ARMENIA* (8 October)
Growing conditions during the winter were unfavourable and caused extensive winterkill but good spring rains benefited surviving crops and spring wheat and coarse grain plantings. Pending release of the official grain harvest forecast, FAO estimates this years grain harvest at 275 000 tons, somewhat better than last year’s harvest, officially estimated at 260 000 tons.
The area sown to potatoes has increased steadily and good yields are expected. The cattle and cow herd, as well as meat and milk production appears to be recovering slowly from the depths reached in 1992 and 1993.
In 1996/97 the country needs 615 000 tons of cereals to maintain human consumption at last year’s level of 360 grams per person per day for a resident population of 3.2 million (430 000 tons), plus feed (87 000 tons), other uses, mainly seed (78 000 tons), and a stock replenishment of 20 000 tons. Against this requirement domestic production of cereals (excluding pulses) is now estimated at 270 000 tons, leaving an import requirement of 345 000 tons. The bulk of this is expected to be imported on a commercial basis by the private trade which has expanded very rapidly following the complete liberalization of bread prices. However, there will continue to be a need for emergency food aid for the vulnerable groups. Food aid pledges received to date amount to 65 000 tons. In 1996/97 the country will receive direct budget support from the EC instead of food aid for monetization. Disbursement is conditional to the implementation of reforms in the agricultural sector, particularly land reform and privatization of the cereal/bread processing and distribution chain.
The overall supply and variety of foods has improved with increased trade with neighbouring accessible countries. However there is high unemployment and market prices are very high compared to salaries and pensions. About 40 percent of the population has an income of less than US $ 20 per month. The poorest 15 percent, (400 000 people, mainly refugees, and internally displaced) continue to be in need of targeted food assistance. Current contributions will only cover WFP relief activities until March 1997 and more donor pledges are needed to continue relief distributions in 1997. WFP’s monthly food aid needs are around 1 800 tons per month.
AZERBAIJAN (3 October)
Official information on the area and production of cereals remains conflicting. Indications are that the area sown to grains increased somewhat for the 1996 cropping season in response to good wheat growing potential, shortages of bread in rural areas and sharp increases in the price of bread over the past year. Despite below normal precipitation during the winter, wheat yields increased. The aggregate cereal harvest is estimated by FAO at 1.06 million tons, only marginally more than the 1995 harvest. Production of wheat is tentatively estimated at 750 000 tons, compared to 725 000 tons last year.
Official data indicate that per caput consumption of cereals is declining in response to higher prices and reduced commercial import capacity. Another sharp price increase for bread is expected. To cover the domestic cereal requirement in 1996/67 of 1.6 million tons, (human consumption needs 1.03 million tons or about 370 grams per person per day; feed nearly 350 000 tons and other uses mainly seeds 220 000 tons), the country would need to import 555 000 tons of cereals. Against the wheat import requirement, estimated at 500 000 tons, the government has already contracted 180 000 tons and considers that the private trade will import 300 000 tons commercially. The food aid requirement in 1996/97 is anticipated to be markedly less than in 1995/96 when 187 000 tons were delivered. The volume of food aid that may be required hinges on the speed with which the state control of the urban grain distribution channels and grain pricing is dismantled and whether or not current plans to constitute an intervention reserve to avoid disruption of supplies during the privatization of the State Bread Corporation, are implemented. However, emergency food aid for targeted distribution to the vulnerable populations will continue to be necessary. Confirmed pledges to date amount to only 5 000 tons. In 1996/97 the country will receive direct budget support from the EC instead of food aid for monetization. Disbursement is conditional to the implementation of reforms in the agricultural sector, particularly land reform and privatization of the cereal/bread processing and distribution chain and liberalization of cereal prices.
There are up to 900 000 refugees and internally displaced people as a result of the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh. The preliminary results of the World Bank‘s poverty assessment indicate that about sixty percent of the population is affected by poverty and that some 20 percent could be considered extremely poor. About half a million people were in need of relief assistance in 1995/96 and the economic situation has continued to deteriorate. WFP is currently distributing 1 200 tons per month to 170 000 people, mainly internally displaced persons in public buildings and camps. Stocks and carryover pledges are sufficient for WFP distributions to continue at the current level to May 1997.
BELARUS (3 October)
The aggregate 1996 cereal harvest is now forecast at 6.4 million tons, cleaned weight, some 800 000 tons more than last year reflecting better growing conditions this winter and better yields. The grain area remained stable at 2.7 million hectares but the area sown to wheat increased by two thirds in response to a government-backed drive for greater self-sufficiency. Wheat output is estimated to have risen to a record 750 000 tons. Although wheat displaced feedgrains especially barley, better yields resulted in a coarse grain output of 5.3 million tons in 1996, 6 percent more than in 1995.
In 1996/97, the country’s import requirement for cereals is expected to decline to 385 000 tons from 687 000 tons in 1995/96 and to be sourced mainly from neighbouring CIS countries. The larger wheat harvest is expected to reduce wheat imports to a record low 275 000 tons, while continued contraction in the livestock sector is expected to result in only 100 000 tons of coarse grain imports. The country has exported small quantities of rye to neighbouring countries.
GEORGIA* (10 October)
Data on agricultural production is conflicting and growing conditions have been very mixed. Official indications are that the planted wheat area was larger than expected and that in aggregate for all cereals about 400 000 hectares were sown. Dry conditions and hail sharply reduced winter wheat yields in some parts of eastern Georgia while other areas obtained very good yields. The wheat harvest is officially estimated to have increased to 175 000 tons. Maize yields also suffered to some extent. In aggregate, the 1996 grain and pulse harvest is provisionally estimated by FAO at to have remained close to last years output of about 580 000 tons, substantially less than the 700 000 tons anticipated in March because of a lower maize crop.
Consumption of maize meal has increased sharply in response to price liberalization of bread in June 1996 and past shortages of wheat. The government has estimated the 1996/97 cereal import requirement at 300 000 tons of wheat against some 460 000 tons imported mainly as food aid last year. The commercial imports of wheat flour by the private trade have increased rapidly and are expected to cover market needs, which are likely to contract because of the higher prices. Food aid will continue to be required to meet the needs for relief distribution to the most vulnerable populations. So far, food aid allocations, including those carried forward from last year, amount to 53 000 tons. In 1996/97 the country will receive direct budget support from the EC instead of food aid for monetization. Disbursement is conditional to the implementation of reforms in the agricultural sector, particularly land reform and privatization of the cereal/bread processing and distribution chain.
Economic recovery has begun but GDP fell very sharply indeed during the years of civil strife which virtually bankrupted the country, left a huge debt, a persistent energy crisis and in addition resulted in some 288 000 of internally displaced people. In view of the severe budget constraints and the inadequate social security net, very low official salaries and widespread unemployment the number of food-insecure people in need of assistance is estimated at 600 000-700 000, mainly internally displaced, host families, mothers with young infants, pensioners, the disabled and inmates of social institutions dependent on the budget. WFP is currently distributing 2 200 tons per month to a target population of 300 000 people. Stocks and carryover pledges are sufficient for WFP distributions to continue at the current level to May 1997.
KAZAKHSTAN (4 October)
Based on interviews with traders and other officials and an analysis of the cereal utilization and exports from Kazakhstan in the past years, it is estimated that last year’s grain crop was about 10.5 million tons cleanweight, or about 10 percent higher than the officially reported figure of 9.5 million tons. Given an area planted to grains of 17.1 million hectares, and an average yield of about 760 kg. per hectare, this year’s harvest is forecast by FAO at 13.3 million tons cleanweight. Official sources put the crop at between 11-12 million tons. Wheat production is estimated to increase by 1.2 million tons to 9 million tons this year, while coarse grain output is estimated at around 4 million tons compared to only 2.8 million tons in 1995/96. Growing conditions have been better than last year, but the reduced use of fertilizers, which was the main cause for the poor harvest last year, will keep yields below average.
Indications are that production of potatoes, vegetables and sunflower seeds are likely to increase while both the area and yield of sugarbeet is expected to fall. Livestock numbers have been cut back very sharply during the past two years with marked declines in the domestic production of meat (-20 percent), milk (-13 percent) and eggs (-30 percent) in 1995. This trend is forecast to continue also into 1996.
Production of cereals for export is profitable. Customs and grain exchange data indicate that the country has likely exported more than 5 million tons of grain in 1995/96, by sharply drawing down stocks and reducing feed use of grains. The bulk of these exports - nearly three-fifths - were destined for Russia during 1995-96 and the balance went mainly to the Central Asian States including Uzbekistan. Provided the 1996 harvest estimate materializes, Kazakhstan could export up to 4 million tons of wheat and about 400 000 tons of coarse grains to its traditional customers. However the Federal procurement target of 1.1 million tons as well as the oblast procurement targets have to be met before grain may be exported legally through the grain exchange. Aggregate food supplies are plentiful but there have been reports of localized shortages. Large parts of western Kazakhstan consist of desert, and living conditions in such infertile surroundings, and in depressed industrial towns, have become very difficult.
KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (4 October)
The area sown to cereals increased by about 4 percent despite shortages of all the major inputs. Growing conditions were better than last year with good winter precipitation and snow cover replenishing soil moisture and irrigation reserves. Harvest returns indicate a sharp recovery from last year’s poor yields. The 1996 harvest is tentatively forecast to increase to 1.16 million tons, somewhat less than earlier anticipated by the government, but nevertheless substantially better than last year’s crop of not quite 1 million tons. Output of wheat could rise to 850 000 tons in response to the larger areas sown and better yields.
Production of potatoes, vegetables and sugarbeet are all expected to increase. Livestock numbers are still being cut back in view of the shortage of grain feed, overgrazing, and the fall in demand for wool. Following last year’s dry conditions, meat, milk and egg production declined but improved grazing and fodder availability this year could result in a small recovery in meat and milk production, but egg production is expected to fall further.
Provided the harvest forecast materializes, the country could almost be self sufficient in wheat, production of which has nearly doubled since 1991. For 1996/97 the domestic cereal requirement is estimated at 1.18 million tons including 620 000 tons for human consumption, 310 000 tons for feed and 250 million tons other uses, mainly seed. Domestic resources (with rice in milled equivalent) amount to 1.16 million tons leaving an import requirement of only 17 000 tons. Against this requirement, 7 000 tons have already been pledged. In 1996/97 the country will receive direct budget support from the EC instead of food aid for monetization. Disbursement is conditional to the implementation of reforms in the agricultural sector, particularly land reform and privatization of the cereal/bread processing and distribution chain.
MOLDOVA (4 October)
The area sown to cereals remained stable but persistent hot and dry conditions at critical stages in the growing cycle for both winter and spring grains have reduced average yields by a third and the aggregate output of cereals and pulses is forecast to fall to 1.7 million tons from about 2.6 million tons last year. Output of wheat is expected to fall by some 0.4 million tons to 0.7 million tons while output of coarse grains, which were severely affected by the dry conditions, is forecast to fall by 0.4 million tons to 1 million tons.
Output of all other crops is also expected to decrease. Egg production rose in 1995 but livestock numbers and meat and milk output appears to have declined further and this trend is expected to continue this year. Since 1991, animal numbers have been cut back by 32 percent for cattle and 45 percent for pigs.
The country was a small net exporter of cereals in 1995/96 but is expected to need to import some 215 000 tons of cereals in 1996/97, including 150 000 tons of wheat and rye and some barley for animal feed.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION (4 October)
The area sown to cereals is estimated by FAO at 53.8 million hectares, about 1 million hectares less than last year and almost 8 million hectares less than in 1991. The winter grain area increased by about 2 million hectares partially offsetting the reduction in spring grain sowings. The aggregate area sown to wheat rose about 2 million hectares in 1996, while that planted to coarse grains and pulses declined by nearly 3 million hectares.
Overall, weather conditions have been better than in 1995. After a poor start, growing conditions for winter crops were mostly favourable. Winterkill was limited and average yields are markedly better. Spring grains were adversely affected by hot weather in May and a hot and dry spell in July, particularly in parts of the North Caucasus, southern Urals Regions, and some oblasts in the Central Chernozem. Harvest weather for grains was satisfactory in August but heavy rains in Siberia in September caused harvest delays, lodging and germination, reducing the quality of an otherwise good crop. Current official forecasts point to a harvest of 67-70 million tons, compared to 63.5 million tons in 1995. However, that year, the harvest was underestimated by some 5-7 million tons according to some official sources and by even more according to some trade estimates.
FAO tentatively forecasts the 1996 harvest of cereals and pulses at around 75 million tons, cleaned weight compared to an estimated 68 million tons last year. Output of wheat, at more than 38 million tons, is expected to be more than 6 million tons higher than last year. Output of coarse grains is estimated at nearly 34 million tons, about one million tons higher than the drought-reduced crop of 1995. Output of rice and pulses are estimated to fall to 0.4 and 1.8 million tons, respectively.
Despite the 30 percent fall in agricultural production since 1991, there is no shortage of food, mainly reflecting increasing imports, particularly of meat, sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables as well as intensified production on household and subsidiary plots. Demand for cereals has fallen sharply in recent years, mainly due to the retrenchment in livestock production. Following the sharp fall in grain production in 1995, imports of about 6 million tons supplemented with a sharp drawdown of stocks ensured a stable supply of foodgrains in most areas and permitted exports of over 0.7 million tons of cereals.
In 1996/97, cereal imports are expected to decline to about 4 million tons, and include 3 million tons of wheat. The bulk of these imports are likely to be sourced from Kazakstan and Ukraine, leaving an estimated 0.5 million tons of wheat to be imported from outside the CIS, for the Far East. Imports of coarse grains are forecast to decline by about half a million tons to 800 000 tons, including barley and maize, the latter mostly from outside the CIS. Exports of cereals in 1996/97 are tentatively forecast at around 1 million tons, fairly evenly split between wheat and coarse grains.
TAJIKISTAN* (4 October)
Systematic and reliable information on agricultural production is difficult to obtain in this strife-torn country. However, in response to chronic shortages of wheat in past years, the area sown to cereals has increased very sharply to about 400 000 hectares, of which about 150 000 hectares were irrigated.
Growing conditions this year have been better than last year and there is general agreement, confirmed by the FAO Mission in June/July, that the 1996 cereal harvest will be about 400 000 tons, markedly better than last year’s. However, output of most other foodcrops and fodder are forecast to decline as land has been diverted to wheat. Output of cotton, the main cash crop, is expected to fall by a third. Production of meat, milk and eggs is also anticipated to fall sharply in response to the lack of concentrate feed and the reduced areas available for fodder and grazing.
Even with the higher cereal production in 1996, the country faces a substantial foodgrain deficit. Widespread poverty is expected to keep the food supply situation precarious. The risk of food shortages is particularly acute amongst the poor in urban areas and in areas affected earlier by civil strife. The 1996/97 cereal requirement is estimated at nearly 760 000 tons including 660 000 tons for human consumption (or about 360 grams per person per day for a population of 5.5 million), and 100 000 tons for feed and other uses, mainly seed. Against this requirement, domestic supplies amount to 390 000 tons (excluding pulses with rice in milled equivalent), leaving an import requirement of 370 000 tons. Foreign exchange and creditworthiness considerations are expected to limit the country’s import capacity and some 107 000 tons of food aid are expected to be necessary. Against this requirement 41 000 tons have been pledged to date leaving an uncovered balance of 66 000 tons in addition to the humanitarian relief supplies for the 620 000 most vulnerable people. These include populations displaced as a result of civil strife, elderly pensioners, war-widows with children, large single-parent families, orphans and the disabled/invalids. In 1996/97 the country will receive direct budget support from the EC instead of food aid for monetization. Disbursement is conditional to the implementation of reforms in the agricultural sector, particularly land reform and privatization of the cereal/bread processing and distribution chain and liberalization of cereal prices.
A DHA-led UN Inter-Agency Needs Assessment Mission visited the country in October and identified urgent humanitarian needs. WFP, NGOs, ICRC and the IFRC continue relief distributions but more donor contributions are urgently needed to secure the emergency food pipeline beyond the current winter.
TURKMENISTAN (4 October)
An FAO/GIEWS mission which visited the country in September found that current Government policies aim at rapidly increasing output of wheat, meat and milk while maintaining cotton production. In an attempt to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat, the areas sown to cereals have been expanded to nearly 700 000 hectares in 1996, from some 187 000 hectares in 1990. That of wheat has increased from 60 000 hectares in 1990 to nearly 600 000 hectares in 19961/, partly at the expense of forage and feed crops, cotton and vegetables. Average wheat yields, however, have declined steadily since 1994 as additional marginal land was brought into production while investment in farm machinery, spare parts and inputs declined and compulsory deliveries of virtually the entire crop to the state at low, fixed prices offered few incentives to farmers to increase yields.
In 1996, the average yield of wheat roughly halved to less than 1 ton per hectare as a result of inadequate irrigation of the crop, extremely late plantings and very little fertilizer application. The aggregate output of cereals in 1996 is estimated at nearly 650 000 tons, compared to 1.1 million tons in 1995.
Output of potatoes has remained low as yields are constrained by poor seed material. Production of vegetables is expected to decline in response to low prices, inadequate processing and storage facilities and the loss of export markets. Critical shortages of inputs and infestations of white fly are expected to reduce the cotton harvest, the major cash crop, the proceeds of which are used to finance imports of food.
Animal productivity and output of pork and eggs has fallen steadily but, nevertheless, aggregate meat and milk production increased somewhat between 1990 and 1995 but could decline this year following the poor harvest.
The overall food supply situation remains difficult due in part to the seasonal and erratic supply of staple foods such as dairy products, fruit and vegetables. Salaries are low and only the availability of rationed subsidized foodstuffs allows the maintenance of minimum consumption levels. In rural areas the pressure of the government procurement quotas keep consumption levels low, also because the size of the subsidiary plots on which additional foods can be grown is small (10 by 15 metres on average). Per caput intake of most foods has decreased since 1991. All in all the average consumption level of basic foodstuffs still appears to be acceptable but there are large differences between regions, with shortages in some products notably in the northern and Caspian districts. Nutrition surveys have indicated widespread deficiencies in the intake of vitamins and other minerals.
In 1996/97, the cereal requirement is estimated at 1.26 million tons and includes nearly 650 000 tons for human consumption, while feed use and other uses of cereals is expected to contract by almost 350 000 tons to some 500 000 tons as foreign exchange and budget constraints limit the amount of subsidized bread that can be provided. Against this requirement domestic resources are estimated at 750 000 tons, leaving a minimum cereal import requirement of 510 000 tons. The quantity of cereals imported commercially has fallen in recent years. Following the partial failure of the wheat harvest and the anticipated poor cotton harvest, the country has requested assistance in the form of concessional credits or food aid in wheat.
THE UKRAINE (9 October)
Following prolonged dry conditions this year, only 13.7 million hectares of the 14.5 million sown to grains are expected to be harvested. Based on recent returns, the official estimate of the 1996 cereal and pulse harvest is officially estimated to be around 27 million tons. However there is strong evidence to conclude that yields may be under- reported by as much as 5-10 percent as wheat and malting barley are diverted out of the state controlled channels.
FAO estimates the 1996 Ukrainian total cereals harvest (including pulses) at 29.4 million tons, including 16 million tons of wheat, 12 million tons of coarse grains, and 1.3 million tons of pulses. This compares to 35 million tons in 1995 (FAO estimate). Lower wheat yields were almost offset by larger areas planted and reduced winterkill, and wheat output is estimated to have declined only slightly from 1995. The decline in coarse grains output, especially barley, was much sharper - nearly 30 percent - as, in addition to a lower area, yields were also reduced. The areas sown to potatoes and sunflowers increased but growing conditions have not favoured these crops either.
The reduction in 1996 output reflects unfavourable growing conditions this year, with hot and dry weather in the spring and summer adversely affecting winter grain filling and spring crop establishment and development, particularly in the southern and eastern oblasts, where a larger area was hit by drought than last year. Yields in central and northern regions were also lower but not to the same extent. Low levels of input use, such as fertilizers and plant protectants, also influenced yields.
Large scale livestock farming continued to remain generally unprofitable and herd numbers (particularly cattle) were cut back sharply in the past two years. Between 1991 and 1996 (1 January) livestock inventories have been reduced by nearly 30 percent for cattle and pigs and about 50 percent for sheep, goats and poultry. Indications are that sharp cutbacks and reductions in meat, milk and egg production have continued also in 1996.
Domestic utilization of cereals has fallen sharply in recent years mainly reflecting reduced feed use. Stocks, particularly of wheat, remain high reflecting government policy to maintain large stocks and limitation of export possibilities, particularly of wheat and flour outside the CIS because of infrastructure and quality considerations. Despite this, the country became a large net cereal exporter in 1995/96, importing only 200 000 tons of cereals and exporting an estimated 1.2 million tons of wheat (mainly as flour) and almost half a million tons of coarse grains to other CIS countries. In 1996/97, despite the poor harvest, the country is still expected to export around 1 million tons of cereals, mostly wheat. The recent introduction of tariffs by Russia on imports of flour and other foodstuffs from Ukraine, could reduce trade with that country this year.
UZBEKISTAN (9 October)
Grain production has increased in recent years but the real extent of this rise is difficult to ascertain as official statistics tend to overstate the extent to which the annual grain area and production targets have been fulfilled. Official data indicate that since 1991, the area sown to grains has risen from under 1.1 million hectares to over 1.7 million hectares (of which 1.2 million hectares irrigated) at the expense of fodder, cotton and fruit and vegetables. The area sown to wheat has more than doubled to 1.3 million hectares, increasingly displacing barley and maize. However, average wheat yields have declined as the area has increased.
Preliminary official indications are that the 1996 grain harvest is of the order of 2.8 million tons, falling well short of the target of 4.5 million tons. This level of output is close to last year’s level, initially officially forecast at 3.2 million tons and subsequently revised downwards to around 2.7 million tons. Although winter growing conditions were better than last year, inadequate producer incentives, cropping practices and availability of inputs for the larger areas sown probably reduced yields. Only grain and cotton remain subject to the compulsory state order.
As regards other basic foodcrops, the output of potatoes is expected to be close to last year’s and that of vegetables lower. The area sown to cotton is estimated to have declined marginally from last year to 1.45 million hectares, but early reports of the cotton harvest are optimistic. The cattle and dairy herd declined for the first time during 1995. Animal productivity declined further and output of meat, milk and eggs is forecast to decline in 1996 in response to shortages of feed.
Despite the campaign to increase wheat production, and sharp increases in the price of bread, the country remains heavily dependent on grain imports for its consumption needs. Because of low carryover stocks, imports of nearly 2.4 million tons are estimated to be necessary in 1996/97, a level slightly above last year’s. Imports of wheat are estimated at 2.2 million tons while imports of coarse grains are put at nearly 200 000 tons. One million tons of wheat and 50 000 tons of maize are expected to be imported from abroad. The balance is likely to be sourced in neighbouring countries, notably Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.
EC (18 October)
Apart from maize, harvesting of the bulk of the Community's 1996 cereal crops is virtually complete. Aggregate cereal output is now forecast by FAO 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 for 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. Winter grain planting for harvest in 1997 is underway throughout the Community and plantings could increase following a reduction in the compulsory set aside rate to 5 percent for 1997. Wet weather is reported to be hampering fieldwork somewhat in northern countries but will provide beneficial soil moisture for germination of crops already in the ground and those still to be planted.
ALBANIA (8 October)
Latest information indicates that the 1996 cereal crop production has fallen further from last year's already reduced level. With regard to wheat, the major crop, plantings are estimated to have dropped to only some 127 000 hectares, well below the average 150 000 hectares sown from 1991 to 1995. This reduction was mainly as a result of farmers opting for other crops offering better returns relative to wheat. Yields are also estimated to have dropped further below the previous year’s already reduced level. As in the past few years, yield potential was already limited by farmers’ limited access to inputs such as fertilizer, crop protection chemicals, and new seeds (farmers have simply been keeping part of the previous season’s crop to plant in the next year which has led to a degeneration of the quality of the seed), while in addition, weather conditions were unfavourable for the 1996 crop. The official preliminary estimate for the 1996 wheat crop is 305 000 tons which would be 26 percent down from 1995.
At this level of production, Albania will continue to rely on wheat imports in 1996/97 (July/June) to meet the bulk of its needs for its staple bread production, especially in urban areas. The country's food consumption of wheat in 1996/97 (July/June) is estimated at some 700 000 tons, implying at least 400 000 tons of wheat would have to be imported for food consumption alone (assuming all of the estimated 1996 crop is also available for food use).
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 increased. However, the availability of inputs, in particular high quality seed could greatly influence the outcome of the autumn planting season.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA* (1 October)
Heavy rains in late September in the important cereal growing Banja-Luka area caused delays in harvesting of the 1996 maize crop and localized crop damage. However, the overall outlook for the harvest remains favourable due to larger plantings and higher yields. The 1996 cereal production is estimated substantially above last year’s level in both the Bosnia- Herzegovina Federation and the Serb Republic reflecting 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, the intensification of agriculture in the Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation in response to the disruption in industrial activities, as well as generally favourable weather during the winter and summer crop seasons. Production of other foodcrops, mainly potatoes, is also estimated to be sharply higher than in 1995. Livestock is also expected to start to recover.
As a result of the increase in agricultural and livestock production, the overall food supply situation has eased. In general, the rural population is anticipated to have a satisfactory degree of food security in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June). The food security of those with limited or no land has also improved with the normalization of trade since the beginning of the year: food markets are well supplied and food prices have declined sharply. However, the access to food of large sectors of the 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 estimated at some 214 000 tons, 17 percent lower than in the previous year following the larger domestic supplies. Wheat import will only be required in the Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation, which barely produces one-third of its annual needs. In the Serb Republic, wheat output is expected to cover the domestic requirements. Commercial imports are forecast at a minimum of 86 000 tons of wheat grain equivalent, leaving a deficit of some 112 000 tons to be fulfilled by imported food aid.
In general the WFP food aid pipeline for internally displaced persons and refugees is sufficient up until the end of 1996. In the first two months of 1997 despite a reduction in needs, there will be shortages of three of the four main commodities. Following the recommendations made by the Joint WFP/FAO/HCR Food Aid Needs Assessment Mission, the basic ration for beneficiaries in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Eastern Slavonia has been reduced to the four main commodities: wheat flour, pulses, vegetable oil and sugar. Other food aid items (salt, canned protein, milk powder or high protein biscuits) that are donated in kind will be regarded as supplementary food and programmed accordingly.
BULGARIA (8 October)
Latest information confirms a sharply reduced cereal crop in 1996. Aggregate cereal output is now estimated at just over 3 million tons, compared to 6.5 million tons in 1995. The main reasons for this year's reduced crop are reportedly due to delayed sowing due to farmers’ lack of finances for vital inputs last autumn and adverse weather conditions. Wheat output, is now estimated at 1.7 million tons, compared to a normal harvest of about 3.5 million tons. With a large percentage of the wheat crop, as normal, only fit for animal feed use, and the country’s reserve stocks sharply depleted after high exports last year, the country will have to rely heavily on imports this year to meet expected domestic food and feed consumption requirements. It was reported in late September that although 130 000 tons of wheat had already been imported, some 450 000 to 500 000 tons of bread wheat and 700 000 tons of feed grains would still be required to make up for the domestic shortfall.
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.
CROATIA (4 October)
The 1996 wheat output is preliminary estimated at 650 000 tons, some 20 percent below last year’s level. Production was reduced reflecting a decline in plantings and lower than expected yields. However, at this level the output will be sufficient to meet domestic requirements of wheat in the 1996/97 marketing year (July/June). Estimates of the 1996 maize crop are not yet available, but production is anticipated to be satisfactory despite dry spells during the growing season.
Planting of the winter wheat crop for the 1997 harvest is underway. The area planted is planned to increase some 40 percent from last year’s reduced level to about 300 000 hectares.
CZECH REPUBLIC (8 October)
The 1996 cereal harvest is officially estimated at about 6.6 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.
ESTONIA (17 October)
The 1996 grain harvest is provisionally forecast at 575 000 tons, some ten percent more than output last year in response to better growing conditions and better yields. The areas sown to winter grains (mainly foodgrains) increased slightly as did that sown to spring wheat and pulses. However that sown to spring feedgrains (mainly barley) fell sharply. In aggregate the area sown to all grains is estimated to have declined to 296 000 hectares from 310 000 hectares in the preceding year. Production of pulses is being expanded to help compensate for the protein deficiency in animal feed.
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (1 October)
Following adequate rains during the season, the 1996 winter wheat crop was estimated to be average. By contrast, the maize crop was negatively affected by dry spells during summer.
The recent abolition of trade tariffs with the Yugoslavia Federal Republic, will restore normal traffic routes to the main European countries and is likely to have a beneficial effect on the country’s economic activity and living conditions of the population.
HUNGARY (8 October)
Latest official estimates put the 1996 cereal harvest at about 10.8 million tons, marginally down from the 1995 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, and barley production also fell, to just over 1 million tons, from 1.4 million tons in 1995. Reduced production of these crops is reported to be mainly due to unfavourable weather at planting time last year and financial constraints on producers. For the summer maize crop, the adverse effect of limited inputs was more than offset by the favourable hot and humid summer conditions, and production of maize is estimated to have increased to 5.4 million tons from 4.6 million tons in the previous year.
LATVIA (17 October)
The 1996 grain harvest is provisionally forecast at about 850 000 tons, some 20 percent more than in 1995. This reflects an increase in both the areas sown and average yields, particularly those for winter (food) grains.
LITHUANIA (21 October)
Current indications point to a sharp increase in the 1996 harvest, provisionally forecast at 2.5 million tons. The aggregate area sown to grains for the 1996 harvest is estimated to have increased by 7 percent to 1.1 million hectares. The area sown to winter (food) grains increased sharply in response to the announcement of higher guaranteed prices for agricultural produce in July 1995 and has more than offset the decline in the spring feedgrain area. Winter grains in particular have benefited from good growing conditions and average yields are estimated to have increased.
POLAND (8 October)
Latest official estimates indicate a marginally smaller 1996 cereal harvest than earlier 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.
ROMANIA (8 October)
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 reduction is mainly due to adverse weather earlier in the year which caused significant damage to developing winter grains. The 1996 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. The summer maize crop is now put 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, which already disrupted this year’s harvest, 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.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC (8 October)
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 particular, heavy rainfall and hail storms at harvest time caused some significant crop losses and the humid conditions favoured spread of disease. Wheat output is now officially estimated at 1.75 million tons, compared to over 1.9 million tons last year. Nevertheless, official reports indicate that supplies of bread wheat will be sufficient for domestic consumption in 1996/97. However, it is expected that some 300 000 tons of feed grains will have to be imported.
SLOVENIA (1 October)
Generally beneficial weather during the year favoured winter wheat and summer maize crops. Following average plantings levels, the outputs are estimated to be normal.
YUGOSLAVIA, FED. REP. OF (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO)* (4 October)
Latest official estimates of the 1996 wheat harvest have been revised downwards to 1.5 million tons, half the level of 1995 and the lowest for the past 25 year. The decline in production is the result of lower plantings, due to diversion of land to more profitable crops, and reduced yields, mainly due to shortages of agricultural inputs. Despite the sharp fall, this year’s production, together with carryover stocks, are estimated to be sufficient to cover domestic wheat consumption requirements.
Production of maize is forecast at 5.1 million tons, a decline of 11 percent from last year’s level. Despite an increase of 5 percent in the area planted, the crop was negatively affected by a prolonged dry spell during summer. However, at this level production will still meet domestic consumption, leaving an exportable surplus.
Planting of the 1996/97 winter wheat crop is underway. Following the reduced harvest of this year, the programmed area planted has been set up at 850 000 hectares, an increase of 46 percent from the previous year’s level. The Government has announced that it will finance the 1997 wheat sowing largely through the issue of wheat selling forward contracts.
Prices of wheat and maize have increased sharply since July, reflecting the reduced 1996 cereal harvest and exports of wheat. Market prices of cereals in September were reported to be 47 percent higher than the official guaranteed price.