Rains in the second dekad of August brought relief to summer crops in the development stage stressed by dry weather in the past month. Harvesting of 1996 winter cereals is complete. Food production is expected to recover throughout the country, reflecting a sharp increase in the area planted. This is due to the cessation of hostilities, freedom of movement, better availability and lower cost of agricultural inputs, particularly in the Serb Republic following the lifting of the international embargo in late February 1996, as well as the intensification of agriculture in the BiH Federation in response to disruption in industrial activities.

The situation, however, varies considerably from the BiH Federation to the Serb Republic. Wheat production in the BiH Federation is provisionally forecast at 102 000 tons in 1996, an increase of some 8 percent from last year and well above pre-war levels. Anticipated improvement in yields, more than offset a decline of 9 percent in the area planted. The output of maize and potatoes (consumption of the latter is reported to have doubled in several areas during the war) are expected to rise by 45 percent to 207 000 tons and 313 000 tons respectively, as a result of higher plantings and yields.

In the Serb Republic, production of wheat is anticipated at 259 000 tons, 19 percent above 1995. As the economic blockade from BiH and Federal Yugoslav Republic was still in operation at planting time, the area planted remained some 40 percent below normal. However, the sharp decline in fuel and agricultural input prices since March this year, is likely to result in a moderate increase of yields. Maize output is forecast at some 675 000 tons, 72 percent above the poor crop of 1995 reflecting substantially larger plantings and a partial recovery in yields. Production of potatoes is expected to almost double last year’s crop to 308 000 tons, as a result of improved availability of agricultural inputs.

With the anticipated increase in agriculture and livestock production, there will be a general improvement in the country’s food supply situation from the second half of 1996. Overall, the rural population is expected to have a satisfactory degree of food security in 1996/97 (July/June). The food security of those with limited or no land has also improved with the normalization of trade: food markets are well supplied and food prices have declined sharply. However, the access to food of this population remained constrained by reduced purchasing power resulting from widespread unemployment and low salaries.

The total wheat import requirement in the 1996/97 marketing year is forecast at some 214 000 tons, 17 percent below 1995/96. This is mainly due to an increases in domestic production. Wheat imports will only be required in the BiH Federation, which produces only one-third on its annual needs. In the Serb Republic, wheat output is expected to cover estimated utilization. Commercial imports are expected to reach at least 86 000 tons of wheat grain equivalent, leaving a deficit of some 112 000 tons to be covered by food aid.