Overall crop prospects remain favourable in Southern Africa, notwithstanding significant crop damage in several countries as a result of floods and pests. Sustained rains have favoured large plantings in most countries and an above average maize harvest is in prospect in Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe. However, flooding in parts of Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi , South Africa and Zambia, together with pest infestations, threaten crop prospects in some areas. FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions are currently visiting Angola and Mozambique to evaluate the harvest outcome and the food supply situation for 1996/97.
In the Horn of Africa, aggregate cereal output in 1995/96 is estimated to be lower than last year, despite a good second season cereal crop. A decline in the main season harvest more than offset an increase in second season output. In Kenya and Sudan, though production declined overall it remained average to above average, whilst in Somalia and Eritrea outputs were poor. Elsewhere in Eastern Africa, Tanzania and Uganda gathered record harvests. In the Great Lakes Region relief assistance will continue to be required for 2.4 million refugees and internally displaced people.
In Liberia, recent resurgence of civil strife in Monrovia could jeopardize agricultural production and distribution activities. Agricultural production also continues to be hampered in Sierra Leone by insecurity and internal conflict. Elsewhere in West Africa, seasonally dry conditions prevail and planting of the first maize crop has begun in southern areas of countries along the Gulf of Guinea
The outlook for the 1996 wheat harvest remains favourable in Asia and above average to record harvests are in prospect in India and Pakistan. In China, dry weather and above normal temperatures have affected the main winter wheat crop in some areas, though overall prospects remain satisfactory. Elsewhere, severe drought in Sri Lanka since October is expected to significantly reduce output of the main rice crop and affect prospects for the second crop. Below average harvests are again expected in Afghanistan and Iraq, due to widespread shortages of farm inputs and machinery.
In South America, below average output of maize is expected in 1996 in Argentina and Brazil, the main producers, mainly due to dry weather at planting and the consequent reduction in both area planted and yields. The area planted to maize in Central America and the Caribbean, is forecast to be above average, mainly due to an anticipated recovery in production in Mexico from last years drought affected crop.
Some recovery in cereal production is likely in 1996 in the CIS, where area sown to winter grains has increased by almost 3 million hectares. The condition of winter crops is also markedly better in larger states and output is expected to recover sharply in the Russian Federation and increase in the Ukraine.
Early prospects for 1996 cereal crops remain generally satisfactory in Europe, despite prolonged wintery conditions which have delayed the development of winter crops and the commencement of fieldwork for spring planting. Winter grain plantings have increased in the EC but in several eastern countries production is likely to remain below potential due to farmers' limited financial resources.
In the United States, the winter wheat area increased, but adverse winter weather conditions could result in above-average losses this year. Planting of the 1996 coarse grains is already underway in southern parts, and the maize area is projected to increase by some 12 percent.
In Australia, the minor 1996 summer crop has recovered sharply, from the previous years drought reduced level. Early indications for the 1996 winter cereal crops already being sown in some parts point to increased plantings in response to strong international prices.