The forecast for global end-of-season cereal stocks for crop years closing in 1997 is now 277 million tons which is about 11 million tons above their opening level but still well below the average of the 1990s. Nevertheless, the ratio of end-of-season world cereal stocks in 1996/97 to trend utilization in 1997/98 would remain at 15 percent, significantly below the 17-18 percent range the FAO Secretariat considers the minimum necessary to safeguard world food security and furthermore, stocks in the developing countries are forecast to fall to the lowest level in seven years. However, after three years of decline, carryover stocks of the major exporting countries are anticipated to increase by 23 percent from their extremely low opening levels.
WORLD CARRYOVER STOCKS OF CEREALS
World wheat stocks for crop years ending in 1997 are now put at 110.5 million tons, 6.5 million tons, or 6 percent, above the extremely low opening levels. Ending aggregate wheat inventories of the major exporting countries are forecast to increase by 6 million tons from last year, mostly in North America. Elsewhere, wheat carryovers are also anticipated to rise in north Africa, except in Egypt, and in the CIS, following significant crop recoveries. By contrast, ending wheat stocks are anticipated to drop sharply from last year in eastern Europe, in particular, in Romania where the harvest is expected to be cut by half.
The largest recovery among global cereal stocks in 1996/97 is likely to occur in coarse grains which are now forecast to increase by 8.8 million tons from last year to 117.5 million tons, despite a downward revision in the August forecast of ending maize stocks in the United States of about 4 million tons. Aggregate coarse grain inventories held by the major exporting counties are forecast to be above opening levels by over 12 million tons, mostly in the United States, Canada and the EC. Elsewhere, larger end-of-season stocks are also anticipated in northern Africa as crops have recovered from last season's drought and in the CIS, especially in the Russian Federation. These gains are expected to be partially offset by smaller carryovers in South America, in particular Brazil, where the maize crop is down from last year's record output, and in China and Saudi Arabia.
FAO's forecast for global rice stocks at the end of the marketing seasons in 1996 is 53.1 million tons, about 1.3 million tons lower than the 1995 level. On the basis of current production forecasts indicating an increase in global output of rice of less than one percent in 1996, world rice stocks at the end of the marketing seasons in 1997 could decline for the fourth consecutive year to 49 million tons, the lowest since 1990. At this level, world rice stocks would be about 13 percent of projected global consumption, also one of its lowest in recent years.