FAO forecasts record cereal crop for 2007
Despite improved world cereal supply, 33 countries are in crisis
3 April 2007, Rome – World cereal production in 2007 is forecast to increase 4.3 percent to a record 2 082 million tonnes, according to the April issue of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.
The bulk of the increase is expected in maize, with a bumper crop already being gathered in South America, and a sharp increase in plantings expected in the United States, according to the report. A significant rise in wheat output is also foreseen, with a recovery in some major exporting countries after weather problems last year.
FAO forecasts coarse grains production to rise 5.6 percent to 1 033 million tonnes, and wheat to increase 4.8 percent to about 626 million tonnes. Global rice production in 2007 could rise marginally to 423 million tonnes in milled terms, about 3 million tonnes more than in 2006, FAO says.
Low-income food-deficit countries
Although still highly tentative, FAO's first forecast indicates that for the group of 82 low-income food-deficit countries, 2007 cereal production could remain around the above-average level of 2006. Following improved 2006 harvests in most of these countries, cereal imports in the 2006/07 marketing year are expected to decline in most regions.
In southern Africa, the 2007 main season harvest is under way. Preliminary forecasts put total maize production at 14.8 million tonnes, about the same as last year’s below-average crop. Prospects vary considerably from country to country, however, with significant crop losses due to floods in some parts of the region, and reduced yields due to long dry weather spells in others.
Maize prices have escalated in South Africa, the region’s main exporting country, where inadequate precipitation will reduce yields. This will affect Swaziland, Lesotho and other dependent markets in the region. Meanwhile, food prices have also risen steeply in Madagascar, due to crop damage from excess rainfall.
In eastern Africa, the outcome of the 2006/07 secondary season crops, just completed in most countries, has been generally good, the report says. Following above-average to bumper first season crops in many countries, record cereal output is confirmed for 2006/07, improving the overall food supply situation.
Millions of people in the region still depend on food assistance, however, due to a combination of factors including conflict and adverse weather conditions. Moreover, Rift Valley Fever, which broke out in Kenya in late December 2006, has since emerged in southern Somalia and northern Tanzania, killing hundreds of people and much livestock. This is a further blow to the region’s pastoralists, whose herds had been greatly reduced by a severe multi-year drought.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Record 2007 main season maize crops are being gathered in South America, where planted area increased in response to strong demand, largely for ethanol production in the United States. Yields also benefited from favourable weather. A good wheat crop is being harvested in Mexico, the main producing country in Central America and the Caribbean.
In Bolivia, contrary to the favourable regional harvest and food outlook, severe weather, ranging from torrential rains in some parts to drought in others, has caused extensive losses to agriculture, livestock, and other assets, threatening the food security of rural communities.
Food crises continue
Despite improved food supplies in many food insecure countries, 33 countries worldwide are in a critical situation, mostly due to conflict and adverse weather, FAO says.
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33 countries require external assistance
Exceptional shortfall in food production/supplies:
Countries with unfavourable prospects for current crops
Bolivia - Adverse weather conditions (floods in lowlands; drought, hail and frost in highlands)
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