Land preparation for the 1996/97 winter grain crops is underway. The 1996 aggregate output of wheat and barley is unofficially estimated at a below-normal 1.85 million tons, reflecting serious short supplies of agricultural inputs and insecurity.
The harsh winter weather has added a new element of urgency to the situation. There was heavy snowfall in Qala-i-Nau, the Badghis provincial capital. As a result of recent fighting, about 50 000 people are estimated to have fled their homes in Badghis. With night temperatures close to zero in lowland areas and snow in higher areas, health risks will increase dramatically for people living in the open or travelling across rough country. These new internally displaced people will also need emergency food assistance. Due to the arrest and intimidation of its local staff, the UNCHR has put most of its activities in Kabul on hold until the security situation improves. This coincides with the start of a vital winter relief program for Kabul.
The import requirement for cereals in 1996/97, mostly wheat, is forecast at about 1.5 million tons.
BANGLADESH (11 December)
The main 'aman' paddy crop, which accounts for about half total paddy production, is being harvested. Aman production for 1996/97 is projected at some 10 million tons (milled basis) against a target of 9.8 million tons and last year's harvest of 8.8 million tons. Good weather conditions, sufficient inputs and low insect attacks have helped boost yields.
The prospects for the 1997 'boro' paddy crop planted during the winter months appear to be favourable. The target for boro output in 1997 is 7.5 million tons (milled basis). Planting of the wheat crop to be harvested next March is also well underway, the target for which is 1.3 million tons. Early prospects appear favourable given good soil moisture reserves. Overall, cereal production in 1996/97 is provisionally projected at just over 20.7 million tons, (milled basis) compared to a target of 20 million tons.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory with stable food prices and satisfactory Government held stocks.
CAMBODIA (12 December)
Following heavy floods earlier in the season, flood recession waters are receding much slower than expected, as a result of which planting of flood recession and dry season rice may be delayed. On 11 December, the Ministry of Agriculture made an urgent appeal for US $500 000 to be allocated in the 1997 budget for repair to some 60 dams and canals damaged by floods this year. The repair is vital to allow cultivation of dry season irrigated rice. Dams in 18 provinces were damaged, with the provinces of Kampong, Cham and Takeo being worst affected.
Provisional Government estimates of the area under wet season rice show an increase of 64 000 hectares to some 1.94 million hectares in 1996, though the estimate of flood damage is also higher compared to 1995 and is put at 160 000 hectares. Average wet season rice yields are estimated at 1.6 tons/hectare, whilst the 1996/97 target for aggregate paddy production remains 2.8 million tons. A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission will visit the country in January 1997, to assess the final wet season harvest and evaluate the overall food supply situation.
CHINA (15 December)
Favourable conditions in recent weeks suggest that there will be no delays in harvest of late double crop rice in southern parts, in contrast to conditions earlier in the season, when exceptionally heavy rains in east-central and south-central parts of the country resulted in localized flooding.
Official estimates of grain output (including soyabeans, pulses, roots and tubers) are forecast to exceed 480 million tons in 1996, despite floods earlier in the year, some 3 percent higher than the 466 million tons produced last year. The output of summer grains was a record 110 million tons , whilst production of early rice reached 44 million tons. So far this year, the state has procured some 69.68 million tons of grain accounting for 77.4 percent of target for 1996. It is also estimated that the area under wheat and other winter grains will increase by about 2.2 percent compared with last year, as a result of favourable state procurement prices.
CYPRUS (16 December)
Sowing of 1997 wheat and barley is underway. Production of cereals in 1996, mainly barley, is estimated at 131 000 tons, some 1 percent less than last year’s average harvest. Cereal production normally covers less than one-third of total domestic requirement.
Imports of cereals in 1996/97 (May/April) is estimated at 500 000 tons, some 20 000 tons more than the previous year, of which wheat and coarse grains (maize and barley) account for about 20 percent and 80 percent, respectively.
INDIA (15 December)
Moderate to heavy rain (30-82 mm) fell in coastal rice areas (northeastern Tamil Nadu to central Andhra Pradesh) as another tropical cyclone affected the country in the first dekad of December. The storm was weaker than the November storm (which killed an estimated 2 000 people), with wind speeds of around 45 knots. Elsewhere, seasonably dry conditions favoured summer grain and oilseeds and harvesting of Kharif paddy. In northern parts of the country, planting of winter grain will last through December. Cumulative rainfall at the beginning of the rabi season this year was higher than last year favouring crops. In the period 1 October to 4 December, cumulative rainfall was normal or above normal in 25 out of 35 sub-divisions monitored, accounting for 90 percent of rabi production, compared with 16 sub-divisions accounting for 22 percent of rabi production in the same period last year.
The target for the 1996/97 wheat crop is 64 million tons. Generally favourable monsoon rains this year favoured kharif crops. The official forecast for kharif rice production (milled basis) is some 71.3 million tons, compared to an output of 69.7 million tons in 1995. Overall rice production in 1996/97 will depend on the outcome of the rabi crop which accounts for roughly 14 percent of aggregate output.
Recent reports indicate that the Government has approved the import of some 2 million tons of wheat in the 1996/97 marketing year (April-March) to augment domestic supplies and check rising prices. As a result wheat prices dropped by 15 per cent - Rs 120/130 to Rs 720/730 from Rs 850 per quintal (100 kg) earlier. At the beginning of October the Food Corporation of India (FCI) reportedly held 19.6 million tons of foodgrain, mostly wheat and rice, down from 29.9 million tons a year earlier, while at the beginning of November wheat stocks were estimated as 9.5 million tons.
INDONESIA (20 December)
At the beginning of December, an earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale hit the capital Jakarta, but no reports of damage or casualties have been received. In Java, the main rice producing area in the country, conditions have been generally favourable for planting main season rice for harvest in March-April.
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.
Rice stock in the country are currently estimated at 2.3 million tons.
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (20 December)
Harvesting of the rice crop is complete and an output similar to last year’s 2.4 million tons is forecast. In spite of favourable harvests in recent years, cereal imports in the 1996/97 marketing year are expected to be similar to the previous year, mainly attributed to a high domestic demand for wheat. Wheat imports in 1996/97 are likely to be slightly higher than last year, partly as a result of a slight fall in domestic production.
IRAQ* (5 December)
The food situation has continuously deteriorated in all parts of the country. The scarcity of basic agricultural inputs such as seeds, spare parts, vaccines and agrochemicals and the widespread incidence of pests, weeds and animal diseases, have resulted in low yields and productivity. The general performance of the agricultural sector, particularly in the 1996/97 season is cause for concern. The output of wheat and barley for the 1996/97 winter crop season is forecast at significantly below normal.
With the implementation of the oil-for-food deal, U.S.$ 44.15 million are expected to be available over a period of 6 months for the agriculture sector. The control of crop pests and animal disease, the provision of quality seeds, spare parts, vaccines, drugs and pesticides should together increase crop and livestock production and improve somewhat the food supply situation.
The oil-for-food deal also provides an allocation of U.S.$ 804.63 million (out of a total of U.S.$ 1.3 billion for humanitarian assistance) to purchase food for a period of six months. This will substantially improve the food and nutrition situation of the population. However, it is estimated that the allocation of U.S.$ 804.63 million for food will cover slightly above 50 percent of the estimated food import requirements.
ISRAEL (16 December)
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. Purchase of imported wheat by domestic flour millers is associated with the fact that the domestic wheat procurement prices are higher than the prevailing world market prices.
JAPAN (20 December)
Heavy rainfall at the beginning of December, resulted in localized flooding and mudslides. Between November 1 - Dec. 8 325 to 560 mm of rainfall was received along central sections of Honshu's western tier (75 to 150 mm above normal).
Rice output is expected to be lower than the 13.4 million tons harvested in 1995 and slightly lower than the average for the preceding five years of 12.7 million tons. In mid December, the average resale price of government-owned rice for the 1996 crop was cut by 2.0 percent from 17,595 yen per 60 kilograms in the previous year to 17,239 yen. This is the first reduction in the last five years.
JORDAN (16 December)
Rainfall was normal in October. The sowing of the 1997 winter grains is underway for valley and highlands crops. Aggregate production of wheat and barley in 1996 is estimated at 65 000 tons, some 18 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 in 1996, estimated at 110 000 tons, was 12 000 tons higher than last year.
Following a drop in international wheat prices, the government reduced the price of bread by 10 percent to 160 fils (US 24 cents) per kg and 200 fils (US 30 cents) per kg for bread made from higher quality flour. These price cuts could be implemented as soon as wheat which Jordan bought in an international tender in November reach local markets.
Wheat imports in 1995/96 are estimated at 538 000 tons, some 13 percent lower than last year. Maize and barley imports in 1995/96 (July/June) are estimated at 0.94 million tons. The import of rice in 1996 is estimated at 90 000 tons. Imports of wheat in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast at 0.43 million tons, some 20 percent lower than the previous year, mainly due to a decline in wheat consumption following the government decision to raise the price of bread and change its policy of subsidizing wheat and bread.
KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (23 December)
The target for milled rice production in 1997 has been set at 4.87 million tons against official estimates of a favourable harvest of 5.32 million tons produced in 1996, which was attributed to good weather and a sharp slowdown in the decline in area under paddy. Overall, 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* (20 December)
In late July this year the country was affected by floods for the second year in succession, though the severity was not comparable to the devastation in 1995. Nonetheless, it is estimated that 1996 floods did result in a notable reduction in this year’s harvest. Two successive years of floods have undoubtedly set back agriculture and have significantly compounded underlying food production problems in the country. Notwithstanding this year’s floods, however, the overall trend shows clear decline, suggesting that the country would have carried a substantial food deficit in 1997 irrespective of flood damage.
Economic problems have manifest themselves in falling productivity and output in the agriculture sector, as domestic production of fertilizers and imports of essential chemical and other inputs, like fuel and spare parts, have fallen appreciably in recent years. In addition to these, food production is constrained by geography, land availability and climate. These limitations have resulted in rice and maize, the main cereals, being cropped continuously, leaving soils severely depleted and unable to sustain high doses of chemical fertilizers, even if available, to maintain productivity. As a result yields have declined. Overall, therefore, the balance in agriculture can easily be upset by natural calamities, such as floods in the last two years, ecological damage and declining fertility.
Total grain production for 1996 is estimated at some 4.3 million tons of cereals (including milled rice). However, it is estimated that a substantial proportion (some 50 percent) of the maize harvest was consumed, as fresh cobs, in August/September due to the severity of food shortages, whilst losses from this year’s floods reduced output by a further 300 000 tons. Allowing for these deductions, therefore, the net output of milled rice and maize available for 1996/97 (November/October) is estimated at around 2.84 million tons. Against this, some 3.8 million tons would be required for food alone and 5.4 million tons for total grain utilization, leaving an overall import requirement of over 2.36 million tons. Even if it is assumed that the country could import 500 000 tons of this through barter trade and as concessional imports, as it did last year, it would still be left with a substantial deficit of 1.83 million tons.
Korea DPR will enter 1997 with a substantially larger food deficit than in 1996 which could further aggravate the already weak nutritional status of the population. At the forecast level, domestic food supplies from this year's harvest will be sufficient to cover needs for about 7 months, leaving requirements for the remaining 5 months to be covered by imports. The country, therefore, approaches 1997 in a far worse position than 1996 and will again depend heavily on large scale international assistance to help it meet minimum food requirements. The most critical time for food supply will be during the lean period from July to September 1997. Only if adequate food assistance is mobilized before the onset of this period, will further hardship to the population be averted. Given the institutional importance and effectiveness of the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Korea DPR, it is appropriate that the PDS be used as the principal channel for food assistance.
LAOS* (23 December)
Low and irregular rainfall in June/July delayed transplanting of paddy affecting crop growth, whilst a series of typhoons off the coast of Vietnam in September, brought torrential rains causing landslides in upland areas and widespread flooding in major rice producing areas in the lowlands of Central and Southern Region. Six provinces were significantly affected, accounting for nearly 94 percent of losses in rice. Amongst these, the provinces of Khammouane, Savannakhet and Champasack were the most affected and now face large shortages. These are important agricultural provinces, with Khammouane being self-sufficient and Savannakhet and Champasack surplus-producing in normal years, without floods
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the country from 12 to 22 November estimated that as a result of losses on some 76 000 hectares of paddy this year, the output of milled rice in 1996/97 will amount to only 836 000 tons. As the country has no carryover stocks, only this amount of grain will be available for utilization in the 1996/97 marketing year. Against this the country requires some 864 000 tons for food alone and approximately 1.02 million tons for total utilization, leaving an overall import requirement of over 179 000 tons. Assuming that 25 000 tons would come in the form of commercial imports, similar to last year, the overall deficit amounts to 154 000 tons, with which the country needs assistance. Of this amount, it is recommended that 43 000 tons be provided as emergency assistance for 420 000 people who have been affected by floods and have no food reserves on which to rely. The worst affected people, those who lost their harvest for two consecutive years, are estimated to number 177 000. They will need to be provided with emergency food aid for 12 months whilst an additional 243 000 people will need assistance for 6 months. As of 22 November, donor pledges amounted to 3 800 tons of rice, leaving a balance of 39 200 tons to be covered by additional emergency food aid.
Due to climate and infrastructural limitations, the distribution of relief food needs to be undertaken as soon as possible.
LEBANON (16 December)
The production of wheat in 1996, estimated at 45 000 tons, remained below average and was slightly lower than last year. The country heavily depends on imports (around 90 percent) to meet demand for rice, sugar and milk powder.
Imports of cereals - mainly wheat - in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast at some 760 000 tons, an increase of about 5 000 tons compared with the previous year.
MALAYSIA (30 December)
In late December tropical storm Greg in north west coastal areas of Sabah State caused heavy rainfall and widespread flooding. It is estimated that 170 people were killed, over 100 are missing and 3 000 were left homeless. The full extent of any damage to crops is yet unknown.
The aggregate output of paddy in 1996 is put at around 2.12 million tons slightly higher than last year and some 5 percent above normal for the preceding five years.
MONGOLIA* (20 December)
Cereal production in 1996 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 delays in harvest.
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.
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 overall cereal import requirement for 1996/97 is estimated 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 (22 December)
Unseasonably late rains in the first week of November, at the start of the wet-season harvest, are expected to have resulted in high moisture content in the wet season paddy harvest. This may result in a reduction in head yields and increase the proportion of broken grains during milling. Although the late rains in November may have benefited long maturing varieties such as Pawsanhmwe, these only make up a small proportion of the wet-season crop. In addition, it is reported that there was an outbreak of bacterial leaf blight in some rice varieties, though the small extent cultivated of these varieties is unlikely to have affected overall production.
The target for paddy production in 1996/97 is 21.7 million tons, about three quarters of which is expected from the main season crop.
Total registered rice exports for 1996/97, from April 1 to November 30 1996, are estimate at 106 380 tons, a decrease of 55 percent from the same period in 95/96, when 236 282 tons were shipped. The Government earlier lowered its rice export target for 1996/97 to 250 000 tons, reflecting concern over stocks and the domestic market.
NEPAL (23 December)
Harvesting of the main paddy crop is now near completion. The overall target for paddy production in 1996/97 is 4.25 million tons. At the target level, production would be some 32 percent above last year’s harvest and 36 percent above the average for the preceding five years.
PAKISTAN (23 December)
Early prospects for the recently planted 1997 wheat crop are satisfactory, due to adequate soil moisture conditions and irrigation water supplies. The overall area under wheat in 1996/97 is projected to increase over the previous year. The target for the recently harvested 1996/97 paddy crop was 6 million tons, from 2.2 million hectares, similar to 1995/96.
It is reported that the government is likely to revise the target for wheat imports in 1996/97 to 2.3 million tons, from 1.8 million tons earlier, as a result of a lower than expected crop this year. Wheat production in 1996/97 was 16.9 million tons compared to 17.57 million tons in 1995/96.
No significant locust infestations were projected up to mid January 1997.
PHILIPPINES (23 December)
Recent drier weather favoured the maturing rice crop across the country, especially after extremely wet conditions at the beginning of the month, when a series of tropical thunderstorms resulted in heavy rainfall. Between 100 to 250 mm were received over southeastern Luzon.
The current forecast for paddy production in 1996/97 remains at 11.5 million tons, some 4 percent higher than last year and 15 percent above average for the preceding five years. The output of maize, however, has been revised down to 4.16 million tons, slightly higher than last year, though some 9 percent lower than the five year average.
SAUDI ARABIA (2 December)
Planting of the wheat crop, to be harvested from May 1997, is underway. The area planted to wheat and barley in 1996/97 is likely to decline for the fifth consecutive year. Production of wheat in 1996 is estimated at 1.2 million tons, moderately below the 1.3 million tons quota set by the government. The output of barley, estimated at 450 000 tons, fell significantly below the government’s 1996 production target of 1 million tons, mainly due to lower profitability than wheat, at current government support prices.
Imports of wheat in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast at 200 000 tons and that of barley at 4.8 million tons, 45 percent higher than the previous year.
SRI LANKA (23 December)
The outlook for the main (maha) paddy crop to be harvested from February-March next year is satisfactory, as rainfall conditions in most areas generally favoured crop planting and growth . The overall output of paddy in 1996 is estimated at 1.91 million tons, significantly below production last year and some 25 percent below average for the preceding five years.
As a result of the shortfall in production in 1996 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 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.
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is due to visit the country in February 1997 to review the Maha season harvest and evaluate the overall food supply situation.
SYRIA (16 December)
Normal rains in September, which allowed early planting of the 1997 wheat and barley crops were followed by below- average precipitation in October. Planting of the winter grains is underway and will continue until the end of the year. Production of cereals in 1996 is estimated at 6.0 million tons, almost similar to the previous year.
The country exported wheat in the last quarter of 1995 for the first time in over twenty years. Exports however, stopped in early 1996, to prevent an increase in prices which would result from a drastic decline in stock. Some exports of wheat have been contracted for 1996/97. Barley exports, in the current marketing year, are estimated at about 600 000 tons.
As the bulk of domestic wheat produced is durum wheat, imports of some 100 000 tons of wheat flour will be needed in 1996/97. Imports of rice in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast at 166 000 tons, some 3 percent higher than last year.
THAILAND (23 December)
In recent weeks, wet conditions slowed maturation and harvesting of the main paddy crop in southern parts of the country. Overall, heavy rains and floods during the monsoon season (June-October) affected both the rice and maize crops somewhat. In spite of earlier projections , however, the official estimate of the first crop rice has been revised up to 17.76 million tons from 17.60 million tons previously, when floods were at their worst. The damage in lowland areas was also offset by higher yields in the highlands. Wet conditions also affected maize pollination and in many areas the crop was affected by dew fungus, which resulted in farmers switching to cash crops such as sugarcane, fruits and soybean. The output of maize is projected at 3.96 million tons.
Rice exports in 1996 are officially estimated at 5.2 million tons, compared to a government target of 5.0-5.5 million tons set earlier in the year. It is estimated that some 4.79 million tons of rice were exported in the period January to November.
TURKEY (16 December)
Rainfall was above-normal in October and November for the planting of winter grains. Wheat production in 1996 is estimated at 18.5 million tons, about 3 percent above last year’s below-average level of 18 million tons. Production of barley, estimated at 8 million tons, was 0.5 million tons higher than the 1995 harvest. Maize output however, is estimated at 1.75 million tons, some 8 percent lower than in 1995. The government is planning to reduce the tax on wheat imports by 15 percent to prevent a rise in bread prices which went up by about 30 percent in late October and early November. The Turkish Grain Board (TMO), which buys grain from farmers, will, therefore, be authorized to sell wheat to local millers from its stock of about 700 000 tons of milling wheat to curb rising bread prices.
Exports of wheat and wheat flour in 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast to increase by 100 000 tons to 1 million tons. Imports of quality bread milling and durum wheat are expected to decline to 0.7 million tons from the previous year’s level of 1.2 million tons.
VIET NAM (23 December)
It is estimated that almost 1 000 people died in a series natural disasters, which have so far affected the country this year, the worst in a decade for flooding and tropical storms. The worst affected areas were in the northern provinces of Ha Bac, Vinh Phu, Hoa Binh, Hai Hung, Ha Tay, Thai Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Quang Binh. Some 250 000 hectares of paddy in different parts of the country were submerged for prolonged periods, more than 10 percent of which are estimated to have been completely destroyed. Total damage from disasters this year is estimated at US $628 million.
Aggregate paddy production in 1996 is estimated at 27 million tons, similar to 1995 and 12 percent higher than average for the preceding five years.
The Government recently increased the 1996 rice export quota from 2 million tons earlier to 3.2 million tons and reduced the export tax on high quality rice to 1 percent and low quality rice to zero.
YEMEN (16 December)
Rainfall in November was generally normal, except in Hodeidah where rains were heavy. Planting of winter crops, to be harvested from March 1997, is underway. Cereal production in 1996/97 is forecast at about the same level as the previous year.
Low to moderate numbers of adult Desert Locusts and perhaps a few groups and small swarms are expected to appear on the Red Sea Coastal plains from the interior. This should continue to mature and lay in areas of recent rains.
Imports of cereals in 1996 - mainly wheat - are estimated at about 2 million tons, an increase of some 2 percent compared with 1995.