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In northern Africa, production of wheat in 1996 has increased by 7.5 million tons to a record 16.5 million tons reflecting above-normal or record crops in all countries of the sub-region. The largest rise occurred in Morocco where output increased by more than 5 times to 5.9 million tons from last year’s poor harvest. In Tunisia, two successive years of sharply drought-reduced harvests were followed by a record crop of 1.8 million tons, a level more than three times that of 1995. Production in Algeria is estimated to have nearly doubled to 2.8 million tons, almost one million tons more than the previous record in 1991. In Egypt, wheat output, estimated at 5.7 million tons, was virtually unchanged despite a small decrease in the area planted. Production of coarse grains in the sub-region increased by 60 percent to 13.6 million tons. Sharp increases were recorded in all countries with the exception of Egypt where output remained at the previous year's level of about 7 million tons.

In western Africa, the rainy season is drawing to a close in the Sahel. Following abundant rains in late August, precipitation remained generally adequate in the main producing areas during September. Rains decreased significantly since the second and the third dekads of September, but remained widespread except in northern and central Senegal, Mauritania and western Niger. A series of joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions visited all countries of the region. Reflecting adequate growing conditions, normal or above-normal harvests are anticipated in Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. By contrast, a very reduced crop is anticipated in Cape Verde and production is below average in Guinea Bissau and Chad. In the coastal counties along the Gulf of Guinea, precipitation decreased in August and remained limited in September and early October, allowing maturation or harvest of coarse grains in the north. In southern parts, the second maize crop is developing satisfactorily. Cereal production increase is expected to be very limited in Nigeria, due to shortages of agricultural inputs. A partial recovery in production is expected in Liberia, but output will remain substantially below pre-civil strife levels. The output of the 1996 growing season is expected to be poor in Sierra Leone.

In central Africa, millet and sorghum are being harvested in northern Cameroon and Central African Republic. In Congo, Gabon and southern Zaire, the main maize crop is being planted.

In eastern Africa, abundant rains in past months have resulted in widespread floods and localized crop losses but generally benefited developing cereal crops. The overall outlook for the harvest, about to start, is favourable in Ethiopia and Sudan, but is uncertain in Eritrea, where precipitation has been irregular. In Kenya, despite good cumulative rainfall, cereal production will be reduced due to a decline in plantings. Harvesting is completed in Tanzania and Uganda, with above-average crops obtained in both countries. In Somalia, generally favourable weather conditions in the main producing areas resulted in an increase in the cereal harvest, but production fell in several areas due to dry weather, insects damage and floods. In Rwanda and Burundi, despite generally favourable weather conditions, foodcrop outputs were below averge reflecting population displacement and insecurity.

In southern Africa, the 1996/97 crop season is about to start. Seasonably dry weather prevailed in September with some light rains falling over parts of Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Harvesting of the winter wheat crop has started and outputs are expected to be higher than in the previous year in Namibia and Zambia and above-average in Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In Asia, good cereal harvests are forecast for several countries notwithstanding floods in some parts. In India, a record kharif rice crop is in prospect. In China, despite extensive flooding in southern parts of the country, overall grain production is expected to increase from last year. In Bangladesh, floods earlier in the season devastated large parts of the country, though generally more favourable weather in September improved prospects for the main "Aman" rice crop. In Pakistan, the overall prospects for kharif crops are favourable. In Korea DPR, the 1996 harvest was reduced by floods in July/August in main agricultural areas. In Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos heavy rains and typhoons resulted in flooding, which damaged the main season rice crop in some parts. Reflecting short supplies of agricultural inputs and insecurity, 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 aimed 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.

In Central America and the Caribbean, prospects for second season crops have greatly improved due to the timely arrival of rains in Mexico. In the Dominican Republic, an above-average output of maize has been gathered, while in Haiti, production should be slightly below average. In Cuba, food and cash crops have been seriously damaged by a hurricane and flooding.

In South America, near record 1996 wheat outputs are expected in Argentina and Brazil, while above-average plantings are anticipated for the 1996/97 maize crop. In the Andean countries, production of wheat and coarse grains in Peru is forecast to be above average. In Ecuador and Bolivia, below-normal wheat outputs have been gathered, but average to above-average coarse grain outputs are anticipated. In Colombia and Venezuela, the 1996 paddy crop is likely to be above average. Production of maize is expected to be satisfactory in Venezuela while a considerably below-average output is anticipated in Colombia.

In Europe, wet weather in early October disrupted late harvesting and hampered winter grain planting in some parts, but provided beneficial soil moisture for germinating crops and improved soil moisture reserves for those still to be planted this autumn. 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 Baltic countries, the 1996 grain harvest is provisionally forecast to reach 4 million tons, nearly 20 percent more than in 1995. The area sown to winter grains increased sharply in all countries, more than offsetting declines in the spring feedgrain area. Yields are better than last year, particularly for winter grains. In Estonia, the 1996 grain harvest is provisionally forecast at just under 600 000 tons, compared to 520 000 tons in 995. In Latvia the harvest could reach 900 000 tons and in Lithuania 2.5 million tons is the latest official forecast for 1996. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the outlook for the harvest is favourable due to larger plantings and higher yields. By contrast, wheat output will be reduced in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).

In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a recent FAO Crop Assessment Mission provisionally forecast the 1996 grain harvest at 133 million tons, some 2 percent above last year’s aggregate output estimated by FAO at 130 million tons. There were substantially better harvests in Russia and Kazakhstan while there were poor yields in the Ukraine, Moldova and Turkmenistan. Larger harvests are also forecast in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. In Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the crop could remain close to last year’s levels. FAO estimates that CIS wheat production could rise by 10 percent this year to 70 million tons, reflecting both higher yields and expanded area. Output of coarse grains is expected to decline 5 percent to 58 million tons as higher yields failed to fully offset the sharp decline in area. The 1996 paddy harvest is expected to remain stable, 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 3.5 million tons in 1996 from about 4 million tons in 1995.

In North America, the 1996 aggregate (winter and spring) wheat crop in the United States is officially estimated at 62.1 million tons, 4 percent above the below-average harvest in 1995. The official forecast for the 1996 coarse grains crop has been raised to 260.5 million tons, well above last year's reduced crop. Of this, maize is expected to account for 228.9 million tons, 22 percent more than last year. Planting of winter wheat is well underway under normal conditions. In Canada, harvesting of the 1996 cereal crops picked up pace in October after serious delays in September due to adverse weather. Indications still point to a 20 percent increase in aggregate cereal production this year but grain quality may be somewhat below average.

In Oceania, prospects for the 1996 winter grain crops in Australia remain favourable and production is expected to increase by some 5 percent from last year's good crop. Early prospects for the summer grain crop, to be planted in the coming weeks are also favourable following September rains which increased soil moisture reserves, but the area may be restricted due to the larger winter grain plantings earlier in the year.

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