FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook, November 1997

Previous Page TOC Next Page



In Asia, harvesting of the 1997 wheat crop is almost complete and FAOís latest estimate of the regionís output has been revised up slightly to 246 million tons. This yearís production is some 7 percent above 1996 and 23 million tons or 10 percent higher than the average of the preceding five years. The increase in wheat production is largely attributed to record harvests in China and India where 1997 outputs were about 9 percent and 10 percent respectively up from 1996. In contrast production in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan fell in 1997 by 2 percent and 3 percent respectively compared to last year. In both countries large imports are anticipated in 1997/98 to meet demand and replenish stocks.

Wheat  Coarse grains  Rice (paddy)  Total 1/ 
1996  1997  1996  1997  1996  1997  1996  1997
( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . million tons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ) 
Asia  230.4  246.1  220.6  199.8  519.0  518.1  970.0  964.0
Africa  22.8  15.4  87.2  81.7  15.7  16.2  125.6  113.4
Central America  3.4  3.7  27.0  28.3  2.0  2.1  32.4  34.0
South America  22.0  19.8  54.3  61.4  18.2  18.2  94.5  99.5
North America  92.0  92.3  296.3  289.6  7.8  8.1  396.0  390.0
Europe  128.3  132.8  159.8  167.9  2.9  2.6  291.0  303.3
CIS  67.4  78.3  55.3  62.1  1.3  1.5  123.9  141.9
Oceania  24.0  17.9  11.4  9.4  1.0  1.4  36.3  28.8
WORLD  590.2  606.4  911.8  900.1  567.8  568.3  2 069.8  2 074.8
Developing countries  275.3  281.7  378.0  361.3  542.0  541.7  1 195.3  1 184.7
Developed countries  314.9  324.7  533.8  538.8  25.8  26.6  874.5  890.1

1/ Total cereal, including rice in paddy terms.

Overall, the outlook for the 1997 coarse grains crop in the region is less favourable than last year following reduced harvests anticipated in several countries. Output is now forecast at about 200 million tons, 20 million tons or 9 percent lower than last yearís bumper crop but still about average. Maize output fell sharply in China where large areas in the main producing parts in the north-east were affected by serious drought. As a result maize production is set to fall to a below-average 105 million tons, some 10 million tons lower than anticipated earlier and 22 million tons or 18 percent below the bumper crop in 1996. The estimate for Chinaís total coarse grains output in 1997 is 123.4 million tons some 18 million tons down from last year. Although overall the monsoon was normal in India, drought adversely affected grain production in some southern states, particularly in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Despite a slight increase in the area planted, the country is expected to produce 31.4 million tons of coarse grains this year, slightly below average and almost 3 million tons or 8 percent lower than in 1996. The food security situation in Korea, D.P.R. has been worsened by a prolonged drought this year which has seriously affected maize production. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is underway.

In Afghanistan, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in July estimated the 1997 cereal crop at 3.7 million tons, 18 percent up from the previous year and the largest crop since 1978, reflecting favourable weather conditions and relatively little pest damage. In Iraq, cereal production in 1997 is estimated by FAO at only 2.2 million tons, the lowest level since 1991 due to low use of inputs and continued degradation of agricultural land and machinery.

Harvesting of the main rice crop is underway in some parts of Asia. The forecast for the regionís paddy output remains unchanged at about 518 million tons. In China (Mainland), harvesting of the early double crop (summer harvest) has been completed and production is estimated at 45.8 million tons, about 2 million tons more than in 1996. The rise is attributed to higher yields resulting from increased input use. Growing conditions for the late double crop (autumn harvest) in southern China have been favourable and harvesting is expected to begin in October. Harvesting of the single rice crop (summer-autumn harvest) is underway, but the crop was stressed by periods of hot and dry weather during August. Based on these observations, the forecast for total paddy production in China, including the Province of Taiwan, has been increased by 2 million tons from the previous forecast to 197 million tons.

In Japan, the Agriculture Ministry continues to encourage farmers to reduce rice production through an area set-aside plan, as a means of reducing the increasing rice stocks caused by bumper harvests since 1994, mandatory rice imports under its Uruguay Round commitments and stagnant domestic per capita consumption. Growing conditions in northern Japan improved during August and September leading to expectations of a better harvest than previously anticipated. As a result, the forecast for Japanís paddy production has been increased by 800 000 tons to 13 million tons, which would be similar to last yearís level. Rice harvesting in the Republic of Korea is nearing completion and a bumper crop is expected for the second consecutive year. The good harvest is attributed to conducive weather conditions during the growing season and efforts by the Government and farmers to develop higher quality paddies. By contrast, the Democratic Peopleísí Republic of Korea suffered from a prolonged drought during June to August which affected crops in their critical stages of development. As a result, the forecast of paddy production has been reduced to 1.8 million tons from 2 million tons expected earlier.

In the Philippines, harvesting of the main season crop is just beginning. The forecast for the 1997 paddy production has been reduced by 500 000 tons to 11.2 million tons due to drought related problems attributed to the El Niño weather phenomenon. In Indonesia, the bulk of the crop has already been harvested. However, harvesting of the second season crop is just beginning and output is expected to be adversely affected by the prolonged dry season in most parts of the country, including the island of Java, where most of the rice is grown. The drought, attributed to El Niño, has reportedly affected about 400 000 hectares of the rice crop and the anticipated paddy output for the country has been reduced from the previous forecast of 52 million tons to 50.4 million tons.

Elsewhere in the region, harvesting of the main season crop in Myanmar is expected to begin in October. The earlier forecast for 1997 paddy output has been reduced by 300 000 tons to 16.7 million tons due to expectations of lower yields attributed to lower input use and flood damage. In Vietnam, most of the 10th month crop has been planted and harvesting of the summer-autumn crop is underway. The country also experienced flood damage during August and September and this could affect output from the summer-autumn crop. In Cambodia, uneven rain distribution is reported to have affected the development of the rice crop. Accordingly, expected rice production has been reduced by 300 000 tons from the previous forecast, to 3.3 million tons. In India, harvesting of the Kharif season rice is underway in some parts of the country. Paddy output in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh is expected to suffer from deficient monsoon rains. However, rice producing areas in the other parts of the country received timely and adequate monsoon rains and the expected gains in production in these areas are expected to more than offset the anticipated output reduction in Andhra Pradesh. Overall, Indiaís 1997 paddy output is forecast at 122 million tons, up from 121 million tons in 1996. In Bangladesh, the Aus crop harvest is complete and harvesting of the Aman crop is expected to begin in October. Good weather conditions and an adequate supply of essential inputs have combined to lead to two consecutive bumper rice harvests in Bangladesh.


NORTHERN AFRICA: Production of wheat in 1997 is estimated at 9.2 million tons, 44 percent down compared with last yearís above-average crop of 16.4 million tons, mainly due to unfavourable growing conditions. Most of the countries in the sub-region harvested below-normal crops. Production declined by almost three-quarters to 750 000 tons in Algeria and by two-thirds in Tunisia to 660 000 tons, while in Morocco output is about 60 percent lower than in previous year. Output of the almost entirely irrigated crop in Egypt is estimated at 5.5 million tons, marginally below last year's level. The sub-region's coarse grain crop in 1997 has also been affected by unfavourable weather. Aggregate output is estimated at 8.9 million tons, some 4.4 million tons less than last year.

The regionís paddy production in 1997 is still forecast at a record of 5.1 million tons, 4 percent up from the previous record set last year. Harvesting of the 1997 rice crop is underway in Egypt, the regionís major rice producer. Growing conditions in recent months have been favourable and input availability and distribution were reported to be normal.

WESTERN AFRICA: The rainy season has ended in the Sahelian zone of western Africa. In the western part of the Sahel, prospects for the coarse grains harvests have improved following abundant and widespread rains in September, which partly compensated for earlier drier conditions. In the central part of the Sahel, reflecting generally favourable growing conditions, harvest prospects are mostly favourable in Mali and western and northern Burkina Faso but unfavourable in eastern Burkina Faso. In the eastern part of the Sahel, prospects are mixed in Niger with poor harvests anticipated in some parts. In Chad, generally widespread and regular rains benefited crop development but African Migratory Locusts are threatening crops in the north-west. Grasshoppers are reported in most countries and might affect the crop production. A series of FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions visited all countries of the Sahel in October to prepare first estimates of 1997 cereal production. Below average harvests are anticipated in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia and Senegal. Production is close to average in Mauritania and Niger while output is above average in Chad, Guinea-Bissau and Mali.

In coastal countries, along the gulf of Guinea, the main coarse grains crops are currently being harvested. Following good weather conditions, crop prospects are favourable in most countries, except in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana where a dry spell in July and early August might have affected the crops, and in Sierra Leone, where civil disturbances still hamper agricultural activities. Sierra Leone and Liberia will still rely mostly on food aid to meet their consumption needs in 1998.

The overall outlook for the paddy crop in the sub-region remains favourable. Harvesting is underway and production is forecast at about 7 million tons, compared to 6.6 million tons in 1996. In Mali, timely rains helped the crops to recover from a dry spell in June and record yields of 2.5 tons per hectare are anticipated. Increased yields are also expected in Cote díIvoire, Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau following favourable weather during August and September.

CENTRAL AFRICA: The rainy season has started in Gabon, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo where the main coarse grains crops are being planted, following the onset of rains in August/September. In Cameroon and the Central African Republic, millet and sorghum are being harvested while the second maize crop and rice are developing satisfactorily. The food supply situation and crop prospects are unfavourable in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and in Congo, following recent civil disturbances.

EASTERN AFRICA: Prospects for the 1997 wheat crop have deteriorated in Ethiopia reflecting unfavourably dry weather in some parts in the past month and exceptionally heavy rains in late October in others. Output is expected to drop from the good level of 1996. By contrast, in Kenya, where the harvest is underway, an increase in output is anticipated following larger plantings and generally favourable weather. In Sudan, a bumper crop, substantially above last yearís level, was harvested earlier in the year.

Preliminary forecasts point to a reduction in the sub-regionís aggregate coarse grains output in 1997 from the good level of 1996. In Tanzania, following drought during the "short rains" season earlier in the year, and late and erratic rains during the "long rains" season, the 1997 aggregate coarse grains output is estimated to be one-third lower than last year at 3 million tons. In Uganda, the first and the recently harvested second season coarse grains crops were affected by erratic rains and the aggregate output is estimated to be well below last yearís normal crop. The outlook for the 1998 first season crops, to be harvested from January, is uncertain following late and insufficient rains which are likely to have resulted in reduced plantings and yields. In Rwanda and Burundi, the 1997 coarse grains outputs increased from the previous year but remained below the pre-war average levels. Prospects for the 1998 first season crops have also been adversely affected by a delay in the start of the rainy season. In Somalia, the 1997 main season coarse grain production remained closed to the reduced level of 1996 due to lower plantings and dry spells during the growing season. Prospects for the 1997/98 secondary crop have deteriorated due to heavy rains and floods in the second half of October. In Kenya, the outlook for the maize crop, now being harvested, has deteriorated reflecting recent heavy rains, however output is nevertheless forecast to increase from the reduced level of 1996. In Ethiopia, the outlook for the main harvest which is about to start has deteriorated following unfavourable dry weather in some areas in the past months and heavy rains and floods in late October in others. Production is anticipated to decline from the bumper crop last year. In Eritrea, dry spells in parts have also resulted in a deterioration of prospects for this yearís coarse grain crop, provisionally forecast to remain at the reduced levels of 1996. In Sudan, below average precipitation in September and erratic rains in the first dekade of October have stressed developing coarse grain crops. More rains are needed to avoid yield reductions.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Harvesting of the 1997 coarse grains crops (mostly maize) in the sub-region was completed at the end of August. Aggregate production in 1997 is estimated at 17.0 million tons, some 13 percent above average but 13 percent lower than last yearís bumper crop. Output is expected to be lower than last yearís in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe due to unfavourable weather. In Malawi production declined by an estimated 13 percent and this has led to a tight food supply situation. In Mozambique, cereal output is estimated at 1.35 million tons, some 9 percent higher than last year. This fifth consecutive increase in coarse grain production in Mozambique is largely due to a larger area planted, favourable weather and higher yields in some provinces. The 1997 maize crop in South Africa, the largest producer in the sub-region, is estimated at 9.0 million tons, about 1 million tons less than the above-average 1996 harvest, due to irregular rains which reduced yields in many areas. Following good rainfall in the 1996/97 season and abundant irrigation water in most of the major dams, the outlook for the sub-region's wheat crop, is favourable. In Zimbabwe, a record crop is being harvested and in South Africa the production of wheat is forecast to be slightly below last yearís above-average crop.

The re-emergence of the El Niño phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean since March this year points to the possibility of poor rainfall in the sub-region in the 1997/98 crop season, which could have an adverse impact on food production next year. Rainfall in September and early October has been somewhat irregular but generally about average and soil moisture conditions should be favourable for planting of some long-season maize crops which normally starts from November. However, the outlook for rainfall later in the 1997/98 season is still very uncertain as the major impact of El Niño is not expected until early 1998 and thus it is the main rainfall period in January in the sub-region which is likely to be affected.

Paddy production in Madagascar, which accounts for over 90 percent of the regionís rice output, is estimated at about 2.5 million tons, close to last yearís good crop. The impact on food crops of the migratory locusts in the southern parts of the country was minimal.


Negative effects on agriculture associated with the current strong El Niño weather phenomenon persisted from August through mid-October. The situation is particularly worrying in some Central American areas which have already been affected by earlier El Niño-related effects. Contingency actions are being taken in most countries in anticipation of a more severe impact towards the end of the year, in case it is similar to the previous strongest event experienced in 1982/83.

Storms in October in the large wheat growing irrigated areas of the north west in Mexico, where most of the sub-regionís output is produced, helped replenish water reservoirs for sowing of the 1997/98 crop. Plantings are forecast to increase slightly from last yearís above-average level.

Planting of the 1997 second season coarse grain crops is well advanced in most countries. The outlook is uncertain as some parts in the sub-region were affected by excessive rains from September to mid-October, and since then by unseasonable dry conditions. In Mexico, however, abundant rains have benefited the developing spring/summer maize crop, despite causing some localized damage, in the western belt, after dry weather for several weeks. Soil moisture is adequate in the rest of the large growing areas of the centre, the south east and Yucatan peninsula. Early harvesting has started in some areas and a bumper crop is tentatively forecast. In the north-eastern states, particularly in the large sorghum producing areas of Tamaulipas and Diego Leon, light precipitation and occasional storm rains in September have brought relief to the soil previously affected by severe dry weather. A bumper crop is also provisionally anticipated but much will depend upon the intensity and duration of the rains. In the north central states, normal to isolated abundant precipitation have greatly favoured crops and particularly pastures.

Elsewhere in the sub-region localized damage to crops is reported as a consequence of seasonal hurricanes, following a period of extreme dry weather, attributed to El Niño, which damaged some of the first season crops. In Guatemala, where about 140 000 tons of maize were lost during the first season, torrential rains and flooding in the south-central province of Scuintla in early October affected the development of the second season maize and other crops. No damage has been so far reported to the important coffee crop. In El Salvador, maize output is provisionally forecast to decline from last yearís above-average 630 000 tons to a low 510 000 tons mainly as a result of first season crop losses. Only minor losses were incurred to the other crops, including the large export earning coffee crop, while considerable damage is reported to the sugar cane crop, which has been expected to be at record level. Second season crops were affected in various parts of the country by excessive rains in September. By contrast, in Honduras, weather conditions have favoured crops in the largest producing areas of the country, which will help compensate the damage caused to the first season maize crop in the depressed areas of the south. In Nicaragua, unusually dry weather continues to affect particularly the Pacific coastal areas, where international assistance is presently being provided. Despite drought induced damage to first season crops, 1997/98 maize output is expected to remain close to last yearís record, as the main producing areas in the north and parts of the Atlantic coast, traditionally affected by seasonally excessive rains, benefited from the dry weather and increased plantings as a consequence. In Costa Rica, damage was incurred to the first season crops, particularly beans, as well as pastures, in the northern and central Pacific coastal areas, and in the centre of the country. The fishery sector is also reported to have been affected. The dry weather affected the developing coffee crop and prospects remain uncertain unless normal rains resume. Authorities in Central American countries remain on alert for possibly further damage to crops, and contingency planning in collaboration with the international community has been put into effect in all countries.

In the Caribbean, in the Dominican Republic, normal rains resumed in early October in some parts of the country, benefiting the drought affected rainfed crops and helping replenish water reservoirs for the irrigated crops. The number and intensity of tropical depressions had significantly decreased, despite being in the midst of the hurricane season, probably as a consequence of El Niño. Seasonal storms are forecast for the next weeks. In Cuba and Haiti, irregular and ill-distributed rains are reported but with no effect on crops. Cereal output in the latter country, however, is expected to be low due to severe dry weather in the first half of the year.


Precipitation and temperature anomalies attributed to the El Niño phenomenon have persisted in most countries of the sub-region, particularly those on the Pacific coast. Ocean surface temperatures have been at near record levels in many sections along the coasts of Ecuador and northern Peru. However, adverse impact on crops have been localized so far. Latest El Niño forecasts continue to indicate that the potentially strongest impact should be towards the end of the year, in coincidence with the planting of the 1998 main season cereal crops and harvesting of the 1997 wheat crop in the southern areas.

In the southern areas, in Argentina, where sowing of the 1997 wheat crop was completed in September, normal rains in early October brought moisture relief to plantings in Santa Fe, Cordoba and western La Pampa, while relatively dry weather and high temperatures favoured germinating wheat and helped contain fungus outbreaks in the key growing areas of Buenos Aires Province, where plantings had been affected by excessive humidity due to a wetter than normal winter attributed to El Niño. Early official estimates put the area planted at about 6 to 6.25 million hectares, which compares to last yearís record 7 million hectares. In Chile, above-normal rains since June, following a prolonged dry spell, have benefited the developing wheat crops for harvesting from December. Some localized flooding is presently being reported with consequent damage to crops. In Brazil, harvesting of the 1997 wheat crop in underway. The area planted has considerably declined from last year but this was expected to be compensated by yield increases, and an above-average output was anticipated. Damage to the developing crop, however, is now reported in the key producing state of Parana because of intensive rains in early October possibly due to El Niño. Wheat crop yields for these countries will be largely determined by the intensity of El-Niño related rains in the next months. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, harvesting of the 1997 second season (winter)1997 wheat crop is virtually complete, while planting of the 1997/98 main season crop is about to start. A slightly below-average wheat output has been gathered. In Ecuador, planting of the 1997 second season (winter) crop, mostly grown in the highlands, has been completed under dry conditions but an average output is provisionally forecast. In Peru, fieldwork continues for planting of the 1997/98 crop to be started from November.

In the southern areas of the sub-region, planting of the 1997/98 coarse grain crops is underway. In Argentina and Brazil, the main producers, latest official forecasts indicate that the area planted could decrease by 1 and 5 per cent respectively from last yearís near record levels. Final outturn will largely depend upon the intensity and duration of the rains presently forecast in the months ahead and related to El Niño. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, planting of the 1997/98 main season coarse grain crop has started. The outlook is uncertain as the worst impact of El Niño is expected towards the end of the year. Torrential rains and winds and heavy flooding have continued to affect the coastal areas of northern Peru, and those of Ecuador from northern Esmeraldas to southern Guayaquil. Significant damage to housing and infrastructure is reported, and to a lesser extent to the agricultural sector, as land has been in preparation for planting. A continuation of intensive rains, however, could reduce plantings and have a negative effect on yields. High ocean surface temperatures have significantly affected the marine eco-systems and consequently the fishery sector. A state of emergency have been declared in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. In most of Venezuela and northern Colombia, some light to moderate rains fell in late September and early October but in most parts were insufficient to alleviate water deficits due to earlier dry conditions.


In the United States, the October USDA crop report put the 1997 aggregate (winter and spring) wheat output at 68.8 million tons, some 10 percent above the harvest in 1996. Most of the increase is due to a sharp recovery in winter wheat output after last year's poor crop, while the spring wheat harvest output remained virtually unchanged from the previous year. Planting of winter wheat for harvest next year is well underway and early indications point to a marginal increase in area. Although dry conditions are somewhat impeding fieldwork in parts of the southern plains, in general planting and crop emergence is progressing at a normal pace. Approximately 76 percent of total winter wheat, including soft red wheat, had been planted as of 12 October, compared to 70 percent last year and a five-year average of 71 percent, while 47 percent of the winter wheat crop had emerged, just ahead of average and last year. In Canada, the main wheat harvest is virtually completed and although drought conditions earlier this summer lowered some yields, crop quality is reported to be good. The exception is northern Alberta where excess rain has delayed harvest and grain quality has been affected. The latest official forecast in early October put 1997 wheat output at some 23.5 million tons, 21 percent down from last year. However, this reflects an 8 percent reduction in area as well as the lower yields.

The outlook for the United States 1997 coarse grains crop, mainly maize, remains generally satisfactory. After dry weather caused a deterioration of yield prospects earlier in the summer, crop conditions have stabilized over the past few weeks. The USDA's October forecast put aggregate coarse grain production at 264.6 million tons, just marginally below last year's output. Maize production is now forecast at 236.5 million tons, virtually unchanged from 1996. However, harvesting is still in the very early stages. By 12 October, it was reported that 27 percent of the crop has been harvested across the 17 major producing states which is about normal for this stage of the season. The final outcome of the 1997 crop will still depend greatly on the weather for the completion of the harvest in the coming weeks. In Canada, aggregate coarse grains production is expected to decrease in 1997 after reduced plantings and drought conditions earlier in the summer which reduced yields. Latest official forecasts put the countryís aggregate coarse grains production at 25 million tons, about 12 percent down from the previous year, but still above the average of the past 7 years.

In the United States, rice harvesting is nearing completion and the paddy output is expected to be reduced slightly from the previous forecast to 8.1 million tons, which would still be about 5 percent larger than last yearís crop. The expected increase is attributed to a 9 percent expansion in area to 1.23 million hectares in 1997. Most of the increase in area was allocated to long grain rice whose area went up by about 15 percent to slightly over 800 000 hectares. At the same time, area under medium grain rice declined by 7.5 percent to about 330 000 hectares, all of the drop being in the southern rice producing states.


The regionís aggregate cereal output in 1997 is now estimated at 302.5 million tons, some 6 million tons up from the forecast in August, and 12 million tons up from 1996. The estimate for the 1997 wheat output remains virtually unchanged from the previous forecast at 132.7 million tons, some 3 percent up from 1996, while that for coarse grains is now put at 167.2 million tons, 6 million tons up from the forecast in the previous report and 5 percent up from last year.

In the EC, apart from maize, harvesting of the bulk of the 1997 cereal crops is virtually completed. Aggregate cereal output in the Community is now estimated by FAO at 205 million tons, just 2.7 million tons down from the record crop last year. Harvest delays, caused by rain, affected wheat yields in several countries, and aggregate wheat output is estimated at 95.3 million tons, almost 5 million tons down from last year despite an increase in planted area. However, partially offsetting this decline, the coarse grain crop is now estimated at some 107 million tons, slightly up from previous expectations and about 2 percent above last year.

In eastern parts of the region, latest information points to generally larger crops than last year, and than earlier expected, despite adverse wet weather conditions in early summer. In Bulgaria, the latest official estimate puts the 1997 wheat crop at 3.8 million tons, more than double last yearís poor drought-reduced output. The countryís coarse grains production also recovered sharply to about 2.4 million tons from an estimated 1.6 million tons in 1996. However, early indications for the 1998 wheat crop indicate that the area planted this autumn has fallen somewhat from last yearís level. In the Czech Republic, the 1997 cereal harvest is officially estimated at about 6.9 million tons, slightly down from earlier expectations following some damage due to excessive rainfall this summer, but nevertheless some 4.5 percent above last yearís crop. In Hungary, latest official estimates indicate a larger cereal harvest than earlier expected at nearly 14 million tons, 23 percent up from the 1996 crop. Output of wheat is estimated to have risen to 5.3 million tons, but a larger than normal proportion of poor quality wheat is reported. In Poland, despite some localized crop losses due to flooding this summer, another good cereal crop of about 25 million tons has been gathered this year. Of the total, wheat is estimated to account for 8.3 million tons, marginally less than the 1996 crop, while coarse grains output has increased slightly to 16.7 million tons. In Romania, the 1997 cereal crop has recovered sharply from last yearís drought-reduced level but was nevertheless below its early potential due to adverse weather during the summer which disrupted harvesting. Wheat output is estimated at 7 million tons compared to 3.1 million tons in 1996, while coarse grain output rose to 12.4 million tons, 1.4 million tons up from the previous year. Planting of the 1998 winter wheat crop has been disrupted by adverse weather, shortage of serviceable machinery and farmersí limited funds for inputs. In the Slovak Republic, the 1997 cereal harvest is estimated at 3.8 million tons, a better result than earlier expected and about 15 percent up from last yearís poor crop. Of the total, wheat, the major food crop, accounts for 1.9 million tons.

Harvesting of the 1997 paddy crop in most parts of Europe is quite advanced and the forecast for total output in the EC has been reduced by 100 000 tons from the earlier report to about 2.5 million tons. The reduction is attributed to lower yields and harvested area in some countries than originally expected.


The aggregate area sown to grains (cereals and pulses) for harvest in 1997 is estimated to have declined by less than 1 million hectares to about 90 million hectares solely due to the sharp drop in the areas sown in Kazakstan. In all other countries the area sown to grains remained stable or increased. The area harvested could be somewhat less reflecting the late maize harvest and cool and wet weather conditions in some important producing areas as well as the very high fuel prices prevailing at critical moments during the harvest. The aggregate area sown to wheat remained stable at just under 48 million hectares, despite a reduction of 1.3 million hectares in Kazakstan. The area sown to coarse grains also remained mostly unchanged at around 40 million hectares with larger maize plantings offsetting smaller areas sown to oats, rye and millet. Plantings of rice and pulses declined, the latter due to poor planting weather.

Overall growing conditions for the 1996/97 crops were very favourable during the early part of the season, but persistent rains from June onwards and throughout much of the harvest season, spoilt a standing crop which was larger than last yearís. Better weather than in the preceding crop year was the main reason for the estimated 10 percent increase in aggregate cereal yields but the larger use of fertilizers and pesticides also contributed, particularly in the Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, average yields this year, although close to the 1992-96 average, would still be about 10 percent below those of 1986-90 and grain quality is poor due to adverse summer weather conditions and insufficient use of inputs.

Based on harvest returns and crop conditions in mid October, the aggregate 1997 output of cereals and pulses in the CIS is provisionally estimated at 145 million tons (cleaned weight), 14 percent above last yearís output, now estimated by FAO at 127 million tons. All CIS countries are expected to harvest crops larger than or similar to last yearís. The bulk of the estimated 17 million ton increase in production is due to the recovery in the Russian Federation, the Ukraine and Moldova from last yearís drought reduced crops. Output, however is also expected to increase sharply in Georgia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, in response to somewhat better availability of inputs and incentives to farmers. Smaller increases are anticipated in the Azerbaijan, (affected by floods) and Kyrgystan where hot weather reduced yield potential in the main producing areas. Despite better weather, output in Kazakstan is expected to increase only marginally.

FAO estimates that CIS wheat production could rise by 11 million tons (16 percent) this year to 78 million tons, due to increased yields. Wheat production in the Russian Federation and the Ukraine alone are forecast to rise by 4.5 million tons and 4 million tons respectively while all other countries are also expecting a larger harvest with marked increases forecast in Kazakstan and Moldova. The aggregate output of coarse grains is expected to increase by 7 million tons (12 percent) to 62 million tons mainly due to higher yields. This year the area sown to maize increased in all three major producing countries. The area sown to pulses has declined steadily since 1991 and output is likely to fall to 3.1 million tons in 1997 from about 3.3 million tons in 1996.

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). 


The outlook for the 1997 wheat and coarse grain crops has improved in Australia following timely and abundant rainfall in September and early October. Average yields are now expected to be somewhat better than earlier anticipated, particularly in New South Wales where exceptionally dry conditions were experienced earlier in the season, attributed to El Niño. However, yields will nevertheless be down from last yearís bumper levels, and the overall area seeded to winter grains is estimated to have decreased by about 4 percent. The 1997 wheat crop is now forecast at 17.6 million tons compared to last yearís record output of 23.6 million tons. Aggregate coarse grain output in 1997 (including the minor summer crop of mostly sorghum and maize harvested earlier in the year) is now forecast at some 8.7 million tons, compared to about 10.5 million tons in 1996. The recent rainfall has also improved prospects greatly for the summer coarse grain crop soon to be planted for harvest in 1998.

The 1997 paddy crop in Australia, which accounts for over 95 percent of the regional production, is estimated at about 1.4 million tons, up from 951 000 tons produced last year and compared to a ten-year average of about 900 000 tons. The dramatic rise in production is a result of a 10 percent increase in rice area to 166 000 hectares and notably improved water supplies in New South Wales, where most of Australiaís rice is grown. Preliminary indications for the 1998 season suggest a 16 percent drop in area to 140 000 hectares, attributed to lower world prices and substantially reduced water allocations expected in New South Wales.

Previous Page Page Top TOC Next Page