Foodcrops & Shortages 08/96

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In northern Africa, 1996 wheat production is estimated to have increased significantly compared to last year's below-average crop. All countries in the sub-region harvested above-average crops. In Algeria, output is estimated to have increased by 1.3 million tons to 2.8 million tons. Despite a small decline in area sown, production in Egypt is estimated at 5.74 million tons, marginally higher than last year, while in Morocco output was more than five times higher than last year's drought-affected crop of only 1.1 million tons. After two consecutive years of sharply reduced harvests, production in Tunisia reached a record level of 1.8 million tons. Aggregate output of coarse grains in the sub-region in 1996 also recovered substantially to reach an estimated 13.5 million tons, an increase of 60 percent compared with the below-normal 1995 crop.

In western Africa, below-normal rainfall in early/mid-July affected crops in several Sahelian countries, though conditions have improved since late July. Following generally adequate rains in May and June, except in Burkina Faso, precipitation remained below normal in early/mid-July in northern Senegal, western and central Mali, most parts of Niger and in the Sahelian zone of Chad, where substantial areas have had to be replanted. However, rains increased significantly during the last dekad of July, notably in southern Mauritania, western and central Mali and in southern and central Chad. Rainfall declined significantly in early August, in Senegal, Mali and Niger, but resumed in mid-August, except in central Mali. Soil moisture levels have generally been replenished. Widespread and abundant rains in July and mid-August helped desalination of swamp rice in Guinea Bissau and crop emergence in The Gambia. In Cape Verde, rains have started on all islands, allowing the planting of the first maize crop. In coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, precipitation decreased during July and remained low at the end of the month. However, cumulative rainfall so far in the season is about normal. The first maize crop is being harvested and marketed in the south, and millet and sorghum are growing satisfactorily in the north. A recovery is in prospect in Sierra Leone, but food output again remains very low in Liberia, where the security situation is worsening.

In central Africa, abundant and widespread rains allowed favourable development of coarse grains. The harvest of the first maize crop is drawing to an end in Cameroon, Central African Republic and Congo, while dry conditions prevail in southern and central parts of Zaire.

In eastern Africa, the early outlook for 1996 cereal production is mixed. In Tanzania and Uganda, following good rains during the main season, above average cereal crops are being harvested. In Rwanda, the output of the 1996 second season foodcrops was higher than last year but remained below pre-war levels. In Burundi, output of second season foodcrops is estimated to be lower than last year due to increased insecurity. In Somalia, rains in June improved overall prospects for the 1996 “Gu” crops being harvested. In Kenya, the 1996 main maize crop is anticipated to be poor as a result of a decline in plantings. In Ethiopia, early prospects for the 1996 main “meher” crops are favourable reflecting abundant rains in recent months. These rains also benefited the secondary “belg” crops leading to a good harvest. In Eritrea, rains in early August improved prospects for the 1996 cereal crops. In Sudan, rains from mid-July allowed planting of the 1996 coarse grains to be completed.

In southern Africa, harvesting of the 1995/96 coarse grains crop is complete. Aggregate cereal production is estimated at 24 million tons, 65 percent above 1995 and 34 percent above-average. Most countries have harvested above-average crops this year, including Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the largest producing countries. Favourable rainfall and excellent growing conditions for crops encouraged large plantings in Angola and Mozambique and output is expected to be above-average for cereals, pulses and tuber crops such as cassava. Only Namibia experienced below normal rainfall, resulting in localized damage to crops but seriously affecting livestock and pastures. Reflecting favourable production, the food supply situation in the sub-region is expected to improve considerably during the 1996/97 marketing year. The supply of maize is expected to cover requirements, including replenishment of stocks that were virtually depleted in several countries, notably in Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Overall, a maize surplus of some 2 million tons is anticipated, mainly from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. However, several countries will continue to require substantial food assistance, including Angola, Lesotho and Mozambique.

In Asia, heavy rainfall caused extensive floods in several parts, resulting in loss of life and large scale damage to property, infrastructure and crops. The worst affected countries were China, Bangladesh, India, The Republic of Korea , The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Nepal. Loss of life and extensive damage also occurred in Viet Nam and the Philippines as a result of typhoons Frankie, Gloria and Herb. In contrast, in Sri Lanka, there are recent reports of an improvement in rainfall following drought conditions earlier, which significantly reduced 1995/96 rice production. Elsewhere, crop prospects are generally satisfactory in Pakistan, following normal progression of this year’s monsoon. Reflecting short supplies of agricultural inputs and insecurity, production was again lower than normal in Afghanistan. In Iraq, damage from pests and shortages of agricultural inputs resulted in a wheat crop below both last year’s and normal levels. Although still below-average, production recovered in Turkey, though decreased slightly in Syria. In Saudi Arabia, reflecting Government measures to reduce domestic output, production is estimated to be below average and less than last year.

In Central America and the Caribbean, harvesting of the 1996/97 first season cereal crops has started. The outlook for coarse grains is uncertain, depending principally upon production of maize and sorghum in Mexico, which have been affected by drought, but where recent rains may improve prospects. Elsewhere, average to above-average output of coarse grains is anticipated. In the Caribbean, a slightly above-average coarse grain production is expected in the Dominican Republic, while in Cuba and Haiti, the output of maize is forecast to be average.

In South America, output of maize has been above average in Argentina and Brazil, where planting of the 1996/97 wheat crop is virtually complete. Early forecasts point to near record crops. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, maize production has also been above average. Prospects for this year’s wheat crop are good, particularly in Peru, and an above-average production is anticipated. Planting of coarse grains is underway in Venezuela, where area is expected to be average and in Colombia, where a reduction is forecast.

In Europe, prospects for 1996 wheat and coarse grains remain generally satisfactory. Aggregate cereal output in the EC is expected to increase, but production in several eastern countries is forecast to decline. Sharp reductions are projected in Bulgaria, where cereal supplies are already tight after large exports last year. Rains in the second dekad of August improved prospects for 1996 spring maize in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia following dry weather and high temperatures in previous weeks. In the Baltics, early indications point to a sharp increase in 1996 grain production though the harvest is somewhat later than usual and output will depend crucially on continued good weather.

In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), production of 1996 cereals and pulses could be about 10 million tons higher than the estimated 126 million tons harvested in 1995, mainly due to better harvests in the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. Higher production than last year is also anticipated in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrghyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In contrast, output in the Ukraine and Moldova is expected to fall sharply due to persistent dry conditions. In Armenia, extensive winterkill could also result in a well below normal harvest, while the outcome in Turkmenistan remains uncertain. In total, preliminary indications suggest that an increase in wheat area of 10 percent, coupled with higher yields, could result in production increasing by about 9 million tons to 69 million tons. The coarse grain area has declined further, though, overall, better yields than last year could result in only a marginal decline in aggregate output to 60 million tons.

In North America, a larger wheat crop is in prospect in the United States. A significant increase in spring wheat production is expected to more than offset the reduced winter wheat crop. Coarse grain production is expected to recover substantially from last year’s reduced crop, following a sharp recovery in maize plantings and generally favourable growing conditions. However, because of the sensitivity of the crop to weather conditions in the coming weeks the outcome is still uncertain. In Canada, following increased plantings and generally favourable conditions, the output of wheat and coarse grains are forecast to increase.

In Oceania, prospects are favourable for the 1996 winter wheat and coarse grains crop in Australia, following ideal planting conditions in most areas and favourable rainfall, which replenished soil moisture reserves. A bumper wheat crop is now in prospect. The recently harvested summer coarse grain crop recovered to normal after three years of drought-reduced output.

NOTE: This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO Secretariat with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions can change rapidly and information may not always represent the current crop or food supply situation as of present date, further enquiries should be made before any action is taken. None of the reports should be regarded in any way as statements of governmental views.

Enquiries may be directed to Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, Global Information and Early Warning Service, Commodities and Trade Division, (ESC), FAO, Rome (Telex: 610181 FAO I, GIEWS Direct Facsimile: 0039-6-5225-4495, E-mail INTERNET: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG).

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this bulletin do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

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