Food Outlook 10/96

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In Asia, harvesting of the 1996 wheat crop is mostly complete and FAO's latest estimate of the region's output has been revised upward to about 230 million tons, compared to 227.4 million tons in the previous report. At this level, production would be some 3 million tons higher than in 1995. The latest revision is largely attributed to an increase in the estimate of production in China to 107 million tons compared to around 105 million tons earlier. In many countries of the region winter wheat sowing will commence soon for the 1997 harvest from April next year.

The overall outlook for the 1996 coarse grains crop in the region is favourable and harvest operations are due to commence soon. The FAO's current forecast is about 206 million tons, compared to 205 million tons last year. In China a good crop is in prospect, mostly due to increased production of maize in the northwest, especially in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces. In aggregate, China's coarse grains output is currently projected at 129.8 million tons slightly higher than earlier forecast and similarto the bumper crop in 1995. Production is also expected to rise in India, following a generally favourable monsoon.

Reflecting short supplies of agricultural inputs and insecurity, cereal production was again lower than normal in Afghanistan. In Iraq severe constraints relating to agricultural machinery, seeds and other agricultural inputs coupled with damage from pests, resulted in a below-normal harvest. Production recovered in Turkey while it decreased slightly in Syria. Reflecting Government measures aiming at reducing domestic output, wheat production in Saudi Arabia is estimated to have fallen by about one-third from the 1995 level of 2.45 million tons.

Harvesting of the main rice crop has begun in some parts of Asia. The forecast for the region's output of paddy in 1996 has been raised to 517 million tons, 7.2 million tons higher than the previous month's forecast and 10.4 million tons above last year's. All major rice producing and importing countries in the region have expanded their production this year. In Bangladesh following the large deficit in 1995, plantings of rice in 1996 have increased. Production of the Aus crop, the first in the 1996 season, was some 1.8 million tons, up 7 percent from the poor crop harvested in the previous year. The outlook for the Aman crop now in the ground remains favourable despite the impact of torrential rains in July. In Indonesia the output of paddy in 1996, the bulk of which has already been harvested, is estimated to be close to 50 million tons, 3 percent more than in 1995. In China (Mainland), the official estimate for the early crop has been sharply increased to 44 million tons of paddy, 4.2 percent above the harvest in 1995. Several of the flood affected provinces reported bumper production. In Jiangxi, the early rice harvest is estimated at 6.7 million tons (paddy), 1.2 percent higher than last year. In Guandong, record yields of 6.2 tons per hectare for the early crop were achieved allowing the province to harvest 8.1 million tons of paddy. Taking into account the significant increase in its early rice harvest, and assuming that the intermediate and late rice crops would be at least as large as in the previous year, the forecast for Mainland China's output of paddy in 1996 has been raised to 188 million tons, 3 million tons higher than in the previous year but still below the record crop produced in 1990.


Wheat Coarse grains Rice (paddy) Total 1/

1995 1996 1995 1996 1995 1996 1995 1996

( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . million tons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . )
Asia 226.8 229.9 205.1 205.8 506.7 517.1 938.6 952.8
Africa 13.8 21.8 72.3 87.5 14.8 15.0 100.9 124.3
Central America 3.8 3.3 24.8 26.5 1.7 1.9 30.3 31.6
South America 13.1 19.3 58.6 54.8 19.1 18.5 90.8 92.5
North America 84.4 92.0 233.9 290.0 7.9 8.0 326.2 389.9
Europe 125.1 126.4 146.2 155.2 2.2 2.6 273.6 284.3
CIS 62.5 69.6 61.2 58.5 1.5 1.6 125.2 129.7
Oceania 18.0 19.0 9.4 10.1 1.2 1.0 28.6 30.1
WORLD 546.3 581.3 811.5 888.3 555.1 565.6 2/ 1 912.9 2 035.2
Developing countries 254.8 271.0 355.2 363.3 528.9 540.2 1 138.8 1 174.5
Developed countries 291.5 310.3 456.3 525.0 26.2 25.4 774.1 860.7

1/ Total cereal, including rice in paddy terms.
2/ Tentative forecast.

Other importers with a larger 1996 output include the Republic of Korea and the Philippines. In 1996, following a policy decision to reverse the recent years of reduced emphasis on rice production in the Republic of Korea, idle land was encouraged to be planted with this cereal to replenish stocks and preliminary indications are that the target of 6.6 million tons will be reached. In the Philippines, typhoons in July/August have damaged somewhat the rice crop in some parts of Luzon and Mindanao, but the overall outlook for this year's production is good. In Japan, a good harvest is also under way, although smaller than last year because of reduced plantings. By contrast, in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, severe floods early in the growing season have dashed expectations of a major recovery in rice production from the very poor harvest reaped last year. In Sri Lanka, extensive drought has reduced both the Maha and Yala output, with total production of paddy this year drastically down (by 34 percent) to 1.9 million tons, the lowest in a decade. In Cambodia, floods in late September/early October caused extensive damage to the 1996 crop.

In exporting countries, good monsoon rains have benefited the development of the main season paddy crop. Since the previous report, the forecast for India has been increased. With improved overall rainfall distribution in 1996/97, including in those states which often receive poor rainfall, such as Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, output of Kharif rice in India is likely to exceed the target of 70 million tons (milled equivalent). Thailand's main paddy crop is forecast at 18.1 million tons, compared to 17.5 million tons produced last year. However, floods in early October may have caused some damage. In Myanmar, the area planted to the main wet season crop is estimated at about 5.1 million hectares compared to 4.8 million hectares in the previous year. In Viet Nam, the bulk of the 10th month crop has been sown. A total of 2.6 million hectares are likely to be cultivated under this crop, marginally more than last year. But with its recently harvested winter spring crop reaching 12.9 million tons, and its summer/autumn rice exceeding the target, supplies of rice in the country are plentiful.


NORTHERN AFRICA: Production of wheat in 1996 has increased by 7.3 million tons from the reduced 1995 level to a record 16.3 million tons reflecting above-normal or record crops in all countries of the sub-region. The largest increase occurred in Morocco where output rose by more than 5 times to 5.9 million tons. In Tunisia, two successive years of sharply drought-reduced harvests were followed by a record crop of 2 million tons, nearly four times larger than the 1995 harvest. Production in Algeria is estimated to have increased by 1 million tons to a record 2.5 million tons. In Egypt wheat output is estimated at 5.7 million tons, virtually unchanged from the previous year despite a small decrease in the area planted.

Production of coarse grains in the sub-region increased by some 60 percent, to reach 13.7 million tons. Large increases were recorded in all countries with the exception of Egypt where output decreased slightly to 6.7 million tons. Harvesting of the 1996 rice crop is underway in Egypt, the main producer in North Africa. Temperatures during the recent months have been unusually variable. Taking this into account as well as the smaller plantings of rice compared to the previous year, an output of about 4.5 million tons is expected, slightly smaller than the record 4.8 million tons of rice produced in 1995.

WESTERN AFRICA: The rainy season is drawing to a close in the Sahelian zone of western Africa. Following quite abundant rains in late August, precipitation remained generally adequate in the main producing areas in early September but decreased significantly during the second half of the month. Coarse grains are generally reaching reproduction/maturation stages. Maize is being harvested. Rice is developing satisfactorily or still being replanted in low lying areas. The pest situation remains mostly calm. Desert Locust infestations are only reported in Mauritania and Mali. Reflecting adequate growing conditions, normal or above normal harvests are anticipated in Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali and southern Chad. Prospects are more uncertain in Senegal, Mauritania and Niger. A series of Crop Assessment Missions are scheduled during the second half of October in all countries of the Sahel to prepare first estimates of 1996 cereal production and import requirements for 1996/97.

In the southern parts of the coastal countries, along the Gulf of Guinea, rice and maize of the first growing season have been harvested and plantings are underway for the second season crops. In the north, precipitation was widespread in August and decreased significantly in September, allowing maturation of millet and sorghum crops. The output is expected to be close to normal in most countries, and slightly above normal in Ghana and Nigeria.

The overall outlook for the paddy crop in the sub-region continues to be favourable at the start of harvesting. Paddy crop prospects in the Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, Guinea and Guinea Bissau are satisfactory, having benefited from good seasonal rains in August. In Nigeria, a larger output of paddy is expected because of increased plantings, but the target of 3.25 million tons may not be met due to a severe shortage of fertilizers. In Côte d'Ivoire, a good crop is expected, although it may be marginally smaller than the exceptional harvest of 1.04 million tons last year. In Sierra Leone and Liberia, rice production has continued to be adversely affected by the civil strife.

CENTRAL AFRICA: The rainy season has started in Gabon, Congo and Zaire where the main coarse grains crops are being planted, following the onset of rains in August/September. In Cameroon and the Central African Republic, millet and sorghum are being harvested while the second maize crop and rice are developing satisfactorily.

EASTERN AFRICA: Prospects for the sub-region's 1996 wheat crop are favourable and output is anticipated to increase from last year's already above-average level. In Sudan, the wheat crop harvested earlier in the year is estimated to have risen 18 percent from 1995 to 527 000 tons. In Kenya, a good crop is expected reflecting record plantings and generally favourable weather. In Ethiopia, abundant rains during the season benefited the wheat crop, which is about to be harvested.

Harvesting of the 1996 coarse grains is about to start in northern areas, while it has been completed in southern parts of the region. The aggregate sub-regional output is forecast at 19.5 million tons a crop similar to last year's above-average harvest. An erratic start of the rainy season in some countries was followed by abundant rains since mid-July, which resulted in widespread floods and localized crop losses, but overall benefited the developing crops. In Tanzania, the aggregate coarse grains output is estimated at 4.4 million tons, slightly above the good crop of the previous year. Above-average rains in the 1996 secondary and main crop seasons also benefited coarse grains in Uganda; output is estimated at about 2 million tons, close to last year's record and above average for the third consecutive year. The country is expected to continue exporting one-third of its maize production estimated at 939 000 tons for 1996. In Rwanda, the 1996 aggregate coarse grains production recovered substantially from the previous year but remained below normal. In Burundi, the 1996 aggregate production of coarse grains declined from 1995 due to insecurity. In Somalia, the 1996 coarse grains harvest increased substantially from the poor level of 1995 but remained below average and in several areas was reduced due to dry weather, insect damage and floods. In Kenya, despite favourable rains in recent months, the "long rains" maize crop is anticipated to decrease due to lower plantings. By contrast, in Ethiopia, the outlook for the coarse grains harvest is favourable reflecting abundant precipitation since the beginning of the season and a slight increase in plantings. In Eritrea, prospects for the harvest are uncertain due to irregular rains. The outlook for this year's coarse grains crop is favourable also in Sudan following good rains in the past months, which improved the condition of crops previously stressed by dry weather.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: The sub-region's 1996 coarse grains crop harvested earlier in the year is estimated at 19.8 million tons, against 10.4 million tons in 1995. The increase reflects a bumper crop in most countries, following generally favourable growing conditions during the 1995/96 season with the exception of Namibia where rainfall was below normal. Production was more than double the previous years output in Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and above-average in most other countries. An overall maize surplus of over 2 million tons is expected in the sub-region, mainly from South Africa and Zimbabwe which have resumed exporting maize this year.

The 1996 wheat crop currently being harvested is expected to be excellent as a result of abundant irrigation water in most of the major dams in the sub-region. An output of 2.9 million tons is expected, compared to 2.3 million tons in 1995, which was already above-average. A sharp recovery in production is anticipated in Zambia and Zimbabwe while output is expected to increase by 18 percent in South Africa. Throughout the southern African sub-region, the 1996 paddy season is over. Plantings of the 1997 season crop are due to start soon.


Seasonal and storm rains in the first half of September, in the main wheat growing irrigated areas of the north-west and north-central Mexico, have brought much needed moisture and replenished water reservoirs for planting of the 1996/97 wheat crop due to start from October. The rains particularly benefited the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajato and Sinaloa, which account for most of the wheat production in the sub-region.

Planting of the 1996 main season coarse grain crops has been virtually completed in the sub-region. In Mexico, abundant rains in August and September in the southern plateau and Yucatan peninsula favoured the developing maize crop, while storm rains brought some relief to the long lasting, drought affected northeastern states of Nuevo Leon, Cohauila and Tamaulipas, where the bulk of the non-irrigated sorghum crop is grown; however, more rain is needed to ensure a recovery from last year's poor crop. Early forecasts put maize production at between 17 and 17.5 million tons, while about 4.8 million tons to 5.2 million tons of sorghum are anticipated. Elsewhere in the sub-region, particularly in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador, heavy storm rains and floodings in July have affected food and cash crops, but an above-average maize output is anticipated despite possible damage incurred. In the Caribbean, normal to abundant rains in the Dominican Republic in July/ August benefited the rainfed crops which had been affected by a dry spell in the previous months. An above-average output is expected. In Cuba and Haiti, where normal rains have been reported, about average maize outputs are anticipated.


In Argentina, weather conditions remain favourable for the developing wheat crop in the principal growing provinces, with the exception of Cordoba, Santa Fe and Entre Rios, where soil conditions were critically dry by end-September. The area sown is provisionally estimated at 6.8 million hectares, compared to 5 million hectares in 1995/96. Yields are expected to improve considerably, mainly due to the increased use of fertilizers and early forecasts indicate a record output in excess of 14 million tons. In Brazil, adequate rains in August/September benefited the developing crops in the main producing states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, where the area planted has substantially increased. Harvesting is about to start and output is provisionally forecast at about 3 million tons, which compares to 1.5 million tons in 1995 and to a 2.3 million tons average in the last 5 years. In Uruguay also, a bumper crop is expected principally as a result of larger plantings coupled with favourable weather conditions so far. By contrast, in Chile, a below-normal output is anticipated largely due to a decrease in the area planted caused by very dry weather at planting. In the Andean countries, the second season (winter) wheat crop in Bolivia has been affected by very dry weather and below-normal yields are anticipated. In Peru, harvesting of the 1996 wheat crop continues under favourable conditions. Some 110 000 tons of wheat have been harvested in the first seven months of the year which compares to 82 000 tons for the same period in 1995. In Ecuador and Colombia, harvesting of the main season crop continues and average outputs are provisionally forecast.

Land is being prepared in the southern areas of the sub-region for planting of the 1997 coarse grains crops mostly from October. In Argentina, latest official reports indicate intended plantings of maize between 3.4 to 3.8 million hectares, compared to 2.6 million hectares planted last year. A significant increase in sorghum area is also anticipated. In Brazil, maize sowing has started under favourable conditions and the area is expected to be about 14 million hectares, significantly up from last year when plantings were affected by dry weather. In Chile, maize planting has started and a recovery is expected from last year's drought- affected crop. In the Andean countries, harvesting of the 1996 white maize main crop in Ecuador has been completed while planting of the second season yellow maize crop is underway. Aggregate maize output is expected to be slightly above average. In Peru, harvesting of the 1996 maize crop continues under favourable conditions. Output in the first seven months of the year is estimated at about 577 000 tons compared to 503 000 tons during the same period last year. In Colombia, harvesting of the 1996 first season maize and sorghum crops is underway and outputs are provisionally forecast to be below average. In Venezuela, planting of the 1996 maize crop has been delayed because adverse weather conditions and above-average plantings are anticipated provided good weather resumes.

In South America, most countries have completed the harvesting of their main season rice crop. The region's output of paddy in 1996 is estimated at about 18.5 million tons, 0.6 million tons lower than last year. Brazil, the largest rice producer and consumer in the region, produced only 10.2 million tons of paddy in 1996, 1 million tons less than last year following reduced plantings. Peru's output of paddy rice also fell drastically from its 1995 level. In Argentina, however, despite earlier fears of drought effects, a larger 1996 harvest has been gathered. Paddy output in Guyana is likely to reach 560 000 tons, twice the quantity produced a decade ago. Since the liberalization of its economy and reduced restrictions to its rice export trade, the country's output of paddy has expanded as have its exports of rice. In Uruguay, the 1996 paddy output is now estimated at 950 000 tons, some 50 000 tons more than the estimate held in the previous month.


In the United States, the October USDA crop report put the 1996 aggregate (winter and spring) wheat output at 62.1 million tons, 4 percent above the harvest in 1995. Although winter wheat output fell by some 1.5 million tons to 40.7 million tons, this was more than offset by a significant increase in the spring wheat crop, now estimated at 21.4 million tons. Planting of winter wheat for harvest next year is well underway under normal conditions. By 15 October, 75 percent of the expected season total winter wheat area had been sown across the 19 major producing states, which is about average for this time of the year.

In Canada harvesting of the 1996 cereal crops has been seriously disrupted by adverse weather conditions. A combination of heavy rain, snow and frost across most of the major producing areas in late September put a stop to all field operations and damage to standing and swathed crops has been reported. Although no details are yet available, reports in early October indicate many crops have been flattened and grains are sprouting because of excessive moisture. The harvests in the three major producing western states Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which should have been nearing completion by the end of September, were reported in early October to be just about 50 percent, 75 percent, and 55 percent completed respectively. The latest official forecast for 1996 wheat production, based on crop conditions and harvest results up to mid-September, is 29.9 million tons, which would be about 18 percent above the 1995 crop and well above the 10-year average. However, as much of the crop has still to be gathered, the final outcome will depend greatly on weather conditions in October. It is already likely that this year's crops will be of lower quality than normal.

The outlook for the United States 1996 coarse grain crop, mainly maize, remains favourable. The USDA's latest forecast (11 October) has put aggregate coarse grain production at 260.5 million tons, well above last year's reduced crop. Maize production is now forecast at 229 million tons, 22 percent up from 1995. However, harvesting is still in the very early stages, and somewhat behind normal pace because of this year's late planting. By 15 October, it was reported that only 20 percent of the crop had been harvested across the 17 major producing states compared to 34 percent on average for that time of the season, and yields are reported to be very variable. The final outcome of the 1996 crop will still depend greatly on the weather for the completion of the harvest in the coming weeks.

In Canada, aggregate coarse grain production is expected to increase in 1996 after significantly larger plantings, particularly for barley and oats the major coarse grain crops. However, as for wheat, adverse weather conditions in September have disrupted harvesting operations and have probably affected the quality of crops still to be gathered. The country's aggregate coarse grain production is estimated at 29.5 million tons, but the final outcome will depend greatly on weather conditions in October.

In the United States, harvesting of the paddy crop is nearing completion in Texas and Louisiana, while in the other rice producing states, especially Arkansas and Mississippi, harvesting of the crop is well advanced. Good weather conditions in recent months has boosted yields from the levels anticipated earlier. As a result, the forecast for the 1996 crop has been increased to 8.0 million tons, 1.3 percent more than in 1995 despite a 7 percent reduction in the area planted to rice. The area under long grain rice fell, but the total area under medium grain rice rose. This is expected to result in a 4.8 percent reduction in output of long grain paddy rice to about 5.3 million tons and a 15.5 percent increase in medium/short grain varieties to 2.7 million tons.


The region's aggregate cereal output in 1996 is now estimated at some 284 million tons, 10 million tons up from 1995 and above the average of the past five years. Larger wheat and coarse grains crops throughout the EC have more than offset reduced harvests in most eastern countries.

In the EC, apart from maize, harvesting of the bulk of the Community's 1996 cereal crops is virtually complete. Aggregate cereal output is now put at 204 million tons, 24 million tons up from last year's level and well above the average of the past five year's. The increase is mainly attributed to larger plantings following reduced set-aside restrictions and also good yields reflecting generally favourable weather conditions. Wheat output is estimated at 98.7 million tons, 12 percent up from 1995, that of barley at 52.1 million tons, 19 percent up from the previous year, and the summer maize crop is forecast to increase 10 percent to 33.6 million tons. The Community's largest producers - France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain - account for most of the increase, in particular Spain where this year's cereal crop is estimated to have almost doubled from the drought-reduced crop in 1995. Planting of winter grains for harvest in 1997 is already underway. Early indications suggest that the area could increase following the reduction of the compulsory set-aside rate for cereals to 5 percent from 10 percent in the previous year.

In eastern parts of the region, latest information confirms reduced and below normal cereal crops in most countries reflecting adverse weather and continuing economic problems within the agricultural sector of some countries. In Poland, latest official estimates indicate a marginally smaller 1996 cereal harvest than forecast in August. Aggregate cereal production is now put at about 24.5 million tons, 5 percent down from 1995's crop but still about the average of the past five years. Of the total, wheat is estimated to account for 8.3 million tons, compared to 8.7 million tons in 1995, while rye output is put at 5.8 million tons, compared to 6.3 million tons in the previous year. In Hungary, latest official estimates put the 1996 cereal harvest at about 10.7 million tons, marginally down from 1995's crop of 11 million tons. Output of wheat, the major food crop, is estimated to have fallen sharply to 3.9 million tons, compared to 4.6 million tons last year, while barley production also fell, to just over 1 million tons, from 1.4 million tons in 1995. For the summer maize crop, the adverse affect of limited inputs was more than offset by the favourable summer conditions, and production is estimated to have increased to 5.4 million tons from 4.6 million tons in the previous year. In Romania, the 1996 cereal output is estimated at 14.4 million tons, almost 30 percent down from last year's bumper crop and below the average of the past 5 years. The wheat crop is now officially estimated at about 3.2 million tons, compared to 7.7 million tons in 1995, while barley production fell by some 0.5 million tons to 1.3 million tons. Summer maize output is estimated at 9 million tons compared to almost 10 million tons in 1995. Winter grain planting for the 1997 harvest is already underway, but fuel shortages continue to hamper agricultural operations. Unless the situation is resolved soon, farmers may not manage to complete planned plantings and many crops are likely to be sown later than optimal dates.

In Bulgaria, a sharply reduced cereal crop of just over 3 million tons has been gathered in 1996, compared to 6.5 million tons last year. Wheat output, is now estimated at 1.7 million tons, compared to a normal harvest of about 3.5 million tons. Autumn sowing of winter grains for harvest in 1997 is underway but reported to be progressing slowly due to lack of funds, inputs and incentives to farmers, and unfavourable weather conditions. As of early October, it was reported that only 20 000 hectares of wheat and 7 000 hectares of barley had been sown, compared to an estimated area of 1.2 million hectares of wheat and 300 000 hectares of barley needed to cover domestic consumption in 1997/98. In the Czech Republic, the 1996 cereal harvest is officially estimated at about 6.5 million tons, virtually unchanged from the previous year's level. Wheat production fell by 5 percent to 3.6 million tons, while barley output increased to 2.4 million tons, 11 percent up from 1995. In the Slovak Republic, the 1996 cereal crop is estimated to be about 3.3 million tons, less than earlier anticipated and below 1995's output of 3.5 million tons. Yields were reported to be lower than anticipated because of unfavourable weather conditions throughout the season. In Albania, latest information indicates that the 1996 cereal crop production has fallen further from last year's already reduced level with the wheat crop estimated at 305 000 tons which would be 26 percent down from 1995. Because of a sharp increase in wheat prices in the country this summer, farmers' incentive to plant wheat this October and November for harvest next year is expected to be greater. However, the availability of inputs, in particular high quality seed could greatly influence the outcome of the autumn planting season.

Harvesting of the 1996 paddy crop season is well advanced in most parts of Europe. Total output of paddy in the EC in 1996 is estimated to increase largely because of a marked rise in the area to about 425 000 hectares, which would be near the maximum quota area allowed in the Community under the EC Rice Reform, and 16 percent higher than in 1995. The increase in output is likely to be concentrated in Spain where good rains have boosted rice plantings.


An FAO Crop Assessment Mission which visited the CIS in September, found that farmers' ability to take advantage of the considerable progress made in privatizing the grain marketing infrastructure downstream of the farm continues to result in official underestimation of the grain harvest, particularly for wheat and malting barley, the grains most in demand by the trade. Based on harvest returns as at mid-October, FAO provisionally forecasts the 1996 grain (cereal and pulses) harvest in the CIS at 133 million tons, only 2 percent more than last year's output estimated by FAO at 130 million tons. Substantially better harvests are estimated for the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan and larger harvests are also forecast in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. By contrast the 1996 harvests are to fall sharply, by between 18-50 percent in, Moldova, Turkmenistan, and the Ukraine. In Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the grain crop could remain close to last year's levels.

The aggregate area sown to grains for harvest in 1996 is estimated to have fallen by 3 million hectares to 93 million hectares, mainly in Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. Wheat has become one of the most profitable crops throughout the region and nearly all countries increased the area sown to wheat at the expense of barley, oats and pulses. The aggregate area sown to wheat increased, for the second year in succession, by some 3 million hectares, (from 45.5 million hectares to 48.5 hectares in 1996) while that sown to coarse grains declined by over 5 million hectares to 41.2 million. Strong demand also led to a sharp increase in rye plantings in 1996, notably in the Russian Federation. The aggregate area sown to rice increased due to larger plantings in the Central Asian States.

Growing conditions were generally more favourable than in 1995 and 1994, except in the belt stretching from Moldova, across the southern Ukraine to the Caucasus, where very hot and dry weather affected crops during May and much of June. This, combined with the late spring, adversely affected both winter grain development and spring grain establishment during critical growing stages. Aggregate cereal yields increased for the first time in 4 years but remained below the five year average due to continued shortages of agricultural credit and continued low levels of fertilizer, herbicide and other input use, despite an upturn in barter trade for these inputs.

FAO estimates that wheat output in the CIS could rise by 10 percent this year to 70 million tons, as a result of higher yields and expanded area. Wheat production in the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan alone is forecast to rise by more than 7 million tons, offsetting sharp reductions in Moldova and Turkmenistan and a small decline in output in the Ukraine, where the larger area sown almost offset reduced yields. The aggregate output of coarse grains is expected to decline by 5 percent to 58 million tons as higher yields did not fully offset the sharp decline in area. The 1996 paddy harvest is expected to be similar to last year's, with lower average yields offset by the larger areas sown in the Central Asian states. The area sown to pulses has declined steadily since 1991 and output is likely to slip to 3.2 million tons in 1996 from about 3.6 million tons in 1995.

1/ The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) includes 12 member states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Ukraine and Uzbekistan).


The outlook for the 1996 winter wheat and coarse grain crops remains very favourable in Australia. Aggregate winter crop plantings are now officially estimated to have risen to 17.7 million hectares, 7 percent up from last year and the second highest on record. The combination of excellent, although late, opening rains, relatively high cereal prices and depressed returns for wool are the main reasons for the increase in plantings. As of early September, prospects for winter crops were reported to range from average yields in southern Australia to above-average yields in Queensland and New South Wales. Aggregate wheat production is now officially forecast to rise by 11 percent to 18.8 million tons, while barley output is forecast at 5.7 million tons, about 4 percent up from 1995. For the summer crops to be harvested in

1997, despite favourable conditions for planting because of good subsoil moisture levels already established, the area of sorghum and maize is expected to be constrained by the large areas sown to winter crops. Final estimates for the summer crop production in 1996 show an increase of almost 50 percent in the sorghum and maize crops, mostly due to a sharp recovery in production in Queensland after three successive below average crops. The estimate for the 1996 paddy harvest has been lowered to 950 000 tons some 200 000 tons down from last year's crop. Planting of the 1997 paddy crop is likely to start soon and preliminary indications are that some 1.3 million tons could be produced.

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