ASIA

AFGHANISTAN* (30 October)

Land preparation for the sowing of the 1996/97 winter grain crops is underway. Unofficial estimates put aggregate output of wheat and barley in 1996 at a below-normal level of 1.85 million tons reflecting serious short supplies of agricultural inputs and insecurity.

As a result of recent civil strife, about one-quarter of Kabul's estimated population of little more than one million people, had reportedly fled the capital towards Panjshir valley and Jalalabad. To date some 10 000 refugees have been registered. The border with Pakistan at Torkham, albeit porous, remains closed to large scale crossings. To date, some 10,000 new refugees have been registered by UNHCR with only some 3,000 requiring external assistance. The number of refugees entering Pakistan is probably higher but remain unregistered as they take refugee with relatives and friends.

The take-over of the capital had resulted in the opening, for the first time in three years, of all the main roads to Kabul which could be better supplied with imported food and non- food-items. However, following the recent escalation of the fighting to the northeast and northwest of Kabul, supply lines have been cut off for the most part because of security.

Due to constant devaluation of currency, the prices of food and other basic necessities in the country are increasing. This will continue to cause severe suffering to most ordinary people particularly during the coming winter.

Donors' response to the United Nations Inter-Agency Appeal for U.S.$ 124 million for Emergency Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Assistance, launched in October 1995 and covering the period October 1995 to September 1996 was disappointing except for the land-mining component. The WFP, which had been assisting some 200 000 people in Kabul, currently has food stocks amounting to 5 000 tons in the capital, which will cover about two months supply. All WFP activities in Jalalabad have been suspended since the end of September. Pending re-assessment of the impact of the recent pronouncements on women, WFP has continued to utilize in-country stocks to provide relief assistance in most areas of the country. Shipments of additional food into Afghanistan have been suspended by WFP since 9 October pending assessment results.

The import requirement for cereals in 1996/97, mostly wheat, is forecast at 1.5 million tons.

BANGLADESH (4 October)

Heavy rainfall raised water levels in rivers in northern parts of the country, worsening floods that killed 22 people in early September. The district of Chapainawabganj was particularly affected as the Mahananda river continued to rise, cutting road and communication links. More rains were being expected and the full extent of damage to crops had not been determined. Earlier, floods caused by heavy monsoon rains in July and August, devastated large parts of the country, affecting some 6 million people and damaging or destroying thousands of hectares of crops in 38 districts. However, in the period 1 June to 4 October 1996, 4 out of 13 meteorological stations monitored, representing 18 percent of the area under ‘Aman’ paddy, had received below-average cumulative rainfall.

Harvesting of the rainfed 'Aus' rice crop, which normally accounts for some 10 percent of production, is complete. The 1996/97 target for the crop was set at 1.8 million tons, some 7 percent higher than last year’s output of 1.68 million tons, but a production estimate is not yet available. The boro crop, accounting for some 40 percent of the aggregate rice crop is estimated at 7.25 million tons, 3 percent higher than the target. The targets for the other main cereals in 1996/97 are ‘Aman’ rice , 9.7 million tons and wheat, 1.3 million tons. The target for 1996/97 cereal production, including milled rice, is 20 million tons.

As a result of good production and procurement in 1995/96 and higher imports, the overall food supply situation is considered to be satisfactory, notwithstanding the latest damage caused by floods.

CAMBODIA (1 October)

Planting of the main wet season rice crop, which accounts for some 85 percent of aggregate rice production in the country, is complete. Most of the provinces bordering the Mekong River have been affected by floods and the water level in the Mekong River remains above normal. Provinces most affected include Kratie, Prey Veng and Kompong Cham. In Kompong Cham, the country’s most densely populated province, floods are reported to have affected 12 of the 16 districts. The full extent of damage to crops, however, is still to be determined. The recent flood damage notwithstanding, the provisional forecast for aggregate paddy production in 1996/97 is around 2.8 to 3.5 million tons, significantly above average and similar to 1995/96. If this level of production is achieved, there would be a national rice surplus. However, as the country is polarized into surplus producing and deficit rice areas, a segment of the population remains vulnerable to food shortages and is likely to require assistance. Their access to food is also restricted by a lack of purchasing power.

CHINA (1 October)

In the last week of September, typhoon Willie damaged infrastructure and property in the southern island of Hainan and resulted in the loss of 38 lives. The worst affected county was Changjiang Li, where floods broke through local breakwaters, destroying homes and inundating thousands of hectares of farmland. The full extent of damage to crops, however, is still to be determined. Earlier typhoon Sally also caused serious damage to southern parts of the country. Latest reports indicate that the typhoon resulted in 133 deaths in the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi. In addition to loss of life, extensive damage also occurred to property and fishing boats. Economic loss in the cities of Maoming and Zhanjiang in Guangdong Province alone were officially estimated at yuan 12.8 billion (U.S.$1.5 billion). Since July, official reports indicate that storms and floods across southwestern, central and northeastern parts of the country, have resulted in some 2 700 deaths, more than 32 200 injuries and caused more than 52.4 billion yuan (U.S.$ 6.2 billion) in damage. Water levels in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and its tributaries remain above alert levels. Elsewhere, light to moderate rain in the first week of September, slowed summer crop harvesting across Manchuria and the North Plain, whilst heavier rain possibly delayed harvesting across southern Shaanxi, Hubei, and central Sichuan. Drier weather prevailed across southern China, favouring the harvesting of single-crop rice and development of late double-crop rice.

Output of 1996 early rice is officially estimated at 44 million tons, some 1.8 million tons or 4.2 percent higher than last year. This largely reflects improved yields and an increase in area of 90 000 hectares or 1.1 percent over the 8.29 million hectares cultivated in 1995. The major areas of growth were Jiangxi, Guangdong and Zhejiang province. As a result of better yields, the output of wheat in 1996 is expected to be around 107 million tons compared to 102 million tons in 1995. Overall, despite extensive flood damage this year, grain production is officially projected to be good and over 470 million tons. This is also attributed to increased production of maize in the northwest, especially in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces and good early rice harvests in many southern provinces.

By the end of August, state procurement of early rice reached 9.08 million tons, compared to a target of 7.96 million tons. In the same period, procurement of wheat reached 18.53 million tons, accounting for some 80 percent of the target for 1996.

CYPRUS (4 October)

Sowing of the 1997 wheat and barley crops is about to start. Production of cereals in 1996, mainly barley, is estimated at 1312 000 tons, some 6 percent less than last year's about average harvest. Cereal production normally covers less than one-third of total domestic requirements.

Imports of cereals in 1996/97 (May/April) are estimated at 500 000 tons, some 20 000 tons more than the previous year. Imports of wheat and coarse grains (maize and barley) account for about 20 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

INDIA (1 October)

Locally heavy rains in early September continued over the south and returned to main rice growing areas in north- central parts. Warm, drier weather over central parts also favoured development of coarse grains and soybeans, which had previously been affected by wet conditions. In the groundnut basin of Gujarat, however, top soils remain dry and require additional moisture before the end of the monsoon season. Overall, this year, crop prospects have benefited from favourable monsoon rains, especially during August and early September. Cumulative rainfall until 25 September was normal to above normal in 32 out of 35 sub-divisions monitored, covering 92 percent of kharif area, compared to 30 sub- divisions covering 88 percent of kharif area in the preceding year. Areas which were drier than normal were along the western coast.

As a result of favourable conditions, particularly in rainfed areas in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, production of kharif rice and coarse grains is expected to reach or exceed the forecast levels. The aggregate output of kharif rice is currently forecast at a record 75 million tons, milled equivalent, some 5.6 percent higher than the 71 million tons harvested in the 1995 kharif season. The Government has revised down its estimate of 1995/96 grain production to 190.4 million tons including milled rice, mainly as a result of a lower wheat estimate of 64 million tons. The reduction is due to a slight decline in estimated area and lower than expected yields in some rainfed areas in non-surplus producing states. Although the 1995/96, wheat harvest is lower than that in 1994/95, it is still the second largest wheat crop on record.

The Government has raised support prices for 1996/97 paddy by Rupees 200/ton to Rupees 3 800 (U.S.$ 107/ton) for common varieties, Rs 3 950 (U.S.$ 111.3/ton) for fine varieties and Rs 4 150 (U.S.$ 117/ton) for superfine varieties. The 5 percent increase was similar to last year, but below more substantial price increases of the early 1990s. Support prices for kharif coarse grains were also increased by Rs 100 to Rs 3 100 (U.S.$ 87/ton) for sorghum and millets and Rs 3 200 (U.S.$ 90/ton) for maize. Wheat exports are expected to decline following reduced international demand and improved global production. It is expected that export licenses for 1.13 million tons will be issued by the Agricultural and Processed Foods Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for 1996/97.

INDONESIA (19 September)

In Java, generally adequate rains favoured the second rice crop in the west and east, whilst dry weather prevailed across central parts of the island. Earlier, drought affected the central province of Banjarnegara, one of the country’s largest rice growing areas. As a result crops on an estimated 6 600 hectares were damaged and the water level in major reservoirs dropped sharply. In addition, an outbreak of paddy borers also caused some damage to rice in western Java.

Harvesting of the second rice crop will commence shortly and continue into October. Aggregate paddy production in 1996 is currently forecast at around 50 million tons, some 3 percent higher than last year and 6 percent above average for the preceding five years. Higher rice production is attributed to various factors including intensive farming methods, irrigation and area expansion. Despite advances in production, however, domestic supply lags demand and the country has had to rely on imports to meet its requirements.

Although the rice procurement target for 1996/97 (April/March), was earlier set at 2 million tons by BULOG, the national marketing agency, recent reports indicate that final procurement will be some 30 percent lower at around 1.4 million tons. The shortfall in procurement is attributed to prevailing market prices which are higher than BULOG’s offer price. In the period April to September, some 1.08 million tons were procured. Due to a growth in demand for wheat based products, wheat imports in 1996/97 are projected to remain firm and similar to imports of 3.8 million tons in 1995/96.

IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (19 September)

Harvesting of wheat is over and that of rice is about to start. This year's output of wheat is forecast to be above average though slightly lower than last year's record harvest of 11.2 million tons. Paddy output is currently forecast to be similar to last year’s harvest of 2.4 million tons. Wheat imports in 1996/97 are likely to be slightly higher than last year.

As a result of the deteriorating security situation in north Iraq, the number of refugees and internally displaced people have increased around border areas. Presently, the number in these areas is estimated at around 200 000 of a total of 800 000 who have abandoned homes. Of these, 70 000 are in the vicinity of the border with Kordestan Province, 50 000 to 60 000 around Kermanshah and Qasr-e Shirin and 25 000 in the regions bordering western Zarbayjan and Sardasht.

IRAQ* (4 October)

The recent events in northern Iraq have resulted in a delay in the implementation of Security Council's Resolution 986 which permits, under certain conditions, limited sales of oil to purchase and distribute essential various humanitarian needs.

Although the lifting of the trade restrictions between the autonomous area and the rest of the country, previously imposed by the Government, is facilitating the flow of commodities, humanitarian conditions remain critical in Iraq. Moreover, the flow of agricultural products from the autonomous area to the rest of the country has resulted in an increase in the commodity prices in the north. While the number of internally displaced people in northern Iraq has not risen significantly, there has been a significant increase in the number of Kurdish refugees fleeing to Iran. As a necessary transitional measure while the "oil-for-food" deal is implemented, a United Nations Appeal for a total contribution of U.S.$ 39.963 million has been recently launched to meet the emergency requirements of the affected population for the next three months. Specific essential needs included in the April 1996 Appeal and those originating from recent events in northern Iraq have been consolidated with the present assistance programme so that ongoing country- wide humanitarian activities will not be discontinued.

The output of wheat and barley in 1996 is estimated to be again below normal as a result of damage from pests and short supply of agricultural inputs, as well as lack of spare parts for agricultural machinery.

To cope with the lead time implied in the researching, procurement, transport and distribution of large quantities of food resources, and to ensure that the emergency food aid needs of 2.15 million targeted beneficiaries are met throughout the harsh winter, WFP is finalizing a further phase of its emergency operation, covering the six months period from October 1996 to March 1997. Requirements amount to 125 000 tons, or U.S.$ 57 million. As at October 1996, carryover stocks and confirmed pledges cover only 55 percent of food requirements in the north and 4 percent in the centre and south.

ISRAEL (4 October)

Planting of the 1997 wheat and barley crops, now underway, will continue until December. Reflecting unfavourable weather, production of wheat in 1996 is estimated at 150 000 tons, some 30 000 tons lower than last year and below average for the third consecutive year.

Imports of cereals in 1996/97 (October/September) are forecast at some 2.1 million tons, unchanged from the previous year.

JAPAN (20 September)

Sunny weather and below-normal rainfall in August, favoured filling rice across northern parts of the country, whilst mostly dry conditions aided rice maturation in central areas. However, flooding and mudslides in Kyushu caused by typhoon Kirk in the second dekad of September, may affect the harvest.

Provisional estimates indicate that overall plantings are below average and lower than the 2.12 million hectares planted last year, due to Government efforts to enlarge the rice diversification programme this year. Output is expected to be lower than the 13.4 million tons harvested in 1995. In contrast to a rice shortage three years ago, the country is now facing an oversupply of rice amid slow sales of government-owned and imported rice. The country’s food agency initially planned to sell 1.18 million tons of government rice by the end of the crop year (Oct. 31), but had only sold 390 000 tons, or one-third of the target, by the end of July. With this year's rice crop seen to be good for the third consecutive year, the country is expected to have a large surplus of over 3 million tons by the beginning of November, including some 600 000 tons from previous years.

JORDAN (4 October)

Land preparation for the sowing of the 1997 winter grains is underway. Aggregate production of wheat and barley in 1996 is estimated at 75 000 tons, some 20 percent down from last year's poor harvest. Reflecting larger area planted, production of lentils increased by 12 percent to 2 400 tons, while potato production, at 110 000 tons, was 12 000 tons higher than last year.

The producer prices for the 1996 wheat and barley, announced after the sowing of the crops, were increased by more than 20 percent. The wheat price was increased by JD 35 (U.S.$ 49) to JD 200 (U.S.$ 282) per ton while barley price was raised by 23 percent to JD 160 (U.S.$ 226) per ton. Lentil and chick pea prices were also increased by about 12 percent to JD 380 (U.S.$ 537) per ton and JD 450 (U.S.$ 636) per ton, respectively.

Recently the Government has announced increases in the price of bread. The price of two qualities of bread widely consumed have been set at Fils 180 (U.S. cents 25) and Fils 220 (U.S. cents 31) per kg from Fils 85 (U.S. cents 12) and Fils 120 (U.S. cents 17), respectively.

Imports of wheat in 1996/97 (July/June) are estimated at 630 000 tons, slightly lower than the previous year. Coarse grains imports, maize and barley, are estimated at 910 000 tons, some 60 000 tons more than imports in 1995/96. Imports of rice are expected at about 95 000 tons, somewhat higher than the previous year.

KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (1 October)

Mostly dry weather favoured rice harvesting across northern parts of the country, though in the extreme south, moderate rain slowed the harvest and may possibly have reduced quality. Floods earlier in the season were mainly limited to mountainous areas of the country and had limited impact on rice production. Recent official reports, indicate that paddy production is expected to be above the target of some 6.6 million tons due to favourable weather and good crop conditions and despite a slight reduction in overall area planted. It is estimated that the area under rice cultivation, has declined by 15 percent since 1990. In an effort to offset future decline in area cultivated and increase the level of self sufficiency in rice, the government plans to increase investment. The aim is to raise yields in target areas, develop water resources and improve agricultural infrastructure and mechanization.

KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF* (24 September)

Dry weather and below-normal rainfall in August favoured grain filling in rice in main producing areas. However, earlier in July, intensive rainfall caused extensive flooding in main cereal producing provinces in the south. Based on field observations by an FAO/WFP team, damage was provisionally estimated at 360 000 tons of paddy and 92 000 tons of maize. However the full extent of losses and the consequent ramifications for food supply next year depend significantly on final harvest in October. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is currently finalizing its assessment.

By early September 1996, food aid through the UN-system amounted to around 46 500 tons of cereals and 6 000 tons of blended food, whilst additional donations from non- governmental organizations, amounted to a further 28 800 tons of grain and 1 600 tons of non-grain products. In total these sources, therefore, provided some 75 300 tons of cereals and 7 600 tons of non cereals in food assistance. However, so far pledges to the food component of the second UN consolidated interagency appeal, amounting to U.S.$ 25.9 million, only cover 60 percent of requirement. The balance is, therefore, still required.

In relation to total cereal import requirement of 1.47 million tons of cereals for 1995/96, identified in the FAO/WFP Special Alert No 267 of May this year, the quantity of commercial and cereal bartered imports and food aid provided or pledged so far, amounts to 848 300 tons. This, therefore, leaves an overall deficit of some 622 700 tons in 1995/96 (November/October).

LAOS* (23 September)

Heavy torrential rain at the end of August, resulted in serious flooding which is reported to have caused extensive damage to property, infrastructure and crops. The worst affected provinces were in northern and central parts of the country and included Houaphane, Phongsaly, Luang Praang, Luang Namtha, Boliharnsa, Vientiane Prefecture, Vientiane Province, Khammouane and Savannakhet. Available Government estimates indicate that some 266 villages were affected and several thousand hectares of paddy were damaged or destroyed. The full extent of damage to crops and the implications for food supply are, however, yet to be determined.

The recent flood damage notwithstanding, the target for aggregate paddy production in 1996 is 1.7 million tons, which is considerably above average and some 20 percent higher than the flood affected crop last year.

LEBANON (4 October)

The output from the wheat crop in 1996 decreased slightly to 45 000 tons and remained below average. This level of production covers less than 10 percent of total requirements, while the country is completely dependent on imports to meet its needs in rice, sugar and milk powder.

Imports of cereals - mainly wheat - in 1996/97 (July/June) is forecast at some 760 000 tons, an increase of about 5 000 tons compared with the previous year.

MALAYSIA (1 October)

Planting of the main rainfed paddy crop, for harvest in December- January, will commence shortly. Early prospects for planting are satisfactory due to light to moderate rainfall across the country since the beginning of the month, which generally improved soil moisture supplies. Harvesting of the irrigated second rice crop, which normally accounts for some 45 percent of annual production, is now nearing completion. The aggregate output of paddy for 1996 is currently projected at around 2.1 million tons, similar to last year's harvest.

MONGOLIA* (22 October)

A recent FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Mongolia found that this year, extensive and serious steppe and forest fires throughout the country caused widespread damage to forests and winter pastures. However, although the fires resulted in livestock losses, which may exacerbate current economic difficulties at household level, they did not affect output. Nonetheless, cereal production declined for the fifth consecutive year as a consequence of reduced rainfall at the beginning of the season and continuing problems in the sector, brought on by economic transition and market reforms. More specifically, in the Central Agricultural Region, which accounts for some 80 percent of national crop production, 1996 was characterized by poor fallow preparation, low quality/high quantity seed use, delays in germination, poor weed control, no fertilizer use, less than average rainfall at critical stages in the crop cycle and a protracted harvest, made worse by old machinery and a shortage of spare parts. Potato and fodder production exhibit similar characteristics. Although, livestock production, on the whole, remains comparatively stable, access to livestock products has been adversely affected by fragmentation in the sector and the break-up of state marketing channels.

Mongolia is classified as a Low Income Food Deficit Country (LIFDC). Although it is not food insecure in the normal sense, nor is it facing an emergency which may result in widespread famine, it does, like transitional economies in the CIS, have a growing population of low income groups, who are experiencing a dramatic fall in nutritional standards due to changes in their economic circumstances. As a result, like several CIS countries which are currently receiving food aid, increasing poverty in Mongolia has become a pressing problem, requiring international assistance. The Government has identified the unemployed, the elderly, female headed households, children, pensioners and small herders as those who most bear the social cost of transition. These segments of the population have extremely limited access to financial resources to purchase food, from a market which is being increasingly liberalized. Even those in employment face considerable problems in meeting household demand for food as inflation remains high and increases in food prices have so far substantially outpaced wages in the public sector.

Inevitably, dwindling domestic cereal supplies have resulted in further deterioration in the country’s ability to feed its people and large imports will be necessary in the 1996/97 marketing year to meet requirements, a situation further compounded by low cereal reserves, a decline in export trading and the country’s capacity to import sufficient quantities of grain commercially to meet the deficit. Moreover, a fall in world copper and cashmere prices, important revenue earners, will undoubtedly reduce further Government income and expenditure in the year ahead.

The Mission estimates the overall cereal import requirement for 1996/97 at 235 000 tons of wheat and 3 000 tons of rice, making a total of 238 000 tons. Of this it is estimated that the Government could finance the commercial import of some 87 000 tons, similar to last year, leaving an overall deficit of 151 000 tons, with which the country needs assistance, through emergency and programme food aid. For the most vulnerable groups in society, those categorized as being absolutely poor, it is recommended that some 22 000 tons be provided in emergency food aid, leaving a balance of 129 000 tons to be met by concessional credits and programme food assistance.

MYANMAR (1 October)

Above-normal rainfall and normal temperatures in August favoured development of the main paddy crop, which will be ready for harvest from October. However, unlike previous years, both stocks of monsoon paddy harvested last year and summer paddy were affected by pests and disease. Summer paddy was damaged by hopper burn, caused by brown plant hopper, mostly in areas with insufficient supplies of water, whilst stored paddy was affected by Grain Moth, Flour Beetle and Grain Borer Beetle.

This year's official target for aggregate paddy production has been set at 21.7 million tons. About three quarters of rice production in the country is expected from the main crop. The export target for rice in 1996/97 has been lowered to some 250 000 tons, reflecting concerns over stocks and the domestic market.

NEPAL (1 October)

The planting of the main paddy crop in the Terai is complete and harvesting of the summer maize crop is well advanced. The target area planted to both crops is similar to last year at around 770 000 hectares and 1 450 000 hectares for maize and paddy respectively. The target for paddy production in 1996/97 has been set at 4.25 million tons.

PAKISTAN (1 October)

Continuous heavy rain over several days in the major grain producing state of Punjab in the last week of August damaged or destroyed standing crops on over 219 000 hectares. Official reports from the Punjab Relief Department indicate that overall, a total of 2 024 villages were affected and 1 186 131 people were displaced from homes. The death toll stood at 79, with at least 34 killed in Lahore District. In terms of crop damage, the worst affected areas were Sialkot and Hafizabad where some 83 600 and 43 000 hectares were damaged or destroyed respectively. Other areas affected included Sheikhupura (42 000 hectares), Gujranwala district (21 200 hectares) and Kasur (14 700 hectares). In addition to cash assistance, the Government is providing emergency medical and food relief to the affected population.

Planting of the rice and coarse grains crop was mostly completed in August and the harvest period for both crops will commence in October. The production target for paddy in 1996 is 6 million tons, similar to last year’s bumper crop. The output of coarse grains is forecast to be slightly lower than the 1.84 million tons harvested last year. Output of the wheat crop, harvested in April/May is now officially estimated at 17 million tons, compared to a target of 17.57 million tons.

Along border areas with Rajasthan and Gujrat, during the second half of August and early September, small scale control operations were undertaken against hopper infestations.

PHILIPPINES (1 October)

In mid-September, typhoon Violet brought heavy rain over a wide area of the main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, but no reports of casualties nor damage to crops have been received. In general, near to above normal rainfall over much of the country in August and September replenished soil moisture levels and favoured development of the main rice crop.

The current forecast for paddy production in 1996/97 is 11.5 million tons, some 3 percent higher than last year. The output of maize is expected to reach 4.7 million tons this year against demand of 5.5 million.

It is estimated that stocks held by the National Food Authority (NFA) amounted to some 404 000 tons of rice in August, compared to 25 400 tons a year ago. Much of the dramatic increase in NFA stocks is attributed to imports, which were considered necessary to counter a possible repeat of extreme shortages of rice last year. It is estimated that the Government has imported about 885 000 tons of rice this year compared to 240 000 tons in 1995. Maize imports this year are estimated at 350 000 tons, considerably up from last year.

SAUDI ARABIA (4 October)

Sowing of the wheat crop to be harvested from May next year is underway. Reflecting Government measures aimed at limiting domestic output, the area planted to wheat in 1996/97 is likely to decline for the fifth successive year.

Production of wheat and barley in 1996 is estimated at 1.5 million tons and 1.1 million tons, respectively. Production of wheat in 1995, officially estimated at 2.45 million tons, although markedly down compared to the 2.82 million tons harvested in the previous year, was still in excess of domestic requirements estimated at some 1.8 million tons.

The country is also self-sufficient in dates and eggs, and achieved high rates of sufficiency in poultry, milk and milk products as well as vegetables and fruit.

As a result of constant declines in output in recent years, exports of wheat in 1995/96 (July/June) have fallen sharply to the level of 300 000 tons and are expected to end completely by the current marketing year. Imports of barley in 1996/97 are forecast to increase by about 200 000 tons to 3.5 million tons.

No Desert Locust activity was reported during September. Forecasts until mid-November indicate that low to moderate numbers of new adults may be present along the western edge of the empty quarter adjacent to current infestations in Yemen.

SRI LANKA (1 October)

Prospects for the final harvest of the Yala crop and planting of the Maha crop, were adversely affected by low rainfall during the southwest monsoon this year, which reduced water levels in irrigation reservoirs and soil moisture levels. By the middle of August, rainfall was below average over the island, with well below values over western, southern and Sabaragamuwa provinces and Kandy and Nuwara Eliya districts. In the period, 1 April to 10 August, cumulative rainfall was below normal over rice producing areas in the western part of the island. However the prospects for the 1996/97 Maha crop to be planted from October onwards will critically depend mostly on the performance of the northeast Monsoon later in the year.

Poor monsoon rains in 1995/96 resulted in a substantial decline in production of the main Maha and secondary Yala rice crops. Current estimates indicate that some 1.9 million tons of paddy were produced, over 900 000 tons lower than 1994/95 and below the last seriously drought affected crop of 1986/87. Allowing for milling, seed and losses, this amount of paddy translates to around 1.3 million tons of rice. As a result of the shortfall in domestic production the country has an import requirement of some 500 000 to 600 000 tons of rice this year. It is reported that the private sector had imported some 100 000 of rice in the first seven months of the year.

Given the high annual cost of maintaining a subsidy on wheat, the Government has introduced measures to reduce the amount. In late August, the Government increased the price of wheat flour by three rupees to 16.50 rupees, while the price of a loaf of bread was increased by one rupee to 6.75 rupees.

As a result of the shortfall in production last year and continuing civil strife, the food supply situation gives cause for concern, especially in the north. Although efforts are being made by the UN and other humanitarian organizations to transport essential food commodities to main areas affected by civil strife in Jaffna, people in remote areas continue to face difficulties in meeting their basic needs. Meanwhile, the operational capacity of international humanitarian organizations in the district remain limited due to restrictions on movement and have almost come to a standstill as a result. In Wanni, people also face difficult living conditions and many families find themselves heavily indebted as a result of efforts to supplement dry rations from the Government. Elsewhere, instability persists in the east, where many people live in relative isolation due to disruption in public transport. The Government presently estimates that there are some 400 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Jaffna Peninsula, although a detailed head count has not been possible. In Wanni, the total number of IDPs is estimated at 478 000. In recent weeks, there has also been a steady flow of refugees to India.

SYRIA (4 October)

Early sowing of the 1997 wheat and barley crops, which has started under generally favourable weather, will continue until the end of the year. Production of cereals in 1996, estimated at 6.1 million tons, was virtually unchanged from the previous year. A small decline in wheat output, estimated at 4.1 million tons, was offset by an increase of 95 000 tons in the maize output; barley production remained unchanged at 1.7 million tons.

The country became self-sufficient in wheat in 1993 but, as the bulk of the wheat produced is durum wheat, imports of some 100 000 tons of wheat flour will be needed in 1996/97.

Imports of maize in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast at 350 000 tons, unchanged from last year. Export availabilities of barley in the current marketing year are estimated at about 600 000 tons. Some exports of durum wheat have been contracted for 1996/97.

THAILAND (13 October)

Heavy rain in northeastern parts in the second half of September maintained moisture reserves for rice and coarse grains. Despite generally favourable rains in September, cumulative precipitation this year has been lower than in 1995. In the period 20 May to 13 October, cumulative rainfall in the country was below normal in 5 out of 26 weather stations monitored, representing 15.3 percent of paddy production and 7 percent of maize production, compared to 2 stations representing 6.2 percent of paddy and less than 1 percent of maize, in the same period in 1995.

Output of the second paddy crop is estimated at a record 3.9 million tons, some 34 percent higher than the 2.9 million tons produced in the previous year. The increase is mainly attributed to strong paddy prices and good water supplies, especially in dams in the Chao Phraya delta in the central plains, the main irrigated rice area in the country. Aggregate paddy production in 1996 is forecast at around 21.6 million tons, marginally higher than above-average output in 1995. Some 83 percent of total paddy production is attributed to the main season crop. High maize prices this year are expected to have resulted in an increase in the area planted, which together with a lower incidence of weather induced damage are anticipated to result in better production.

The target for rice exports in 1996 is set at 5.5 million tons, compared to record exports of some 6 million tons last year. Between January and August 1996, an estimated 3.5 million tons were exported compared to nearly 4 million tons in the same period in the previous year.

TURKEY (4 October)

Above-normal rains towards the end of the growing season allowed a partial recovery of the 1996 wheat crop, now estimated at 18.5 million tons, almost three percent more than last year's below-average level of 18 million tons. Production of barley, estimated at 8 million tons, was 500 000 tons higher than the 1995 harvest, while maize output decreased by some 8 percent to 1.75 million tons.

The base prices for government purchases of the 1996/97 red hard milling and durum wheat crop have been increased by 157 percent and 125 percent to TL 18 000 per kg (U.S.$ 234 per ton) and TL 22 500 per kg (U.S.$ 292 per ton), respectively. Barley price was raised by 174 percent to TL 14 400 per kg (U.S.$ 177 per ton) while maize price increased by 171 percent to TL 17 100 per kg (U.S.$ 222 per ton). These prices will be increased monthly in line with the rate of inflation.

Exports of wheat and wheat flour in 1996/97 (July/June) are currently forecast to increase by 100 000 tons to 1 million tons. Imports of quality bread milling and durum wheat are expected to decline to 700 000 tons from the previous year's level of 1.2 million tons.

VIET NAM (1 October)

Torrential rains in the last dekad of September, following typhoon Willie, damaged thousands of houses and inundated extensive areas of paddy in central provinces of the country. Official reports from the Disaster Management Unit, indicate that some 56 200 households were affected in the north- central province of Nghe An alone. Willie was the sixth tropical storm to affect the country this year. Earlier, 44 people died in seven central provinces when typhoon Sally brought heavy rains and flooding. Overall as a result of tropical storms, typhoons and flooding this year some 430 people have died and several hundred thousand hectares of crop land have been affected, since July. Total economic damage so far is estimated at around U.S.$ 300 million.

The final extent of damage to the maturing ‘tenth month’ rice crop, about to be harvested, is presently unclear. Earlier, output of winter/spring paddy, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of annual production, was officially put at a record 12.9 million tons, some 7.5 percent above the previous year. Some 60 percent of production was from the south. The use of new high-yielding varieties rice, technology, improved supply of fertilizers and price control are regarded as factors that encouraged agricultural production this year.

In view of strong international demand, the Government raised the ceiling for rice exports by 500 000 tons, from 2 million tons to 2.5 million tons. In 1995, some 2.025 million tons of rice were exported.

YEMEN (4 October)

Reflecting a decline in the area planted, short supply of agricultural inputs and damage from pests and floods, the prospects for the summer sorghum crop, now being harvested, are unfavourable. Heavy rains in mid-June resulted in floods which caused heavy damage to several villages and towns across the country and loss of agricultural land. Damage also occurred to flood protection structures, irrigation and rural infrastructure.

Production of sorghum in 1995 is estimated at 480 000 tons, about 40 000 tons more than the previous year and sharply above average. Millet output, estimated at 55 000 tons, was virtually unchanged from previous year. Production of wheat and barley, estimated at 168 000 tons and 62 000 tons, respectively, was slightly lower than 1994.

Imports of cereals in 1996 - mainly wheat - are estimated at about 2 million tons, an increase of some 2 percent compared with 1995.

During September, breeding of Desert Locusts has occurred within a large area of the interior on the southern edge of Ramlat Sabatayin. Control operations treated some 2 900 hectares up to 18 September. As vegetation dries out, adults are expected to concentrate and move west and north to the Red Sea coastal plains where they could arrive at the end of October.