Bangkok, Thailand, 11 Jul 2013 -- At his monthly media briefing today, Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific announced that total global cereal production is forecast to increase by about 7 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, helping to replenish global inventories and raise expectations for more stable markets in 2013/14.
The increase would bring world cereal production to 2 479 million tonnes, a new record level which would eventually reverse last year's supply deficit. Konuma said, that “Asia's contribution to this global cereals increase is 1.3 percent and will come largely because of increases in rice production of about 2 percent.”
He said, “An increase in paddy production is expected, tentatively estimated to reach a record level of 675 million tonnes, some 2 percent above the 2012 record harvest. However, given the bulk of the 2013 paddy and coarse grains crops are currently being planted, the situation could change as the season progresses.”
FAO now puts world wheat output in 2013 at 704 million tonnes, an increase of 6.8 percent, which more than recoups the previous year's reduction and represents the highest level in history.
World production of coarse grains in 2013 is now forecast by FAO at about 1 275 million tonnes, up sharply (9.7 percent) from 2012.
World rice production in 2013 is forecast to expand by 2 percent to 500 million tonnes in milled equivalent, although prospects are still very provisional.
The outlook for the harvest of early planted 2012/13 secondary dry season rice in most Asian countries and the main rice crop in the southern countries is favourable thanks to generally beneficial weather, adequate supplies of fertilizer and irrigation water. Konuma was highlighting the rice situation in Asia-Pacific which foresee record first season harvests in Bangladesh and the Philippines, mainly reflecting an estimated expansion in plantings.
In Indonesia the output of the main wet season paddy crop is estimated at 68.4 million tonnes, some 4.4 percent above the previous year’s record harvest of the same season, following diverse initiatives launched by the government to achieve self-sufficiency. It is estimated that China, India and Thailand would have higher rice production in 2013 compared to 2012. According to Konuma, “In the case of Thailand, rice production is expected to grow by about 2 percent in 2013.” Cereal imports and exports expected to increase in 2013/14 marketing year.
Konuma also talked about cereal imports and exports in Asia, saying, “Despite the overall anticipated increase in cereal production in most countries of the subregion, the aggregate cereal imports in the 2013/14 marketing years are expected to increase by some 6 percent compared to 2012/13 and remain 11 percent above the preceding five-year average level. The increase is mainly attributed to the higher forecast of maize imports from China, almost double from the previous year, following growing demand for feed use. Similarly, total wheat imports of the East Asia are expected to increase by 1.1 million tonnes or 3 percent above last year’s level, following higher demand for the crop in China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. On the other hand, aggregate rice imports are expected to decline reflecting lower demand for the imported commodity in Indonesia, China, and the Republic of Korea due to the improved domestic production.
FAO is forecasting aggregate cereal exports in 2013/14 to increase by almost 7 percent from the previous year, following the estimated increase in exportable surplus, particularly from Thailand, up by 20 percent and India up by 6 percent. Lower estimated rice exports by India and Viet Nam compared to last year, are expected to be more than compensated by an increase in exports from Thailand, estimated at 8.2 million tonnes, an improvement of 17 percent relative to the poor 2012 performance. Upcoming launch of the Save Food Campaign Asia-Pacific.
Upcoming launch of the Save Food Campaign Asia-Pacific
Konuma announced that FAO will hold a High-level Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Food Losses and Food Waste, 27-28 August in Bangkok, to launch the Save Food Asia-Pacific campaign, which is being implemented by FAO with the Asian Institute of Technology and with other development partners. The Consultation will seek to draw attention to the high levels of post-harvest losses and growing problem of food waste in the region and seek to promote sustainable food consumption in the region. Options for joint initiatives and efforts to address these issues will also be discussed.
The two-day Consultation will include the participation of high-level policy makers, regional bodies, donors and development partners as well as representatives of farmer organizations, processor and consumer organizations, the retail and food service sectors , civil society organizations, students, researchers and academics. Konuma said, “With Asia and the Pacific being home to 62 percent of the total global number of hungry people, those of us who have more than enough food should be ashamed to waste it.”
FAO works with China and donors to contain A(H7N9) virus
Commenting on the A(H7N9) virus in China, which has infected a total of 133 people, including 43 who died from the virus, Konuma said, “Vigorous measures by the government of China, including the closure of live bird markets and enhanced biosecurity, has resulted in significant drop of infections in humans. Ongoing surveillance in animals has confirmed evidence of infection with H7N9 virus in 29 samples of the 330 000 samples collected. FAO is continuing to liaise with China and other partners to monitor the situation. The Organization is involved in exploring and assessing virus characteristics, conducting market chain analysis and risk assessment as well as assisting with surveillance guidance and communication.”
FAO coordinated a USAID-supported, technical and policy meeting on H7N9 in Bangkok on 24–25 June 2013, hosted by the Government of Thailand. Preliminary surveillance results show that there is no evidence of the presence of H7N9 virus in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal and Viet Nam. Further surveillance activities are ongoing and supported by USAID. Konuma said, “On 14 June FAO urged countries to remain vigilant in the face of H7N9, warning that after an expected slow summer period, there is a risk that the virus might become more active. FAO has stated that now is the time for countries to prepare in order to protect livelihoods.”
Also at the media briefing were Ramesh Sharma, FAO Senior Policy Officer, Rosa Rolle, Agriculture Support Systems Group Coordinator, and Subhash Morzaria, Regional Manager of the Emergency Centre of Transboundary Animal Diseases.