Prospects for the 1998 harvest in May/June remain uncertain, due mainly to ongoing fighting in the northern provinces which comprise some 40 percent of the country’s irrigated cereal and about 53 percent of its rainfed area. The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country last June/July estimated the 1997 total cereal production at 3.66 million tonnes, 18 percent higher than the previous year. Following the recent earthquake which hit the Northern part of the country, the food situation is very tight in the affected areas. Relief assistance is urgently required in these areas. According to WFP, 30 000 Afghanis in the Takhar region will need relief food aid for the next three months, due to the loss of all food supplies, including livestock; a total of 1 500 tonnes of food is required to feed quake survivors. Since 9 February, WFP has started to provide food to affected population and plans to dispatch 20 convoys carrying 70 tonnes of food each, on average, from Tajikistan en route to the remote Afghan regions.
A consolidated Appeal for Assistance to Afghanistan was launched on 4 February 1998 for a total amount of US$ 153.5 million to cover the period January-December 1998. Main activities of the Appeal include agriculture, education, health, income generation activities, rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, relief and food aid.
Imports of cereals in 1997/98 are forecast at 710 000 tonnes, similar to last year, including an emergency food aid requirement of 170 000 tonnes.
BANGLADESH (6 February)
The output from the recently harvested ‘Aman’ paddy crop is provisionally estimated at 9.6 million tonnes which is slightly lower than earlier estimate of 10.2 million tonnes, but about 1 percent higher than the production of last year. The failure of rains in October following the cyclonic storms during the last week of September were responsible for the downward adjustment of estimates. The production target for the ‘boro’ rice crop, to be harvested in May/June has been set at 7.5 million tonnes, against the previous year’s harvest of 7.46 million tonnes. The 1997 production estimate has been revised upwards by 500 000 tonnes from the previous forecast to 28.5 million tonnes reflecting good yields achieved due to favourable weather conditions and an adequate supply of essential inputs.
The outlook for the wheat crop, to be harvested in MarchApril is favourable; the production target is set at 1.5 million tonnes, against the previous year’s crop of 1.45 million tonnes. Despite recent price rises, the overall food supply situation remains satisfactory. As of end-December 1997, the government-held cereal stocks were estimated at 826 000 tonnes. Current projections indicate that the country will import some 1.1 million tonnes of wheat and 350 000 tonnes of rice.
CAMBODIA (6 February)
Production of the main, wet season paddy is provisionally estimated at 2.76 million tonnes for 1997/98 and the forecast output of the second, dry season irrigated crop, to be harvested in March, is put at 0.735 million tonnes, giving a total paddy production of 3.49 million tonnes. At this level, despite the reported shortfall in rain in some parts of the country and a decline in area under rice, aggregate output would be about 3 percent above 1996/97 production and 27 percent higher than the average for the previous five years. For secondary crops, maize, cassava, sweet potatoes and vegetables, planted area have increased but heavy floods have severely damaged maize production.
CHINA (6 February)
Official estimates indicate that the overall grain output to reach 492.5 million tonnes in 1997, the second highest crop on record after the previous year’s 504.5 million tonnes. This is despite the severe drought in the northern parts of the country which affected more than 33 million hectares of farmland. The revised estimate of maize production is now put at 105 million tonnes, about 18 percent lower than the previous year and 2 percent below the average of the preceding five years.
Production of the 1998 winter wheat crop, to be harvested from April, is anticipated to decline due to the decrease in sown area which resulted from insufficient moisture. Out of six major wheat producing provinces three have been reported as experiencing dry conditions which are forecast to continue into the spring. Snow and low temperatures in the first-half of January have also damaged wheat in parts of southern China.
Overall, the food supply situation is favourable with satisfactory stock levels in the country, following the previous year’s bumper crop harvest.
CYPRUS (10 February)
The country received above normal rainfall in November and prospects for the 1998 wheat and barley crops, due for harvest from June appear to be favourable. No serious outbreak of plant diseases and pests are reported. Production of cereals in 1997, mainly barley is estimated at 40 000 tonnes, some 72 percent less than the previous year. Domestic production normally accounts only for less than one-third of total consumption requirements.
Imports of wheat in 1997/98 (May/April) are forecast at 95 000 tonnes, 6 percent higher than the previous year. Aggregate imports of barley and maize are forecast at some 540 000 tonnes, about 32 percent higher than last year.
INDIA (6 February)
The overall outlook for the rabi grains (mainly wheat), to be harvested in April/May 1998, remains favourable. For the 1997/98 rabi season starting 1 October 1997, cumulative rainfall as of 28 January 1998 was below normal in 10 (out of 35) sub-divisions, accounting for 9 percent of the rabi grain production. This compares with 11 sub-divisions accounting for 58 percent of rabi grain production with below-normal rainfall at the same time in 1996/97.
Despite heavy rains late last year which slowed the kharif rice harvest in southern parts of the country, paddy production is forecast at 110 million tonnes, some 2 percent up on the previous year. Accordingly, the estimate for aggregate paddy output for 1997/98, including Kharif and Rabi, has been raised by 1.2 million tonnes, from the previous forecast to 123 million tonnes. Most parts of the country received timely and adequate monsoon rains for the tenth consecutive year.
According to latest official reports, the Government wheat stocks as of beginning-November 1997, were estimated at 8.03 million tonnes compared to 9.72 million tonnes a year earlier. The total foodgrains stocks for the same period, on the other hand, were 18.27 million tonnes, against 15.34 million in the previous month and 21.32 million a year earlier.
INDONESIA (16 February)
El Niño-related drought, considered to be the worst in half a century, has reduced food production in Indonesia and exacerbated forest fires, adversely affecting the food security of the poorer sectors of the population. The Asian financial turmoil, which affected several countries including Indonesia, has also played its part in aggravating the food situation through a reduced import capacity and domestic price rises due to currency devaluation. The price rises, which sparked-off riots in several towns, are reported to have been accentuated by panic buying and hoarding by traders.
Paddy production in 1997 is provisionally estimated to be some 2 million tonnes below the previous year’s output of 51.1 million tonnes, mainly reflecting the drought damage to crops harvested in the later part of the year. The maize crop has also been affected. In addition to foodcrops, drought has reduced the output of coffee, cocoa and rubber, resulting in a contraction in incomes and erosion of purchasing power of the farmers dependent on such crops. The food supply situation is tight in areas which have been seriously affected by drought such as central Irian Jaya, East Timor and parts of central Java and Yogyakarta, which have been seriously affected by drought. Throughout the country, food prices have increased sharply and food stocks are dwindling. The food stocks held by the National Food Logistics Agency (BULOG) are being replenished through imports. The Government has prepared a drought response plan for eight months (October 1997-May 1998) and taken a number of measures to cope with the food supply difficulties.
Current indications are that the output of the main season rice crop for harvest in the coming months would be somewhat reduced. Planting of this crop which normally starts in October/November was delayed due to lack of moisture affecting much of the traditional rainfed rice areas. With water reserves in wells and rivers reported to be low in some of the main producing areas, a prolonged shortfall in precipitation in the next two months could seriously reduce yields and production in 1998. As a result of the potential decline in production, rice imports are expected to increase substantially over last year’s volume of 950 000 tonnes and could exceed 2 million tonnes in 1998.
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (6 February)
Harvesting of the rice crop is complete and an output of 2.4 million tonnes is forecast. At this level output is about 8 percent below last year’s well above average production but still about 2 percent higher than the average for the previous five years. Maize production in 1997 is forecast at 900 000 tonnes, some 200 000 tonnes above the previous year. Annual domestic maize consumption is estimated at around 2.5 million tonnes and about 1.1 million tonnes were imported in 1996. The country is expected to remain a major importer of wheat in the 1997/98 marketing year due to the high domestic demand for wheat. Estimated production of wheat in 1997/98 was 10 million tonnes, slightly lower than the previous year and about 5 percent below the average for the previous five years. Reported rains and floods in January, which washed away farmland under wheat and barley in southwestern Iran may adversely affect output.
IRAQ* (10 February)
Prospects for the 1998 cereal harvest in May/June remain uncertain. The rainfall has been below average and unevenly distributed, and has substantially affected sowing operations. Production is likely to be constrained again this season by serious shortages of quality seeds, fertilizer, spare parts for agricultural machinery, agro-chemicals, vaccines and the widespread incidence of pests, weeds and animal diseases. The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country last June/July estimated the production of the main cereals in 1997 at 2.2 million tonnes. Crop yields remain low due to poor land preparation resulting from a lack of machinery, low use of inputs, deteriorating soil quality and irrigation facilities, and increased crop infestation.
Although there has been some improvement in the overall food supply situation following the implementation of Security Council Resolution 986, malnutrition still remains a serious problem throughout Iraq. Although there has been some improvement in the overall food situation following the implementation of SCR 986, malnutrition remains a serious problem throughout Iraq. Moreover, although food rations under SCR 986 provides a significant proportion of overall energy and protein needs, the provisions are low or deficient in a number of other nutrients, particularly Vitamins A and C which are almost zero and calcium, zinc, riboflavin and Vitamin B6, which are all less than 40 percent of needs. For a more balanced diet, the quality of protein is also low which is to be expected from a ration based heavily on cereals. To supply these nutrients, the diet should be diversified, with foods like fruits, vegetables and animal products. In view of these serious shortfalls in the food rations under SCR 986, the Secretary-General has recently proposed to increase by US$ 3.26 billion to US$ 5.26 billion, from its current level of US$ 2 billion, the amount of oil Iraq is allow to sell over a period of six months, to buy food, medicine and health supplies.
ISRAEL (10 February)
The prospects for the 1998 wheat and barley crops, to be harvested in April/May, are favourable, reflecting normal weather conditions. Production of wheat in 1997, is estimated at 140 000 tonnes.
Imports of cereals in 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast at some 2.7 million tonnes, 6 percent lower than in previous year.
JAPAN (6 February)
Rice output in 1997, estimated at 13 million tonnes, is slightly higher than in 1996 and about 1 percent higher than the average for the preceding five years of 12.8 million tonnes. To cut rice production and reduce large stocks in the country, the government provides incentives to farmers to reduce land area under production. Currently about 30 percent of rice farmland in Japan is set aside and kept out of production. Official estimates indicate that rice stocks were around 3.7 million tonnes at the end of October 1997, up by 40 percent compared to 1996. Last year’s harvest is expected to further increase stocks to about 4.5 million tonnes by the end of October this year.
JORDAN (10 February)
The prospects for the 1998 wheat and barley crops are favourable so far. As a result of unfavourable weather conditions last year, aggregate output of wheat and barley declined by 18 percent in 1997 to 55 000 tonnes. Domestic cereal production generally meets about 10 percent of consumption requirements and the remaining is covered by imports, mostly on commercial terms.
Imports of wheat in 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast at 800 000 tonnes and that of rice at 90 000 tonnes. Coarse grains imports in 1997/98 are forecast at 1.3 million tonnes.
KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (6 February)
The aggregate production of cereals in 1997 is estimated at 7.8 million tonnes compared with some 7.7 million tonnes harvested in 1996. This is mainly attributed to the bumper rice crop harvested in which production is estimated at 5.4 million tonnes. The rice output in 1997 is the highest in six years, and some 28 000 tonnes higher than the previous year’s good crop and around 6 percent above the average for the preceding five years. Last year’s good rice production is attributed to favourable weather and government efforts to offset future decline in area cultivated and increase in the level of self sufficiency in rice.
KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF* (13 February)
Reflecting a serious drought in 1997, the output of maize declined by over 50 percent from the normal level. The adverse effect of the drought on rice, however, was much less pronounced as the crop is largely irrigated. Milled rice production in 1997, taking into account losses, is estimated at approximately 1.52 million tonnes which together with maize brings aggregate production of these cereals to 2.66 million tonnes in milled rice equivalent or 3.48 million tonnes in paddy equivalent.
The Mission estimated that the import requirement of cereals for 1997/98 at around 1.95 million tonnes. Of this the commercial imports, including informal cross border trade with China are estimated to account for 700 000 tonnes whilst pledged food assistance in the pipeline are expected to bring over 241 000 tonnes. The uncovered import deficit with which the country needs assistance for 1997/98, amounts to just over 1 million tonnes.
Based on these estimates the 1998 United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for DPR Korea was launched on 12 February 1998 for US$ 415.6 million for food and humanitarian supplies to combat the effects of severe food shortages in the country. This amount includes the FAO and WFP jointly approved emergency operation for US$ 378 million on 30 December 1997 to provide 658 000 tonnes of food to 7.47 million people for 12 months. The United States have recently pledged 200 000 tonnes of aid to the country, the first delivery of which is planned for April 1998.
LAOS* (3 February)
Despite reports of widespread flooding late last year, cereal output in 1997 is forecast at 1.7 million tonnes, 18 percent higher than in 1996 and 12 percent above the average of the preceding five years. But localized shortages are reported in some provinces due to adverse weather. Government officials in these areas were urging farmers to plant secondary crops to make up for the shortage.
LEBANON (10 February)
The prospects for the 1998 winter harvest in June/July remain favourable so far. However, domestic cereal production usually covers only about 10 percent of the consumption requirements. Aggregate production of wheat and barley in 1997 is estimated at 63 000 tonnes.
Imports of wheat in 1997/98 (July/June) are forecast at some 0.5 million tonnes, about 11 percent higher than in previous year.
MALAYSIA (6 February)
Paddy production in 1997 is estimated at around 2.1 million tonnes, around average and similar to 1996 output. Moderate to heavy showers in January 1998 are reported to have slowed fieldwork for oil palm and the planting of the main paddy crop.
MONGOLIA* (13 February)
Aggregate output of cereals in 1997 is estimated at 240 000 tonnes, some 10 percent above the output in 1996, but about 33 percent below the average of the previous five years. Reflecting this below-average harvest, the already tight food supply situation is expected to deteriorate until the next harvest in September. The tight food supply situation, coupled with the negative effects of economic reforms, is seriously affecting vulnerable groups. The cereal deficit for 1997/98 is estimated at 90 000 tonnes, including 23 000 tonnes of emergency food aid for vulnerable people. A recent report indicated that the United States has recently donated 11 000 tonnes of flour.
MYANMAR (5 February)
The output of paddy in 1997 is estimated at 17 million tonnes, similar to the previous year and around average, despite the serious flooding which affected the rice crop in various parts of the country,. About 800 000 hectares in all eleven states and divisions in the country were reported damaged, with approximately 298 000 hectares totally destroyed.
NEPAL (5 February)
Despite an increase in area planted to paddy in 1997 by about 4 percent from last year, production is forecast at 3.7 million tonnes compared to the 4.2 million tonnes harvested in 1996. However, at this level production is still about 12 percent higher than the average for the previous five years. The aggregate cereal output in 1997 is estimated at 6.3 million tonnes, some 600 000 tonnes below the previous year’s harvest but about 9 percent above the average.
PAKISTAN (5 February)
Early prospects for the wheat crop, for harvest in April/May, are uncertain, reflecting the adverse weather conditions which prompted the decline in sown area. Water accumulated on the fields in December and early January made them unfit for wheat cultivation. It is reported that the Government is likely to import around 4 million tonnes of wheat in 1997/98. The country’s wheat production in 1996/97 was around 16.9 million tonnes and the Government had to import 3 million tonnes to bridge the shortfall.
Current estimates for paddy production indicate that the country is likely to produce 4.5 million tonnes of rice in 1997/98, some 19 percent above the average for the preceding five years and about 5 percent higher than 1996/97. The increase in production is attributed to higher yields and the small increase in area cultivated.
In an attempt to stimulate the agricultural sector the Government announced in late 1997 a comprehensive package of incentives. This includes increases in support prices for various crops, relief in the prices for key agricultural inputs, improved availability of agricultural credit, better irrigation and drainage and better quality control of fertilizers and pesticides.
PHILIPPINES (5 February)
Recent reports in the country warned that drier weather conditions related to the El Niño weather anomalies, could cause moderate to severe drought over most of the country up to April 1998. Provinces considered particularly vulnerable include South Cotabato, Miasmic Oriental and parts of Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao. As a result of the forecasted drought, rice and maize production are expected to drop in the first 6 months of 1998.
Paddy output for 1997 is officially estimated at 11.27 million tonnes, a mere 0.13 percent lower than the 1996 output. Nevertheless, the country’s paddy output from January to June this year is anticipated to drop by as much as 12.72 percent compared with the same period in 1997. The crop forecast in Maize production for the fourth quarter of 1997 remained higher than the 1996 final estimates giving a total corn production of 4.33 million tonnes. At this level, output is more than 4 percent higher than in 1996, but about 3 percent lower than the previous five years. Maize production is also expected to drop by 8.7 percent to about 1.68 million tonnes in the first 6 months of this year.
The National Food Authority (NFA) is reported to have a sufficient stock of about 2 million tonnes, enough to last until the end of April. Nevertheless, imports of rice and maize in 1998 are likely to increase due to expected weatherrelated declines in production and continued growth in population and consumption. The NFA has already placed orders for 650 000 tonnes of rice for delivery in the first half of 1998. In 1996 the NFA imported 893 000 tonnes of rice.
SAUDI ARABIA (10 February)
Following good rainfall during the growing season, prospects for the 1998 crop to be harvested in April/May are favourable if no serious outbreaks of pests and disease occur in the coming months. On 6 January 1997, mature swarms were reported arriving from across the Red Sea. The swarms appeared between Al-Lith and Al-Qunfidah. Most of them laid shortly after arrival. By 19 January 1997, hatching had started near AlQunfidah. A total of 32 723 hectares were treated. Breeding is forecast to continue along the Red Sea coastal plains from Al-Lith to Bader and perhaps extend to Al-Wejh and Jizan if conditions are favourable. Consequently, an increasing number of hopper bands is likely to appear during February and new swarms could start to form by early March. There is moderate risk of additional swarms arriving from Eastern Africa and moving south or north along the coastal plains.
Imports of barley in 1997/98 (July/June) are currently forecast at 5.5 million tonnes. However, this figure is likely to be revised downward as sufficient winter rains have produced more natural grazing pastures for livestock farmers. To make local products’ prices more competitive, the government plans to cut subsidies on imported barley and substitute it with other locally produced feeds.
SRI LANKA (5 February)
It is reported that the El Niño weather phenomenon could trigger an island-wide drought in the country in 1998 after causing widespread rains last year. Rainfall in 1997 from the north-east monsoon has been generally favourable with cumulative rainfall, in the period 1 October to 28 January, being normal to above normal in all eight provinces monitored. This accounts for 100 percent of “Maha” paddy production, the country’s main rice crop. In comparison, in the same period the previous year, cumulative rainfall was normal or above normal in none of the eight provinces.
Overall output of paddy in 1997 is estimated at 2.6 million tonnes, about 26 percent higher than in 1996 and 5 percent higher than the average for the last five years. There are concerns in the country’s rice production in the coming months due to the impact of El Niño. But the impact is expected to be limited because most irrigation tanks were reported to be full due to last year’s favourable monsoon rains.
SYRIA (10 February)
The prospects for the winter grains crops to be harvested from mid-May are favourable reflecting normal weather conditions during the growing season. Cereals production in 1997 is estimated at 5.1 million tonnes, about 15 percent lower than last year. As a result of unfavourable weather, especially winter frost, wheat output dropped to 3.5 million tonnes, whilst the output of barley was 1.3 million tonnes compared to 1.5 million tonnes in 1996. Maize output is estimated at about 300 000 tonnes, some 45 percent higher than in the previous year.
Imports of wheat flour in 1997/98 are forecast at some 400 000 tonnes, whilst maize imports are forecast at 340 000 tonnes.
THAILAND (5 February)
Harvesting of the 1997 main paddy crop, which normally accounts for 85-90 percent of the country’s annual output, is completed. The output for this crop is estimated at 17.84 million tonnes, lower than the earlier target of 18.18 million, due to the damage to crops caused by reduced rainfall in various parts of the country. The aggregate output in 1997 is provisionally estimated at 21.8 million tonnes slightly higher than the previous year and about 6 percent higher than the average for the previous five years. The 1997 maize production is estimated at 3.9 million tonnes, some 500 000 tonnes below the previous year’s crop.
Planting of the 1998 secondary rice crop has started; early prospects are unfavourable due to the lower level of water supplies in the Bhumbol and Sirket reservoirs. Officials are concerned by the number of farmers planning second paddy crops encouraged by the rising prices despite the looming water shortages. Rice output from second crop paddy this year had been officially forecast at 2.8 million tonnes from four million rai (640 000 hectares) of paddy fields, but according to official report, as of January planted area had soared to five million rai (800 000 hectares).
TURKEY (10 February)
The prospects of the 1998 winter crop are favourable so far reflecting normal weather conditions. The 1997 wheat production is estimated at 18.7 million tonnes compared to 18.5 million tonnes in 1996.
The government is planning to change its current farm subsidy system to boost farm output and rural migration. With the new system, the government will set an intervention price (base price) and a target price (ceiling price) for each subsidized product. If local prices of the crop fall below the intervention price, the government will step in the market to buy in order to cause rises in the prices. However, when local prices rise above the target price, the government will allow imports to curb price rises.
Wheat imports in 1997/98 are forecast at some 1.5 million tonnes, 28 percent lower than in the previous year. The 1997/98 maize imports are forecast at 600 000 tonnes compared to 484 000 tonnes last year.
VIET NAM (5 February)
Aggregate paddy production in 1997 is officially estimated at 27.5 million tonnes slightly higher than the previous year and about 9 percent higher than the average for the preceding five years. This is despite the damage of about half a million hectares of rice caused by Typhoon Linda in the first week of November.
Rice export, which is one of the country’s main export earners, reached 3.5 million tonnes in 1997 making Vietnam the world’s second largest rice exporter. Official reports indicted that Northern Vietnam exported 102 000 tonnes in 1997, marking the first time the region has achieved selfsufficiency in the staple. The export target for 1998 is 4.0 million tonnes.
YEMEN (10 February)
The output of 1997 sorghum crop recently harvested is estimated some 473 000 tonnes, some 29 percent higher than last year. Small scale breeding of locusts is probably in progress in a few places along the Red Sea coastal plains. Consequently, low numbers of hoppers and new adults are expected to be present in the coming months. There is a moderate risk that these hoppers will be supplemented by small swarms appearing on the Red Sea coastal plains from the north and west. Low numbers of adults may be present on the Aden coastal plains and could breed in areas where rains have fallen. Imports of cereals in 1997 - mainly wheat - are estimated at some 2.6 million tonnes.