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In northern Africa, the output from the wheat and barley crops in 1997 is estimated to be sharply below-average in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia due to unfavourable weather. Production declined by almost three-quarters to 1.08 million tons in Algeria and by two-third in Tunisia, while in Morocco output is about 60 percent lower than last year’s harvest. In Egypt, production of winter grains was marginally below last year.

In western Africa, the rainy season is now well established in most countries. In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, recently planted millet and sorghum are growing satisfactorily in the north, while the first maize crop planted in April-May is being harvested in the south and the centre. The rice crop has been planted in Liberia and Sierra Leone, but recent political upheaval in Freetown has adversely affected agricultural activities and will limit planted areas. In the Sahel, dry weather conditions have adversely affected crops in the west. Following an early start of the rainy season in May-June in the western countries of the Sahel, growing conditions have significantly deteriorated in July, notably during the second dekad of the month which registered only very limited rains or dry weather over most parts of Senegal, The Gambia and Mauritania. Precipitation also decreased in Guinea Bissau. By contrast, weather conditions have been much more favourable in the eastern part of the Sahel with well above normal rains in Chad, notably in its sahelian zone. In the central part of the region, precipitation remained generally normal and widespread. In Mali, rains were widespread and quite regular. Similarly, precipitation increased significantly over Burkina Faso in mid and late July after reduced rains in early July. In Niger, rainfall remained generally widespread during July. In Cape Verde, rains have started over the main islands. Plantings are completed in most Sahelian countries but substantial replantings may be necessary in The Gambia, Mauritania and Senegal. Reduced rains in July in the west of the Sahel have severely affected crop development and will diminish yield potential. Crops are generally growing satisfactorily in the centre and the east of the Sahel.

In central Africa, the growing season is progressing mostly satisfactorily. In Cameroon, the first maize crop is being harvested in the south, while planting of coarse grains is drawing to a close in the north. In the north and south of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the second maize crop is being harvested while the main maize planting is underway in the centre. In Rutshuru, near Goma, the sorghum, maize and coffee crops are reported to be poor, due to erratic rainfall, lack of basic inputs as well as delayed plantings due to civil disturbances and population displacement.

In eastern Africa, the outcome of the main season crops, yet to be harvested in several countries, is uncertain. Harvest prospects in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan will depend on weather developments in the coming months. In Ethiopia, a poor "belg" crop has been harvested and the area planted to the main season crops is likely to be below target. A reduced main "Gu" crop has recently been harvested in Somalia. Elsewhere in eastern Africa, 1997 production is estimated to be larger than last year in Burundi and Rwanda, and smaller in Tanzania and Uganda.

In southern Africa, the harvesting of most cereals is virtually complete. Aggregate output, estimated at 21.8 million tons, is 15 percent above average but lower than last year’s bumper crop of 24.4 million tons. In Angola, as a result of below-normal rainfall cereal production declined 14 percent to 431 000 tons. Outputs are expected to be lower than last year’s harvests in Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe due to unfavourable weather. In Madagascar, cereal production in 1997 is likely to be reduced due to locust damage to crops. By contrast, in Mozambique, output is estimated at 1.5 million tons, 11 percent more than last year, due to increased plantings and favourable weather. A record coarse grains crop is estimated for Namibia following larger plantings and abundant rainfall.


In Asia, growing conditions are generally satisfactory, but severe drought persists in some areas. In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea dry weather in June and July coupled with above normal temperatures are reported to have resulted in extensive crop damage, especially of maize in northern parts and possibly rice in the south. Also in northern parts of China a severe drought is reported to have affected crops on around 20 million hectares, particularly in eastern parts of the main producing provinces of Shandong and Hebei. Dry conditions also affected crops in central parts of Thailand in June, though rainfall in July helped ease conditions. In contrast, in the first two dekads of July heavy rainfall in eastern parts of India and in Bangladesh and Pakistan in early August caused flood damage to crops. Torrential rains in the aftermath of typhoon Victor caused flooding in eastern Cambodia and parts of Laos, damaging crops. Widespread showers in late July increased moisture supplies for rice across Vietnam and the Philippines. In Afghanistan, a larger cereal crop is forecast in 1997 reflecting favourable weather and improved security in the south and most parts of the east. In Iraq, shortage of machinery, spare parts and agricultural inputs resulted in a 1997 cereal production well below last year.

In Central America and the Caribbean, first season cereal crops have been harvested in most countries. Record maize outputs are expected in Mexico, while in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras the crops have been affected by "El Niño". In the Caribbean, in the Dominican Republic the secondary irrigated paddy crop and other rainfed foodcrops are being affected by a dry spell. In Haiti, substantially lower output is forecast following drought damage to crops. In Cuba, an average maize production is expected while the output of paddy should be low due to reduced plantings as a result of continuing shortage of farm inputs.

In South America, planting of the 1997/98 wheat crop is virtually complete in the southern regions. In Argentina, however, planting is delayed, mainly because of excessive moisture in some parts. In Brazil, early production forecast points to a decline from last year but to remain above average. In Uruguay, intended plantings are estimated at near record level while in Chile the area planted is expected to recover significantly from last year's drought affected crop. In the Andean countries, harvesting of the 1997 first season cereal crops is well advanced and near record outputs are expected in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. In Colombia, maize output is forecast to be slightly below average, while in Venezuela production is expected to be average to above average for all cereals except for sorghum the output of which is expected to decline as a consequence of low priced imports.

In Europe, heavy rains and flooding in July and early August throughout many parts of the region, but particularly in the east, have damaged cereal crops and hampered harvesting operations. Among the eastern countries, the full extent of damage due to adverse weather is not yet known, but latest official forecasts in the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and the Slovak Republic, have been revised downward somewhat to account for the likely losses. In the EC, another above-average cereal output of 202 million tons is in prospect in 1997 but down from the record crop last year. In Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), good wheat harvests have been reaped. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the aggregate wheat harvest is forecast to be larger than last year but nevertheless there remains a large structural deficit in wheat.

In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), harvesting of the winter grains has started and early reports point to a harvest significantly better than last year. However, persistent rains in July in parts of Europe and shortages of fuel are delaying harvest activities and could result in some reduction of average yields, lowering of grain quality and increased harvest losses. Output seems set to recover sharply from last year’s drought reduced crops in Georgia, Moldova and the Ukraine. Larger harvests are also anticipated in Belarus and the Russian Federation. In the Caucasus, heavy rain and hail storms in June have caused damage, notably in Azerbaijan but also in Armenia. In the Republic of Kazakhstan, the area sown to grains has fallen due to shortage of credit for fuel and the harvest outlook remains uncertain. Elsewhere, better harvests than last year are reported in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

In North America, the bulk of the winter wheat crop is gathered in the United States, and the spring wheat harvest is underway. Latest official estimates put wheat production in 1997 at 68.9 million tons, 11 percent up from last year's crop. However, prospects for coarse grains have deteriorated due to hot and dry weather in the major producing states and output is now forecast at some 263 million tons, marginally down from last year. In Canada, prospects have deteriorated for the bulk of the wheat and coarse grain crops due to hot and dry conditions over the past two months. Wheat output is now forecast at about 26 million tons, 15 percent down from 1996, while coarse grains output is forecast 4 percent down at 27.5 million tons.

In Oceania, prospects for the 1997 winter grains crops in Australia have deteriorated over the past two months due to persisting dry conditions. The latest official forecast for the 1997 wheat crop, at about 16 million tons, would be some 30 percent down from last year's record.

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