Severe floods due to torrential rains have caused huge losses of human lives, property and crops in several Asian countries. The worst floods occurred in China, Bangladesh and the Republic of Korea (see Box). Harvesting of the 1998 wheat crop is complete in most of the regions major producing countries. The estimate of aggregate output is now 247.5 million tonnes, about 2.5 million tonnes below last year's bumper harvest. In China, the winter crops were affected by drought, while heavy rains and cool temperatures have adversely affected the smaller spring crops. Accordingly, wheat output in China is forecast to decline by 4 percent from last years record to 118 million tonnes. The decline could be larger if damage to the late wheat crops due to the recent heavy rains and floods proves to be significant. In India, wheat output has also declined by some 4 percent from the previous year, but would remain above average. In Pakistan, latest estimates put the 1998 wheat crop at a record 19 million tonnes. Similarly, Bangladesh has also registered a bumper wheat output of some 1.8 million tonnes due to favourable weather conditions.
In Afghanistan, the 1998 crop is estimated at 3.85 million tonnes, 5 percent up from the previous year and the largest since 1978, reflecting generally favourable weather and improved security in some areas. Cereal production in Iraq in 1998 is estimated 2.5 million tonnes. In Saudi Arabia and Turkey, wheat production is estimated to have increased to 1.8 million tonnes and 20 million tonnes, respectively.
The outlook for 1998 coarse grain crop in Asia remains favourable despite the heavy rains that caused flood damage to crops. FAOs current forecast puts aggregate output at some 210 million tonnes, about 2 million tonnes below earlier projections, but still about 4 percent above the average for the previous five years.
|Wheat||Coarse grains||Rice (paddy)||Total 1/|
|( . . . . . . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . . . . . . . . . )|
|WORLD||614.6||606.3||907.7||906.8||578.5||566.3||2 100.8||2 079.5|
|Developing countries||286.3||284.2||350.5||375.8||552.6||541.6||1 189.4||1 201.6|
In China, recent reports have indicated that heavy rains and floods have moved to the countrys north-eastern provinces, which are important maize producing areas. Although the full extent of the damage is not yet clear, it is possible that the forecast for maize output of 115 million tonnes for 1998, will have to be revised downwards. Total coarse grain output is however provisionally forecast at 132.5 million tonnes, about 13 million tonnes above last years reduced output. In India, coarse grains output is forecast at 32.4 million tonnes, some 7 percent above 1997, while in Pakistan, output of coarse grains is forecast to be similar to last years 1.9 million tonnes. In the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, output of maize is expected to be considerably higher than last years drought affected harvest of about 1.14 million tonnes following favourable weather conditions. In the Philippines, estimates for maize production indicate a decline of 12 percent from last years reduced output to 3.79 million tonnes due to prolonged drought conditions. In Thailand, a bumper maize harvest of 4.5 million tonnes, about 14 percent above the average of last 5 years, is anticipated.
The latest forecast for the regions 1998 paddy output is 519 million tonnes, slightly down from the previous forecast but 9 million tonnes less than the revised record production achieved in 1997. Torrential rains in some Asian countries have interrupted the planting and/or destroyed crops already in the fields. In other countries, there is a possibility of La Niña-related floods later in the year.
In Indonesia, the 1998 paddy output is estimated at about 46.3 million tonnes, down from 49.4 million tonnes produced in 1997. The decline is attributed mainly to the El Niño-related drought and a shortage of inputs. In Sri Lanka, harvesting of the Maha (main) paddy crop is complete and, following generally favourable growing conditions and an expansion in area, preliminary estimates suggest an increase of over 20 percent in output compared to last year. The Yala season is currently in progress and the total paddy output is projected to expand by 27 percent from the previous year to 2.8 million tonnes.
Harvesting of the autumn crop, which accounts for over 40 percent of total production in China (Mainland) is in progress but output is likely to be less than last years crop due to weather-related problems faced in the early part of the season. In addition, floods in Central and Southern China have, reportedly, destroyed crops on several million hectares of cropland and, in some cases, delayed planting of the late-double crop. The 1998 paddy output is provisionally forecast to decline by about 4 million tonnes from last years record to 196 million tonnes. In Viet Nam, harvesting of the summer-autumn rice crop is in progress, but yields are likely to be affected by the dry spell that prevailed during the early part of the season. Planting of the main-season crop is nearing completion. Harvesting of the secondary crop is complete in the Philippines and preliminary indications suggest a drop in output from the previous year. Planting of the main season crop, which was hampered at the beginning by persistent El Niño-related drought conditions, is nearing completion. Overall, paddy output in 1998 is forecast at 10.5 million tonnes, a slight increase over the 1997 production.
In Thailand, harvesting of the 1998-99 main-season crop should begin in October and the governments preliminary forecast for total paddy output is about 23 million tonnes, up by 3 percent from the previous year. The current strong prices led to an expansion in main crop rice plantings. However, the final result hinges heavily on the yield of the main-season crop, which accounts for over 80 percent of total output. In Japan, harvesting of the 1998 crop is expected to start in September but a smaller area was planted due to the land diversion programme. Accordingly, paddy output is projected to decline by about 10 percent to 11.3 million tonnes.
In Bangladesh, floods have affected the Aus crop and output is estimated at 1.6 million tonnes (milled), down by 16 percent from earlier expectations. Planting of the main Aman crop is also delayed due to recent heavy rainfall. In India, the northern and eastern states received torrential monsoon rains during August but the damage to rice is currently reported to be marginal. Total paddy output for 1998 is tentatively forecast to be similar to last years level of 125 million tonnes. In Pakistan preliminary indications point to a good 1998 paddy crop, since irrigation water has been plentiful and the prevailing prices are favourable. In Myanmar, harvesting of the main-season crop is expected to start in October, but fertilizers are reported to be in short supply.
NORTHERN AFRICA: Production of wheat in 1998 is estimated at 13.8 millions tonnes, 38 percent up from last years poor outturn, mainly due to a return to generally favourable growing conditions. All countries in the sub-region harvested above-average crops. Production in Algeria is estimated to have more than doubled from the previous year to 2 million tonnes, although remained below the 1996 record. In Morocco, production is estimated to increase by 91 percent from last year to 4.4 million tonnes, while in Tunisia output is estimated to be 37 percent higher. Output of the almost entirely irrigated crop in Egypt is put at 6.1 million tonnes, 5 percent higher than last year. Aggregate output of coarse grains in the sub-region in 1998 is estimated at 11 million tonnes, an increase of 19 percent compared to 1997.
In Egypt, the main rice producing country in the sub-region, planting of the 1998 crop is complete both in the northern and southern areas and the growing conditions are reported to be good, owing to sufficient availability of irrigation water and other inputs. However, the official indication is that rice area contracted by 16 percent from last year to 546 000 hectares, consistent with the Governments aim of conserving irrigation water for use in the production of other crops. As a result of lower area, the Government is forecasting a 16 percent reduction in output to 4.6 million tonnes.
WESTERN AFRICA: Reflecting satisfactory growing conditions, harvest prospects are generally favourable in the Sahel. Following regular and above-normal rains, coarse grains are developing satisfactorily in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. By contrast, rains started late July in Senegal and subsequent precipitation remained limited over Senegal and The Gambia in August, necessitating replantings and reducing yield potential. In Mauritania, sufficient rains after mid-July permitted plantings in the main producing zones. Rains started in Cape Verde in late July. Rainfall remained widespread in Guinea-Bissau but civil disturbances in June/July have severely affected the planting of rice and coarse grains crops. In the coastal countries along the gulf of Guinea, despite a late start of the growing season, the main coarse grains crops are developing satisfactorily. As a result of mostly normal weather conditions, crop prospects are about average except in northern Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, where below normal output could be expected. In Sierra Leone, civil disturbances still hamper agricultural activities and planted area is estimated to be lower than last year. Liberia and Sierra Leone will still rely mostly on food aid to meet their consumption needs in 1999.
Growing conditions for the 1998 paddy crop have been generally favourable in most countries across western Africa, but civil strife in some countries has hampered farming activities. By contrast, in Nigeria, the most important rice producing country in the region, planted area is estimated to have increased by about 200 000 hectares from 1997. However, shortages of fertilizers, pesticides and other farm inputs are expected to lead to reduced yields and the government is tentatively forecasting a 12 percent reduction in production to 3.4 million tonnes.
CENTRAL AFRICA: Coarse grains are generally developing satisfactorily reflecting abundant and widespread rains. The first maize crop has been harvested in Cameroon. Abundant and widespread rains in July and August benefited crops in Central African Republic. Seasonably dry conditions prevail in the south and the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as in Gabon and the south of Congo. Renewed civil disturbances in the Democratic Republic of Congo are likely to impede normal agriculture and marketing activities.
EASTERN AFRICA: Harvesting of the 1998 wheat crop has been completed in Sudan. Latest estimates indicate an output of 525 000 tons, 18 percent down on last years bumper crop as a result of lower plantings, only partially offset by higher yields. In Kenya, prospects for the crop are favourable reflecting adequate rains since the beginning of the season. In Ethiopia, good rains in the past months have favoured establishment and development of the wheat crop.
Harvesting of the 1998 coarse grain crops is almost completed in southern countries of the sub-region, while in northern parts harvest is scheduled from November. The outlook is mixed. FAOs preliminary estimates indicate a 1998 aggregate coarse grain production of 19.9 million tons, 11 percent larger than the previous year and about average.
In Tanzania, the recently harvested 1998 main season coarse grain crops recovered significantly from last years level. The 1998 aggregate output is forecast at 4.4 million tons, 38 percent higher than in 1997. In Burundi and Rwanda abundant rains since the beginning of the year allowed a recovery of the 1998 B season coarse grain outputs, estimated around the pre-civil conflict levels. By contrast, in Somalia, the recently harvested 1998 "Gu" crops are estimated to be 60 percent below the poor level of last year as a result of reduced plantings, dry weather and pests infestations. In Uganda, where harvest of the 1998 first season coarse grain crops is well advanced, output is forecast to be about normal with lower yields, due to erratic rains, compensated by larger plantings. In Kenya, the main season coarse grains are reported in generally good conditions following adequate rains during the growing season. The 1998 main maize output is forecast to increase significantly from last year to a normal level of 2.3 million tons. In Ethiopia, the recently harvested secondary "belg" coarse grain output was overall good, but crops were sharply reduced in northern highland areas. Prospects for the 1998 main season crops are generally favourable reflecting adequate rains in the past months. In Eritrea, rains from mid-July, following previous dry weather, improved the outlook for the 1998 coarse grains crops. In the Sudan, heavy rains in August resulted in floods but provided relief to the 1998 main season coarse grain crops stressed by previous dry weather.
Paddy rice harvesting is complete in Tanzania, the major rice producing country in the region, and output for 1998 is provisionally estimated at about 1 million tonnes, up significantly from the 550 000 tonnes produced in 1997. The increase is attributed to a 12 percent rise in area and an improvement in yields resulting from abundant rainfall during the growing season.
SOUTHERN AFRICA: As a result of adverse weather and lower plantings in several countries, the output of 1998 coarse grains (mostly maize), harvested earlier in the year, fell to 14.7 million tonnes, 2.3 million tonnes less than in the previous season and about 14 percent below average. Lower production in several countries including Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe was only partly offset by increased outputs in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland. In South Africa, the largest producer in the sub-region, output fell for the second consecutive year, by 15 percent, to 8.2 million tonnes mostly due to reduced plantings and prolonged dry spells that reduced yields. In Zimbabwe production dropped by 35 percent from the previous year's above average crop of 2.4 million tonnes as a result of a marked reduction in yields. In Zambia excessive rains in the northern areas, with extensive flooding, and near drought conditions in the south resulted in a coarse grains output of 0.6 million tonnes, a drop of some 40 percent compared with previous year's already below average crop. Moreover, a grain borer pest threatens harvested coarse grains; this pest is spreading fast and could affect as much as 80 percent of the grain if pesticide treatment is not carried out soon.
The prospects for the 1998 wheat crop sown earlier in the year are poor and a sharp reduction in output is expected. Irregular main season rains have sharply reduced irrigation water reserves in the major producing areas of South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe and plantings have been drastically cut.
Gathering of the 1998 paddy crop is complete in the region. Output in Madagascar, which accounts for over 90 percent of the regions rice production, is estimated at about 2.2 million tonnes, a decline of 12 percent from the previous year. The contraction is attributed to a reduction in yields as a result of the infestation of locusts. In Mozambique, following generally favourable growing conditions, output is estimated at 190 000 tonnes, 6 percent above 1997.
Storm rains in late August, following moderate rains in July in the main wheat producing irrigated areas of the north-west of Mexico have improved prospects for planting of the 1998/99 crop, which is due to start from October. The rains helped increase low water reservoir levels, which had been severely depleted by a severe prolonged drought, the tail-end effect of El Niño.
The outlook is generally good for the 1998/99 first season coarse grain crops and a recovery in production is expected in most Central American countries. Output of maize is forecast to be normal to above-normal in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica. In Mexico, by contrast, latest official forecasts indicate that the spring/summer maize output is likely to be significantly lower than earlier estimates, as planting of the important spring/summer maize crop was hindered by late rains in the central plateau. In Guatemala, the maize crop is being affected by pests and considerable losses are expected. In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, normal weather conditions are benefiting the developing 1998/99 second season cereal and other minor food crops, while in Cuba a prolonged drought has caused serious damage to foodcrops and pastures particularly in the extreme eastern provinces of the country. The drought has aggravated the problems of the agricultural sector, already affected by the continuing shortage of farm inputs.
In Argentina, wheat plantings are expected to decline by more than 15 percent from the previous year's normal level, as unattractive prices for wheat are likely to have caused a switch to more profitable crops. Preliminary forecasts indicate a reduction in 1998 output to 12 million tonnes (1997: 14.7 millions) In Brazil, the area planted is estimated to be 10 to 12 percent below last years average level. However output could remain similar to 1997 if weather conditions are normal through the rest of the growing season. In Chile, a recovery is expected from this years El Niño-affected crop. In Uruguay, planting has been disrupted by excessive rains. Prospects are uncertain with the area planted expected to remain close to 1997/98 below-normal level. In the Andean countries, growing conditions for the 1998 (winter) crop in the eastern parts of Bolivia are reported to be satisfactory. Harvest is due to start from September and output is forecast to be close to 1997's normal level. In Ecuador, harvest of the1998 wheat crop, mostly grown in the highlands, is well advanced, but the outlook is poor as the crop was seriously affected by El Niño. In Peru, an average output is anticipated. In Colombia, 1998 wheat output is tentatively forecast to decline further this year.
Harvest of the1998 coarse grain crops has been completed in the southern areas of the sub-region. Despite significant losses incurred due to El Niño, the aggregate output in the sub-region is estimated at 66.2 million tonnes, well above the average of the last 5 years. Fieldwork is underway in preparation for planting of the 1999 crop to start in September/October. In the Andean countries, a recovery in production is expected in Bolivia, following the poor results of the 1997/98 season crops when the country was severely affected by El Niño. In Ecuador, some 170 000 hectares, principally in the coastal provinces, were badly affected by El Niño in the first half of the year and maize output is expected to decrease significantly from the 1997 record level. In Peru, harvesting of maize is well underway and production in 1998 is likely to decline from 1997's record level, but would still be above average. In Colombia, production is tentatively forecast to be about average, a significant recovery from last year's El Niño-affected crop. In Venezuela, weather conditions are benefiting planting of maize and other foodcrops. An average output is tentatively forecast.
Harvesting of the 1998 paddy crop is complete in the region and output is estimated at 15.9 million tonnes, compared to 17.7 million tonnes produced in 1997. The decline is the result of a combination of a 4 percent reduction in area to 5.1 million hectares and a 9 percent drop in yields to about 3 tonnes per hectare due to El Niño. In Brazil, the regions largest rice producer, harvested area dropped by about 3 percent from 1997 to 3.4 million hectares in 1998, the lowest in over 10 years. In addition, heavy rains and abnormally low temperatures led to a decline in yields. As a result, paddy output is estimated at 8.5 million tonnes, 11 percent less than in 1997. Similar weather problems also affected paddy in Argentina and Uruguay.
The bulk of the United States winter wheat crop has been gathered and the spring wheat harvest is well underway. Following generally good weather conditions for harvesting and the development of the spring wheat crop, official estimates for wheat production have been raised further since the last report. Winter wheat production is now estimated at some 52 million tonnes, 2 percent up from the good 1997 crop despite a significant reduction in area. The forecast for spring wheat production is now put at some 17 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from last years crop. In Canada, the harvest is well underway and one of the earliest on record, due largely to early seeding and hot dry weather, which has hastened crop development. However, due to reduced plantings, wheat output in 1998 is forecast to fall to 23 million tonnes, about 5 percent down from 1997 and below the average of the past 5 years.
Prospects for the 1998 coarse grains crop in the United States remain generally satisfactory, despite some serious drought and heat problems in the southern and southeast states and some localized problems in the Midwest, mainly due to excessive moisture. The first survey-based forecast of the season puts maize production at about 244 million tonnes, some 2 percent up from last years. This years crop is well ahead of the normal rate of development with the bulk of it through the critical reproductive phase by early August. There is now less potential for major yield loss from prolonged heat and also the rapid pace of development suggests there will be limited likelihood of damage from early frosts. In Canada, prospects for the main coarse grains crop (mostly barley), are similar to those for wheat. Aggregate coarse grains output is now forecast at about 25.7 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from last years crop; a reduction in barley output is expected to be offset by larger maize and oats crops.
In the United States, where harvesting of the 1998 paddy crop is in progress, forecast output has been adjusted downwards by about 300 000 tonnes from the previous report to 8.1 million tonnes, similar to last year's level. A 5 percent expansion in the area planted to rice was offset by lower yields, reflecting delayed planting in California, and a heat wave in many of the southern rice producing states.
In the EC, latest indications continue to point to another above-average cereal crop in 1998. FAO now forecasts total cereal output in the Community at 213 million tonnes, slightly up from the previous forecast and 1 percent above the 1997 crop. Wheat crops have performed particularly well as a result of favourable weather conditions and above-average to record crops are expected in most countries. Aggregate wheat production is now forecast at 102 million tonnes, 7 percent up from 1997. With regard to the coarse grains, barley and rye production are also forecast to increase from the previous year but output of oats will be reduced. By contrast, the summer maize crop is forecast to decline sharply from last years record level. Plantings were reduced in France, Italy and Spain, the largest producers, and this season's weather conditions have not been ideal for this crop. Nevertheless, maize output in the Community is forecast to remain above the average of the past 5 years at almost 36 million tonnes.
In Bulgaria, weather conditions over the past month have been generally favourable. Wheat output in 1998 is forecast at some 3.3 million tonnes, about 5 percent down from last years crop but about the average of the past five years. Coarse grains production is forecast at 2.3 million tonnes, also down somewhat from the previous year but about average. In the Czech Republic, total cereal production is expected to remain close to the 1997 level between 6.5-7 million tonnes, despite marginally lower plantings. However, in late July, floods affected some agricultural land in the east of the country, the effect of which on this year's cereal production, if any, is not yet known. In Hungary, another above average cereal crop is forecast in 1998, although down from the bumper harvest last year. Wheat output is estimated at 5 million tonnes, while preliminary forecasts point to maize output of about 6 million tonnes. In Poland, wheat output is now forecast at 9.3 million tonnes, over 1 million tonnes up from last year and well above the average of the past five years. However, the barley crop is still expected to fall somewhat to about 3.6 million tonnes. In Romania, a heat wave since mid-July, has seriously affected the country's maize and sunflower crops, but is unlikely to affect the wheat crop which is already being harvested. Nevertheless, output of wheat is forecast to fall significantly in 1998, to 5 million tonnes, well below the average of the past five years, mostly due to reduced plantings and adverse weather last autumn. In the Slovak Republic, latest official reports indicate a marginal increase in cereal output in 1998, mainly due to increased plantings and higher yields.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the 1998 cereal output is forecast at some 1 million tonnes, similar to the previous years crop. In Croatia, cereal production is forecast to increase further from last years already above average crop. Wheat production in particular is estimated to have risen by about 30 percent to over 1 million tonnes, reflecting increased plantings and yields. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, latest official reports put the 1998 wheat crop at about 3.2 million tonnes, about 10 percent up from last year. However, it is likely that the maize crop has been affected by hot dry weather this summer and could be reduced. Aggregate 1998 cereal production is forecast at just under 10 million tonnes, close to the 1997 output.
The 1998 paddy crop season in the EC is reported to be progressing well under favourable growing conditions. Both harvested area and production are forecast to be similar to last years levels of about 420 000 hectares and 2.7 million tonnes, respectively.
In the CIS, the outlook for the 1998 cereal harvest has deteriorated significantly over the past 2 months, mostly due to persisting intense heat and drought conditions in several of the major producing areas. The 1998 harvest was already expected to be lower due to reduced winter grain plantings and increased winterkill in some parts, but adverse spring and summer conditions have wiped out crops in some parts and seriously cut yield prospects of spring and summer grains. FAO now forecasts the 1998 cereal and pulse harvest at 126 million tonnes (1997: 153 million tonnes), including some 67 million tonnes of wheat (1997: 81 million tonnes) and 53 million tonnes of coarse grains (1997: 71 million tonnes). The paddy and pulse crops are also forecast to decline.
In the Russian Federation, the 1998 cereal and pulse crop is now forecast at about 67 million tonnes, 25 percent down from last years harvest reflecting reduced winter and spring plantings and adverse weather this season. It is reported that some 39 out of the countrys 89 regions have been hit by exceptionally high temperatures and drought, while some southern parts have been affected by floods. In the Ukraine, the arrival of precipitation and cooler weather in early August brought some relief to the summer crops after persisting hot dry conditions for several weeks, but arrived too late for the spring grains at or nearing maturity. Aggregate cereal and pulse production in the country is now forecast at about 32 million tonnes, 6 million tonnes down from the 1997 crop. Also in Kazakstan, a much reduced cereal harvest is now in prospect, following reduced plantings and this season's exceptionally hot weather. Production is forecast at some 8.5 million tonnes, about 30 percent down from 1997. In Belarus, moderate rainfall showers in late July and early August benefitted the summer crops but slowed winter grain harvesting. Cereal output in 1998 is forecast at just under 6 million tonnes, close to 1997s output. Elsewhere, the 1998 cereal harvests are expected to be similar to last years levels.
1/ The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) includes 12 member states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Ukraine and Uzbekistan).
Prospects for the 1998 winter wheat and coarse grains crops in Australia have improved significantly over the past two months due to excellent moisture conditions throughout most of the major producing areas. Although serious localized flooding in New South Wales in late July has damaged some winter grain crops, the effect on the countrys aggregate output will be limited. Based on crop conditions as of early August, FAO forecasts the 1998 wheat crop at 21 million tonnes, 3 million tonnes up from the previous forecast and about 14 percent up from the previous years crop. As regards coarse grains, output in 1998 is forecast to fall to some 8.4 million tonnes from 9.2 million tonnes last year. Despite the generally favourable growing conditions, smaller winter barley and oats crops are forecast as a result of reduced plantings, and the small summer coarse grain crop (mostly sorghum) which has already been harvested earlier this year, was some about 10 percent down from the previous year. Harvesting of the rice crop has been completed and output is estimated at about 1.3 million tonnes of paddy, about 100 000 tonnes higher than originally anticipated due to the favourable growing conditions that led to a slight increase in yields. Nevertheless, output is down by 7 percent from the previous year as area planted to rice declined by 16 percent.