FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No. 3, June 1998 Page 5

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Output of the 1998 wheat crop in Asia is provisionally forecast at 248 million tonnes, about 2 million tonnes below last year but still some 8 percent above the average of the preceding five years. In China, persisting drought conditions are reported to have affected winter crops in some major wheat growing areas. Additionally, plantings of the smaller spring wheat crop were adversely affected by low precipitation and above normal temperatures in major producing areas in the north-eastern part of the country. Recent official reports indicate that aggregate (winter and spring) production will fall by about 2-4 percent from last year's record crop of 124 million tonnes, but nevertheless remain well above average. In India, wheat output is anticipated to fall by about 3 percent from the previous year, to 67 million tonnes, but would remain about 7 percent above average. In Pakistan a record wheat crop of about 18 million tonnes is anticipated, due to increased plantings, better availability of agricultural credit and increased use of fertilizer. In Bangladesh, a bumper wheat crop of about 1.8 million tonnes is anticipated reflecting favourable growing conditions.

The region's output of coarse grains in 1998 is provisionally forecast at 212 million tons, some 8 percent above last year's reduced harvest and about 5 percent higher than the average for the preceding five years. The planting of the 1998 main coarse grain crops is underway in some parts but the bulk will be planted at the onset of the south-west monsoon in June. In China, an above average crop is forecast despite the prolonged drought in northern and south-western parts of the country. In India, coarse grains, except barley and maize, are mainly grown during the monsoon season.

In Afghanistan, the outlook for the winter crops remain uncertain due to ongoing fighting and the recent earthquake damage to irrigation infrastructure in the northern provinces, which account for some 40 percent of the country's irrigated cereal and 53 percent of its rainfed area. The outlook for the winter crops remains also uncertain in Iraq due to below-average and unevenly distributed rainfall, and shortages of essential inputs. In Saudi Arabia and Turkey, prospects for the 1998 winter crops are favourable due to good rainfall during the growing season.

With regard to rice, in China, planting of the 1998 early paddy crop, is at an advanced stage. However, some replanting might be required in the drought-affected southern provinces. At this stage with only this crop in the ground so far, it is too early to assess with any accuracy the likely total paddy production for 1998. However, it is reported that the amount of area devoted to higher-yielding hybrid rice will be increased by 160 000 hectares this year to over 400 000 hectares. FAO tentatively forecasts the total paddy rice crop in 1998 at 198.5 million tonnes, similar to the previous year's level.

In Indonesia, harvesting of the main-season rice crop, which was delayed by several weeks, is now complete. A recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to the country forecast the 1998 paddy harvest at 47.5 million tonnes, 3.6 percent below last year's already reduced production. Over 90 percent of the decrease is due to lower planted area as a result of delayed onset of rains. The decline in output combined with the financial crisis have seriously undermined the food security situation of the population, prompting the need for large international food assistance. In Malaysia, the production outlook for 1998 has also been affected by the prolonged drought. Similarly, in the Philippines lower paddy production is forecast for the second consecutive year due to El Nino related drought. In Vietnam, most of the winter-spring crop, which accounts for about 40 percent of total rice production, has been harvested and early indications are that yields have not been affected notably by the El Nino related drought. However, dry conditions are severely affecting the summer- autumn crop, which makes up close to one quarter of total output. Overall, the 1998 paddy production is expected to drop slightly from last year's level to 27 million tonnes, but the final outcome will largely depend on the performance of the 10th month crop, which accounts for over 35 percent of the country's total rice output.

Coarse grains 
  Rice (paddy) Total 1
( . . . . . . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . . . . . . . . ) 
Asia  250.6  248.4  196.4  212.0  521.2  518.5  968.2  978.9 
Africa  15.5  19.6  76.4  81.6  17.1  16.3  109.0  117.6 
Central America  3.4  3.6  28.6  28.4  2.1  2.0  34.2  34.2 
South America  20.0  17.9  62.6  65.5  17.5  16.2  100.2  99.6 
North America  93.0  88.6  291.0  297.5  8.1  8.3  392.1  394.4 
Europe  132.4  133.2  175.2  167.2  2.8  2.8  310.4  303.2 
CIS  81.1  75.8  70.5  63.6  1.1  1.3  152.7  140.7 
Oceania  18.9  18.2  9.9  9.2  1.4  1.2  30.2  28.6 
WORLD  615.0  605.5  910.6  925.0  571.3  566.6  2 097.0  2 097.1 
Developing countries  286.6  286.2  354.2  378.8  545.4  541.7  1 186.2  1 206.7 
Developed countries  328.4  319.3  556.4  546.2  25.9  24.9  910.7  890.4 
  In Thailand, output from the second-season paddy crop is expected to be about 4.4 million tonnes, slightly more than the government's original forecast. Higher rice prices encouraged farmers to expand cultivated area, despite warnings of potential shortages of irrigation water. Preparation for the main-season crop is underway and the government's preliminary forecast for the total 1998 paddy production is about 23 million tonnes, up by 4 percent from the 1997 estimate. However, the final result hinges heavily on the availability of irrigation water for the main-season crop. In Sri Lanka, following generally favourable growing conditions and an expansion in area, increased output for the Maha (main) paddy crop is expected. The availability of ample water supplies in the irrigation reservoirs is anticipated to benefit the Yala season. Overall, total paddy output is projected to expand by 27 percent from the previous year to 2.8 million tonnes. In Bangladesh, the Aus crop, the first and smallest of the three paddy crops, is now being planted. In the past, the Aus crop accounted for up to 20 percent of Bangladesh's total rice output but its share has been declining over time as the country has shifted emphasis to the irrigated Boro crop. Overall, paddy output in 1998 is forecast to expand by 2 percent from the previous year to about 28.4 million tonnes.

In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, prospects for the paddy crop in 1998, depend considerably on the availability of irrigation water and the provision of essential inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizers and appropriate farm technology. Water levels in a large number of irrigation reservoirs remain inadequate as a result of last year's drought and the reduced snowfall this year. In the Republic of Korea, planting of paddy started in April but rice is expected to lose some area to more profitable cash crops. In anticipation of a possible area reduction, the government has set the 1998 paddy output target at 6.7 million tonnes, 11 percent lower than the previous year. In Japan, about 960 000 hectares will be diverted out of rice under the area diversion programme, an increase of 176 000 hectares from the previous year. Accordingly, paddy output is projected to decline by about 10 percent to 11.3 million tonnes. The beginning of the 1998 paddy season in India, Pakistan and Myanmar awaits the arrival of the monsoon rains.


NORTHERN AFRICA: The outlook for the 1998 wheat crop, now being harvested, is favourable in the sub-region and the aggregate output is preliminarily forecast at 13.7 million tonnes, some 40 percent higher than last year's drought-affected crop. In Algeria, rainfall levels improved substantially during the growing season after a poor start, and outpu t is forecast at 2.5 million tonnes, more than double last year's harvest. In Morocco, significant rains during the growing season benefited crop development and output is forecast at 4.1 million tonnes, over 70 percent more than last year. Likewise in Tunisia, growing conditions are much improved compared to last year and production could reach 1.2 million tonnes, some 35 percent above last year's poor level. In Egypt, the output of the almost entirely irrigated wheat crop is expected to be marginally below last year, but above average. Although water supplies have been adequate, exceptionally high temperatures have likely had an adverse affect on yields. Aggregate output of coarse grains in 1998 in the sub-region is forecast at some 11.2 million tonnes, about 21 percent higher than the previous year's poor output. In Egypt, the main rice producer in the sub-region, planting of the 1998 crop is underway. The final area sown will depend largely on the availability of irrigation water.

WESTERN AFRICA: In western Africa, the rainy season is starting in the south of the countries of the Sahel, allowing land preparation and planting of coarse grains. In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, the first rains were received in early March in southern parts and permitted planting of the first maize crop, which is now developing satisfactorily. In the north, recently planted coarse grains are emerging. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, the agriculture sector is improving with rehabilitation programmes underway, but both countries remain heavily dependent on international food assistance.

Planting of the 1998 paddy crop is underway in several countries of western Africa. In Nigeria, the most important rice producer in western Africa, planted area is expected to increase by about 200 000 hectares from 1997. However, a shortage of fertilizers, pesticides and other farm inputs is expected to lead to reduced yields and the government is tentatively forecasting a 12 percent reduction in output from the revised estimate for 1997, to 3.4 million tonnes.

CENTRAL AFRICA: Coarse grains have recently been planted in the south of Cameroon and Central African Republic. In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, crop prospects are poor in Kivu area due to flooding, shortages of inputs and civil unrest.

EASTERN AFRICA: Harvesting of the 1998 wheat crop is well advanced in Sudan. Output is preliminarily estimated at 560 000 tonnes, 13 percent down from the bumper crop last year but still above average. A large reduction in the area planted was partially offset by higher yields. Elsewhere in the region, planting of wheat for the 1998 harvest is underway in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Early prospects for the 1998 coarse grains crops which are at different stages of growth throughout the subregion are mixed. Drier weather in March, following heavy rains and floods in the previous months, favoured planting in several countries of the sub-region. Normal to above normal rains in April and first decade of May generally benefited developing crops of the main "long rains" season in Tanzania and of the secondary season in Ethiopia, which are about to be harvested. However, abundant precipitation in Somalia and Kenya gave rise to concern of further floods after heavy rains already earlier this year. By contrast, late, erratic and insufficient precipitation in Uganda and in southern parts of Sudan, where coarse grains are planted earlier, have resulted in reduced plantings. In Rwanda and Burundi, despite good rains since the beginning of the season, prospects for the 1998 second season cereal crops are uncertain reflecting insecurity in parts and shortages of seeds. Planting of the 1998 main season coarse grain crops has started or is about to start in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: With harvest of the 1998 coarse grain crop almost complete in the sub-region, a below average output of some 15.5 million tonnes is preliminarily estimated compared with 17 million tonnes in 1997. However, the negative effect of the El Niño has been smaller than earlier anticipated. The situation varies sharply between countries, as confirmed by recently completed FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions in several countries of the sub-region. In Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland, growing conditions were generally favourable, with normal to above-normal rainfall in most parts. Despite localized crop damage due to excessive rains, initial estimates point to above-average harvests in these countries. Production is estimated to be below average in Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as a result of irregular rainfall with prolonged dry spells, which affected yields. Plantings were also reduced in several countries as a result of the drought warning and the late onset of rains. In Zambia, output is estimated to be well below average as a result of abnormally high and incessant rainfall, which caused extensive flooding in northern areas while the southern part experienced near-drought conditions.

Early prospects are uncertain for the recently planted wheat crop in the sub-region. Rainfall has been irregular, particularly during the period of February-April, and irrigation reserves may be sharply depleted in the main producing areas of South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Wheat planting In South Africa may also be reduced due to an expected large carryover stock and a poor price outlook, following large imports earlier in the season. In Zimbabwe, concerns at rising production costs may also adversely affect wheat plantings.

In Madagascar, harvesting of the 1998 main rice crop is underway. Production is provisionally forecast at 2.2 million tonnes of paddy, 15 percent down from 1997. However, given the persistence of large locust swarms in several parts of the country and their reported movement towards productive central and northern areas, serious damage to crops can not yet be ruled out. In Mozambique, growing conditions have been generally favourable and paddy output is expected to be around 190 000 tonnes, 6 percent above the previous year's relatively high level of 180 000 tonnes.


Abnormally dry and warm conditions related to El Niño persist over most of the sub-region, delaying in some parts planting of the 1998/99 first season cereal crops.

Harvesting of the 1998 wheat crop in Mexico, which accounts for most of the wheat output in Central America, is underway in the main growing irrigated areas of the northwest. Production is tentatively forecast to be an average 3.6 million tonnes, up slightly from last year's 3.4 million tonnes.

Planting of the 1998/99 first season coarse grain crops is delayed in some Central American countries as a result of the late arrival of the rainy season caused by the tail-end effects of El Niño. Some precipitation has been registered, mostly on the Atlantic coastal areas, but the rains have been mostly irregular and ill-distributed. Average to above-average maize plantings are planned, provided normal rains resume, in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, in an effort to recover from El Niño induced losses to 1997/98 crops. In Mexico, maize plantings of the important spring/summer crop in the central producing states are likely to be significantly reduced relative to last year's near-record level if normal rains do not resume by late May. Increased plantings in other large producing states, where sowing operations extend into July, are planned to make up for potential crop losses in the central belt. In the Caribbean, in the Dominican Republic, normal rains have benefited planting of maize, sorghum and other foodcrops, while in Haiti, planting of rainfed maize and bean crops have been completed under normal weather conditions. In Cuba, planting of the 1998 maize crop is about to start, following intensive rains and flooding in early April which seriously affected the important sugar cane crop. In Jamaica, heavy rains and flooding in April resulted in significant damage to crops and fruit trees, while other parts of the country were affected by drought.


Many parts of the sub-region continue to be severely affected by El Niño. Record precipitation levels and flooding, resulting in significant damage to the whole agricultural sector, as well as to housing and infrastructure, are reported in some areas of the Pacific coastal countries while drought is affecting other parts. Excessive rains and flooding are also reported in the south-east of the sub-region with enormous damage to crops, housing and infrastructure. By contrast, a prolonged drought is affecting the north-eastern parts with severe damage to crops and a serious threat to the food situation of the population.

Planting of the 1998 wheat crop is about to start in the southern areas of the sub-region. In Argentina, despite wetter-than-normal conditions, plantings are tentatively forecast to be close to 1997's above-average level. In Brazil, sowing operations are being delayed in the main producing southern states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul because of the intensive rains related to El Niño. The area planted is expected to decline from last year's average level, mainly reflecting farmers' decision to change to more profitable crops relative to wheat. In Uruguay and Paraguay, sowing activities have been also disrupted because of the abundant rains in April. The area planted should be nevertheless about average. In Chile, an average area is anticipated. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, planting of the 1998 (winter) crop has begun in the main producing eastern department under generally dry weather. In Peru and Ecuador, early production forecasts point out to a slightly below-average wheat crop due to El Niño-associated adverse weather.

Harvesting of the 1998 coarse grain crop (mainly maize) is underway in the southern areas of the sub-region under wetter-than-normal conditions. In Argentina, harvesting operations have been delayed in many of the large producing areas, particularly in the north-east, because of the excessive rains and flooding since late April. No damage is so far reported to the crop and output is forecast at a record 18.5 million tonnes. In Brazil, excessive rains have disrupted harvesting operations in the main producing southern states, while in the north-east, a prolonged drought has inflicted severe damage to the crop. Prospects are uncertain and total production is expected to decline considerably from the 1997 near record level. In Guyana, a severe drought is affecting the crops, including the small maize crop. Prospects are uncertain for Paraguay and Uruguay, as crops are being affected by El Niño induced floods. In Chile, growing conditions are good and an average production is forecast. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, production is expected to fall considerably to 416 000 tonnes due to reduced plantings and below-average yields caused by El Niño-associated drought. In Ecuador, serious damage is reported to the maize crop and a considerably below-average output is expected. In Peru, maize production is forecast to decrease from 1997 record level but should still remain slightly above-average. In Colombia, average plantings are anticipated, while in Venezuela they are expected to be above average in response to possibly expanding exports.

Adverse weather conditions during planting and harvesting in several countries in South America have had a negative impact on the region's 1998 paddy crop season. In particular, output in Brazil is currently projected to fall to 9 million tonnes, the lowest in eight years, as a result of abnormally wet conditions at planting and harvest time. Floods have also adversely affected the rice crop in Argentina, where the crop forecast has been reduced from 1.2 million tonnes to 1.1 million tonnes, and in Uruguay, where output in 1998 is expected to fall by about 10 percent to 900 000 tonnes. Flood related problems are also behind Ecuador's expected contraction in output to 800 000 tonnes, or 20 percent less than the already low 1997 crop. In Guyana, drought has persisted for the past few months and paddy output is forecast to fall to about 340 000 tonnes in 1998, compared to the 538 000 tonnes produced in 1997. By contrast, in Bolivia, a 31 percent increase in the 1998 production to 318 400 tonnes is forecast, reflecting both an expansion in area and improvement in yields.


Prospects for the 1998 wheat crop in the United States remain generally satisfactory. Although winter crop plantings were significantly reduced, crops are reported to have survived the winter well, and favourable spring weather pushed crop development slightly ahead of normal. Aggregate (winter and spring) wheat output is officially forecast at 64.1 million tonnes, down 7 percent from 1997 but above the average of the past five years. The smaller output reflects an estimated 3 percent reduction expected in overall harvested area, and slightly lower yields after last year's record levels (see tables A.10 & A.11). In Canada, the official March seeding intentions report (see table A.12) indicated wheat plantings would fall by some 7 percent from 1997, due to relatively poor returns expected for wheat compared to other crops such as oilseeds, and concerns that below-normal precipitation this winter would result in unfavourable planting conditions in parts. Wheat output in 1998 is tentatively forecast similar to the previous year at about 24 million tonnes, but much will depend on weather conditions for the remainder of planting and the development of crops in the weeks ahead.

With regard to coarse grains, in the United States, early indications pointed to a marginal increase in the area sown to maize (see table A.11). Planting conditions have been generally favourable this spring and, as of late May, about 80 percent of the intended crop had been sown, somewhat ahead of the average pace of the past five years. Assuming yields are on trend, the 1998 maize output is expected to increase by about 4 percent (see table A.10). Aggregate 1998 coarse grains output in the United States is forecast at 270 million tonnes, compared to 265.6 million tonnes in 1997. In Canada, as of late May, planting of the main 1998 coarse grain crops was still proceeding. Aggregate area sown to the major coarse grains is expected to increase by about 5 percent (see table A.12). However, as for wheat, the final outcome of the planting season will still depend greatly on the weather in the next few weeks. Assuming a satisfactory completion of planting, and normal weather conditions throughout the growing season, aggregate 1998 coarse grain output in Canada is forecast to reach 27.5 million tonnes, compared to just over 25 million tonnes in 1997.

In the United States, planting of the 1998 paddy crop is underway and a modest increase in area of about 1 percent from the previous year to 1.24 million hectares is forecast. Farmers in California, Louisiana and Missouri intend to plant more than in 1997, reflecting favourable rice prices relative to other crops, while the rice area in Mississippi and Arkansas is likely to remain unchanged. By contrast, area planted to rice in Texas is expected to continue its downward trend, reflecting the relatively high production costs in the state. Total output in the United States is forecast to increase by about 2 percent from 1997 to 8.3 million tonnes.


FAO tentatively forecasts the EC's aggregate 1998 cereal output at 209 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from the previous year. Winter crops throughout the Community are reported to be in satisfactory condition after a mild winter and development is somewhat ahead of normal. With regard to spring crops, despite some localized weather problems in the past two months, plantings have generally proceeded normally throughout the Community. Aggregate wheat output is forecast to increase by some 4 percent to 99 million tonnes in 1998, while coarse grains output is expected to decline slightly to 107 million tons from 110 million tonnes in 1997. Planting of the 1998 paddy crop is in progress and the paddy area is tentatively forecast at about 400 000 hectares, virtually the same as in the previous year. Production is also expected to be around last year's level of about 2.7 million tonnes.

Elsewhere in Europe, latest indications continue to point to a reduced 1998 cereal crop in Bulgaria. Wheat output is forecast at 3.3 million tonnes compared to about 3.5 million tonnes in 1997 and outputs of the main coarse grains are also forecast to slip back somewhat. By contrast, a larger cereal crop is in prospect in the Czech Republic where winter wheat and barley plantings increased. Rains in April in Hungary brought some relief to developing crops after predominantly dry conditions throughout the winter. However, reflecting smaller areas sown to most cereal crops, even if weather conditions improve for the remainder of the season, reduced wheat and coarse grains outputs are forecast in 1998. In Poland, the 1998 cereal output is expected to be similar to the previous year's at around 25 million tonnes. In Romania, a significant reduction in cereal output is in prospect this year. In the Slovak Republic the winter cereal area is estimated to have decreased but overwinter conditions were generally favourable. Conditions were also good for spring sowing and yield prospects for the 1998 cereal crops are favourable.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, reflecting ample availability of imported wheat and domestically produced potatoes, and the poor profitability of winter wheat in upland areas, the area sown to winter grains (mostly wheat) has fallen. By contrast, spring maize plantings are likely to increase. In Croatia, the outlook for 1998 cereal harvest is satisfactory. The winter cereal area increased by 11 percent and the spring maize plantings are also expected to have increased. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the winter grain area declined by about 2 percent from the previous year and was well below target. However, overall growing conditions have been satisfactory and given normal weather, output could be close to last year's 2.9 million tonnes. The outlook for spring cereals is unfavourable due to a severe shortage of credit this year coupled with low prices for maize and reduced fertilizer applications to this crop.


In the CIS, a smaller grain harvest in 1998 is in prospect due to farmers' continuing economic problems and the late arrival of spring. Low farm prices for cereals following the good 1997 harvest have weakened farmers' ability to mobilize the necessary inputs to ensure the rapid progress of planting and the late spring has exacerbated the problem, notably in the Russian Federation. The winter grain harvest is expected to be lower mainly due to reduced plantings and increased winterkill in Ukraine. Finally, in response to a surplus of feedgrains, some crop diversion is likely, notably to oilseeds. FAO's preliminary forecast of the 1998 grain and pulse harvest is 145 million tonnes (1997: 156 million tonnes), including 76 million tonnes of wheat (1997: 81 million tonnes) and 63 million tonnes of coarse grains (1997: 71 million tonnes). Paddy production is expected to decline further but the pulse harvest could recover.

In the Russian Federation, the 1998 grain harvest is expected to be about 10 percent less than last year's crop of 88.5 million tonnes reflecting some 10 million tonnes surplus of feedgrains in the market from the previous year and reductions in both the area sown and the yield of spring grains. In the Ukraine, the smaller winter grain area and winterkill on 12 percent of the grain area are expected to reduce the wheat output. Spring grain and sunflower plantings have increased but shortages of inputs will limit yield potential. In Kazakhstan, a further reduction in the area sown to grains could limit output to 11 million tonnes (1997: 12.5 million tonnes). Adverse weather has damaged winter wheat in Georgia and Tajikistan. Elsewhere, the outlook is for the 1998 grain harvest to exceed or remain close to last year's levels.


In Australia, the 1998 winter wheat and coarse grains planting is underway. Planting prospects are favourable following good autumn rains. Contrary to earlier expectations for a reduction in wheat plantings, latest forecasts indicate a similar area to the previous year. Assuming normal yields, another good wheat crop of about 18 million tonnes is forecast in 1998.
Harvest of the minor 1998 summer coarse grains crop (mostly sorghum) is underway. Early harvest results indicate more modest yields than earlier expected and the output forecast has been revised downward to about 1.3 milion tonnes, similar to the crop in the previous year.

In Australia, paddy harvesting is nearing completion, with output in 1998 forecast at 1.2 million tonnes, down by 14 percent from the previous year. The area planted to rice declined by 16 percent to about 140 000 hectares, largely due to a substantial reduction in water allocations in New South Wales.

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