AUSTRALIA (3 September)
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 damaged some winter grain crops, the affect on the country's aggregate output will be limited. The latest official forecast in September put the 1998 wheat crop at 23.5 million tonnes, 26 percent up from the previous year's crop. By contrast, coarse grains output in 1998 is forecast at 9.2 million tonnes about the same as last year. Despite the reduced plantings, winter barley and oats crops are forecast to be as large as in the previous year, reflecting generally favourable growing conditions. The small summer coarse grain crop (mostly sorghum) which was harvested earlier this year, was some about 10 percent down from the previous year.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA (3 September)
A tidal wave about 10 metres high has recently struck a remote part of the Northwest coast of the country, destroying the whole area near Scission lagoon. Most of the fish and crabs in the lagoon were also reported to have died.
Notwithstanding the tidal wave, the country has received normal to above-normal rains during the growing season, which benefited crops. Prospects for crops, mainly roots and tubers, are expected to be good. However, the food situation is likely to be tight for vulnerable groups and those who lacked basic agricultural inputs at the planting time.