FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook 97/01

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In Asia, prospects for winter wheat to be harvested from April are mostly favourable. In China, recent cold weather is unlikely to have affected overall grain production and a bumper harvest is expected this year. It is estimated that the area under wheat and other winter grains increased by about 3 percent compared with the previous year partly as a result of higher state purchase prices which encouraged farmers to expand plantings. In India growing conditions for Rabi crops (mostly wheat) are also favourable, as a result of a good monsoon earlier which increased soil moisture reserves and beneficial winter rainfall which assisted the rain-fed crop following a dry spell earlier. Over 80 percent of the wheat crop is irrigated and reported to be in good condition. The target for wheat production is 64 million tons some 2 percent above 1996 and 9 percent above average for the preceding five years. The Government recently announced a procurement price of 4 150 rupees per ton for wheat, up from 3 800 rupees in the previous season. In Pakistan where the wheat crop is also mostly irrigated, crop conditions are also satisfactory. Production in 1997 is projected to be above average and similar to the 16.9 million tons harvested in 1996.

The 1996 coarse grains crop in Asia is estimated to be a record 210 million tons, nearly 2 percent above the previous forecast, over 3 percent higher than in 1995 and 8 percent above the average for the preceding five years. A large part of the increase came from China, where production is estimated at over 134 million tons, 4 percent above 1995 and 12 percent above normal. Maize production is estimated to have reached over 117 million tons up from 112 million tons in the previous year. The country recently resumed maize exports after a ban in December 1994. The coarse grain crop was also up in India where production is estimated at 31.5 million tons, almost 10 percent higher than 1995 and 3 percent above average.


Wheat Coarse grains Rice (paddy) Total 1/

1995 1996 1995 1996 1995 1996 1995 1996

( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . million tons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . )
Asia 226.8 229.4 202.9 210.2 505.6 516.6 935.3 956.3
Africa 13.5 22.3 72.7 90.8 14.5 16.2 100.6 129.4
Central America 3.5 3.6 24.6 26.6 1.7 1.6 39.9 31.9
South America 13.0 21.0 58.5 54.2 19.1 18.4 90.6 93.5
North America 84.4 92.6 233.9 296.5 7.9 7.8 326.3 396.9
Europe 124.9 128.6 147.0 159.0 2.3 2.9 274.2 290.5
CIS 63.0 68.9 61.1 56.8 1.4 1.3 125.5 127.0
Oceania 18.0 21.6 9.9 10.7 1.2 1.0 29.1 33.3
WORLD 547.1 588.0 810.7 904.9 553.6 565.8 1 911.4 2 058.6
Developing countries 254.2 273.0 353.2 370.7 527.5 540.0 1 134.9 1 183.8
Developed countries 293.0 315.0 457.5 534.1 26.1 25.8 776.5 874.8

1/ Total cereal, including rice in paddy terms.

In most of Asia, the main rice crop has been largely gathered although there were some delays in the process because of exceptionally wet weather conditions. Total 1996 output of paddy in the region is estimated at just under 517 million tons, about 11 million tons more than the previous year's production.

In Bangladesh, harvesting of the Aman crop is complete and the sowing of the third season Boro crop is well advanced. Excellent weather has favoured the harvesting of the Aman crop and some 15 million tons of paddy (10 million tons milled equivalent) are estimated to have been gathered, which is higher than the target set for the year and above the previous year's paddy crop of 13.2 million tons (8.8 million tons milled equivalent). The official estimate of China's total paddy production in 1996 has not yet been announced. Based on information on the bumper total grain harvest and preliminary estimates of the early and intermediate rice crops, however, total output of paddy in China (mainland) is likely to reach 188 million tons, up further from 1995’s already good level but still below 1990’s record. In India, notwithstanding intermittent heavy floods through most of the Monsoon season and the subsequent reduction in the harvested area under the Kharif rice crop, total output of Kharif rice reached 107.3 million tons paddy (70.8 million tons milled equivalent). This would be higher than the previous year's output but slightly below earlier forecasts. Prospects for Rabi rice are generally favourable. Total paddy output in the Philippines is forecast to rise to 11.6 million tons; all three crops are projected to be higher than in the previous year. In Thailand, the official estimate of the main paddy crop has been raised to 17.9 million tons, significantly up from the previous estimate. This combined with a forecast 3.5 million tons from the second crop now in the ground is likely to boost output to 21.4 million tons. In Viet Nam, harvesting of the 1996 main (10th month) crop is over. A target of 2.6 million hectares were to be sown and actual plantings are estimated to have fallen only marginally short of the target. This shortfall, however, has been offset by an improvement in yields. Sowing of the winter-spring rice crop is well underway.

Not all of Asia benefited from good weather in 1996. In Cambodia, excess rains have reduced the main harvest and total output in 1996 is likely to fall to 2.8 million tons from 3.4 million tons in 1995. In Laos, production in 1996 fell to 1.3 million tons following flood damage to its wet season rice. In the Democratic Republic of Korea, paddy production was also severely affected by a second year of poor weather.

In the southern hemisphere and the equatorial belt, the 1997 paddy production season is well advanced. In Indonesia, plantings of the main season crop have begun under generally favourable weather conditions. An increase in area planted to rice is planned for this year and a target output of 52.2 million tons of paddy has been set, which would be nearly 5 percent more than the 1996 harvest. As a further encouragement to farmers, the producer support price for paddy has been raised by 16.6 percent. The increase is compensation to farmers for the reduction in fertilizer subsidies which has resulted in an overall 21 percent rise in fertilizer prices. In Sri Lanka, harvesting of the Maha crop is expected to start soon. Last year, output of rice in the country suffered a serious set back because of drought. While the overall growing conditions for the 1997 Maha crop were reported to be satisfactory, some areas have been adversely affected by uncertainty in water supplies.



The sub-region’s production of wheat in 1996 is estimated at 16.5 million tons, some 7.6 million tons more than the previous year’s crop. This increase is due to an 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. 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 1996 in the sub-region is estimated at 13.6 million tons, about 60 percent more than the previous year. 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 Egypt, output of paddy in 1996 is estimated at an above-average 4.9 million tons, two percent higher than the previous year.

Growing conditions for the 1997 crops are mostly satisfactory in Egypt. Prospects for the cereal crop have improved in Tunisia. Below-normal rains at the beginning of the growing season which delayed plantings, were followed by plentiful rains towards the end of January which increased sharply the level of water reserves. In Algeria, a below-normal rainfall in October-December delayed the planting; timely rains will be needed for the remainder of the growing season to ensure a favourable harvest. In Morocco, abundant rains in November benefited planting, but crops are threatened by desert locusts.


Seasonably dry conditions prevail. In the Sahel, a series of Crop Assessment Missions estimated 1996 aggregate coarse grains production in the nine CILSS countries at 8.1 million tons, and total cereal production at 9.3 million tons, which is about average, 2 percent up on 1995 but 7 percent lower than the record output in 1994. Production is estimated to be above average in Niger and Senegal, close to average in Burkina Faso, Mali and The Gambia but below average in Cape Verde, Chad, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau. In countries along the Gulf of Guinea, growing conditions for 1996 cereal crops were generally favourable. A good harvest is expected in the sub-region, except in Liberia and Sierra-Leone. Aggregate cereal production in the nine coastal countries for 1996 is estimated at 29 million tons. Record cereal crops are reported in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. Production in Togo is estimated to be average. In Liberia, civil disturbances continue to disrupt production, and output remained substantially below average. In Sierra Leone, cereal production is estimated to be higher than 1995, due to the on-going peace process and rehabilitation programmes, but remained still below pre civil-strife levels.

For most of western Africa, average to above average paddy harvests were realised for the 1996 crop year and total output of paddy in the sub-region is estimated to have reached a record 7.1 million tons or some 27 percent up from the previous year. In Côte d’Ivoire, output of paddy rose sharply to a new peak of 1.14 million tons. Nigeria's paddy production rose to over 3 million tons while in Senegal, the 1996 paddy harvest, estimated at 180 000 tons, was 16 percent higher than in the previous year. In Liberia, output of paddy recovered to around 94 000 tons compared to 56 000 tons in the previous year. However, this is still significantly below the normal production levels that prevailed in the 1980s, before the outbreak of civil strife disrupted the agricultural economy. Sierra Leone's paddy output also recovered but remained substantially below that in pre-war years.


Millet and sorghum have been harvested in northern Cameroon and Central African Republic. In Congo, Gabon and southern Zaire, the main maize crop is developing satisfactorily.


Preliminary estimates of the 1996 wheat crop indicated an output of 990 000 tons, an increase of 15 percent from the previous year’s level and above average. Following increased plantings and favourable weather, record crops were harvested in Kenya and Ethiopia, while in Sudan production rose substantially from 1995.

The outlook for the sub-region’s 1996/97 secondary coarse grains crop, now being harvested, is unfavourable due to late, insufficient and irregular rains during the season. In Kenya, the second season coarse grains crop is forecast at half the normal levels. The main "long rains" season maize crop recently harvested was also reduced by about 20 percent from the previous year due to smaller plantings and lower yields, in response to low prices and high cost of agricultural inputs. In Somalia, the output of the secondary "Der" season is forecast to be some 45 percent below the normal. The main "Gu" season crop, although higher than in the previous year, was below normal. In aggregate 1996/97 coarse grains production in Somalia is forecast at 304 000 tons, some 11 percent higher than the poor level of 1995/96 but well below pre-war average levels. In Tanzania, a poor outturn of the secondary "Vuli" season crop is anticipated; the aggregate 1996/97 coarse grain production is forecast to decline 4 percent from the good level of the previous year to 3.6 million tons. In Uganda, the 1996/97 secondary coarse grains production was also affected by dry weather, while the main season was lower than in the previous year. By contrast, in Ethiopia, the recently harvested main season coarse grains crop was a record reflecting larger plantings and higher yields; assuming a normal secondary season crop (about to be planted), the 1996/97 aggregate coarse grains is forecast at 9.2 million tons, 22 percent higher than the previous year. A bumper coarse grains crop was also gathered in Sudan, where the output is estimated at 4.7 million tons, 65 percent above the poor harvest of 1995. In Eritrea, however, production declined for the second consecutive year, to 114 000 tons, reflecting unfavourable weather. In Rwanda, the 1996 coarse grain output increased substantially reflecting larger plantings and good rains. However, in Burundi, production is estimated to be reduced reflecting persistent insecurity in several areas.


The recently harvested 1996 wheat crop is estimated at 3 millions tons compared to 2.3 million tons in 1995. The increase in output is the result of abundant irrigation water in the major dams which encouraged large plantings. Output in South Africa is estimated at 2.6 million tons, some 32 percent higher than in the previous year. In Zimbabwe and Lesotho, production is 3 times above the 1995 drought-affected output. Production increased also in Zambia but remained below-average.

The 1996 coarse grain crop was about 19.6 million tons, some 88 percent above the 1995 drought-reduced level and 39 percent above-average. Output was much above-average in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Prospects are favourable so far for the 1997 coarse grain crop following widespread rains in November and December. Rains started relatively late in the sub-region, with dry conditions occurring in October in southern Angola, northern parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia, and eastern parts of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Planting was continuing in those regions in early January. In Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, rainfall in the major growing areas in November and December improved soil moisture and encouraged large plantings. However, outbreaks of red locusts have been reported in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although control measures have been taken in these countries, the situation remains a threat to the 1997 crop.

The 1997 paddy season has started in the sub-region. In Mozambique, the growing season production begun normally but was disrupted by dry and hot spells which delayed sowing in some areas while in others the crop had to be replanted. Preliminary estimates for the crop indicated that only 91 000 tons would be produced compared to 139 000 tons in the previous year. In Madagascar, cyclones in late January have caused damage to the southern rice farming zones but the extent of the damage incurred is still not known.


Moderate rains in early January have favoured the recently planted 1997 wheat crop in Mexico, which accounts for most of the sub-region’s production. Water reservoir levels are reported adequate in the main growing irrigated areas of the North-West, particularly in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora. Harvesting is due to start from April and early forecasts point to a slightly above-average crop of 4 million tons, provided good weather persists, reflecting larger plantings and expectations of improved yields after two years of drought.

Harvesting of the 1996/97 second season coarse grain crops is virtually complete in the sub-region. Despite losses incurred to the first season crops by hurricane winds and floodings in most countries, the 1996 coarse grain output is provisionally estimated at a well above-average 26.2 million tons, less than one percent below the 1992 record level. This is principally due to the significant recovery in maize and sorghum production in Mexico, the largest producer, where the crops had been affected by severe drought in the previous two years. Elsewhere in the sub-region, with the exception of Costa Rica, average to above-normal outputs of maize have been gathered. In the Caribbean, about average maize outputs have been collected in Haiti and Cuba, and in the Dominican Republic maize production is estimated at record level.


Harvesting of the 1996 wheat crop in the southern areas of the sub-region has been completed under favourable weather conditions. The output for the sub-region as a whole is provisionally estimated at a record 21 million tons, more than 60 percent up from the previous year’s drought affected level. The increase is principally due to substantial recovery in production in Argentina from 9.2 million tons to 15.2 million tons. In Brazil, harvesting has been recently completed and production is estimated at 3.2 million tons, more than double the 1995 output. Bumper crops have also been obtained in Uruguay and Paraguay, where outputs are estimated at 425 000 tons and 540 000 tons respectively, compared to 371 000 tons and 210 000 tons in the preceding year. By contrast, in Chile, wheat output decreased from last year’s 1.4 million tons to 1.3 million tons, due to the extremely dry weather which has affected the country’s north and central areas. In the Andean countries, the 1996 wheat output in Bolivia was a below-normal 92 000 tons, mostly as a consequence of the poor yields obtained from the second season (winter) crop. In Peru, wheat production for the period January/November 1996 was 146 000 tons, almost 15 percent above the 1994 record. In Colombia, output is estimated at an average 90 000 tons. Fieldwork for sowing of the 1997/98 wheat crop is underway in most of the Andean countries, while early planting is reported in some countries.

Weather conditions have favoured planting of the 1996/97 coarse grain crop in the southern areas of the sub-region and early prospects are good. In Argentina, maize output is forecast at about 13.3 million tons, which would be well up from last year’s drought affected crop of 10.5 million tons. In Brazil, harvesting is about to start and a crop between 32 and 33 million tons is anticipated. In Uruguay and Paraguay, larger than average outputs are forecast, reflecting increased planting as a result of anticipated expanding exports. By contrast, in Chile, dry weather in some parts has led to reduced plantings and a lower than average output is anticipated. In the Andean countries, in Peru, the 1996 output of maize was a record 786 000 tons. In Bolivia and Ecuador, normal maize outputs of 581 000 tons and 650 000 tons respectively were collected in 1996. Abundant rains in December in both countries benefited planting of the 1997 coarse grain crops, which has started in some parts. In Colombia, maize production in 1996 continued to decline for the second consecutive year. Output was a below-average 1 million tons, largely reflecting high production costs and credit restrictions to the sector. In Venezuela, the 1996 maize output declined from the previous year’s to 1 million tons, but production was still above average. Land is being prepared in both countries for planting of the 1997 coarse grain crops to be started from March.

The bulk of the 1996 rice harvest has been collected and total production for the region is estimated at about 18.4 million tons, 0.7 million tons lower than in 1995. The planting of the 1997 paddy crop is well advanced in many countries. Early indications for the 1997 season are somewhat uncertain. In Brazil, the region's largest rice producer, paddy output is expected to decline further from the below-average level of 1996 because of tight credit availability for rice producers. In Uruguay, dry weather in some of the rice growing regions has reduced water reserves in the irrigated main growing areas which could adversely affect output of paddy. By contrast, good rains in Argentina and Peru through October/November benefited the rice crops in the ground. In Bolivia, output of paddy for 1997 is targeted at 296 000 tons, virtually unchanged from the previous year's record level.


In the United States, the final official estimate of the 1996 wheat crop is 62.1 million tons, 5 percent up from the previous year's reduced output and about the average of the past 5 years. Prospects for the 1997 winter wheat crop, which accounts for about 75 percent of the country's total wheat output, are generally satisfactory despite a significant reduction in plantings. The first official official forecast (10 January) put winter wheat plantings at 19.5 million hectares, 7 percent down from the previous year, and the smallest area since 1978. Adverse weather in some parts, late soyabean and sorghum harvests and new farm legislation introduced in 1996, giving farmers increased flexibility to plant more non-wheat crops, are the major factors behind the decrease. However, the difference between the harvested area figures for 1996 and 1997 could be much less pronounced if normal weather prevails. As of early January, most of the crop was reported to be in good to excellent condition despite some concerns about lack of snow cover and dryness in the hard red winter wheat belt. This compares favourably with the previous year when crops suffered from particularly harsh winter weather conditions and winterkill rates were exceptionally high. It is still very early to predict the final outcome of the 1997 wheat crop as much will depend on weather in the coming months and on the extent of spring wheat sowings.

In Canada, latest estimates put the aggregate 1996 wheat crop at 30.5 million tons, about 22 percent up from the previous year and about 10 percent above the average of the past five years. The increase is due to mostly to a 14 percent expansion in plantings but also higher yields were achieved in 1996. Although a small area of winter durum wheat (about 2 million hectares) is already in the ground, the bulk of the wheat for the 1997 harvest will not be sown until May-June. Early indications point to a slight reduction in wheat plantings with a rotation of some land back to oilseed production.

The final official estimate of the 1996 coarse grain crop in the United States is 267.8 million tons, about 58 million tons above the 1995 reduced crop and above the average of the previous five years. Of the total, maize is estimated to account for 236 million tons. As regards the 1997 maize crop to be sown this spring, the new farm legislation has added some uncertainty on the likely level of plantings. However, the maize area is tentatively expected to remain virtually unchanged or increase slightly from the previous year due to favourable market indications for feed grains and normal crop rotations expected out of rice and cotton. In Canada, aggregate output of coarse grains also increased in 1996 by about 17 percent to some 28.7 million tons. As for wheat, the bulk of the 1997 Canadian coarse grains will not be planted until the spring.

Harvesting of the 1996 paddy crop is complete in the United States. The official estimate for the rice crop has been reduced slightly to 7.8 million tons as rice yields in California are now estimated to be lower than earlier projected. Sowing of the new 1997 paddy crop starts normally around April.


FAO's latest estimate of the 1996 aggregate cereal production in the region is 290.5 million tons, some 16 million tons up from the output in 1995. Output increased particularly in several EC countries, more than offsetting smaller crops in several eastern European countries, in particular a significant drop in output in Bulgaria and Romania. The EC's aggregate 1996 cereal crop is estimated at about 207.5 million tons, 15 percent up from the previous year. The increase is mainly due to larger plantings following the reduced set-aside restrictions but also good yields reflecting favourable weather conditions. The Community's output of wheat is put at 99.9 million tons, compared to 87.7 million tons in the previous year, while that of coarse grains is put at 104.9 million tons compared to 90.4 million tons in 1995.

Early prospects for the 1997 cereal crops are generally satisfactory. In the EC, wheat production is expected to increase again this year following a further reduction of set-aside restrictions, by half, to 5 percent, and excellent planting conditions for winter-sown crops. Early indications point to expanded wheat area in France, Germany and the United Kingdom but farmers in some other northern countries, such as Denmark, are reported to have switched land to winter barley. In Spain, heavy rain in the southern region of Andalusia has damaged wheat and other crops. Other southern EC countries are also reported to have had more than adequate rainfall.

In eastern parts of the region, indications are that winter grain plantings may have increased marginally in some countries, despite shortage of inputs and/or farmers' lack of funds to purchase inputs. However, the outcome of the winter planting campaign remains very uncertain. In Bulgaria, official reports indicate that some 1.5 million hectares of wheat and barley were sown, almost realizing the target of 1.6 million hectares. In Romania, despite a slow start to fieldwork last autumn, the final area sown to winter wheat is reported to be around 2 million hectares compared to the target of 2.3 million hectares. This is similar to the area planted in the previous year but assuming a return to normal winter conditions after particularly harsh weather last year, the area surviving for harvest should increase. In Hungary, adverse weather conditions during the autumn planting period are expected to have reduced the winter grain area.

The Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all recorded increases in grain production in 1996. Aggregate output of cereals and pulses grew by 24 percent to exceed 4 million tons. Most of the increase was due to larger areas sown and high yield of winter grains - wheat and rye - but feed grain output also rose. The early outlook for the 1997 harvest remains uncertain until the extent of winterkill during the extreme cold spell in December/January can be assessed.

Harvesting of the 1996 paddy crop is complete in the region. Total output of paddy in the EC in 1996 is now estimated at just under 2.8 million tons, 28 percent higher than the crop harvested in 1995, and much larger than the 2.5 million tons forecast last month. Spain's huge increase in output was the main impetus for this expansion. In Italy, paddy output, now estimated at 1 405 000 tons, is larger than previously thought.


FAO latest estimates of the aggregate 1996 cereal and pulse harvest in the CIS is 130 million tons, only marginally more than output in 1995. Better harvests in Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation,

as well as in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrghyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were offset by sharp reductions in output in the Ukraine, Moldova and Turkmenistan. Output of wheat is now estimated at nearly 69 million tons, some 6 million tons more than in 1995, in response to the larger areas sown and somewhat better average yields. By contrast, output of coarse grains has fallen by 4 million tons to just under 57 million tons in response to a reduction of 5 million hectares in the sown area. Output of paddy remained fairly stable at 1.3 million tons, but that of pulses has fallen by 0.5 million tons to 3.5 million tons. FAO’s estimate of grain production is about 12 million tons higher than official estimates which are apparently underreporting the output of wheat, rye, malting barley and pulses, part of which is marketed directly by farmers in a number of states.

For the Russian Federation, FAO puts the 1996 harvest at about 75 million tons, 7 million tons more than in the preceding year, mainly reflecting better yields of wheat. In Kazakhstan, output is estimated to have increased by about 2 million tons to 13.3 million tons of which 9 million tons are estimated to be wheat. In the Ukraine and Moldova, by contrast, yields were affected by a severe drought in the spring and early summer. FAO’s estimate of the 1996 grain harvest in the Ukraine has been lowered to 26.6 million tons, and includes 15 million tons of wheat. Output in Moldova fell to 1.7 million tons while partial crop failure reduced output in Turkmenistan by half.

With regard the 1997 harvest, the early outlook is mixed. The aggregate area sown to winter crops has fallen but apart from a spell of extreme cold in December/January winter conditions have been generally mild and the level of winterkill to unhardened grains is expected to be lower than normal. Preliminary reports indicate that the areas sown to winter crops increased marginally in the Ukraine (from 8 million hectares to 8.3 million hectares including 7.5 million hectares for grain), remained stable in Belarus at 1.1 million hectares but fell by about 1 million hectares to about 14 million hectares in the Russian Federation.

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


Australia's 1996 winter wheat crop is estimated to be sharply above the previous year's already good level following increased plantings and exceptionally good growing. Although official estimates in December before the end of the harvest put aggregate wheat output at 21.3 million tons, latest indications now point to a record crop of around 23 million tons, 1 million tons above the previous record of 22 million tons in 1983/84. Thus, it is likely that final official estimates will be adjusted upward considerably from the December figures. An above-average winter coarse grain crop is also in prospect, and after a recovery in the summer maize and sorghum crop harvested early in 1996, aggregate 1996 coarse grain output is also expected to reach a bumper level of over 10 million tons. For the 1997 summer coarse grain crops to be harvested later this year, despite favourable conditions for planting, the area of sorghum and maize is expected to have been constrained by the large areas of land diverted to the 1996 winter crops.

The official forecast for the 1997 paddy crop has been revised upwards to 1.45 million tons, which would be 53 percent higher than in 1996. This follows good rains in August through September which have improved irrigation water supplies in New South Wales, where virtually all the rice is grown.

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