Favourable early outlook for world cereal production in 2007
Record 2006 crops in many developing countries, but some face food crises due to conflict, poor weather
9 February 2007, Rome – Early prospects for 2007 world cereal crops are favourable, mainly due to expanded plantings in Europe and North America and generally satisfactory weather conditions, FAO said in a report issued today. Food security problems persist in several countries, however, due to localized losses of 2006 crops and civil conflict.
Global cereal output in 2006 was just under 2 billion tonnes, 2.7 percent lower than in the previous year but still above average, according to FAO’s latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report. The bulk of the decline was among the major producing and exporting countries, including the United States, several European countries and Australia.
Wheat production in 2006, at almost 598 million tonnes, was down 4.4 percent from 2005. The report put output of coarse grains in 2006 at some 978 million tonnes, 2.6 percent down from 2005. The decline for rice was seen as marginal, with 2006 production estimated at 420 million tonnes, 0.4 percent below the 2005 level.
Africa: good crops in 2006 mean lower imports
Production among low-income food-deficit countries increased significantly in 2006, with record or good crops in most regions of the world. As a result, cereal imports, including food aid, are forecast to decline in 2006/07 in many of these countries.
For low-income food-deficit countries in Africa, imports - both commercial and food aid – are forecast to decline by 10 percent over the previous year.
The report recommends local purchases of cereals for food aid programmes in order to support prices.
Conflict, adverse weather leave many vulnerable
Despite the overall favourable food supply outlook for 2007, food security problems persist in 34 countries due to localized crop losses and civil conflict.
In eastern Africa, the effects of floods, the current outbreak of Rift Valley Fever, localized drought, and past or ongoing conflicts continue to undermine food security.
Emergency food assistance continues to be needed in Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as a result of civil conflicts. In Mauritania and Niger, localized poor harvests have yet again affected some populations, whose food supply situation remains precarious.
The economic crisis in Zimbabwe has left an estimated 1.4 million rural people unable to meet their minimum cereal needs. In Angola, despite economic growth and increased oil revenues, localized food insecurity persists for around 800 000 vulnerable people.
Ongoing civil strife in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has left large numbers of people in need food assistance. Food aid is also needed in Burundi following a reduced 2006 harvest, combined with resettlement of returnees and IDPs.
The food supply situation for millions of people in DPR Korea remains critical as a result of the sharp reduction of food aid, with import requirements for 2007 estimated at 1 million tonnes. Serious food security problems persist in Sri Lanka due to political instability and abnormal monsoon rains. In Iraq, conflict, insecurity and displacement continue to affect the lives of large numbers of people.
Assistance is still required in Haiti due to long-term problems of insecurity and economic crisis.
Information Officer, FAO
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