Press releases


 Back to archive


Press Release 97/74

FAO MISSION REPORT SAYS MOST FORMER USSR COUNTRIES SHOW GRADUALLY IMPROVING FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION; BUT AFFORDABILITY REMAINS A PROBLEM


Rome, December 15 -- The "sharp contraction in food supplies" in most the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) "is bottoming out," according to a mission report released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The CIS is made up of most of the countries that were once part of the former USSR.

The report says: "Many countries are now experiencing growth in GDP, albeit from levels less than half that prior to the transition to a market economy. Food aid needs and the number of vulnerable persons needing targeted food assistance have fallen sharply."

However, the report added, "the situation in Tajikistan remains precarious, the humanitarian and reconstruction needs in the North Caucasus are daunting and there are residual humanitarian needs in all countries."

The report says that the improved food supply situation masks the fundamental problem of continuing high unemployment and underemployment levels which result in large numbers of people who can "barely manage on very meager earnings."

Seven CIS countries, with a combined population of 53 million people, are now classified as low-income food-deficit countries with an annual per capita GNP of less than $1,465. The report says that is just $28 per week and indicates a disposable income of significantly less money.

Food consumption patterns are reported stabilizing following sharp changes between 1990 and 1994, when lower incomes and the removal of subsidies in most countries resulted in dramatic price increases, forcing many consumers to buy less and cheaper food items. The sharp cut back in the consumption of livestock products during the first half of the nineties has slowed as incomes stabilize. "In the Russian Federation, even the registered retail sales of income elastic items such as meat, sausage, butter, cheese and eggs increased in 1996," according to the report.

Throughout the CIS, the report points to "affordability rather than physical supply of food" as the main problem. "Market prices for food are very high relative to salaries, reflecting structural inefficiencies in the production, processing , marketing, transport, banking and legal systems which will take years to address. Within countries, market reforms and the growth of the private sector has seen income disparities grow considerably. A small but growing proportion of the population can afford a highly
varied diet, but the majority, in both urban and rural areas, still has to spend a large portion of income on staples."

The report says that although overall food supplies in the CIS remained adequate to meet effective demand, there are large variations between countries and within countries. It said in Tajikistan, for example, over 16 percent of the population need relief assistance to survive.


Grain Production in the CIS, 1996 and 1977 ('000 tons)

1996 Estimate
1997 Provisional Forescast 1/
Percent change 1997 over 1996


Total

of which:
Wheat


Total

of which:
Wheat


Total

of which:
Wheat

Armenia
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Georgia
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyz Rep.
Moldova
Russian Fed.
Tajikistan
Turkmenistan
Ukraine
Uzbekistan

328
1 095
5 792
688
11 237
1 424
1 898
73 946
543
535
26 118
3 561

201
800
600
177
7 678
1 041
720
37 500
450
453
15 000
2 742

337
1 155
6 157
820
12 173
1 700
3 014
84 590
600
741
34 940
3 918

220
925
700
300
8 700
1 350
1 200
44 000
530
650
19 000
3 120

+3
+5
+6
+19
+8
+10
+59
+14
+10
+38
+34
+10

+9
+16
+17
+69
+13
+30
+67
+17
+18
+43
+27
+14

Total CIS 1/

127 165

67 362

150 145

80 695

+18

+20

Source: CIS Committee for Statistics and FAO estimates
1/ Rounded

* * * * * * *

The full Special Report by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System is available through the FAO Internet Homepage: http://www.fao.org/ then click on WAICENT, ECONOMICS and GIEWS.


>

 FAO Home page 

>

 Search our site 

Comments?: Webmaster@fao.org

©FAO,1997