delaying winter cereal plantings, which are planned to be less than last year. Precipitation has improved since December but the intensity of crop development is less than last year, when the wheat harvest reached bumper 1.08 million tonnes. The area to be sown to spring crops overall is to be reduced somewhat, but that to be sown to maize is targeted to increase to 386 000 hectares, from 361 000 hectares in 2000 to help replenish maize supplies after the drought reduced harvest in 2000 of only 1.5 million tonnes, compared to 2.1 million tonnes in 1999. Despite the poor harvests, quantities of maize are being exported to neighbouring Bosnia Herzegovina. The country also plans to export about 200 000 tonnes of wheat in 2000/01.

CZECH REPUBLIC (13 February)

The winter cereal area is officially estimated at just over 1 million hectares, of which 865 000 hectares are wheat and 165 000 hectares are barley. Conditions for crops are reported to be somewhat more favourable than in the neighbouring countries to the south as rainfall has been closer to the norm.

ESTONIA (13 February)

The early outlook for winter grains is satisfactory. The 2000 grain harvest is estimated at a bumper 0.6 million tonnes cleaned weight from 330 000 hectares. Feed prices are expected to fall in response to the good harvest, some 25 percent more than last year, and reduced livestock production in the first half year of 2000. The first agricultural census since 1939 is to be carried out in mid 2001.

FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (13 February)

Conditions are reported to be generally satisfactory for the winter cereal crops and the area sown should be similar to last year’s normal level

WFP continues to provide food assistance to about 7 500 refugees in collective centres or with host families. Repatriation packages are also being provided by WFP to refugees who voluntarily return to the Kosovo Province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

HUNGARY (13 February)

Winter wheat and barley plantings are estimated at 1.2 million hectares and 200 000 hectares respectively, somewhat up from the previous year’s level, which could allow some recovery in production this year. However, soil moisture reserves are reported to be very low after a prolonged drought. Good precipitation is required soon to replenish reserves for spring growth.

LATVIA (13 February)

Satellite imagery indicates vegetative development of winter crops, which is less than at the corresponding time last year. The area sown has likely remained average.

The 2000 cereal output is tentatively forecast at nearly 0.9 million tonnes, about average and almost 0.1 million tonnes more than last year. 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..

LITHUANIA (13 February)

The early outlook for the 2001 winter cereal harvest is satisfactory but crop development in the north-eastern corner of the country, bordering Latvia is markedly less than a year ago. The 2000 grain harvest is anticipated to recover to an about average 2.4 million tonnes from last year's poor level of 2.1 million tonnes, and to include nearly 0.9 million tonnes of wheat.

MOLDOVA (13 February)

After two poor years, normal precipitation and temperatures in the autumn favoured the planting of winter wheat and barley for harvest in 2001. Growing conditions have been good this season to date and crop development is markedly better than at the corresponding time last year.

The 2000 grain harvest is officially reported to have reached 2.1 million tonnes, significantly higher than earlier estimates and only marginally less than the equally drought affected harvest in 1999. However, farmers, traders and independent analysts question the official estimate while analysts evaluate the yield of wheat at 75-50 percent of the official estimate of over 2 tonnes/hectare. By November 2000, the domestic price of wheat had more than doubled, indicating a tighter grain market. Wheat production, initially targeted at 1 million tonnes, is officially reported to be 780 000 tonnes, but analysts put it as low as 500 000 tonnes. Equally, the 2000 maize harvest, officially forecast at 1.091 million tonnes could also be less.

The 2000 wheat harvest is adequate to meet food consumption needs, although in view of the poor quality of much of the wheat, imports of high gluten wheat are necessary to mix with local supplies for quality bread. Indications are that purchasing power could keep such imports low. Following the second poor harvest in succession the availability of feedgrains for livestock is very tight and high prices will necessitate substantial destocking to continue. The government has prohibited wheat exports this year and is trying to procure 60 000-80 000 tonnes for domestic reserves, with little success.

POLAND (13 February)

Autumn and winter rainfall has been closer to normal than in the countries further south, and some recovery in winter grain production is expected after last year’s reduced output.

ROMANIA (13 February)

Early indications suggest that the winter wheat area is similar to that in the previous year at around 1.9 million hectares. After a long summer drought some scattered showers in the autumn allowed planting to progress satisfactorily in the main producing areas. However, conditions remained prevalently dry up until the end of January when finally some significant precipitation was recorded. Much more rain is needed in Romania to replenish soil moisture reserves for crop growth this spring.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION (13 February)

The early outlook for the 2001 winter cereals is good. The area sown to winter crops for harvest in the spring/summer of this year increased by 0.5 million hectares to 14.66 million hectares, mainly due to larger plantings in the North Caucasus. Growing conditions have been good overall. Satellite imagery shows better crop development in most areas, with the exception of Volgograd and Saratov oblasts. Mostly mild conditions this winter have benefited crops. Although, spells of extreme cold have caused human suffering, in general overall crops have had adequate protection.

FAO’s estimate of the 2000 grain (cereal and pulse) harvest is 71 million tonnes, about average and some 11 million tonnes higher than FAO’s estimate for production in 1999. FAO’s estimates in both years are about 10 percent higher than the official estimates, (2000: 65.4; 1999: 54.7 million tonnes) in view of systematic underestimation Output of wheat is now estimated by FAO at 38 million tonnes (some 10 percent above the official forecast) and the proportion of quality wheat is higher than last year. Output of coarse grains is estimated by FAO at 31 million tonnes compared to 25 million tonnes last year.

Indications are that the 2000 harvest is adequate to cover domestic food and feed needs and allow some small replenishment of stocks. In the 2000/01 marketing year cereal imports are forecast to fall to half of last year’s level (8.4 million tonnes) and to be partially offset by exports amounting to around 2 million tonnes.

Food insecurity is primarily a problem of access rather than availability as income distribution is very uneven. Some 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line of US$4.30/person/day. Specific causes of poverty include arrears in the payment of pensions, salaries and wages.

In Chechnya, the outlook for winter grain planting for harvest next year is also reported to be bleak due to lack of financial resources and fuel. The 2000 agricultural production was greatly compromised by the security situation as well as the shortages of machinery, fuel and inputs.

The conflict in Chechnya continues to cause severe hardship for the local and displaced population, particularly now in the harsh winter months. An estimated 170 000 persons remain displaced inside Chechnya. Relief operations are seriously hindered by problems of security and shortage of resources. WFP and the NGOs are providing basic and complementary food assistance to practically all internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ingushetia, who number an additional 160 000, of whom some 30 000 are still living in tent camps.

SLOVAK REPUBLIC (13 February)

In the Slovak Republic, prospects for the winter grain crops are satisfactory and plantings have likely remained similar to last year’s levels.

UKRAINE (13 February)

The early outlook for the 2001 winter cereals is good. The area sown increased by an estimated 0.8 million hectares to 8.4 million hectares. Growing conditions have been good in the 2000/01 season to date and some 88 percent of the crop are in good/satisfactory condition. Satellite imagery shows markedly better conditions than at the corresponding time last year, although crops in the south-east need rain.

The 2000 grain harvest was affected by drought. FAO now estimates the 2000 cereal harvest at only 22.9 million tonnes, less than the poor output of 1999 (26.4 million tonnes) and less than the official forecast of 24.4 million tonnes in view of traders and expert reports of overestimation, notably of the spring coarse grain crop (maize).

Despite another poor harvest, the country could remain a net exporter of cereals. In the first six months of the current marketing year, the country has exported in excess of 0.8 million tonnes (mainly barley) and imported roughly 0.4 million tonnes, (mainly wheat). In the 2000/01 marketing year, aggregate cereal exports are anticipated to halve to 1.4 million tonnes while imports increase to about 900 000 tonnes, from just over 600 000 tonnes in 1999/2000.

YUGOSLAVIA, FED. REP. OF (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO)* (13 February)

The outlook for winter wheat, to be harvested later this year, has improved somewhat but remains uncertain. The drought, which sharply reduced the 2000 cereal harvest, continued into the autumn, delaying the planting of winter wheat and hindering crop establishment. The Farming Institute of Novi Sad, situated in the Voyvodina, the major producing area, indicates that despite the poor economic conditions of farmers, some 750 000 hectares were finally planted to winter wheat. This is less than planned - 800 000 hectares - but, if true, would be more than was actually sown and harvested last year (roughly 600 000 ha) and closer to average. Better rains and mild temperatures since late December have improved the outlook but subsoil moisture reserves remain precarious. Disruption in the administrative systems governing agriculture and shortages of funds at all levels in the sector will keep input use, and likely yields, well below potential.

FAO estimates the aggregate 2000 cereal harvest at only 5.2 million tonnes compared to 8.6 million tonnes in 1999. An assessment mission in June/July put the 2000 wheat harvest at only 1.7 million tonnes, reflecting poor incentives to sow wheat, limited availability of inputs, crop damage by floods and later dry conditions. Severe drought in the spring and summer reduced spring coarse grain and other foodcrop harvests. The 2000 maize harvest is officially estimated at only 3.1 million tonnes, about half of the bumper 6.1 million tonne harvest in 1999.

The overall cereal supply situation is tight and there is little or no scope for exports of cereals, despite substantial carry-forward stocks, particularly of maize. Livestock production will be adversely affected by the rising prices of grain.

The population continues to suffer from shortages of energy and sharp price increases for basic foods, since the new government has started liberalizing the formerly controlled prices.

WFP is currently targeting about 700 000 refugees and socially vulnerable people. In addition the ICRC assists 200 000 IDPs with an individual food ration and 100 000 beneficiaries (social cases) through a hot meal under their soup kitchen programme.


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