EC (3 September)
FAO now forecasts total cereal output in the Community at 210 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. The summer maize crop is forecast to decline sharply from last year's record level. Plantings were reduced in France, Italy and Spain, the largest producers, and this seasons weather conditions have not been ideal for this crop. Nevertheless, maize output in the Community is forecast to reach almost 36 million tonnes, remaining above the average of the past 5 years.
ALBANIA (3 September)
Latest official reports indicate that about 400 000 tonnes of wheat were produced in the country this year. FAO estimates that food consumption of wheat has been in the range of 650 000 to 700 000 tonnes over the past few years, which is concurrent with recent official indications for 650 000 tonnes to meet food requirements in 1997/98. Assuming that some of the domestic crop will be retained for seed use, some of the poorer quality grain will be used for feeding livestock, and some wastage will occur, as is normal, is estimated that at least some 300 000 tonnes of wheat will be needed in 1998/99 to maintain food consumption levels equivalent to recent years. The USDA Commodity Credit Corp has recently announced that it bought a total of 25 000 tonnes of United States red winter wheat for donation to Albania in two parcels under the Food for Progress Programme. One parcel was due for shipment in July and the other for September.
Albania continues to be inundated with refugees from the recent conflict in Kosovo Province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). As of late August some 7 000 refugees were officially registered in Tropoje district in northern Albania, while several thousand more are estimated to have travelled to other areas of the country. The security situation in the Tropoje district remains very tense. Food distribution is coordinated by all major humanitarian agencies and covers refugees in all major towns in northern Albania, including Tropoje, Bajrain, Curri, Shkodra, Dunnes and Tiranos.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (3 September)
Widespread rainfall in late August provided useful soil moisture for the upcoming planting of winter cereals. Food production, notably output of milk, eggs, maize, potatoes and vegetables, has been increasing steadily in the aftermath of the war. In 1997/98 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. Information on crop production is lacking and/or unreliable. Cereal production for 1998 is probably in the region of 1 million tonnes.
The cereal import requirement for 1998/99 is provisionally estimated at around 275 000 tonnes.
BULGARIA (3 September)
Weather conditions over the past few weeks have been warm and generally favourable for the final development of winter crops and harvesting. Some rainfall in the middle of July was beneficial for the developing maize crop. Wheat output in 1998 is forecast at some 3.3 million tonnes, about 5 percent down from last year's 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.
CZECH REPUBLIC (3 September)
As of early September the bulk of the 1998 cereal crops had been gathered under generally favourable conditions. Latest reports indicate that total cereal production will remain close to the 1997 level between 6.5-7.0 million tonnes, despite marginally lower plantings. Of the total, wheat is expected to account for about 4 million tonnes.
ESTONIA (3 September)
Harvesting of spring crops (barley and rye) is well underway. The area sown to cereals - 295 000 hectares - is similar to last year's level, but per hectare yields are below average, especially for wheat. The important potato crop was damaged by stormy weather and heavy summer rains. The total 1998 cereal harvest is estimated at 588 000 tonnes, 11 percent down on the 1997 outturn.
HUNGARY (3 September)
Widespread intermittent rainfall in late August was beneficial for immature summer crops. The bulk of the winter crops had already been gathered, favoured by hot and dry conditions in July and August. In aggregate, 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. However, latest information indicates that the quality of many crops is poorer than normal due to a high ratio of fungal infection. The outcome of the maize crop remains somewhat uncertain; preliminary forecasts point to an output of about 6 million tonnes but the full affect of earlier drought conditions on yields is not yet known.
LATVIA (3 September)
Spring crops are being harvested. The area planted to cereals in 1998 rose slightly to 490 000 tonnes, but yields were down, especially for barley. Total cereal production is provisionally estimated at 1.03 million tonnes.
LITHUANIA (3 September)
Cereal production in 1998 is estimated at 2.74 million tonnes, an above average crop, although down on the bumper 1997 harvest of 2.98 million tonnes. Despite problems of marketing the 1997 crop on a depressed world market, an exportable surplus of around 75 000 tonnes (wheat and barley) is anticipated for the 1998/99 marketing year (July/June).
POLAND (3 September)
In Poland, latest official reports indicate that the 1998 wheat harvest is turning out better than earlier expected. 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.
ROMANIA (3 September)
The arrival of some rainfall in western parts of the country in late August brought some relief to immature summer crops. However a heat wave through most of July and August has already seriously affected the majority of the country's maize and sunflower crops. The final outcome of the 1998 maize crop is still uncertain but production is expected to be well below the previous year's good level. The winter wheat crop was less affected by the summer drought, but plantings were already reduced by adverse weather last autumn. Output of wheat is now forecast to fall significantly in 1998, to 5 million tonnes, well below the average of the past five years
SLOVAK REPUBLIC (3 September)
In the Slovak Republic, latest official reports indicate a marginal increase in cereal output in 1998, mainly due to increased plantings and higher yields. Rye, barley and triticale account for most of the increase.
YUGOSLAVIA, FED. REP. OF (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO) (3 September)
The 1998 wheat crop, now harvested, is estimated at 3.27 million tonnes, from just over 800 000 hectares, which is above average and 12 percent higher than the 1997 outturn. The maize area remained unchanged from the 1997 level. However, yields are expected to fall by as much as 20 percent as a result of high temperatures and low rainfall from mid July to mid August. Hailstorms caused extensive crop damage on an estimated 9 000 hectares. Maize harvesting is underway. Preliminary indications are of a maize crop in the region of 6 million tonnes. Scattered showers in late August and early September provided useful moisture for the planting of winter wheat.
Maize exports for the 1998/99 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at around 300 000 tonnes. The Government plans to purchase 600,000 tonnes of wheat, but the official prices are viewed as insufficient to meet production costs. Short supplies have been reported for basic foodstuffs in state shops, where consumer subsidies are maintained, but the private trade has adequate stocks.
Intense fighting continues in Kosovo, where some 270 000 people have been displaced from their homes inside Kosovo. A further 130 000 people have taken refuge in neighbouring regions and states. With the onset of winter approaching, agencies are appealing for immediate funds of US$43 million.
COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES
ARMENIA (3 September)
For 1998 crops, the area planted to cereals increased marginally, to 203 000 hectares. With above normal yields, the cereal harvest is estimated at 345 000 metric tonnes, some 20 percent above the average of the previous 5 years.
The country imported some 367 000 tonnes of cereals in 1997/98, of which 156 000 tonnes were food aid. In view of the good crop it is likely that total cereal imports in the 1998/99 marketing year will be in the region of 350 000 tonnes. The country is reported to have become almost self sufficient in potato and vegetable production. Although the national food supply situation is relatively stable, much of the population is dependent on welfare support.
AZERBAIJAN (3 September)
The spring grains harvest, though behind schedule, is nearing completion. The preliminary estimates of 1998 cereal production point to a crop of 1.14 million tonnes, six percent above the 1993-1997 average, but slightly lower than last year's output. The area planted to winter barley fell to 38 percent of the average, and although wheat area increased, there was a decline in total area of 5 percent. However, the fall in area was more than compensated for by higher than average yields.
A total of 435 000 tonnes of cereal import were recorded in the 1997/98 marketing year (July/June), of which 56 000 tonnes were food aid. A moderate rise, to 445 000 tonnes is expected in 1998/99.
BELARUS (3 September)
Showers in August hampered the harvesting of spring grains and sowing of the winter cereals crop. By late August two thirds of the crop had been gathered. Heavy rainfall has reduced cereals yields and also damaged the important potato crop. Despite a substantial increase in state subsidies for farm inputs, total cereal production, estimated at 5.98 million tonnes, is marginally below the average of the 1993-1997 period. The national currency, which plunged earlier in the year, is likely to continue to slide in reaction to the Russian crisis. Inflation could reach 60 percent in 1998. Cereal imports for 1998/99 are likely to be around 650 000 tonnes, compared to some 700 000 tonnes in 1997/98.
GEORGIA (3 September)
Harvesting of the spring crops is nearing completion, after delays caused by a lack of working farm machinery. Growing conditions for maize, mainly produced in the west, have been satisfactory. The 1998 maize crop is estimated at 500 000 tonnes, 34 percent higher than the average of the previous 5 years. Wheat production, estimated at 225 000 tonnes is also above average, but well below the bumper 1997 outturn of 300 000 tonnes. Strong winds and dry conditions damaged winter wheat in the east of the country. Lack of farm credit and the high costs of inputs remain major constraints to growth in the sector.
Wheat imports for the 1997/98 marketing year (July/June) reached 0.5 million tonnes, of which 162 000 tonnes were food aid. It is probable that imports in 1998/99 will remain at around this level. The country is self sufficient in maize.
WFP is providing emergency food assistance to some 200 000 internally displaced persons, victims of hostilities in the Abkhazia area.
KAZAKHSTAN (3 September)
Harvesting of spring grains, particularly wheat, it underway. The area planted to cereals in 1998 is estimated at 13.3 million hectares, some 30 percent below the average for the previous five years. The fall is attributed to short supplies of fuel, seed and credit. Shortages of fertiliser, exacerbated by unusually hot, dry weather conditions in July have resulted in yield reductions. Crop failures were reported on almost 18 percent of the area planted to cereals. The 1998 cereal harvest is provisionally estimated at some 8.6 million tonnes against 12.3 million tons in 1997, and a sharp reduction in export availabilities can be expected for the next marketing year.
KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (3 September)
Harvesting of spring grains is nearing completion. Progress was slow, hampered by cold weather and showers. Planted area was 5 percent down on the 1997 level, but well above the average for the previous six years. Excessive rains affected yields earlier in the season and fertiliser and pesticide imports fell short of requirements. The 1998 cereal harvest is currently put at 1.64 million tonnes, some 24 percent up on the average for the previous five years, but below the bumper crop of 1.72 million tonnes in 1997. For the 1998/99 marketing year (July/June) some 17 600 tonnes of cereal food aid imports are expected and cereal exports are forecast to reach 150 000 tonnes.
MOLDOVA (3 September)
Harvesting of spring grains is complete. The latest estimates put total 1998 cereal production at 2.6 million tonnes against 3.2 million tonnes last year. The maize crop of 1.4 million tonnes is eighteen percent lower than the 1997 outturn, although it remains well above the average for 1992-1997. Wheat production, at 1.01 million tonnes, was down on last year's and somewhat below average. While cereal area increased, there was a marked decline in yields. This reflects the low profitability of crops (there are significant carryovers from the 1997 crop), and some irregularities in weather conditions. With ample supplies, it is unlikely that there will be substantial imports of cereals in the 1998/99 marketing year.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION (3 September)
Harvesting and threshing of spring grains was well behind schedule, interrupted by showers in August, although early September was unusually warm and dry. Planting of winter grains is underway, with much-needed soil moisture provided by recent rains in the south. The total area planted to cereals in 1998 is estimated at 49.9 million hectares, which is some 8 percent down on the average of the last five years.
Yields of the major grains have declined this year as a result of prolonged dry spells, especially in the Urals, lower Volga valley and North Caucasus. The latest estimates put total 1998 cereal production at 65.46 million tonnes, 18 percent lower than the 1993-1997 average and well below the 86.77 million tonnes harvested last year. Wheat production is set to fall to around 35 million tonnes from 44.2 million tonnes in 1997. Preliminary estimates indicate that drought in the main barley areas has resulted in a barley harvest that is only two thirds of the 1993-1997 average, reputedly the lowest outturn since 1962, so a major fall in exports is certain. the potato crop is also well below average.
The cereal import requirement for 1998/99 is preliminarily estimated at about 3 million tonnes. The dramatic decline in the rouble from mid-August, and related political crisis, give rise for concern over Russia's capacity to meet its food import requirement. There may be a move from higher valued and processed commodities towards staples.
The recent events have led to speculative hoarding and a rush on the part of consumers to purchase the available stock. There are fears that dramatic falls in real income, rising unemployment and increased food prices will prompt food crisis in the coming months. The security situation in the Republic of Daghestan in the north Caucasus, continues to deteriorate.
TAJIKISTAN* (3 September)
The current prospects are for a decline in cereal production in 1998. The preliminary estimate of 510 000 tonnes is some 13 percent lower than the 1997 crop. The total area planted to cereals in 1998 is estimated at 371 000 hectares, somewhat below the 392 000 hectares planted last year: the main reason for the decline appears to be a shift into cotton. Some 15 000 hectares were damaged or washed away by flooding in April. The flooding also posed logistics problems for the timely delivery of agricultural inputs for the spring crops. The cold spring and rusts and smuts have caused some reductions in grain yields and quality. Yields of wheat, the main cereal crop, are estimated at 1.46 tonnes per hectare, compared to last year's level of 1.6 tonnes.
Despite the decline in domestic output, the total cereal import requirement for 1998/99 (July/June) is tentatively estimated at 360 000 tonnes. This is close to actual cereal imports during the previous marketing year (365 000 tonnes of which 124 000 tonnes were food aid), as there is likely to be some scope for drawing down stock in 1998/99.
In April 1998, heavy rains resulted in floods and landslides and consequent losses of life and property. An appeal was launched in late July for a total of US$6.61 million, to support relief and rehabilitation activities. The security situation is reported to be relatively calm, although there have been sporadic clashes between the Government forces and opposition groups.
TURKMENISTAN (3 September)
Harvesting of the spring grains is nearing completion. The total 1998 cereal area is estimated at 625 000 hectares, well above the 534 000 hectares planted last year, and almost 16 percent above average. Land reforms, improvements in the credit system and increased incentives prompted the area expansion. The 1998 cereals crop is estimated at around 864 000 tonnes, well up on the 1997 level. Total cereal imports for the 1997/98 marketing year (July/June) reached some 310 000 tonnes, mainly high grade milling wheat. The import requirement for 1998/99 is forecast to be in the region of 400 000 tonnes. In the first half of 1998 the country ran a sizeable trade deficit and continues to face difficulties in exploiting its large natural gas reserves, raising concerns that the import capacity may be constrained.
THE UKRAINE (3 September)
The 1998 spring crops have now, for the most part, been gathered.
Showers in late August came too late to induce a recovery in maize and sunflower crops, stressed by below normal precipitation in July. Delays in maize harvesting were attributed to the reallocation of labour and machinery into more profitable crops and scattered showers. The area planted to cereals - 12.8 million hectares - was marginally above average. Although fertiliser supplies reportedly increased, moisture stress of spring crops and high winter-kill for the 1997/98 winter crop, have led to reduced cereal yields. Total 1998 cereal production is estimated at 29.94 million tonnes, 12 percent down on the 1993-1997 average and well down on last year's crop of 35.85 million tonnes. Improved wheat quality (and hence value) may partly compensate for the reduced production. The rains provided useful soil moisture for the planting of winter grains, which is underway. Early indications are of a reduction in winter wheat and barley area. Prospects for exports in 1998/99 are unclear in the light of the poor harvest and the possible effects of the rouble crisis and consequent reductions in Russian import demand. Trading volumes have dropped on the main exchanges.
UZBEKISTAN (3 September)
Cereal production is expected to reach some 3.9 million tonnes in 1998, some 31 percent higher than the 1993-1997 average and better than the 1997 output of 3.7 million tonnes. This is despite a reduction in planted area from the 1997 level, caused by diversion of land into other crops. Reported cereal imports in the 1997/98 marketing year (July/June) amount to 980 000 tonnes. In view of the improved harvest, imports in 1998/99 are expected to drop to 930 000 tonnes. Positive economic growth is expected in 1998 although at a lower rate than in 1997. There has been some progress in reduction of the current account deficit. Floods and landslides in areas neighbouring Krygistan, caused loss of life and extensive damage to property in mid July.