Output of 1998 winter crops, being harvested, is expected to be well above last year's drought-affected production of 1.05 million tonnes. Aggregate output of wheat and barley in 1998 is estimated at 3.5 million tonnes, more than three times higher than last year. Cereal imports in 1998/99 (July/June) are forecast at about 5.5 million tonnes.
A few isolated adult Desert Locusts may be present in the central and southern Sahara. Laying could occur in the latter area if rains fall.
EGYPT (1 June)
Production of wheat in 1998 is expected to be about 5.8 million tonnes, some 9 percent higher than the average for the last five years. Maize output is expected to increase from last year's level as the government has been promoting a new wheat-maize mix bread. Low number of adult Desert Locusts may appear and breed in a few oases near Lake Nasser and in the western Desert.
Imports of wheat and wheat flour in 1998/99 (July/June) are forecast at 6.9 million tonnes and coarse grains imports at 3 million tonnes.
MOROCCO (1 June)
Cereal production in 1998 is expected to be above last year's poor harvest, reflecting an increase in area planted due to normal weather conditions during the growing season. Aggregate output of wheat and barley in 1998 is estimated at about 6.1 million tonnes, compared with 3.6 million tonnes last year.
Imports of wheat in 1998/99 (July/June) are forecast at 1.5 million tonnes.
TUNISIA (1 June)
The output of winter crops in 1998, now being harvested, is expected to be higher than last year. Aggregate output of wheat and barley is estimated at about 1.5 million tonnes, some 43 percent higher than last year.
Imports of wheat and barley in 1998/99 are forecast at 1.1 million tonnes and 300 000 tonnes, respectively.
BENIN (2 June)
Rains started in mid-March over the south and became abundant in early April over the whole country. The planting of the first maize crop has started, while millet, sorghum and rice planting is about to start. Rice production is expected to increase in 1998, following the implementation of a national plan including technical assistance, inputs distribution and farm credits.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. The cereal import requirement for 1998 (January/December) is estimated at 205 000 tonnes (including re-exports), mostly wheat and rice. According to the cereal balance sheet, about 70 000 tonnes of maize can be exported to neighbouring countries. Cereal prices are increasing in the north, as a result of strong demand from Sahelian neighbouring countries which had reduced 1997 cereal output.
BURKINA FASO (2 June)
The rainy season started with generally above normal rains. First sporadic rains fell in the south-west and the east in late March. Effective rains started in the south-east in early April. They progressed northwards over almost the entire country in mid-April and were above normal in late April. They decreased somewhat in early May but remained above normal and reached the extreme north in late May. In early June, precipitation remained abundant and widespread over the entire country. Planting of millet and sorghum is now well underway. Crops are emerging satisfactorily in the south and the west. Land preparation has started in the extreme north.
Reflecting a below-average harvest in 1997, the overall food supply situation is tight in the areas which gathered reduced crops. Following a downward revision of 1997/98 production figures, the Government has revised the emergency food aid to 76 400 tonnes to cover consumption requirements of 800 000 people for seven months. As of late May, about 50 000 tonnes of food aid had been pledged by various donors, either from external sources or from local aid programmes. This includes 9 000 tonnes for replenishing the national security stock.
CAPE VERDE (2 June)
Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Planting of maize normally starts in July. Maize production was particularly poor both in 1996 and 1997, and this may cause problems with seed availability in some areas.
Despite two successive poor harvests, the overall food supply situation remains satisfactory as the country imports the bulk of its consumption requirement. However, at-risk rural populations, notably in the semi-arid or arid zones, may need assistance. For the 1997/98 marketing year, the cereal import requirement is estimated at 100 000 tonnes. Pledges reported so far amount to 55 000 tonnes.
CHAD (2 June)
The growing season has started on time with first significant rains registered in mid or late April in the Sudanian and Sahelian zones. Planting of coarse grains is underway in the south and will progress northwards following the onset of regular rains. African Migratory Locusts were reported in mid-May in Linia region, east of N'Djamena, as well as in some villages along the Logone River.
Following an above average harvest in 1997, the overall food supply situation is better than in 1996/97. However, the national early warning system (SAP) recommended provision of 5 155 tonnes of food aid to assist about 237 000 people for up to four months in areas classified as at risk of food supply difficulties in the Sahelian zone. In addition, about 5 000 tonnes are needed to cover needs in the Sudanian and Saharan zones. About 10 000 tonnes of cereals are to be purchased with some donor assistance to replenish the national security stock, which has a recommended level of 22 000 tonnes and which was exhausted at the end of the last growing season.
COTE D'IVOIRE (2 June)
First rains fell during the first dekad of March over the south and became abundant over the whole country during the third dekad, allowing planting of the first maize crop which is developing satisfactorily. Planting of rice, millet and sorghum is underway.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory and markets are adequately supplied. Repatriation for the Liberian refugees is underway and should be completed by the end of the year. The cereal import requirement for 1998 (January/December), is estimated at 610 000 tonnes, mostly wheat and rice.
THE GAMBIA (2 June)
Seasonably dry conditions prevail. Planting will start in a few weeks with the onset of the rains. Seed availability problems are likely, following the 1997 below average harvest in some areas.
Due to a long dry spell in July/August 1997, the 1997 aggregate cereal output was well below the 1996 output and substantially below average. In late April, the Government launched an appeal for international assistance amounting to 9 325 tonnes of cereals.
GHANA (2 June)
Rains started but remained limited in mid-March, allowing the planting of the first maize crop in the south and the centre. Planting of rice, millet and sorghum is underway, following abundant rains over the whole country from mid-April.
The aggregate 1997 cereal production was below normal, estimated at 1.8 million tonnes. Millet production was notably below normal, due to limited rainfall in the north. Cereal production in the extreme north was about 25 percent lower than the average and the cereal balance for this area shows a deficit of about 33 000 tonnes of maize. Food distributions are underway for 30 000 vulnerable people in this area and should continue until the start of the next harvest.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory in the rest of the country. The 1998 cereal import requirement is estimated at 410 000 tonnes, mostly wheat and rice.
GUINEA (2 June)
Rains started in late March in the south, and in early May in the north. Planting of rice, maize, millet and sorghum is underway. However, the large number of refugees in some of the main producing areas is causing problems, including soil degradation and deforestation.
Latest estimates put the total number of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea at 570 000, of whom about 380 000 are Sierra Leoneans and 195 000 are Liberians. Repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees has stopped due to renewed fighting in northern Sierra Leone and about 170 000 new refugees have arrived in southern Guinea during the last two months. The cereal import requirement for 1998 is estimated at 400 000 tonnes.
GUINEA-BISSAU (10 June)
The first significant rains reached the east and the south in mid-May, stopped in late May and resumed in early June. Land preparation for the planting of coarse grains is underway. Planting of rice in seedbeds has also started. Transplanting will start in July/August after desalination of swamp rice fields following stronger rains. Seed availability problems are likely in some areas.
The overall food supply situation is satisfactory, but a military revolt has affected food supply and marketing and displaced a large number of people in the capital. The Government has requested some food and seed assistance for about 1 000 people affected by fires in Gabu and Cacheu regions. Cereal imports during the 1997/98 marketing year are estimated at 76 000 tonnes (including re-exports).
LIBERIA* (2 June)
The main rice crop which was planted in late March is growing satisfactorily. With a stable security situation throughout the country, humanitarian aid can be delivered and farming activities carried out in most areas, and an improvement in the nutritional status of the population is reported. Food supply on the urban market is stable. However, food prices remain high.
Liberia remains heavily dependent on food aid. The number of refugees and displaced persons is currently estimated at 800 000, including some 56 000 new arrivals from Sierra Leone. The cereal import requirement for 1998 (January/December), is currently estimated at 240 000 tonnes, including 130 000 tonnes of food aid.
MALI (2 June)
The growing season has started in the south and land preparation and first planting of millet and sorghum has started. Plantings will progress northwards following the arrival of rains.
Following an above average 1997/98 aggregate cereal output with record rice production, the overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Cereal surpluses were available and substantial quantities have been exported, notably to Burkina Faso and Mauritania. The national early warning system (SAP) has classified several arrondissements in the north and west of Tombouctou region and in several parts of Kayes, Mopti and Ségou regions as at risk of food supply difficulties and recommended the provision of 8 600 tonnes of cereals to assist 318 000 people for 3 months.
MAURITANIA* (2 June)
Seasonably dry conditions prevail, although some limited rains have been received in parts and land preparation is underway.
Following the harvesting of recession and off-season crops, the aggregate output of cereals for 1997/98 is estimated at 152 173 tonnes. This figure, which is close to the estimate by an FAO Crop Assessment Mission in October 1997, confirms that production improved from the 1996/97 poor level but remains below average.
The overall food supply situation is anticipated to be tight in the remainder of 1998, notably in the south of Aftout area. Prices of local coarse grains have increased sharply. Following substantial recent commercial imports, wheat and rice prices remain mostly stable. The government has appealed for international food assistance amounting to about 50 000 tonnes. As of late May, pledges reported amounted to 40 600 tonnes.
NIGER (2 June)
The first rains were registered in the south and the south- west in mid to late April allowing planting to start in several areas. By early June, they covered the western part of the country. In the east, seasonably dry conditions prevail. Plantings of millet and sorghum started in late May and are now well underway. Planting has not yet started in Agadez and Diffa departments.
Food supply is reported to be tight in several areas, especially in Tillabery and Diffa departments. Higher than normal migrations to Mali of families or men in search of work are reported from the north of Tillabery department. Markets are generally well supplied but cereal prices are high. Substantial imports have been recorded from neighbouring countries. The Government has appealed for international assistance, including food and seeds, and for replenishment of cereal banks. As of late May, contributions from international donors or from local solidarity programmes reported so far amounted to about 47 000 tonnes.
NIGERIA (2 June)
Rains started over the south in mid-March and reached the north in late April. The first maize and rice crops are developing satisfactorily in the south and the centre, while land preparation is underway in the north for the planting of millet and sorghum. Shortages of fertilizers, improved seeds and pesticides are still reported and may limit foodcrop production. A severe fuel shortage has also been reported and is affecting commercial activities.
The cereal import requirement for 1998 is estimated at 1.3 million tonnes, including 1 million tonnes of wheat and 200 000 tonnes of rice.
SENEGAL (2 June)
Seasonably dry conditions prevail generally. Sporadic rains were registered in the extreme south in mid-May but the weather remained dry countrywide in late May, compared to last year when the rainy season started in late May. In early June, the first significant rains covered the extreme south-east. Land preparation is underway in the south and planting will progress northwards with the onset of rains.
Following a reduced 1997 cereal harvest due to a long dry spell in July/August, the overall food supply situation is going to be tight in the affected areas during the lean season. In the urban areas, food supply is adequate and prices of rice are stable and even decreased in mid-May. In rural areas, supplies and prices of rice are also generally stable but prices of coarse grains are increasing, notably in the north and the centre-north. In January, the Government launched an appeal for food assistance amounting to 82 600 tonnes of cereals to cover the needs of about 2.5 million affected people.
SIERRA LEONE* (2 June)
The rainy season started in late March in the east and abundant rains have been recorded over the whole country since early May, allowing the planting of maize, millet and sorghum. Rice, which was planted in April and May, is growing satisfactorily, but the output is expected to remain below normal due to lack of seeds, tools and other agricultural inputs, and renewed insecurity which is causing population displacements in some areas. About 206 000 people have fled to neighbouring Liberia and Guinea since the beginning of the year. Rehabilitation activities are underway, following marked improvement in the security situation. Trade and economic activities have resumed in Freetown and the food supply situation is improving.
Overall, the food supply situation remains very precarious. FAO estimates Sierra Leone's cereal import requirement for 1998 at about 260 000 tonnes, including 80 000 tonnes of food aid. A UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for the period June-December 1998 is under preparation.
TOGO (2 June)
Limited rains fell in mid-March but precipitation became abundant from mid-April over the whole country. The first maize crop is growing satisfactorily while the planting of rice, millet and sorghum is underway.
Markets are well supplied with foodstuffs. As a result of above normal cereal production in 1997, substantial quantities of maize are available for export. The cereal import requirement for 1998 (January/December), is estimated at 78 000 tonnes of wheat and rice.
CAMEROON (2 June)
Rains started in the south in late March and progressed northwards in April, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. Seasonably dry conditions prevail in the extreme north.
Following a government appeal for international assistance to cover the needs of populations affected by a poor crop and attacks by African Migratory Locusts in late 1997, an emergency food operation has recently been approved by WFP to provide 6 000 tonnes of relief food to 210 000 people in the extreme north for a period of 3 months. The cereal import requirement for 1997/98 (July/June) is estimated at 250 000 tonnes of wheat and rice and 10 000 tonnes of coarse grains.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (2 June)
Following an above average cereal harvest in 1997, the food supply situation is satisfactory. Refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Chad reside in the Central African Republic. For the 1998 marketing year (January/December), the cereal import requirement is estimated at about 40 000 tonnes, mainly wheat and rice.
CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF * (2 June)
The food supply situation is critical in the east where insecurity persists and severe malnutrition is reported among the remaining refugees. Prospects for the B-season crop, to be harvested soon, are unfavourable due to shortages of seed and insecurity. Increased civil strife in both North and South Kivu has resulted in considerable population displacements and impeded normal agricultural activities. In addition, an influx of refugees from Burundi has been reported in South Kivu.
Flooding caused by heavy rains in early 1998 has also affected food supplies and impeded the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Food prices have increased sharply.
CONGO, REP OF (2 June)
Following the civil strife in 1997, which severely disrupted food marketing activities and caused large-scale displacement of the population, especially from urban to rural areas, the situation appears to be on track towards recovery and reconstruction. It is estimated that the population of Brazzaville reached about 80 percent of its pre-war level, up from 70 percent in late 1997. Most of the estimated 50 000 refugees in the DRC have returned. However, food prices remain high due to transport and marketing constraints.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA (2 June)
The staple foodcrops are sweet potatoes, cassava and plantains. Some 10 000 tonnes of wheat and rice are imported annually. The food aid requirement in 1998 is estimated at 2 000 tonnes of wheat.
GABON (2 June)
The staple foodcrops are cassava and plantains, the production of which is estimated at about 330 000 tonnes. Production of cereals in 1997, mainly maize, is estimated at around 25 000 tonnes. The country imports the bulk of its wheat and rice requirement which is estimated at 82 000 tonnes. No food aid is necessary
BURUNDI* (5 June)
Good rains in the first two dekads of May maintained adequate growing conditions for the 1998 second season foodcrops, to be harvested from June. Despite favourable weather conditions since the beginning of the season and larger plantings due to the return of farm families from "regroupment" camps to their land, the recovery in this season's production will be constrained by lower use of fertilizers as a result of the current trade embargo, and shortages of quality seeds following two consecutive reduced harvests.
The poor crop last season, the current embargo by neighbouring countries, insecurity in parts and displacement of a large number of people have resulted in increased food insecurity. Prices of food, which have risen sharply since late 1997, have stabilized at high levels during May. The food situation is particularly serious for some 600 000-700 000 most vulnerable people who have no access to their land or who have returned but have not been able to plant crops this season. Some 300 000 people are estimated to have suffered major food shortages. Increased malnutrition is also reported from displaced camps.
ERITREA* (5 June)
Planting of the 1998 cereal and pulse crops is about to start. The rainy season has not yet started. Locust population declined sharply following Government's successful control operations during the past months.
The food situation remains tight as a result of a poor 1997 harvest and reduced import availability from neighbouring countries. Cereal and pulse prices continue to increase and are substantially above their level of a year ago.
ETHIOPIA* (5 June)
Abundant rains in the first two dekads of May benefited the 1998 "Belg" crops to be harvested from June. The "Belg" production accounts for some 7 percent of the aggregate cereal production of the country, but it is important in several areas, where it provides the bulk of the annual food supplies. Despite a dry spell in late March and first dekad of April, subsequent good rains have allowed a recovery of the crops. Overall prospects for the harvest are favourable and output is anticipated to recover substantially from last year's reduced level.
The good rains in May have also improved soil conditions for planting of the 1998 main season cereal crops and benefited early planted ones. With the on-going Government programme to deliver fertilizers, early prospects are favourable for the coming season.
Despite an overall satisfactory food supply situation, food difficulties are being experienced by some 5.3 million people affected by a reduced 1997 main season crop and the vulnerable population groups. Against emergency food aid requirement of 420 000 tons food aid, pledges by the end of May amounted to 395 000 tons, of which 208 000 have been delivered.
KENYA (5 June)
Prospects for the 1998 main season cereal crops are favourable. Despite a delay in the start of the rainy season, abundant precipitation in April and May allowed planting and benefited early planted crops. Production is expected to be normal and higher than last year when dry spells and rains at harvest reduced yields. Rains in June will be crucial for the outcome of this season's crops.
Following the reduced main maize crop of last year, the import requirement in marketing year 1997/98 (October/September) is estimated at 750 000 tonnes, most of which is anticipated to be imported commercially.
RWANDA* (5 June)
Normal to above-normal rains since the beginning of the rainy season have maintained adequate growing conditions for the 1998 second season food crops, to be harvested from June. However, the recovery in production from the previous season's level, which was affected by excessive rains, is expected to be limited by reduced plantings due to severe shortages of seeds, insecurity in parts and lack of labour in several areas.
The tight food supply situation following an insufficient harvest last season has deteriorated in the past months with increasing insecurity and violent incidents in the north-western prefectures of Gitarama and in parts of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi. A large number of people have become displaced. Serious food shortages are reported in several areas, but logistic difficulties due to heavy rains and floods early in the year have severely limited the amount of food aid delivered, which remained well below the estimated requirements. Food prices, which have risen sharply in the past months, stabilized in May.
SOMALIA* (5 June)
The outlook for the 1998 main "Gu" cereal crop, accounting for some 80 percent of the annual production in normal years, is unfavourable. The area planted to the main maize and sorghum crops is estimated to be substantially reduced as a result of insufficient and irregular rains since the beginning of the season, coupled with a combination of negative factors associated with last year's floods. These include an overlapping of the harvest of the off-season crops sown from January to March with planting of the Gu crops; excessive weeds; insect and rodent attacks; fields still flooded; destruction of canals and river embankments; loss of pumps and lack of cash for hiring tractors following the loss of employment opportunities. Insecurity also contributed to the reductions in the area planted in parts.
Yields are also likely to be negatively affected due a prolonged dry spell in the second dekad of May and because most of the sorghum consists of lower yielding "ratoons" from crops of the previous season.
A reduced 1998 Gu cereal crop would be the fifth successive bad harvest, which could have serious implications for the already precarious food situation of the majority of the population.
SUDAN* (5 June)
Harvesting of the 1998 wheat crop is complete. The output is provisionally estimated at 550 000 tonnes, 13 percent down on the bumper crop of last year but still above average. A reduction of 17 percent in the area planted was partially compensated by higher yields due to adequate water supplies and favourable temperatures. Planting of the 1998 main season cereal crops, is about to start in northern and central areas.
Despite an overall satisfactory food supply position, grave food supply difficulties persist in southern parts of the country. Intensified civil conflict since January, particularly in Bahr El Ghazal, has resulted in fresh waves of population displacement, aggravating an already precarious food situation following the 1997 drought-reduced harvest. This, together with difficulties in distribution of relief assistance, has led to severe malnutrition in Bahr El Ghazal, Western Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria States, with starvation-related deaths reported from some areas. Food prices have risen sharply throughout the region and are too high for the majority of the population. Coping mechanisms have been largely exhausted. In Bahr El Ghazal region alone 350 000 people, including 150 000 recently displaced, are at risk of starvation unless adequate relief assistance is distributed urgently. Nutrition surveys carried out by UNICEF on children under five in Wau, the capital of West Bahr El Ghazal, indicate an overall malnutrition rate of 29 percent, with 9 percent severely malnourished.
Early prospects for the 1998 main season food crops, to be harvested from July, are not encouraging. Plantings, which normally take place in April, have been reduced. Large areas have remained uncultivated because of population displacement. Latest satellite images indicate late, erratic and generally insufficient rainfall from late March to late May, with precipitation well below normal in Bahr El Gazal, the state most affected by the civil strife, and in areas of Western Equatoria. Severe shortages of seeds, following last year's poor harvest, have also compromised plantings.
TANZANIA (5 June)
Normal to above normal rains in May benefited crops of the main "long rains" season in unimodal central and southern areas. Harvesting is about to start. However, the recovery in this year's output from the reduced level of 1997 may be limited by reductions in the area planted due to heavy rains and floods at planting time.
In bi-modal rainfall areas of the north and northeast, abundant rains since April benefited the crops of the "Masika" season. The outlook for the harvest from August is satisfactory. Pastures and livestock are reported in good condition reflecting generally abundant rains in the last months of last year. The food supply situation in areas affected by a reduced 1997 crop is expected to improve from next month with the arrival of the new harvest.
UGANDA (5 June)
Prospects for the 1998 first season foodcrops, to be harvested from July, have deteriorated following a dry spell in central and south-eastern parts since the second dekad of May. More precipitation is needed to avoid reductions in yield potential. Despite a delay in the onset of the rainy season, the area planted to the maize crop is estimated to have increased from last year's level when shortages of seeds were experienced.
Overall food supply conditions are satisfactory. Prices of beans and maize remain stable and are below their levels of a year ago. However, food shortages are reported in western and northern parts where the 1997 second season harvest was reduced. The situation is also difficult for the refuge and displaced population in Gulu and Kitgum Districts where civil strife persists. Increased insecurity in Kabarola and Kasase Districts in the west has resulted in further population displacements.
ANGOLA* (1 June)
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited Angola in April/May estimated the 1997/98 cereal production at 594 000 tonnes, some 38 percent higher than last year's reduced harvest due to poor rains. Production of other crops, particularly cassava, sweet potatoes and perennials is also estimated to be better from an increased planted area and better yields due to favourable rainfall.
Total imports for the 1998/99 marketing year are estimated at 470 000 tonnes, including 120 000 tonnes of food aid. Some 750 000 vulnerable people, including internally displaced persons, returnees and demobilized soldiers, require emergency assistance. It is estimated that 90 000 tonnes of relief food aid will be needed to meet their requirements. In addition, food insecurity remains high, largely due to the recent deterioration of the security situation in several provinces and poor infrastructure. As a result, it will be difficult to move the food surplus in central and northern areas to deficit areas. Food aid pledges by donors amount to 88 000 tonnes so far, of which 13 000 have been delivered.
BOTSWANA (1 June)
Harvesting of the 1998 cereal crop is almost complete and production is expected to be below average. Erratic and poorly distributed rainfall in March and April seriously affected yields in several parts of the country, leading to a major crop loss. Total cereal output is not expected to exceed 10 000 tonnes, a sharp drop compared to the 1997 below average crop of 27 000 tonnes. Even in good years, the country imports over half of its cereal needs. It is therefore anticipated that available grain stocks and planned imports by major commercial millers will meet national requirements during the 1998/99 marketing year.
LESOTHO (1 June)
Rainfall during much of the 1997/98 cropping season has been erratic and poorly distributed. As a result, cereal production is expected to be about 130 000 tonnes, which is below average. Consequently, the overall food supply situation during the 1998/99 marketing year is expected to be tight. Government arrangement for a large amount of imports will need to be made to avoid food difficulties.
MADAGASCAR (1 June)
Following generally favourable weather conditions, production prospects are relatively favourable for rice and other crops currently being harvested. Output may be somewhat lower than last year's relatively good crop of 2.5 million tonnes. Initial indications are that locusts had no significant impact on cereal. If cassava is ready for harvest (mature), the effect of locusts would be nil. However, as the infestation has now spread from the southern dry zones to the midwest and northern more fertile regions, the threat to staple crops and cattle pastures remains serious. The overall food supply situation in the country is expected to remain relatively stable during the current marketing year, including in the drought-prone south, where locust damage to crops and pastures is reported to be variable.
MALAWI (1 June)
Following abundant and widely distributed rainfall in most parts of the country, the 1998 crop being harvested is officially estimated at 1.88 million tonnes, which is above average and 13 percent higher than the 1997 relatively good crop. As a consequence, the overall food supply situation is expected to improve substantially during the 1998/99 marketing year. Localized areas of food deficit in the north, where excessive rains resulted in flooding with loss of crops, are expected to be assisted under Government programmes helped by aid agencies.
MOZAMBIQUE (1 June)
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited Mozambique in April/May, estimated the 1998 production of cereals at 1.69 million tonnes, up by about 10 percent on last year's good crop. The increase is attributable to both increased area planted and harvested and increased yields for all cereals, particularly in the northern and central provinces. Production of cassava, groundnuts and beans is also expected to increase significantly in 1998 compared to last year.
The overall food supply situation, which improved in the last marketing year, is expected to improve further in 1998/99, reflecting the increased food production. An exportable surplus of 59 000 tonnes of maize is forecast, but import requirements of 67 000 tonnes and 145 000 tonnes are expected for rice and wheat, respectively, expected to be met largely by private sector imports. Localized food shortages exist in several areas as a result of crop loss caused mainly by floods, requiring emergency food aid for the affected people until the second season harvest next September. Food deficits are also faced by some families in the dry south, for which donor assistance will be necessary to mobilize surplus food for people in these areas.
NAMIBIA (2 June)
The 1998 production of cereals is expected to be below normal as a consequence of erratic rainfall with prolonged dry spells in March/April. These caused widespread crop failures in the northeastern part of the country, particularly the Caprivi and Kavango regions where many subsistence farmers could not even plant any staple foodcrops this year. The national food supply situation is expected to be tight during the 1998/99 marketing year. Although large carry over stocks from last year's bumper harvest will help cushion the impact of the anticipated food shortage, large quantities of cereals will have to be imported in the coming months, primarily through commercial channels. The Government has recently approved a national drought strategy, which includes the setting up of a permanent national drought fund in order to find ways to ensure household food security, particularly for vulnerable groups.
SOUTH AFRICA (2 June)
Harvesting is well advanced for the 1998 coarse grain crop. Official estimates of maize production point to an output of 7.88 million tonnes, some 19 percent below average but somewhat better than initial estimates of the season's outcome. In several areas and particularly in the North West Province, the late planted crop has progressed better than expected, as a result of favourable weather conditions between March and May.
The improved harvest prospects have led to a decrease in domestic maize prices, which may also improve prospects for exports. This should benefit countries in the sub-region such as Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Zambia, which may experience a shortage of maize during the 1998/99 marketing season.
SWAZILAND (2 June)
Harvesting of the 1998 cereal crop is well advanced. Total output is expected to be above average as a result of favourable weather conditions during much of the season. Initial indications are that cereal production should be about 100 000 tonnes, mostly maize. As a consequence, the overall food supply situation in the 1998/99 marketing year is expected to be satisfactory and most of the food import needs are expected to be met commercially.
ZAMBIA (2 June)
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the country in April/May estimated the 1998 cereal production at 707 000 tonnes, some 37 percent below the previous year's level. Excessive rainfall throughout the season, with extensive flooding, particularly in low-lying areas, resulted in crop losses and reduced yields in northern areas while the southern region experienced near-drought conditions which drastically reduced crop yields and total production.
The food supply situation for the 1998/99 marketing year is expected to be tight. Commercial cereal import is forecast at 364 000 tonnes (including 23 000 tonnes of rice and 41 000 tonnes of wheat), leaving an uncovered deficit of 296 000 tonnes, of which 45 000 tonnes are for emergency food assistance. With an extremely low import capacity at present, the country will need international assistance in the form of grants, concessional imports and targeted food aid to cover its food requirements. Food aid pledges amount so far to 3 000 tonnes, but no deliveries have been made.
ZIMBABWE (2 June)
Official estimates of the 1998 maize harvest has recently been revised upward to 1.47 million tonnes. This is still below last year's level and below average, but much better than anticipated at the beginning of the season, on account of erratic rainfall induced by the El Niño phenomenon. Total cereal output is expected to be well below 2 million tonnes, compared to over 2.7 million tonnes in 1997.
The national food supply situation in 1998/99 marketing year is expected to remain relatively tight. With a relatively small carryover stock available this year to help cushion the impact of the drop in output, large imports of maize and wheat are anticipated. Targeted food assistance will also be required to vulnerable groups in the southern traditionally dry areas, which are likely to have poor harvest. The Government reports that over 1 million people have registered so far for food assistance under a grain loan scheme.
AFGHANISTAN* (1 June)
Overall prospects for the 1998 harvest in May/June are somewhat favourable due to generally favourable precipitation during winter and spring and improved security in many areas. An FAO/WFP Mission which visited the country in May 1998 estimated the 1997/98 total cereal production at 3.85 million tonnes, 5 percent higher than last year. However, this figure is likely to be revised downwards, as a result of the recent earthquake which hit the northern part of the country. The food situation remains very tight in the affected areas despite efforts by humanitarian agencies to provide relief assistance.
BANGLADESH (10 June)
Planting of the 1998/99 Aus paddy crop, for harvest in July/August, has begun under favourable conditions. Harvesting of the Boro paddy crop is well underway. The total production of milled rice in 1997/98, is estimated at some 18.57 million tonnes, comprising 1.87 million tonnes from Aus, 8.85 million tonnes from the Aman and 7.85 million tonnes from the Boro crops respectively. This compares with 1996/97 total output of 18.88 million tonnes.
The output of the recently harvested wheat crop is estimated at a record 1.8 million tonnes, some 24 percent above last year's bumper crop and about 41 percent higher than the previous five years average due to increased plantings and higher yields. Total cereal imports in 1997/98 (July/June) are currently forecast at around 1.86 million tonnes of which rice imports account for 1.04 million tonnes. As of end-April, government-held cereal stocks totalled 594 000 tonnes, of which 158 000 tonnes were rice and 436 000 tonnes wheat.
CAMBODIA (10 June)
Harvesting of dry season paddy was completed in March/April and an output of 735 000 tonnes is expected. Aggregate paddy production in 1997/98 is therefore put at 3.44 million tonnes, from an area of 2.06 million hectares. This is the third consecutive year of favourable production and as a result, the country now has a national surplus of some 170 000 tonnes of paddy (105 000 tonnes milled rice) for 1998/99. Overall, the food supply situation is favourable with satisfactory stock levels. However, food supply difficulties are reported in some districts which were affected by floods and drought in 1997 and considerable rice price rises are reported in provinces bordering Vietnam due to exports by local traders.
CHINA (10 June)
Heavy rains in recent weeks maintained favourable conditions for summer crops, including rice, across most parts of the country, though loss of life, property and infrastructure were reported due to floods. In northern parts of the country, rains benefited germinating to vegetative summer crops and aided the late-filling of winter wheat. Widespread showers also maintained rice irrigation supplies across central and southern China. However, recent reports indicate that a lower summer grain output than last year is anticipated due to excess rainfall and locusts.
Official reports indicate that production of the 1998 wheat crop is anticipated to decline by 2-4 percent from last year's record crop of 124 million tonnes. The decline is due to snow and low temperatures which hit parts of southern China and the drought conditions in the north.
CYPRUS (1 June)
The 1998 aggregate output of wheat and barley, now being harvested, is estimated at 38 000 tonnes, some 19 percent lower than last year. Imports of wheat in 1998/99 (May/April) are forecast at 95 000 tonnes. Aggregate imports of barley and maize are forecast at some 540 000 tonnes.
INDIA (10 June)
On 9 June a cyclonic storm hit western parts of India, resulting in more than 900 deaths and displacing a large number of people with considerable damage to infrastructure. However, overall crop damage was limited, as Kharif planting had not begun and there were no standing crops.
Harvesting of the mainly wheat Rabi (winter) crops is complete. This year's wheat output is officially estimated at 66.5 million tonnes against the previous year's record production of 69.3 million tonnes. The decline was attributed to delayed monsoon in parts followed by heavy rains during the optimal planting period of November through mid-December. The official estimate of foodgrain production (including milled rice and pulses) in 1997/98 is put at 195 million tonnes, nearly 3 million tonnes below last year's record production of 198 million tonnes. However, aggregate paddy output for 1997/98, including Kharif and Rabi, is estimated at a record 123 million tonnes. It is estimated that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had procured 6.8 million tonnes of wheat from farmers up to May 10, compared with 2.7 million tonnes in the same period last year. The Government expects to procure a record 12 million tonnes of wheat for sale in the current marketing season compared with 9.2 million in the last season.
INDONESIA* (10 June)
Harvesting of the main season paddy crop is now complete after several weeks of delay resulting from the late start of the season due to El Niño-related drought. This year's paddy production was provisionally forecast by the March 1998 FAO/WFP Mission at 47.5 million tonnes, some 3.6 percent below the 1997 reduced harvest. Over 90 percent of the decrease is attributed to the reduction in planted area. However, the final paddy production estimate for 1998 will critically depend on the outcome of the secondary crop harvest in August. The Mission called for a large-scale international assistance to meet the shortfall in rice, the country's staple food. The Indonesian Government plans to import approximately 1.5 million tonnes, leaving an uncovered deficit of 2 million tonnes.
Recently an Emergency Operation with a total cost of about US$ 88.2 million to assist 4.6 million most vulnerable people was approved jointly by FAO and WFP for a period of 395 days. An appeal for a total cost of US$18.6 million is also made by FAO for technical assistance and agricultural rehabilitation of drought-stricken areas.
IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (1 June)
In the second dekad of May, floods caused by torrential rains were reported to have killed at least 11 people in north-western Iran. The floods, in a rural area of East Azerbaijan province, also injured 30 people and caused damage to farmland and cattle.
A bumper wheat crop of about 10.5 million tonnes is in prospect due to increased rains and snow this year. At this level production is slightly above the average for the previous five years. Official reports have indicated that the country's wheat import requirements for the current marketing year (April/March), amounting to 3 million tonnes, have already been bought and some of this have entered the country.
IRAQ* (1 June)
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. This season's production is likely to be constrained, as last year, by serious shortages of essential agricultural inputs and the widespread incidence of pests, weeds and animal diseases.
Despite some improvement in the overall food supply situation following the implementation of the "Oil for food" deal, malnutrition still remains a serious problem throughout Iraq. Although food rations under the deal provide a significant proportion of overall energy and protein needs, the provisions are low or deficient in a number of other nutrients, particularly Vitamins.
In view of these shortfalls, the UN Secretary- General has approved the distribution plan for the fourth phase of the oil-for-food deal, allowing Iraq to sell up to US$5.2 billion worth of crude oil over a six month period, to buy food, medicine and health supplies, and for emergency infrastructure repairs.
ISRAEL (1 June)
The output from the 1998 wheat crop, now being harvested, is expected to be about 168 000 tonnes, some 20 percent higher than last year, as a result of favourable weather conditions. Imports of cereals in 1998/99 (July/June) are forecast at some 2.6 million tonnes, 2 percent higher than in previous year.
JAPAN (10 June)
Planting of the 1998 paddy crop is well underway. Beneficial rainfall continued to improve soil moisture reserves and irrigation supplies are also adequate to support ongoing plantings. This year about 963 000 hectares, an increase of 176 000 hectares from the previous year, will be set aside under the country's Area Land Diversion Programme designed to cut production and reduce large stocks. The 1997/98 cereal imports are estimated at 27.5 million tonnes, slightly higher than the previous year, mainly due to increased coarse grain imports.
JORDAN (1 June)
Aggregate output of wheat and barley in 1998 is estimated at 110 000 tonnes, 100 percent higher than the previous year's poor harvest. Imports of wheat in 1998/99 (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 (10 June)
Planting of the 1998 paddy crop is well underway, and conditions are generally favourable so far due to continued rainfall. However, area under rice is expected to decline due to a shift to more lucrative cash crops. The target for paddy production in 1998 has provisionally been set at 6.7 million, 11 percent lower than last year. Cereal imports in 1997/98 are estimated at 11.6 million tonnes compared to 13.1 million tonnes in 1996/97.
KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF* (18 June)
An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, which visited the country from 2-12 June, found that the food supply difficulties have deepened, with the Public Food Distribution System ceasing to function since March. As a result, deaths related to dietary deficiencies have increased, with people relying on the consumption of herbs, wild plants, roots and wild fruits.
Last year, FAO and WFP estimated the country's food import requirements at 1.95 million tonnes for 1997/98 (Nov/Oct), but only 400 000 tonnes of food aid were received with another 400 000 tonnes pledged. Commercial imports to make up for the shortfall are constrained by the country's lack of foreign exchange reserves and severe economic difficulties. More international assistance is therefore urgently required.
Furthermore, prospects for quick recovery in food production will depend heavily on adequate supplies of essential inputs, such as fertilizers and seeds. On 28 May, at a roundtable meeting in Geneva, the government appealed for US$300 million from the international community to restore its farming sector and end its dependence on international food aid. In this regard, FAO has updated its requested contribution within the 1998 UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal to US$14 million.
Early prospects for 1998 crops are favourable, reflecting good rains since the beginning of May. Planting of maize and most of the paddy is complete. Food production in 1998 will crucially depend on the rainfall situation in the coming, usually wet, months. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that production will be substantially below requirements for the next marketing year.
LAOS* (10 June)
In Laos, adverse weather conditions have caused crop damage in major rice producing areas, exacerbating localised food supply problems in the country. On 27 May 1998, the government appealed to the international community for food aid amounting to 35 000 tonnes of rice. Harvesting of the irrigated secondary paddy crop is underway. The total rice production in 1997 is estimated at 1.6 million tonnes, about 13 percent above average.
LEBANON (1 June)
The output of 1998 wheat and barley, now being harvested, is expected to be about 62 000 tonnes, about the same as last year. Imports of wheat in 1998/99 (July/June) are forecast at some 0.5 million tonnes.
MALAYSIA (10 June)
Planting of the second paddy crop, which normally accounts for about 38 percent of aggregate production has been favoured in early May by moderate showers across the peninsula. Paddy production in 1998 is provisionally forecast to be slightly lower than the 1997 estimate of 2.1 million tonnes due to reduced plantings.
MONGOLIA* (10 June)
Farmers are reported to be preparing for the cropping season. Official estimates indicate that this year there is a need for about 61 000 tonnes of grain seed. The National Reserve Fund is expected to provide about 9 200 tonnes of grain seeds to farms with a clean record of bank loans. Taking into account seed stocks held by farms, the shortage of seed is estimated to be around 8 000 tonnes. Other inputs, such as diesel, were reported to be available but lack of credit for these inputs is anticipated to be a constraint.
Aggregate output of cereals in 1997, estimated at 240 000 tonnes, was about 33 percent below the average for the previous five years. Declining agricultural production and problems of economic transition continue to adversely affect the food situation of vulnerable groups. The tight food supply situation is likely to deteriorate until the next harvest in September.
MYANMAR (10 June)
Provisional estimates of recently harvested secondary paddy crop indicate an output of about 3 million tonnes from 1 million hectares. The aggregate output of paddy for 1997/98 is officially estimated at 17.3 million tonnes, slightly below last year, but about 1 percent above the average for the previous five years. Planting of the main paddy crop for harvest in October is underway. The target for this year's aggregate paddy output is set at 20 million tonnes. In 1998, rice exports are estimated to be around 40 000 tonnes, more than 3 times higher than the 1997 export of 15 000 tonnes.
NEPAL (10 June)
Harvesting of the wheat crop was completed under favourable weather conditions. Output is provisionally estimated at around 1 million tonnes, similar to last year's production. Paddy production in 1997, estimated at 3.6 million tonnes, is about 14 percent below the previous year's harvest despite an increase in area planted to paddy by about 4 percent. However, at this level production is still about 10 percent higher than the average for the previous five years. Paddy and maize are being planted to coincide with the onset of monsoon rains.
PAKISTAN (10 June)
Harvesting of wheat is complete. Official estimates put the wheat output at a record 19 million tonnes, some 10 percent above both last year and the average for the previous five years. The increase reflects increased plantings, adequate fertilizer supplies and the increase in the support price for farmers by over 30 percent. Planting of paddy and coarse grain crops is well underway benefiting from early season showers in May. Official reports indicated that about 1.5 million tonnes of rice will be exported from the 1997/98 record milled rice output of 4.6 million tonnes.
Wheat imports in 1998/99 (May/April) are officially reported to be about 1 million tonnes, as against an estimated 4.3 million tonnes imported last year.
PHILIPPINES (10 June)
Harvesting of the secondary paddy and coarse grains is almost complete. The output of paddy in 1997/98 is forecast at some 10.6 million tonnes, 5 percent lower than last year. The decrease is due to lack of adequate irrigation water caused by the prolonged El Niño-related drought. Maize production is also expected to decline by some 5 percent from last year's output of 4.3 million tonnes. Moreover, planting of the main season paddy crop is hampered by the drought conditions. These conditions have affected several provinces in Mindanao, resulting in severe food shortages, particularly South Cotabato, Saranggani, Maguindanao and North Cotabato. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has estimated that about 497 000 households are affected, of which 211 900 households are in dire need. The NFA is reported to have contracted a record import of 1.35 million tonnes of rice for delivery this year.
SAUDI ARABIA (1 June)
Due to favourable growing conditions, aggregate output of wheat and barley in 1998 is estimated at 2.2 million tonnes, some 16 percent higher than last year. Adult Desert Locusts and perhaps a few small swarms may appear in the interior near Najran and Dawasir and breed in areas that received rainfall. Low number of locusts may persist on the southern Tihama near Jizan and breed if additional rains fall. Imports of barley in 1998/99 (July/June) are currently forecast at 5.5 million tonnes.
SRI LANKA (10 June)
The output of the recently harvested main (maha) paddy crop is provisionally estimated at 2.8 million tonnes, some 25 percent above last year's harvest and about 13 percent higher than the average for the previous five years, reflecting higher yields. The secondary (yala) paddy crop, whose planting is almost complete, is expected to benefit from the availability of ample water supplies in the irrigation reservoirs. The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Following the good harvest in 1997 adequate rice stocks are held by the Government and private traders and rice imports are expected to be much smaller than last year's volume of 300 000 tonnes.
SYRIA (1 June)
The output of wheat in 1998, now being harvested, is estimated at 4.05 million tonnes, 34 percent higher than last year. Barley harvest is estimated at 1.8 million tonnes, some 83 percent higher than in the previous year. Imports of wheat flour in 1998/99 are forecast at some 1.3 million tonnes, whilst barley imports are forecast at 500 000 tonnes.
THAILAND (10 June)
The output of the secondary paddy crop is estimated at about 4.4 million tonnes, slightly more the government's forecast. High prices encouraged farmers to cultivate more land to rice despite warnings of low level of water supplies. Fieldwork for the main paddy crop and coarse grain crops is well underway. Output target for the total 1998 paddy production is set at 23 million tonnes, about 4 percent higher than the 1997 estimate and about 8 percent above the average for the previous five years. Rice exports in 1998 are set to exceed 5.5 million tonnes, reflecting a strong export demand, against 5.4 million tonnes exported in 1997.
WFP has appealed for international food assistance amounting to about 15 000 tonnes for some 90 000 Cambodian refugees fleeing to Thailand to escape internal conflict.
TURKEY (1 June)
Output of the 1998 wheat crop is provisionally estimated at 19 million tonnes compared to 18.7 million tonnes in 1997. However, this figure could be revised downwards as a result of floods and torrential rains which recently swept across the country. Turkish Marketing Board (TMO) plans to buy six million tonnes of grains from farmers in 1998/99 at prices 60.6 percent higher than last year. Wheat imports in 1998/99 are forecast at some 1 million tonnes and maize imports are forecast at 700 000 tonnes.
VIET NAM (1 June)
Good rains in the last dekad of May have brought some relief to the drought affected areas of the central highlands and the south, but the total rainfall for May was well below average. The drought damage to the winter-spring paddy crop, which has just been harvested, is reported to have been slight. However, the dry conditions are affecting the summer-autumn crop, which makes up close to a quarter of total output. The 1998 paddy production is expected to be slightly less than last year's output of 27.5 million tonnes.
In the first four months of this year, rice exports reached 2.3 million tonnes, a 160 percent increase over the same period last year. In the last week of May, the Government partially lifted a ban on fresh rice export contracts, allowing some state-owned firms to negotiate new deals. The target for the whole of 1998 is 4 million tonnes. Last year 3.5 million tonnes were exported.
YEMEN (1 June)
Aggregate output of sorghum and wheat, to be harvested toward October, is estimated at 604 000 tonnes, some 28 percent higher than last year.
Isolated adults of Desert Locusts may persist on the northern Red Sea coastal plains near the Saudi Arabian border and breed if additional rains fall. Unless ecological conditions improve in the eastern region, adults are expected to fly over the area.
Imports of cereals in 1998 - mainly wheat - are estimated at
some 2.6 million tonnes.
COSTA RICA (10 June)
Isolated moderate rains have been registered since end-May, but the country in general continues to be affected by extremely dry weather attributed to El Niño, particularly in the northwestern parts. In the department of Guanacaste, intense fires are reported in national parks and protected areas, threatening the biodiversity and wildlife of the zone. Planting of the 1998/99 first season cereal crops, which normally starts in April, is consequently being delayed in various parts. Unless normal rains resume, below-average plantings of maize and paddy, the main cereal, are expected. The area planted to beans, an important staple in the population's diet, is also forecast to be below average for the second consecutive year as a consequence of El Niño induced adverse weather.
CUBA (10 June)
Normal weather conditions were reported in the first half of May, following heavy rains and flooding in late March and April which caused serious damage to some crops and serious disruption to harvesting of the important foreign exchange earner sugar cane crop. The outlook is poor for the sugar crop. The crop has also been affected by technical breakdowns and the continuing shortage of farm inputs, which have resulted in a significant reduction in milling levels and lower than normal yields. Output is likely to be smaller than the historically low 3.3 million tonnes collected in the 1994/95 harvest. The situation has recently improved for fruits and other food crops, as well as for livestock pastures. Production of paddy will nevertheless remain below average because of the continuing lack of agricultural inputs. Rice imports in 1998 marketing year (January/December) is expected to be a relatively high 400 000 tonnes which should help meet domestic demand of this important staple in the population's diet.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (10 June)
Normal weather conditions since April are benefiting planting of the 1998 maize crop, as well as harvesting of the first season irrigated paddy crop. Water reservoirs are reported at adequate levels and an above-average output of 560 000 tonnes of paddy is tentatively forecast. This compares to 506 000 tonnes collected in 1997 and 472 000 tonnes average in the last 5 years. Maize production should recover from last year's drought affected crop and an average 45 000 tonnes are anticipated.
EL SALVADOR (10 June)
Abnormally high temperatures and dry weather, attributed to the tail-end effects of El Niño, persist over most of the country, contributing to the propagation of forest fires. Some have been started by farmers' slash and burn agricultural activities in preparation for planting of the 1998/99 first season cereal and bean crops. Moderate to heavy rains have been registered however since end-May particularly in the northeastern parts that could signal the definite arrival of the rainy season. Plantings of maize, the main cereal, are expected to recover from the 1997 drought affected crop, but much will depend upon the intensity and duration of the rains. Food assistance is still provided by the international community to last year's drought- affected rural population. Assistance will be needed until the harvest of the 1998 first season crops.
GUATEMALA (10 June)
Unusually high temperatures and dry weather conditions attributed to El Niño still persist over most of the country, contributing to widespread forest fires which have been partly initiated by small farmers' land clearance activities. The situation has been compounded by the volcano eruption near the capital which has worsened the quality of the air and caused respiratory problems and other ailments. A state of emergency has been declared in various cities, including the capital, and preventive health measures taken for the protection of the population. Some recent light rains helped extinguish some of the worst fires that were seriously expanding particularly in the northern parts of the country. The damage incurred is reported to be significant, with about 65 000 hectares of forest areas burned down and another 155 000 hectares affected. Planting of the 1998/99 first season cereal crops has been delayed because of the late arrival of the rainy season, but farmers' expectations are that the recent rains could indicate the definite arrival of the normal rains. Intended plantings of maize, the main cereal, are forecast to recover from last year's drought affected crop. Important cash crops, such as sugar cane and coffee, are reported to be damaged by the prolonged dry weather. Food assistance is still distributed to the affected rural population and is expected to continue until the first harvest this year.
HAITI* (1 June)
Normal weather conditions have benefited planting of the 1998 first season maize crop, which is about to be harvested, as well as harvesting of the irrigated crop currently underway. Early forecasts indicate a recovery in maize output from last year's drought affected crop to an about average 200 000 tonnes. An average paddy output is also anticipated. Food assistance is, however, still provided by the international community.
HONDURAS (1 June)
Planting of the 1998/99 first season cereal crops is delayed as a consequence of the late arrival of the rainy season. The country continues to be affected by El Niño-related abnormally high temperatures and dry weather which have exacerbated ground fires caused by slash and burn agricultural activities. Air quality problems have been reported in locations such as the capital and San Pedro Sula in the northwest. Assuming normal rains resume, plantings of the 1998 first season maize crop, the main cereal, should be about average. Food assistance is still distributed to last year's drought affected rural population and is expected to continue until the first 1998 harvest.
JAMAICA (10 June)
El Niño-related unusually dry weather and high temperatures continue to affect the country, preventing the development of normal agricultural activities. Parched livestock pastures are reported. Thousands of farmers are affected in the drought stricken areas of South Manchester, Southern St. Elizabeth, parts of important producing agricultural belt of Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Thomas and St. Anne. An appeal for international assistance has been made by the Government.
MEXICO (10 June)
Harvesting of the 1998 irrigated wheat crop has been almost completed. Output is provisionally estimated at a below-average 3 million tonnes which compares to 3.66 million tonnes in 1997. Planting of the 1998 maize crop is being delayed, particularly in the important growing central states of Hidalgo, Puebla, Guanajato, Tlaxcala and Mexico, for lack of rains caused by the tail end effects of El Niño. Some light rains have been reported in the southwestern parts of the country, where planting has been also lagging because of the drought. In other important producing states, such as Jalisco, Sinaloa and Chiapas, the planting season extends into July. Overall, official forecasts point out to a possible loss of 1 to 2 million tonnes, depending on the timing of rainfall, from an earlier projected national spring/summer maize crop of 14.7 million tonnes. The drought has aggravated the effect of slash and burn agricultural activities, resulting in an increasing number of forest and ground fires.
NICARAGUA (10 June)
Planting of the 1998/99 first season cereal crop is being delayed because of the lack of rains attributed to El Niño. The drought has contributed to a significantly large number of forest fires, and it is reported that more than 800 000 hectares of land have been seriously affected. Some precipitation was reported by the end of May but the rains were irregular and ill distributed. Assuming normal rains resume, plantings of maize, the main cereal, should increase significantly from last year when the crop was severely affected by drought. Food assistance is still distributed to the affected rural population and will be continued until this year's first harvest.
PANAMA (10 June)
Normal to abundant rains have recently been reported, particularly in the western areas of the country, which may signal the definite arrival of the rainy season. The area planted to maize and paddy, the main cereal, is expected to recover from last year's below-average levels when the crops were affected by a severe drought due to El Niño. Food assistance is still distributed to the affected rural population and will continue until the first harvest this year.
ARGENTINA (10 June)
Harvesting of the 1998 coarse grain crops, principally maize, has been disrupted in some of the main producing provinces as a consequence of the intensive rains attributed to El Niño. By end-May, about 65 percent of the area planted had been harvested compared to more than 88 percent by the same time last year. Despite the sprouting in some areas caused by the excess humidity, satisfactory yields are obtained and official forecasts point to a historically high maize output of 19.1 million tonnes. Production of sorghum is also expected to be a record high 3.9 million tonnes, and a slightly above-average paddy output is anticipated despite some damage to the crop.
Sowing of the 1998 wheat crop has started in some parts and plantings are tentatively forecast to be close to the 1997 level.
BOLIVIA (10 June)
Harvesting of the 1997/98 first (main) season coarse grain crops has been completed, while planting of the winter wheat crop, mostly in the eastern department of Santa Cruz has started under abnormally dry weather conditions. Maize output has been provisionally estimated at a low 416 000 tonnes, which compares to last year's 671 000 tonnes and to the last 5-year average of about 560 000 tonnes. Barley production is estimated at 39 000 tonnes, about 41 percent below last year's output. Output of the important potato crop in the population's diet has also declined from 840 000 tonnes to 505 000 tonnes. The crops have been severely affected, particularly in the Andean highland valleys, by the extremely dry weather attributed to El Niño and substantially low yields have resulted. This implies a significant reduction of food availability for farmers in the next few months and the scarcity of seeds to reinitiate the following agricultural campaign. The Government has made an appeal to the international community for the rehabilitation of the agricultural activities in the most affected areas.
BRAZIL (10 June)
The country continues to be affected by El Niño, in the form of heavy rains and flooding in the important producing south-eastern areas, while a prolonged drought since November has severely damaged most of the crops in the North-East. About 10 million people in the latter region are seriously affected, of which 4.8 million are facing critical food supply problems. Relief operations are being conducted by the Government which have helped ameliorate the situation. Food assistance from private institutions and non-governmental organizations has also been provided. The Government has announced the allocation of funds for the rehabilitation of the area. For the country as a whole, maize production in 1998 is officially forecast to decline from the 1997 well above-average 34 million tonnes to 31.5 million tonnes. This is mainly due to crop losses incurred in the drought affected areas, compounded by farmers' decision in other parts to switch to alternative crops, attracted by higher prices. To meet a domestic demand of 36 million tonnes, a minimum of 1.5 million tonnes of maize would be required as imports. The difference would be drawn from the national stocks. A significant 1.6 million tonnes of rice imports would also be required in order to compensate for the important losses reported in the drought stricken North-East region and flooded areas of the south.
Planting of the 1998 wheat crop is underway and a 10 percent reduction in plantings from last year's average 1.5 million hectares is provisionally forecast. This is largely the result of the adverse weather that has persisted in the main growing southern areas and farmers' decision to switch to more profitable crops relative to wheat.
CHILE (1 June)
Planting of the 1998/99 wheat crop has started under generally normal conditions. It is reported that farmers this year are not attracted by prevailing prices and that the area planted would be close to the 1997/98 below-average level, when the crop was affected by El Niño-related intensive rains. Harvesting of the 1998 maize crop is currently underway and an average production is anticipated, a recovery from the 1997 affected crop. This is due to increased plantings and improved yields.
COLOMBIA (10 June)
Normal rains have resumed since mid-April over most of the growing areas following months of abnormally dry weather in some parts and heavy rains and flooding in others caused by El Niño. The rains helped restore much needed moisture particularly in the northwestern parts and benefited planting of the 1998 first season maize and paddy crops. Fearful of losing their crops, farmers decided to wait for the definite arrival of the rains. Planting for most crops is consequently lagging behind schedule but is nevertheless expected to be completed in time. The 1998 maize output is forecast to recover from the low level reached in 1997 when the crop was severely damaged by El Niño. An average paddy production is also anticipated assuming normal weather conditions remain. By contrast, sorghum output further declined from the poor level of the previous year as the agricultural cycle for the main crop coincided with the peak impact of El Niño phenomenon.
ECUADOR (10 June)
Despite a recent significant decrease in the rains, the adverse effects of El Niño continued to be felt until mid-May along the coastal areas, particularly in the provinces of Manabi, Los Rios y Guayas, where extremely high precipitation levels were reported. Intensive rains were also reported during the first half of May in the Andean areas, particularly towards the center and south of the mountain range, and in the Amazonian region with record precipitation levels registered in some locations. Damage to housing and infrastructure, as well as to the agricultural sector, continued to increase, causing instability in the prices of some basic food items. However, no shortage of food supplies has so far been reported. About 300 000 hectares of farm land, principally in the coastal areas, have been officially declared to be severely affected by the impact of the phenomenon. An official assessment of the damage incurred to the agricultural sector has just been completed and a national plan has been formulated for the rehabilitation of the sector. An appeal for assistance has been made to the international community.
GUYANA (10 June)
Normal rains have resumed following weeks of severe drought caused by El Niño. The area planted to the spring paddy crop, the main foodcrop, was reduced from 192 000 to 125 000 acres, resulting in an anticipated production loss of some 63 000 tonnes. Sugar production has been also affected and about 13 700 tonnes have been lost, which represent some 5 percent of the average annual production. Despite damage incurred, no food shortages have been reported so far in the affected areas, although some food prices have increased. An assessment of needs for the rehabilitation of agricultural activities is being conducted. An official appeal for international assistance is likely to be made in case the resources needed exceed the capacity of the country.
PARAGUAY (1 June)
Torrential rains and flooding in May have affected several provinces, particularly in the southern parts of the country. This follows the flooding in late December when the country declared a state of emergency and launched an appeal for international assistance. About 105 000 people have now been affected by the floods in the provinces of Neembuco, Presidente Hayes, Boquerón, Alto Paraguay and around the capital. Some areas have remained isolated from the rest of the country. Damage has been incurred to the agricultural sector, particularly the peanut, cotton and sorghum crops. Output of 1998 maize crop, currently being harvested, is expected to decline from last year's record but would still remain above the average of the last five years. A new state of emergency has been declared and assistance is being received from the international community.
PERU (10 June)
Normal to above-normal rains are reported in May in the northeastern areas of the country, following torrential rains and flooding in April in various parts with significant damage to housing and infrastructure and an increasing number of casualties. Landslides causing significant damage to the agricultural sector have also been reported in numerous locations. In the inland regions of the country, such as in the Amazonian rainforest areas, the indigenous population have lost large parts of their subsistence crops (cassava, maize, banana) as a consequence of the heavy floods, while in the department of Puno, the population in the highlands have suffered severe losses in their subsistence potato crops because of drought. An overall assessment of damages caused by El Niño is being conducted by the Government. In the important paddy growing fields of the northern coastal areas, the volume collected in the first three months is nearly 20 percent less than the amount collected by the same time the year before. Harvesting of the wheat and yellow maize crops is also lagging behind the results obtained in the pre vious year. In aggregate, cereal output is forecast to decline from 1997 above-average levels but, with the exception of paddy, should remain about average.
SURINAME (1 June)
Normal rains have resumed in May following a severe drought due to El Niño which severely affected the important paddy crop. Imports would be required to meet the deficit in production resulting from the lower than normal yields obtained. The foreign exchange earner banana crop was equally affected. The weight of the fruit is reported to be insufficient for export.
URUGUAY (1 June)
Torrential rains and flooding due to El Niño continued to affect the country by end-April and May, seriously affecting the littoral west, the northern, northeastern and central regions of the country. The current floods are reckoned to be the biggest in the history of the country. Enormous damage to housing, rural roads, bridges and railways is reported. The Government has made an appeal for international assistance to meet immediate relief requirements. The agricultural sector has also been affected but crop losses are of a lesser magnitude. The rains negatively affected harvesting of the 1998 wheat and barley crops. Wheat output was about 505 000 tonnes, lower than expected, but still about average. Barley production was below average.
Paddy output is provisionally estimated at less than 900 000 tonnes, which compares to last year's 1.1 million tonnes.
VENEZUELA (1 June)
Planting of the 1998 maize crop has started under normal weather conditions. The area planted is tentatively forecast to be close to the 1997 above-average level. Harvesting of the paddy crop has recently been completed and an average output has been collected.
ARMENIA (3 June)
The outlook for the 1998 grain harvest is satisfactory. Official reports indicate that the area sown to grains, 183 000 hectares, is close to last year's level. At this stage, average yields are expected to be higher than last year, when adverse weather damaged crops on 110 000 hectares. The 1998 grain harvest is targeted at 297 000 tonnes, compared to the official estimate of 258 000 tonnes in 1997. The overall food supply situation has stabilized. The country has become almost self sufficient in potato and vegetable production, which have substituted grains in the diet to some extent. Current indications are that the 1997/98 cereal import requirement of 360 000 tonnes is covered.
AZERBAIJAN (3 June)
The outlook for the 1998 grain harvest is satisfactory so far. The winter wheat area -536 000 hectares - increased but spring grain plantings are unlikely to offset the sharp fall in the area sown to winter barley. Although the aggregate area sown to grains could fall to 620 000 hectares, better yields than last year's flood affected crop could result in a larger harvest than last year.
BELARUS (3 June)
Agro-meteorological conditions for the 1998 harvest have been satisfactory overall but the mounting financial crisis could affect the ability of the government to provide credits for the harvest operations. Early indications are that the area sown to cereals for harvest in 1998 could fall slightly - to about 2.8 million hectares - in response to a targeted reduction of 3 percent in the feedgrain area. Nevertheless output is targeted to reach 7 million tonnes, some 11 percent more than last years 6.4 million tonnes. Grain imports in 1998 are to be limited to 500 000 tonnes by official decree. The availability of basic foodstuffs has deteriorated following the official order to keep prices at the 1 March level, in an attempt to stem inflation.
GEORGIA (3 June)
The 1998 harvest outlook has been compromised by dry conditions and powerful windstorms which have adversely affected winter wheat in the major growing areas of the east. By contrast, planting conditions for the spring maize crop, mainly produced in the west, have been satisfactory. The country is self sufficient in maize but the wheat import requirement in 1998/99 could rise. Nevertheless, the overall food supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory reflecting a diversified agriculture and the activities of a robustly growing private sector.
The economy is recovering steadily but there remain some 170 000 vulnerable people and IDPs needing targeted food assistance. The recent outbreak of hostilities in the area bordering Abkhazia has increased the number of internally displaced and homeless and the death of over 200 000 people. WFP is providing emergency food assistance to the displaced.
KAZAKHSTAN (3 June)
Spring grain planting is underway. Latest indications are that a surplus of grains in store and shortages of working capital, seed and fuel could reduce the aggregate area sown to grains to about 12 million hectares against 14.6 million hectares last year. Current indications are that winter grain plantings remained close to last year's level of 700 000 hectares. Assuming clean weight yields of about 0.8 tonnes a hectare, the 1998 grain harvest could fall to about 10-11 million tonnes from 12.3 million tonnes in 1997. Even so, the country could export about 3 million tonnes of grain in the coming marketing year. Cereal exports in the first nine months of the current marketing year have totalled 3.3 million tonnes.
KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (3 June)
The harvest outlook remains satisfactory and the target is to equal or improve last year's record 1.7 million tonnes. Grain production has increased rapidly in the past years to the extent that the country reportedly has an exportable surplus. GDP growth has resumed but the transition has been difficult and most of the population continues to suffer economic impoverishment. Twenty percent of the population lives below the poverty line and another 62 percent is classified as being on the verge of poverty.
MOLDOVA (4 June)
The 1998 grain production target is 3.1 million tonnes. Growing conditions to date have been somewhat mixed but satisfactory overall. Indications are that the area sown has remained fairly stable at 0.9 million hectares.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION (4 June)
Spring grain planting is proceeding slowly after a late start reflecting shortages of working capital and operational machinery. By early June, the area sown to spring grains on the large farms was 30.4 million hectares, nearly 10 percent less than last year. Plantings in the Urals and the New Lands (Eastern Siberia)are well behind also due to rains and cold weather. The outlook for winter grains has deteriorated somewhat insofar as the area damaged by winterkill (11.5 percent) is almost double that reported earlier and about average. Reflecting the surplus of feedgrains and the reduced profitability of grains, indications are that the use of yield enhancing inputs could remain low and that yields could be less than last year. FAO tentatively forecasts the 1998 grain harvest at around 80 million tonnes, some 10 percent less than last year. Loans form the subsidized agricultural credit fund will continue to be made at 12.5 percent despite the increase in the key interest rate. Ten months into the 1997/98 marketing year, the country had exported only 2.2 million tonnes from the exportable surplus of 10 million tonnes.
TAJIKISTAN* (4 June)
The outlook for the 1998 grain harvest has not been seriously affected by the floods and landslides and a good harvest, of about 600 000 tonnes, is expected. Growing conditions have been satisfactory overall but not as good as last year. However, the area sown to grains is thought to have increased slightly, offsetting marginally lower yield expectations. Harvesting of winter wheat is about to start. The price of wheat on the market is falling and the grain supply situation is stable.
The heavy rains, floods and landslides have caused extensive damage and loss of life; the government has requested international donor assistance for the victims including 1 500 made homeless.
TURKMENISTAN (4 June)
The outlook for the 1998 grain harvest is satisfactory. FAO tentatively expects the 1998 grain harvest to be about 800 000 tonnes, well below the target of 1.2 million tonnes. In 1997 the country produced 730 000 tonnes from 539 000 hectares. Indications are that the aggregate area sown to grains, and particularly wheat, has increased somewhat. Growing conditions to date have been satisfactory but not as good as last year. Average yields, however, could benefit from the availability of agricultural credit and improved incentives to produce on land held in leasehold.
THE UKRAINE (4 June)
The outlook is for the 1998 grain harvest to be somewhat less than last year. Latest indications are that spring grain plantings could remain at last year's level of about 5.2 million hectares in the state sector but the harvested winter grain area is likely to be 10 percent less than last year. Growing conditions have been somewhat mixed but satisfactory overall. Better availability of fertilizers could help to stabilize yields. The 1998 grain harvest could be less than FAO's estimate of the 1997 harvest (37 million tonnes). The area sown to sunflowers has increased and that planted to sugarbeet has fallen sharply.
UZBEKISTAN (4 June)
Winter grains have benefited from the late spring and good moisture supplies for spring growth. Although the area sown to winter grains has declined as about 100 000 hectares of marginal land have been diverted to fodder crop production, the impact on average yields could be positive. The grain production target for 1998 is 6.1 million tonnes, compared to actual production of 3.8 million tonnes in 1997. The country has passed a land privatization law which gives town or regional authorities the right to lease land only to Uzbek citizens engaged in agriculture or for house-building purposes.
EC (10 June)
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 tonnes 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.
ALBANIA (10 June)
The outlook for the 1998 cereal harvest is satisfactory. With regard to the winter wheat crop, which account for the bulk of the country's cereal production, indications are that farmers had sufficient incentive and adequate access to inputs to ensure an area at least similar to the previous year's has been sown.
With wheat output in 1997 only amounting to about half of the estimated consumption requirements in 1997/98(July/June), the country continues to rely on imports. Most of the shortfall is being met by food aid from the EC. As of February reports indicate that the market continues to be adequately supplied with flour although the domestic milling sector is still operating under capacity due to problems of wheat supply at competitive prices.
The large influx of refugees from Kosovo Province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) is putting further strain on the already vulnerable economy of this rural area of the country. However, as of early June, WFP is sending food aid to north-eastern Albania for some estimated 7500 refugees already reported to have fled to this area, as well as to the Kosovo Province itself.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (4 June)
Planting of spring grains (maize) is underway. The area is expected to increase. Food production, notably output of milk, eggs, maize, potatoes and vegetables, is increasing steadily, wheat production, however, is contracting steadily in response to the poor profitability of winter wheat in upland areas and ample availability of imported supplies, the 1998 wheat harvest is expected to decline further. The area sown to winter grains (wheat) declined. In BiH, only 43 000 hectares, or 74 percent of the target area was sown to winter crops. In the Republika Srpska the area sown also fell. Wheat remains an important staple and the 1997/98 cereal imports are estimated at around 275 000 tonnes, mostly for the deficit BiH Federation.
BULGARIA (10 June)
Prospects remain generally favourable for the 1998 cereal crops and aggregate output is forecast at about 5.7 - 5.8 million tonnes, compared to 6.2 million tonnes in 1997. Of the total, wheat is expected to account for about 3.3 million tonnes. The wheat area for harvest is estimated at 1.08 million hectares and although significant variations in crop conditions are reported throughout the country, average yields are forecast at just over 3 tonnes/hectare. However, some uncertainties still surround the final outcome of the harvest. Warm and humid spring weather caused considerable disease problems in wheat crops, and despite reasonable control measures, the quality of wheat is expected to be affected. In addition, farmers generally poor financial situation has been aggravated by difficulties in selling last year's surplus wheat crop, and this may lead to delays in this year's harvest.
CROATIA (5 June)
Crop production is recovering sharply and the early outlook for 1998 grain harvest remains satisfactory. Spring crop planting is well advanced. The maize area could increase but sugarbeet plantings are down. The winter crop area increased to 284 000 hectares, but remained below target. The winter grain area increased by 11 percent to 260 000 hectares, of which wheat accounts for 227 000 hectares.
CZECH REPUBLIC (10 June)
Recent dry weather has slightly deteriorated the outlook for the 1998 cereal crops but nevertheless, a similar output to last year at about 7 million tonnes is forecast. The total cereal area is estimated to have increased but yields are expected to be somewhat lower.
ESTONIA (4 June)
The outlook for the 1998 grain harvest is satisfactory. The area sown is similar to last year's and a harvest of 600 000 tonnes is forecast.
HUNGARY (10 June)
Latest information points to an about average cereal crop in 1998, down by some 2 million tonnes from the bumper harvest last year. Winter wheat plantings were reduced last autumn and plants were stressed during the winter by periods of frost and dry soil conditions. Good rains in late April and the middle of May improved the prospects for the winter wheat crops somewhat, but were not sufficient to replenish subsoil moisture reserves and thus the yield and quality of crops will still depend greatly on the weather in June. Latest official indications tentatively forecast wheat output at about 5 million tonnes, compared to 5.3 million tonnes in 1997. Maize planting this spring was completed in mid-May on about 1.1 million hectares, similar to the previous year's area.
LATVIA (5 June)
The early outlook for the 1998 grain harvest is satisfactory. The 1998 grain harvest is currently expected to be just over one million tonnes, remaining close to last year's 1.04 million tonnes. Early indications are that the area sown to grains for harvest in 1998 may decline somewhat. Some 160 000 hectares were sown to winter wheat and rye compared to 175 000 in the preceding year. The area to be sown this spring, targeted at 302 000 hectares, is similar to last year's.
LITHUANIA (5 June)
Spring grain planting is underway under generally satisfactory conditions. Following a good harvest of 3.05 million tonnes in 1997 and an exportable surplus of grains, which is proving difficult to market, the area sown to cereals for harvest in 1998 could decline somewhat.
POLAND (10 June)
The 1998 cereal output is forecast to remain virtually unchanged from the previous year at about 25 million tonnes. Of the total, the major winter wheat and rye crops are expected to amount to almost 14 million tonnes. These crops are reported to have survived winter much better than in the previous year due to milder conditions, but the benefits of this may be offset by lower use of fertilizers. Many farmers are short of funds for inputs because they have still not sold grain from last year's harvest.
ROMANIA (10 June)
Spring weather conditions have been generally favourable for the 1998 cereals. Spring maize and barley planting made good pace in early May when warm and dry conditions prevailed. Good rainfall in the second half of the month favoured germination and crop development. However, latest information continues to point to a significant reduction in cereal output in 1998, mostly due to a smaller wheat area and significantly lower yields expected, after last year's bumper crop. Adverse autumn weather last year affected planting and low input use is expected to be reflected in low yields. Although the spring maize area is estimated to be somewhat above last year's, yields are also expected to be lower.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC (10 June)
Latest indications point to an aggregate cereal output of about 3.6 million tonnes in 1998, close to the previous year's crop. The weather during the winter was generally warmer and drier than normal, which favoured early spring crop planting, but reduced soil moisture, and has likely affected yields of both winter and spring crops. As in several other eastern European countries, Slovakia has a surplus of feed grains from the 1997 harvest, which has resulted in a marked drop in prices. As a result many farmers are short of finances and may have difficulty in funding this year's harvest.
YUGOSLAVIA, FED. REP. OF (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO) (1 June)
Despite severe financial constraints on farm and a large exportable surplus of maize, the early crop outlook is satisfactory. Winter wheat, sown on about 800 000 hectares, is reported to be in good condition and output could exceed last year's level of 2.9 million tonnes. Planting of spring crops is virtually completed. Early indications are that the area sown to maize has increased at the expense of sugarbeet.
A sharp devaluation of the dinar has disrupted the availability of basic foodstuffs in state shops at controlled prices. However, the private trade has adequate stocks, but at higher than official prices.
In Kosovo province, the cropping situation is being adversely affected by ongoing violence, which has displaced over 42 000 persons by late May. Subsequently many refugees have moved out of the province into neighbouring Albania. The food supply situation is also becoming more difficult as private store owners report that they are having difficulty in replenishing their stocks of basic staples such as milk, sugar, wheat flour, rice and cooking oil.
In Canada, the official March seeding intentions report indicated that the total wheat area for the 1998 harvest would fall by about 8 percent, despite a 29 percent increase in the winter durum wheat area, while that for coarse grains would rise by about 6 percent. As of early June spring grain planting was virtually complete throughout the country and the winter wheat crop in eastern Canada was reported to be in good condition. Based on the condition of crops in early June, yields are expected to be on trend or just slightly below trend, despite exceptionally dry soil conditions in several parts and some crop damage due to severe late frosts in late May and early June.
UNITED STATES (10 June)
Prospects for the 1998 wheat crop remain generally satisfactory. Recent above-normal temperatures have promoted rapid growth and development is ahead of normal in most parts. As of early June the winter wheat harvest was just beginning in southern parts. 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.
With regard to coarse grains, planting conditions have been generally favourable this spring and, as of early June, maize planting was reported to be virtually completed, slightly ahead of normal. Assuming yields are on trend, the 1998 maize output is expected to increase by about 4 percent. Aggregate 1998 coarse grains output in the United States is forecast at 270 million tonnes, compared to 265.6 million tonnes in 1997.
Planting of the 1998 paddy crop is underway and a modest increase in area of about 1 percent from the previous year to 1.23 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 paddy output is forecast to increase by about 2 percent from 1997 to 8.3 million tonnes.
Prospects for the 1998 cereal crops are favourable. The majority of the winter wheat crops have now been planted, and contrary to earlier expectations, the area sown has increased from the previous year following widespread rain in April and May which eased farmers fears over insufficient soil moisture. The total area planted to wheat is officially estimated at about 11.1 million hectares, up from 10.84 million hectares planted in 1997, and assuming normal growing condition through to harvest, wheat output is now forecast at 19.3 million tonnes, up from 18.5 million tonnes in 1997. With regard to coarse grains, the rains in April and May provided a very good start to the planting season in most parts, however, a continuing poor price outlook for coarse grains in expected to result in plantings falling by eight percent to 3.9 million hectares. The largest contraction is expected to occur in the area sown to barley. Assuming normal weather through to harvest, total winter coarse grains production in 1998 is forecast to fall by 9 percent to 6.9 million tonnes. The paddy harvest is nearing completion and output is forecast at 1.2 million tonnes in 1998, down by 14 percent from the previous year. PAPUA NEW GUINEA (1 June)
The country has received normal to above-normal rains during the current growing season, which benefited crops. Prospects for crops, mainly roots and tubers to be harvested from June, appear to be good. However, the food situation is expected to remain difficult for vulnerable groups and those who lacked basic inputs such as seeds and cuttings at planting time.