ASIA

AFGHANISTAN* (12 April)

The output of wheat and barley due for harvest from June is again expected to be constrained by shortages of agricultural inputs, damage to infrastructure and persistent insecurity. In recent years, output has declined from 3.4 million tons in 1987 to 2.7 million tons in 1991 and 2.5 million tons in 1995. These levels of production are well below domestic requirement.

A Consolidated United Nations Inter-Agency Appeal for Emergency Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Assistance to Afghanistan, valued at U.S.$ 124 million, was launched in October 1995 and cover the period to September 1996. The Appeal is targeted at four major crisis areas: emergencies in urban and rural areas, internally displaced people and refugees returning from neighbouring countries.

The import requirement in cereals in 1995/96, mostly wheat, is estimated at 1.3 million tons. Expected cereal food aid deliveries for 1995/96 amount to 185 500 tons, of which 97 000 tons have been delivered.

BANGLADESH (2 April)

The boro rice crop due for harvest in April - May is progressing under generally favourable conditions. The provisional target for this crop, which normally accounts for one third of aggregate paddy production, has been set at 7 million tons (milled rice), against last years crop of 6.54 million tons. Fertilizer (Urea) distribution remains a concern and may constrain yields somewhat, though it is generally anticipated that farmers will find adequate quantities due to favourable stocks and an export ban. It is estimated that the shortage and untimely application of fertilizers last year reduced yields by 7 percent.

Despite serious flooding during last year’s monsoon, which affected the aman crop in parts, favourable moisture supplies in other areas boosted yields. As a result output of the 1995/96 crop, for which harvest operations were completed in January, is provisionally estimated at 9.1 million tons, some 7 percent higher than the previous year’s production of 8.5 million tons. The aggregate output of paddy in 1995 is estimated at 26.7 million tons, which remains below average for the previous five years, though some 6 percent higher than 1994. The wheat crop is maturing under generally favourable conditions and a revised target of 1.2 million tons has been set, similar to production in the previous year.

Planting of the 1996/97 'Aus' paddy crop has begun under favourable conditions; aus paddy accounts for some 10 percent of total paddy output.

Although some improvement in domestic production is envisaged in 1995/96, the food supply situation remains tight and it is anticipated that the government will, as in 1994/95, need to import significant quantities of food grain this year. Rice imports for 1995/96 (June/July) are currently forecast at a record 0.9 to 1.0 million tons, of which it is estimated that 650 000 tons had been delivered by January 1996. Due to concerns regarding unforeseen natural disasters and the lead time required for imports, the Government increased rice and wheat stocks in 1995. As a result the overall Government stock position is satisfactory, with an estimated 1.13 million tons at the end of February 1996, comprising 465 000 of rice and 668 000 tons of wheat.

CAMBODIA (4 April)

Harvesting of the secondary, dry season, rice crop has begun under generally favourable conditions. Although the crop only represents some 11 percent of area under paddy cultivation, it presently accounts for 16 - 18 percent of production, due to much higher yields resulting from some supplementary irrigation and use of improved rice varieties. Production of the crop is currently estimated at 0.53 million tons. Although area under dry season rice has increased by some 28 percent since 1991/92, overall paddy area has increased by only 4 percent.

The aggregate output of paddy in 1995/96 is forecast at 3.32 million tons, more than a million tons or almost 50 percent higher than production in the previous year. Exceptional rice production in 1995/96 is principally attributed to favourable rainfall over most of the country and an increase in the use of fertilizers.

As a result of favourable production, a recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission estimated that the country would have a rice surplus of some 139 000 tons over consumption in 1995/96, the first time in 25 years. In view of the surplus, the Government recently issued licenses for the export of 120,000 tons of rice, leaving a balance of 19 000 tons as reserves for people most in need. However, the FAO/WFP mission had earlier cautioned the government over such exports, principally because the country has not achieved food security at individual, household or community level as many communes still face rice shortages as a consequence of crop losses, due to floods last year, reduced stock levels, low purchasing power and limited agricultural land. Although the exact number of vulnerable people facing food shortages is yet to be ascertained, the mission tentatively estimated that some 60 000 tons of rice and 3 000 tons of other commodities would be needed in 1996 to support the most vulnerable people in various communes. As of 1 January 1996, WFP held stocks of 13 151 tons of rice and had secured additional pledges of 36 800 tons from donors, amounting to 49 951 tons. This leaves a shortfall of some 10 000 tons needed to make up the 60 000 tons required. In addition, the Mission recommended that Government, with donor support, purchases and retains a stock of some 25 000 tons of rice for emergencies and also suggested that WFP and bilateral donors make local purchases for programmes to assist vulnerable people.

CHINA (9 April)

The winter wheat crop is reported to be in satisfactory condition and overall, a good grain harvest, similar to last year’s 105 million tons, is expected notwithstanding drought and above-normal temperatures in the north and the possibility of pest infestation in some regions. The area under winter wheat is estimated to have increased by some 2 percent over the previous year and the Government has recently increased the procurement price of grains by 20 percent to further stimulate domestic grain production. It is reported that the drought has also affected some 6.7 million hectares of maize, where planting is due to begin soon. In contrast, cold, cloudy weather and rain in the first weeks of April affected planting of early rice in parts of the south.

The official target is to increase the area under grains this year to over 110 million hectares, of which 29.7 million hectares would be devoted to winter grains, 400 000 hectares more than last year. The largest increase in area (4.5 percent) is expected in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The target for aggregate grain production in 1996 (including pulses, roots and tubers) is 462.5 million tons some 2.5 million tons less than last year’s record harvest of 465 million tons. Grain imports are projected to remain high in 1996 as consumption is growing faster than domestic supply due to a combination of population and economic growth. The main cereal import is wheat for which the estimate has been revised to 13 million tons, some 8 percent higher than forecast earlier and 3 million tons higher than 1994/95.

CYPRUS (1 April)

Despite below-normal rainfall at the beginning of the season the condition of the wheat and barley crops is reported to be satisfactory and an average harvest is expected. The area planted to winter grains is estimated at 63 000 hectares, similar to last year.

Production of cereals (mostly barley) in 1995, is estimated at a below-average 140 000 tons, lower than the previous year.

Imports of wheat in 1995/96 (May/April) are estimated to increase fractionally to 90 000 tons while those of barley are likely to decrease by some 15 percent to 260 000 tons. Imports of maize are expected to increase by 10 000 tons to 130 000 tons.

INDIA (3 April)

Prospects for rabi grain production (mainly wheat) are favourable, reflecting adequate irrigation supplies, satisfactory rainfall in recent weeks and low incidence of pest infestation. For the period 1 October 1995 to 21 February 1996, however, cumulative rainfall was lower than in the same period in 1994/95. Out of 35 sub-divisions monitored, 18 had received below normal rainfall accounting for 64 percent of rabi production compared to 14 sub- divisions accounting for 50 percent of production in 1994/95. The total target for rabi crops is 84.5 million tons, though recent projections indicate that output could be close to 90 million tons. Most of the increase will be in wheat, for which the target is 60 million tons though output is currently projected at 65.2 million tons similar to last year’s record crop. The Government has raised the support price of wheat to 3 800 rupees/ton, an increase of 200 rupees, or 5.6 percent over 1995.

After a serious delay in last year’s monsoon, cumulative rainfall over the season was good and the country enjoyed its eighth successive monsoon with normal or above normal rainfall. The latest forecast for 1995/96 paddy production is 80 million tons (milled basis), the same as target though just over one million tons less than in the preceding year. The foodgrain production target for 1995/96 is 192 million tons, including 60 million tons of wheat, 80 million tons of rice, 36.5 million tons of coarse grains and 15.5 million tons of pulses.

The overall food supply situation is favourable, reflecting large cereal stocks. Total stock of wheat and rice held by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) at the beginning of 1996, were estimated at some 28 million tons, including 16.6 million tons of rice and 11.5 million tons of wheat. This compares to stocks of some 31 million tons in January last year. However the high level of stocks has caused storage problems resulting in losses due to weather and pests. In 1995, in response to high international prices and strong regional demand, it is estimated that the country exported some 3.8 million tons of rice, whilst exports of wheat in the 1995/96 marketing year (June/July) are projected at one million tons.

INDONESIA (4 April)

The outcome of the main rice crop, now being harvested, remains uncertain as a result of flooding in a number of rice producing areas, heavy rain which has disrupted the process of drying and the shortage and high price of urea, the main fertilizer used in rice. It is reported that much of the rice crop in Java has a water content of about 17 percent, some 2 percent above average. At this level, rice can only be stored for short periods, which may explain delays in rice procurement by BULOG, the national marketing agency.

The target for paddy production in 1996 is 51.2 million tons, some 5.6 percent higher than the 48.5 million tons produced in 1995 and 8 percent higher than the average for the preceding five years. Although the Government has made efforts to increase area under rice cultivation by one million hectares in Central Kalimantan, including the development of an irrigation system, overall, unfavourable weather, floods and scarcity of fertilizers are expected to have an adverse affect on production in 1996.

From being a largely self sufficient rice producer in the 1980s, the country has had to resort to imports in recent years, especially in 1995, to meet domestic demand. Rice imports in 1995 are estimated at 2.5 million tons, significantly higher than in previous years. Domestic rice procurement by BULOG in 1995 was recorded at 918 925 tons, the lowest level since 1984. The low level of procurement is attributed to several factors, including a reduced harvest in 1994 and farmers’ preference to sell to private traders at higher prices. However as a result of imports the agency has accumulated large stocks which have been further supplemented by procurement of this year’s crop. At the end of February, total stocks were estimated at 2 million tons and storage is now reported to be a problem, as a result of which, unconfirmed reports suggest that the Government is planning some re-exports.

IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (9 April)

Prospects for wheat and barley, to be harvested in April/May, are reported to be satisfactory. Preparations for the planting of the 1996 paddy crop are underway in principal rice areas in northern provinces, whilst planting in the south is not due to commence until May-June.

The aggregate production of cereals in 1995, is estimated at 17.2 million tons, slightly higher than the 16.8 million tons produced in the previous year and 12 percent above average for the preceding five years.

Cereal imports in 1995/96 are forecast at 5 million tons, similar to 1994/95. Of this wheat imports are projected at 3.2 million tons similar to the previous year, coarse grains one million tons and rice 800 000 tons.

IRAQ* (1 April)

The outlook for 1996 cereal crops remains uncertain due to irregular and below-normal rainfall early in the season, which delayed planting of wheat and barley. Moreover, short supply of agricultural inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, as well as lack of spare parts for agricultural machinery, will further constrain yields.

Current estimates put 1995 cereal production at 2.2 million tons, some 20 percent lower than 1994 and 25 percent less than the average for the preceding five years

The food and nutrition situation remains critical mainly due to difficulties encountered by Government in financing imports. Although the rationing system is highly effective in areas under Government control, and there has been an increase in the monthly ration for wheat flour and vegetable oil since December 1995, overall rations provide less than half of the required energy needs and are of poor nutritional quality, lacking in animal protein and micronutrients.

Recent discussions on the implementation of the Security Council Resolution related to the terms for limited oil sales, have resulted in a decrease in food prices and in a sharp appreciation of the Iraqi Dinar against the U.S. dollar. Towards the end of January the price of rice fell by ID 350 per kg to ID 950 per kg; wheat flour to ID 450 per kg from ID 600 per kg and sugar by ID 400 to ID 1 300 per kg. Nevertheless, these prices remain well beyond the purchasing power of the majority of the population. From the previous rate of U.S.$ 1 = ID 3 000, the exchange rate on 3 February was quoted at U.S.$ 1 = ID 500. This compares with the pre- Gulf crises official rate of U.S.$ 3 = ID 1. Since then the Iraqi Dinar has fluctuated between 500 and 1 200 to the U.S. dollar, despite Government measures to tighten money supply and the continuation of discussion on partial oil sales.

Malnutrition remains widespread and getting worse with clinical signs of nutrition deficiencies. There are a large number of cases of marasmus and kwashiorkor and other problems related to vitamin and mineral deficiency. Initial estimates of anthropometric data collected by an FAO Mission which visited the country between July and September 1995, on children under five from Baghdad suggest that 12 percent are wasted and 28 percent stunted. Comparisons with 1991 shows that there has been a dramatic increase in malnutrition with wasting rising four times and stunting having more than doubled. The situation is believed to be worse in the South and in pockets of the North. Adults appear to be less affected but with ever dwindling resources, households may soon be unable to cope. Widespread famine has been prevented largely by an efficient public rationing system which now provides about 1 250 Kcals per day. However, the system is unsustainable and its collapse would have disastrous consequences for nutrition and health.

ISRAEL (1 April)

Outlook for the cereal crop is uncertain, due to unfavourable weather conditions particularly at the beginning of the season. Production of wheat in 1996 is expected to be markedly less than the above-average crop of 250 000 tons harvested in 1995.

Following the implementation of the Gatt-Uruguay Round Agreement the Government has decided to allow flour mills to import wheat from any origin.

Total cereal imports in 1995/96 (October/September) are estimated at about 2.6 million tons, virtually unchanged from the previous year.

JAPAN (1 April)

Total paddy production in 1995 fell by 10 percent to 13.42 million tons, compared to 14.98 million tons in the previous year. The decline is mainly attributed to lower yields form record levels in 1994. The Government has announced the launch of a new rice diversion programme, to run from the 1996/97 fiscal year (April/March) to that in 1998/99, which targets some 780 000 hectares of rice area for diversification to alternative crops in order to reduce excess domestic supply. The 1996 paddy crop will not be planted until April/May.

JORDAN (11 April) Recent rainfall has improved prospects for the 1996 wheat and barley crops, which had earlier been stressed by below-normal rainfall at the beginning of the season. The condition of pastures is reported to be below average in the rainfed highlands.

Government subsidized livestock inputs (mainly barley and wheat bran) are insufficient and livestock producers have to rely on purchases of feed concentrates. This will result in higher costs of production and may lead to a drop in livestock population.

Production of wheat and barley in 1995, estimated at 84 000 tons and 52 000 tons respectively, was markedly higher than the previous year.

Imports of wheat in 1995/96 (July/June) are estimated at 0.7 million tons, unchanged from the previous year. Coarse grains imports, maize and barley, are estimated at 0.85 million tons, some 30 000 tons higher than in 1994/95. Imports of rice are projected at about 90 000 tons, slightly higher than last year.

KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (8 April)

Harvesting of the barley crop, which normally accounts for some 6 - 7 percent of aggregate cereal production, has begun and indications are that production will recover some 9 percent over last year, as a result of an increase in the area planted. However, output will still remain about 7 percent below the average of past five years.

The target for paddy production in 1996 has been set at 6.6 million tons.

The output of paddy in 1995 is officially estimated at some 6.4 million tons, some 500 000 tons below 1994 and 10 percent below average for the previous 5 years. This represents the smallest harvest in 15 years and is attributed to a greater than expected decline in area planted, lower yields due to flood damage last August in the central region and unfavourable weather in the later part of the growing season. Rice acreage declined to 1.055 million hectares in 1995 from 1.1 million hectares in 1994, a decline of 4.2 percent. The decline is consistent with the trend over the past several years and is partly attributed to a shift away from rice to more lucrative horticultural crops. In an effort to offset projected decline in area cultivated and increase the level of self sufficiency in rice, the government plans to increase investment by more than 40 percent. The aim is to raise target yields, develop water resources, improve agricultural infrastructure and mechanization.

The cereal import requirements in marketing year 1995/96 mainly wheat and coarse grains, are provisionally estimated to be some 12.2 million tons, a relative increase of about 5 percent over the previous year.

KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF* (22 April)

Early prospects for the 1996 grain crop, to be planted soon, are unfavourable. Preparations for planting have been delayed by about 2-3 weeks due to cold weather and inadequate fuel supplies. In addition a substantial part, some 40 000 hectares, of the area affected by the floods last year still remains under sand and debris, effectively ruling out cultivation in these areas in 1996.

An on the spot appraisal carried out by FAO and WFP in mid April, has found that since their joint Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in December 1995, the food supply situation has deteriorated dramatically. This is largely attributed to the slow flow and relatively small quantities of food aid that have been mobilized to date and the Government’s inability to import food commercially, though it has attempted to do so through several channels. Commercial imports are almost completely constrained by extreme shortages of foreign exchange and the country’s inability to purchase on credit.

As a result of the serious food situation, caused by a combination of the floods last year, underlying problems in the economy and agriculture and the consequent inability to import food commercially, the Public Distribution System (PDS) has come under increasing strain making it necessary for the Government to reduce, already low, food rations further. More reductions in rations are anticipated in May and without adequate supplies the system could collapse completely with devastating consequences, especially on segments of the population who depend entirely on the PDS for food.

In the absence of commercial imports, which appears likely, the country's overall shortfall in foodgrains is now estimated at some 1.64 million tons, after allowing for food aid already pledged or received. As there are no further pledges of assistance in the pipeline from May, there is urgent need for more emergency and programme food assistance as well as for international support for the rehabilitation of the agriculture sector to facilitate recovery. Emergency food aid pledged and expected to be delivered by the end of April amounts to 26 764 tons of rice, 20 000 tons each of wheat and barley, 2 269 tons of CSB, 1 756 tons of wheat flour and 270 tons of miscellaneous food items, mainly maize meal and soybean. In addition, since November 1995, the country has received 208 000 tons of programme food assistance through bilateral sources. At the beginning of April, the Government requested the United Nations to launch a new international appeal for food assistance.

LAOS* (4 April)

March is the critical month for moisture stress for the second season rice crop and generally more rainfall is still needed for the crop to be harvested in April/May.

The aggregate output of paddy in 1995 is currently estimated at 1.41 million tons, sharply down by some 15 percent from the previous year's bumper crop of 1.65 million tons. Total area of paddy harvested last year declined by around 13 percent to 522 000 hectares. The decline in production is due to serious floods in central and southern parts of the country in July/August last year, which destroyed 62 000 hectares of paddy in six provinces, four of which faced serious food shortages and two severely reduced surpluses. As a result, the cereal import requirement for 1996 was estimated at 132 577 tons, by an FAO/WFP mission, of which 38 000 tons were needed as emergency food assistance, for 374 000 people for varying periods of 6 months to a year. So far, 9 675 tons have been pledged, against a WFP appeal for 10 800 tons for the most urgent cases, whilst a joint appeal with the Government has increased donor pledges for a further 19 000 tons. Additional assistance, totalling 800 000 ECU for food and basic necessities, was also provided by the European Union.

LEBANON (19 April) FS

Following the conflict which started in southern areas on 11 April, the United Nations have launched a Flash Appeal for internally displaced persons at the request of the Lebanese Government. The Appeal addresses national needs and seeks a total of U.S.$ 8.59 million for emergency relief and humanitarian assistance for 20 000 families for a minimum of three months.

Prospects for the 1996 wheat and barley crops are generally favourable and an about normal harvest is anticipated. Domestic cereal production, however, only covers about 10 percent of total requirement and more than 700 000 tons have to be imported.

Production of cereals in 1995, estimated at 73 000 tons, recovered from the previous year's poor crop but remained below average.

Imports of cereals, mainly wheat, in 1995/96 (July/June) are forecast at some 750 000 tons, some 4 percent above the previous year.

MALAYSIA (2 April)

Harvesting of the main paddy crop is well underway and the preliminary forecast for total paddy production in 1996 is projected at 2.1 million tons similar to output in 1995. Planting of the second rice crop, which normally accounts for around 38 percent of aggregate production will commence shortly. In recent years, urban development has encroached onto paddy areas in some parts and disrupted the irrigation system in others. Although the overall reduction is gradual, in some states like Perlis it is estimated that 2 000 tons of paddy are being lost annually due to development. As a counter measure, the Government is considering opening up undeveloped land in other states like Sabah and Sarawak.

It is reported that the Government plans to increase rice imports from Myanmar to diversify the country's source of supply. Rice imports for 1995/96 (July/June) are currently projected at 450 000 tons, similar to imports in the previous year, whilst total cereal imports are estimated at 3.9 million tons compared to some 3.8 million tons in the previous year.

MONGOLIA* (2 April)

The economy is heavily dependent on the rearing and export of livestock and livestock products. However, due to the transition from a centrally planned economy to one which is market orientated, there has been a disruption in the value of exports and trade which has affected the agriculture sector. As a result, the sector continues to be hampered by serious shortages of fertilizers, herbicides, fuel, farm machinery and other inputs. In addition, labour shortages are being reported during key harvest operations, as the availability of free labour has been substantially reduced.

Although there was a continual and substantial decline in area and production of wheat, the country’s main food grain, of some 53 percent in the period 1989 to 1994, the official estimate of 423 000 tons produced in 1995 shows a recovery of some 30 percent over the previous year. However, in spite of this recovery, the country cannot produce enough food to meet domestic requirement and has to rely on food assistance to bridge the deficit. The food supply situation, therefore, remains tight and the loss of traditional export markets in recent years, and the consequent loss of foreign exchange, mean that the country has limited potential to import food commercially.

MYANMAR (2 April)

In the later part of February, some parts of the country received much needed rainfall favouring the second rice crop, though overall rainfall for the crop has been deficient. The crop is presently being harvested and the area target is 1.6 million hectares out of a total paddy target of 6.2 million hectares for 1995/96.

The official target for paddy production in 1995/96 is 19.6 million tons, though FAO’s present forecast is some 5 percent lower at 18.5 million tons. This compares to an output of 18.2 million tons in 1994/95. The increase in paddy production in 1995/96 is partly attributed to an above average supply of fertilizers, enhanced through significant Government imports and an increase in area planted from 5.9 million hectares in the previous year. Other measures to boost domestic production have included the introduction of farm machinery, improved farming techniques and provision of high yielding seed, which has enabled an increase in cropping intensity. There has also been an improvement in irrigation supply, notably in the Irrawaddy Delta.

As a result of higher trends in production, the Government has set an export target of 1.5 million tons for the current marketing year, compared to estimated exports of some 1.03 million tons in the preceding year. However, the rapid increase in rice exports from the country have cause domestic supply difficulties and sharp increase in prices, which are likely to result in a curtailment of current year exports to some 700 000 tons.

NEPAL (2 April)

The harvesting of the wheat crop has started in some areas and the preliminary forecast of production is 863 000 tons, compared to a target of 1.05 million tons and last year’s output of 942 000 tons. The decline in output is partly attributed to a reduction in area planted and partly to earlier problems in fertilizer supply following an export ban from Bangladesh.

The aggregate output of cereals in 1995 is estimated at 5.8 million tons, some 430 000 tons, or 8 percent higher than 1994 and 5 percent above average of the previous 5 years.

Although there has been some improvement in the overall food supply situation in the country, as a result of higher than anticipated domestic production, some areas continue to need food assistance. Food aid pledges for 1995/96 amount to 29 100 tons of cereals, of which 15 000 tons have been delivered so far.

PAKISTAN (2 April)

The outlook for the wheat crop, about to be harvested, is favourable, reflecting abundant soil moisture reserves and adequate irrigation supplies. The government also provided an additional incentive to farmers last year by increasing the support price by 3 percent from 160 to 165 rupees for the 1995/96 crop. As a result of favourable conditions, production this year is currently forecast to be close to the target of 17.4 million tons, some 400 000 tons more than in 1994/95.

Paddy output in 1995/96 is estimated to be a bumper 6 million tons, close to target , similar to record output in 1993 and some 16 percent higher than in 1994. The production target (milled basis) for Basmati and IRRI-6 rice had been set at 1.32 million and 2.70 million tons respectively. The output of coarse grains declined by some 7 percent in 1995/96, to an estimated 1.8 million tons. This is attributed to a reduction of some 8 percent in area planted, mostly of millets.

Rice exports in the 1995/96 marketing year are provisionally forecast to reach 1.35 million tons, of which 693 900 tons have already been exported in the first seven months to January.

Despite a record wheat harvest in 1994/1995 and the prospects of a bumper harvest this year, the country remains a net importer of wheat with imports in 1995/96 estimated at 2 million tons to meet demand and reserve requirements.

PHILIPPINES (2 April)

Rainfall, and the absence of dry conditions in March may delay the harvest of the second rice crop due in May-June. The official forecast for aggregate paddy production in 1996 has been revised down from 12 million tons to 11.5 million tons. This translates into 7.53 million tons of milled rice, of which 1.79, 1.34, 1.3 and 3.1 million tons are expected from the first, second, third and fourth quarters respectively. The target set was 11.53 million tons.

It is officially forecast that production of the second maize crop, also harvested in May-June, will be 1.85 million tons, some 17 percent higher than the 1.58 million tons produced last year. The increase is attributed to a 8.65 percent increase in the area planted from 994 000 hectares to 1.08 million hectares.

Although the country has achieved record levels of rice in the past three years from 6.49 million tons in 1993 to over 7 million tons in 1995 and the early prospects are that this year’s crop will be higher, domestic production is insufficient to meet demand and significant imports are anticipated this year, to control prices. Most of the increase in paddy production is attributed to an increase in area, whilst yields have largely stagnated in the last five years.

SAUDI ARABIA (1 April)

Reflecting measures to cut subsidized wheat production, area sown in the 1995/96 season is estimated to have declined for the fourth consecutive year. The Government continues to implement its policy of tight control of wheat farming permits, with farmers only receiving government support prices for wheat and barley within quotas assigned to them by the Grain Silos and Flour Mills Organization (GSFMO). The quotas allocated for 1996 total 1.3 million tons of wheat and 1.0 million tons of barley. The decline in quotas follows an earlier reduction in wheat procurement price of 25 percent to SR 1 500 (U.S.$ 400) per ton. The purchase price for barley remains unchanged at SR 1 000 (U.S.$ 266.7) per ton.

Production of wheat in 1995, officially estimated at 2.5 million tons, was sharply below average but still above domestic requirements, estimated at some 1.8 million tons.

Reflecting the decline in output, exports of wheat which averaged 2.1 million tons in the three years ending June 1995, are expected to fall sharply in 1995/96 and to end completely by 1996/97. Imports of barley in the year ending June 1996 are estimated at 3.5 million tons, about 0.5 million tons less than in 1994/95.

coastal plains up to mid February. Infestations are expected to decline as a result of these drier conditions and potential migration towards the interior.

SRI LANKA* (2 April)

Substantially below-normal rainfall since last October is expected to significantly reduce output of the main "Maha" rice crop, for which harvest operations are almost complete. Important rice producing areas in north-western and north- central parts of the country were worst affected, particularly the districts of Kurunegala, Puttalam and Anuradhapura, which received less than half the normal rainfall from the northeastern monsoon. In Anuradhapura district alone it is estimated that 140 000 families have been affected by the drought.

Although production is still forecast to decline considerably in rainfed areas and on minor irrigation schemes, the extent of damage in the main Mahaweli irrigation scheme, principally G and H, are likely to be less serious than earlier anticipated, due to careful management of water resources. The Government has formed an Inter-Ministerial Committee on drought to monitor the situation and assist affected farmers in parts of the country. Due to the failure of the monsoon, a power cut has recently been imposed, on a four hour basis through out the country, to conserve water in dams.

Paddy output from the recently harvested "Maha" crop is estimated at some 1.4 million tons, 300 000 to 400 000 tons less than last year and well below average. Early prospects for the secondary "Yala" rice crop, which is planted from April and normally accounts for one third of production, are also unfavourable as low irrigation supplies are expected to result in a reduction in the area planted.

At present the overall food supply situation remains satisfactory, reflecting favourable output of rice in the past two years and adequate Government held stocks. Nonetheless, the unfavourable outlook for crops in 1995/96, which has already caused a steady increase in prices suggests that rice imports in 1996 will be substantially higher than in the proceeding two years.

SYRIA (1 April)

Prospects for the 1996 wheat and barley crops remain favourable. However, barley production is expected to decline below the 1.7 million tons produced last year, due to a 20 percent reduction in area planted.

Production of wheat in 1995, estimated at 4.2 million tons, was 13 percent higher than the previous year. Barley output increased by 15 percent to 1.7 million tons, while maize production, estimated at about 200 000 tons, was 159 000 tons lower than in the previous year.

The import of wheat flour in 1995/96 (July/June) is expected to decline by some 60 000 tons to 120 000 tons, while maize imports are forecast to decline by about 120 000 tons to 200 000 tons. Some 600 000 tons of barley are expected to be available for export in 1995/96.

THAILAND (2 April)

Prospects for the irrigated second rice crop, the large part of which comes onto the market in April/May, are favourable and the official production forecast has been revised to 3.59 million tons compared to 3.4 million tons estimated earlier and 2.9 million tons harvested last year. The increase is attributed to an expansion in area planted and improved yields, as farmers respond to favourable export prices. Planting of the 1996 main rice and maize crops will begin in May.

Aggregate paddy output in 1995 is estimated at 21.1 million tons, marginally above the previous year and 9 percent above the average for the proceeding five years. As a result the country is expected to have a large surplus for export, which may exceed the target of 5 million tons for 1996. Rice exports in 1995 totalled some 6 million tons, the second highest level since 1989.

TURKEY (1 April)

Prospects for cereal crops in 1996 are promising following generally favourable weather conditions since planting in October. Snow cover was adequate and rains in the southern regions were normal.

Given normal rainfall for the remainder of the season, production of wheat and barley is expected to be higher than last year's harvest of 25.5 million tons. It is expected that pesticides and insecticides will be applied to 1.6 million hectares of wheat in April.

Production of wheat in 1995, estimated at 18 million tons, recovered from a reduced crop in the previous year, though it remained below average due to unseasonal rainfall during harvest and pest damage.

The initial support prices for wheat in 1995/96 have been fixed at U.S.$ 236 per ton for Anatolian durum, U.S.$ 155 per ton for hard white and U.S.$ 140 per ton for semi-hard red. The support price for barley was fixed at U.S.$ 110 per ton and that of maize at U.S.$ 133 per ton. Monthly increases have been fixed at about U.S.$ 10 per ton for wheat and U.S.$ 6 per ton for barley and maize.

Recently the Government raised the import surcharge on rice imports from U.S.$ 5 per ton (which had been reduced from U.S.$ 50 per ton in December 1994) to U.S.$ 30 per ton.

Exports of wheat and wheat flour in 1995/96 (June/May) are currently estimated at 1.2 million tons compared with 1.8 million tons in the previous year. Imports of quality bread milling and durum wheat are expected to increase to 1.2 million tons compared to 0.7 million tons in 1994/95.

VIET NAM (2 April)

The outlook for the winter-spring rice crop to be harvested in May/June has been adversely affected by severe cold spells and below normal rainfall in parts of northern and central province, where about 100 000 hectares are reported to have been damaged or lost.

Despite a poor main "tenth month" harvest in the north and a rain affected autumn crop in the south, rice output in 1995 is estimated at 24.7 million tons, slightly higher than in 1994 and 10 percent above average production in the proceeding five years. The rice export target for 1996 has been set at 2 million tons. In order to improve performance of the rice export sector, the Government has reduced the number of companies licensed to trade, to reduce default and enhance reliability.

YEMEN (1 April)

Land preparation for the main sorghum and millet crops to be harvested towards the end of the year is underway.

Production of wheat in 1995 is estimated at about 168 000 tons, fractionally lower than the previous year. In contrast, sorghum production increased by 9 percent to 0.48 million tons. Millet production remained unchanged at some 55 000 tons, while the output of barley and maize dropped slightly to 62 000 tons and 67 000 tons respectively.

Import of cereals in 1996 - mainly wheat - is estimated at about 2 million tons, some 3 percent higher than 1995.

Scattered adults of Desert Locust are likely to be present and may be breeding on the Tihama and perhaps on the coastal plains near Aden. Isolated adults may be present in a few places in the interior of Sabatayn and Hadhramaut.