FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.1, February 1999

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In Asia, the outlook for the winter wheat crop, for harvest from April, is mixed. In China, rainfall in December somewhat improved earlier dry conditions in the southern provinces of Guangxi, Guandong and Hunan, but drought persists in northern and north-western parts of the country, where precipitation is reported to have averaged less than 25 percent of normal since the autumn. Several million hectares of normally rainfed crops are reported to be harmed. By contrast, in India, a good wheat crop is anticipated due to favourable weather and an increase in cultivated area. In Pakistan, conditions for the winter wheat crop improved with the arrival of rains in early January after earlier dry conditions. Latest official reports indicate that the 1999 wheat output will likely fall about 1 million tonnes short of the targeted 19 million tonnes.

The region's coarse grains output in 1998 is estimated at some 218 million tonnes, about 13 percent higher than last year's reduced harvest and 8 percent above than the average for the previous five years. In China, a bumper maize crop of 125 million tonnes, 20 percent above the reduced 1997 harvest, is estimated following favourable growing conditions and increased plantings. China's total coarse grains output in 1998 is estimated at 141.5 million tonnes, some 12 percent above the average for the previous five years. In India, coarse grains output is estimated at 31 million tonnes, which is about average. In Indonesia, a record maize harvest of 9.8 million tonnes, about 24 percent above average, is reported. In Korea, D.P.R., maize output in 1998 is estimated at 1.8 million tonnes, a recovery from 1997's record low output, but still about 11 percent below average.

The latest estimate for the region’s 1998 paddy output is 510 million tonnes, about 4 million tonnes down from the previous report mostly reflecting downward revisions for India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. At this level, paddy production would be 16 million tonnes less than the revised figure for 1997.

In Bangladesh, floods that affected most of the country during the period July to September resulted in severe damage to the paddy fields. Total 1998-99 paddy output is estimated at 26.3 million tonnes, which is about 1 million tonnes lower than previously reported and 2 million tonnes down from the previous season. Planting of the Boro crop is just gaining momentum and a campaign has been launched by the Agriculture Extension Department to boost rice area during the season. In India, harvesting of the main season Kharif rice crop is almost complete, while planting of the Rabi crop is nearing its conclusion. However, floods brought by heavy post-monsoon rains damaged crops in a number of major producing states. Accordingly, the 1998 paddy production has been revised downwards by 4 million tonnes to about 122 million tonnes, just below the 1997 revised record of 123 million tonnes. In Pakistan, harvesting of the 1998 paddy crop is virtually complete and output is estimated at a record 7 million tonnes, 500 000 tonnes up from 1997 following favourable growing conditions and a slight increase in planted area in response to Government incentives such as credit facilities, higher procurement prices and increased availability of inputs. In Myanmar, harvesting of the main-season crop is nearing completion and a slight decline in output is anticipated largely due to reduced plantings.


Wheat Coarse grains Rice (paddy) Total 1/
1997 1998 1997 1998 1997 1998 1997 1998
( . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . . . . )
Asia 249.9 242.2 192.9 218.2 526.3 509.9 969.1 970.3
Africa 15.3 19.2 76.1 84.4 16.9 15.6 108.3 119.2
Central America 3.7 3.3 28.2 28.6 2.1 2.0 34.0 33.8
South America 20.1 15.7 63.7 63.7 17.7 16.0 101.5 95.4
North America 91.8 93.8 285.9 298.5 8.3 8.5 386.0 400.9
Europe 132.2 139.8 175.7 161.7 2.7 2.7 310.6 304.3
CIS 81.2 62.4 70.8 44.6 1.1 1.2 153.0 108.2
Oceania 19.7 21.4 10.7 9.1 1.4 1.4 31.9 31.9
WORLD 614.0 597.9 903.9 908.8 576.6 557.2 2 094.5 2 063.9
Developing countries 286.0 279.8 351.0 386.5 550.6 532.2 1 187.6 1 196.9
Developed countries 327.9 319.7 553.0 522.3 26.0 25.0 906.9 866.9


1/ Total cereal, including rice in paddy terms.

In Cambodia, although recent rains have improved conditions for the developing rice crop, potential yields have most likely been limited by the effect of earlier dry conditions during the critical stage of flowering. In addition, there are reports of localized incidents of pest attacks. A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visit the country in late January to assess the situation and the results are expected in February. In Viet Nam, harvesting of the main-season crop is nearing completion and the 1998 paddy output is estimated at 28.4 million tonnes, slightly down from last year’s revised record but about 1 million tonnes more than expected earlier. Planting of the winter-spring crop is in progress and the Government’s target is for an area of 2.8 million hectares and a paddy output of 14 million tonnes. In the southern part of the country, planting is about one month ahead of last year’s pace and, accordingly, harvesting is expected to start earlier. Gathering of the main season crop in the Philippines has been completed but the early part of the season was conditioned by persistent El Niño-related drought that had depressed plantings. Harvesting of the secondary crop is expected to start soon. Overall, the forecast for paddy production in 1998-99 has been cut by about 500 000 tonnes from the previous report to 10.2 million tonnes, which would still be slightly more than the 1997-98 output that was greatly reduced by drought. Contrary to earlier expectations, a combination of relatively favourable weather conditions and international assistance supplying some essential inputs, helped production in the Korea, D.P.R. The 1998 paddy output is estimated at about 2.1 million tonnes, up from 1.7 million tonnes produced in 1997 but still lower than the 4 million tonnes achieved in 1989.

Elsewhere in the region, no major changes have been made to the crop estimates held in the previous report. In Thailand, harvesting of the 1998/99 main-season crop is nearing completion and an increase in output is expected as strong price incentives motivated producers to expand the rice area. However, the irrigation-dependent second crop, whose planting began in January, may be affected by water shortage expected during the dry season months of January to May. The Government has advised farmers to drastically reduce the second-season rice area because of reduced water reserves. In China (Mainland), the 1998 paddy output is estimated at 191 million tonnes, unchanged from the previous report and 9 million tonnes less than last year’s record largely due to floods that affected Central and Southern China during most of July and August.

In Indonesia, harvesting of the 1998-second season crop is virtually complete and output is estimated at 46.4 million tonnes, down from 49.4 million tonnes produced in 1997. The decline is attributed mainly to the El Niño-related drought that caused a reduction in planted area and to the country’s economic problems that resulted in a shortage in input supplies. Planting of the 1999 main season crop is nearing completion and an increase in area is anticipated as the high paddy prices are expected to boost plantings. The Government’s target for paddy production in 1999 is set at 52 million tonnes. In Sri Lanka, harvesting of the Yala (second) crop is over and the overall total paddy output is estimated at approximately 2.6 million tonnes or 18 percent more than the previous year due to area expansion. Planting of the 1999 Maha (main season) crop is complete but planted area is reported to be lower than the Government target due to inadequate rainfall at planting time.


NORTHERN AFRICA: The subregion’s wheat output in 1998 is estimated at about 14 million tonnes, 40 percent up compared to the drought-reduced 1997 crop of 10 million tonnes. Most of the countries in the subregion harvested above-average crops. Production more than doubled in Algeria to 2 million tonnes and increased by 90 percent in Morocco to 4.4 million tonnes, while in Tunisia output rose 53 percent. Output of the mostly irrigated crop in Egypt, estimated at 6.1 million tonnes, is 4 percent higher than in the previous year. The subregion's coarse grains crop in 1998 is estimated at 10.7 millions tonnes, about 18 percent more than the previous year's.

Growing conditions for the 1999 winter wheat crop are mostly satisfactory in Egypt and Tunisia. Prospects for the winter crop have improved in Algeria and Morocco. After a late start to the autumn rains, which delayed planting last year, medium to heavy rains in November and December, respectively in Algeria and Morocco, increased sharply the level of water reserves.

In Egypt, harvesting of the 1998 paddy crop is complete and the Government estimates an 18 percent reduction in output to 4.5 million tonnes. While area contracted by 21 percent from 1997, record yields of over 8.6 tonnes per hectare due to the favourable growing conditions and sufficient and timely availability of inputs during the growing season mitigated the decline.

WESTERN AFRICA: A record cereal harvest has been gathered in late 1998 in the Sahelian countries. Reflecting generally favourable growing conditions, particularly in August and September, the 1998 aggregate cereal production of the nine CILSS countries has been estimated by a series of FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions at a record 10.6 million tonnes, which is 31 percent higher than in 1997 and 17 percent above the average of the last five years. Record crops are anticipated in Chad, Mali and Niger. Above-average output is anticipated in The Gambia, while output is close to average in Burkina Faso and Senegal but below average in Cape Verde and Mauritania. Cereal production in Guinea-Bissau is anticipated to be well below average due to civil disturbances which hampered agricultural activities. Output has clearly increased relative to 1997 in all the major producing countries of the Sahel. It is below the 1997 output in Guinea-Bissau and in Cape Verde where a very poor harvest is again expected.

In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, harvest prospects are generally good in Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria and Togo but less favourable in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Liberia remains heavily dependent on international food assistance despite some improvement in food production. In Sierra Leone, following the recent escalation of violence, the food supply situation has seriously deteriorated, virtually wiping out the modest gains in food security resulting from the recently harvested 1998 rice crop.

Harvesting of the 1998 paddy is almost complete in most of the countries in the subregion and growing conditions varied from country-to-country. Civil strife in some countries made it very difficult for farming activities to proceed normally. In Nigeria, the most important rice producing country in western Africa, dry periods during July and August in the central and south-western parts of the country together with a shortage of basic inputs, particularly fertilizers, during the growing season have likely affected crop development resulting in reduced yields. In Ghana, precipitation during the period August to early October was below average with a potentially negative impact on output.

CENTRAL AFRICA: Millet and sorghum have been harvested in Cameroon and Central African Republic. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, civil strife and large-scale population movements continue to hamper farming activities while in Congo Brazzaville, recent insecurity also caused large population movements.

EASTERN AFRICA: Harvesting of the 1998 wheat crop is complete in Kenya and Ethiopia. FAO's latest estimates put the subregion's 1998 aggregate output at 3.3 million tons, an increase of some 27 percent from the previous year. Output in Ethiopia, turned out better than earlier expectations and is estimated to be 51 percent up from the previous year at 2.3 million tons. In Kenya, production remained around the good level of 1997. In Sudan, where the 1999 crop is scheduled to be harvested in March, prospects are unfavourable reflecting a decline in the area planted.

Harvesting of the 1998 main season coarse grains is complete in the subregion. Secondary season crops are now being harvested everywhere except in Ethiopia where they are about to be planted. The outlook is uncertain following irregular rains in the past two months. The subregion's 1998/99 aggregate production is forecast at a bumper level of some 24 million tons, one-third higher than in 1997/98. In Ethiopia, the main "meher" coarse grains output is estimated at 8.7 million tons, 38 percent above the disappointing crop a year earlier and slightly above the record 1996 meher harvest. This mainly reflects higher yields as a result of favourable rains, and increased use of fertilizers and improved seeds. A record coarse grains production was also recorded in Sudan following well distributed rains, timely availability of agricultural inputs and absence of pests or diseases. Latest estimates indicate a millet output of 1.1 million tons, almost twice the previous year's level, while that of sorghum is put at 4.6 million tons, 60 percent above the below-average 1997 crop. In Tanzania, the main 1998/99 main coarse grains harvest is estimated to be above average and one-third above the previous year's level. However, the outlook for the secondary crops, now being harvested, has deteriorated as a result of poor rains in the past month. Prospects for the secondary season sorghum and millet crops are also poor in Somalia due to late, scattered and irregular precipitation. The main season cereal output was sharply reduced by dry weather. In Kenya, the main "long-rains" coarse grain crops recovered substantially from the reduced harvest of 1997. By contrast, the outlook for the 1998/99 secondary "short rains" season are uncertain following delayed and irregular rains in eastern parts, which has resulted in reduced plantings. In Uganda, prospects for the 1998 second cereal crops being harvested are uncertain. However, following also a satisfactory first season crop, aggregate 1998 output is expected to improve from the previous year's reduced level to close to the average of the past five years. In Eritrea, above normal rains during the growing season resulted in a good coarse grain harvest in 1998. In Burundi and Rwanda, the 1998 cereal crops increased significantly from the previous year, returning to the pre-crisis levels. However, the recently harvested 1999 A coarse grain crops were negatively affected by a dry spell during the growing season and persistent insecurity in some areas.

Planting of the 1999 paddy crop in Tanzania, the largest producer in the subregion, is almost complete but the area sown is still uncertain. In 1998, the country produced an estimated 1 million tonnes of paddy, up significantly from 1997, due to abundant rainfall during the growing season together with a 12 percent rise in area.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Estimates of the recently harvested 1998 wheat crop in the subregion stand at 1.8 million tonnes, some 32 percent below the previous year's production and below average. The reduction is mainly due to a sharp decline in the area sown, particularly in South Africa, in response to low international and domestic wheat prices.

The 1998 coarse grains crop is estimated at 14.7 million tonnes, some 14 percent less than in the previous season and about 15 percent below average. Adverse weather conditions during the growing season resulted in lower plantings and reduced yields in several countries. As a result, output was much below average and below the previous year in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. However, production was above average in countries such as in Angola, Malawi and Mozambique on account of favorable weather conditions. Planting is nearly complete for the 1999 coarse grain crop to be harvested from March. Abundant rains in most areas have so far been favorable to crop development.

Planting of the 1999 paddy crop is nearing completion in the subregion. Output in 1998, estimated at 2.5 million tonnes was better than had been expected. The impact on rice production from the locust infestation in Madagascar, which accounts for over 90 percent of the subregion’s rice harvest, was less severe than originally feared and output fell only 12 percent to 2.2 million tonnes. By contrast, in Mozambique, the other main producer in the subregion, output increased to an estimated 190 000 tonnes, following the generally favourable growing conditions.


Dry weather conditions have prevailed since December in the irrigated wheat growing areas of the north-west of Mexico, where planting of the 1999 crop has been recently completed. Water reservoirs are nevertheless reported at adequate levels, and early forecasts indicate an increase from the low 1998 output could be expected due to slightly larger plantings, although production will likely remain below average.

Harvesting of the 1998 second season coarse grains crops has been completed in most countries following the serious disruption caused by hurricane "Mitch" by end-October. Aggregate maize output in 1998/99 is preliminarily estimated at a below-average 20.8 million tonnes, similar to the 1997/98 output, when crops were severely affected by El Niño-related adverse weather. More than 350 000 tonnes of maize were lost in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala as a direct consequence of the heavy and incessant rains. In Mexico, some parts in the south-west also suffered from the effects of the hurricane, but the country's aggregate maize output was nevertheless about average. To compensate for their large losses, some of the affected countries have implemented emergency recovery programmes, either by continuing planting in November or by increasing third season crop plantings where conditions allow. In the Caribbean, the destruction left by hurricane "Georges" in late September has resulted in below-average 1998/99 outputs for paddy and maize, particularly in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Below-average 1998/99 paddy outputs were also obtained in Haiti because of the serious localized losses inflicted by this hurricane.


The 1998/99 wheat output in the southern areas is provisionally estimated at 14.9 million tonnes which compares to 19.8 million tonnes collected from 1997/98 crops. In Argentina, harvesting of the 1998/99 wheat crop is virtually complete, and output is provisionally estimated at a below-average 10.6 million tonnes, compared to last year’s 14.8 million tonnes. This is due to a nearly 20 percent reduction in plantings coupled with adverse dry weather during much of the growing season. In Brazil, wheat output declined from last year’s average 2.4 million tonnes to a below-average 2.2 million tonnes, largely reflecting weather problems in the main growing states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul which contributed to lower than expected yields. In Uruguay and Paraguay, average outputs have been collected although somewhat lower than earlier anticipated. In Chile, which has endured severe dry weather practically throughout the whole year, harvesting of the wheat crop is still underway and output is officially forecast at a below-average 1.2 million tonnes, down from 1.7 million tonnes the year before. In the Andean countries, generally dry conditions have prevailed in the first half of January over most of the area. Fieldwork continues in Bolivia and Ecuador in anticipation of harvesting of the 1998/99 first season wheat crop to be started from March, while in Peru harvesting is due from April.

Dry weather conditions in the southern areas of the subregion throughout the growing season have contributed to a reduction in 1998/99 coarse grain plantings relative to 1997/98. In Argentina, planting is almost complete, although rains in the first half of January in the northern parts of the country have prompted farmers to continue sowing later than normal. The area planted for the whole country is provisionally estimated to decline by about 13 percent from the 1997/98 record level, but would still remain well above average. In Brazil, planting of the 1999 maize crop has been completed, and the area is provisionally estimated to have increased by almost 5.5 per cent from last year’s well below average 10.8 million hectares. Sharp increases in plantings are reported in some areas of the north-east. In Uruguay and Paraguay, average maize plantings are reported. In Chile, harvesting of the maize crop is due from March, and production is officially forecast to decline by some 30 percent from last year’s average 940 000 tonnes because of the continuing drought. In the Andean countries, fieldwork continues in Bolivia and Ecuador for harvesting of the 1998/99 first maize crop. A recovery from the reduced 1998 crop is expected. In Peru, where maize is grown all year around, harvesting of the 1999 yellow maize crop is underway while fieldwork continues for harvesting of the white maize crop from April/May. In Colombia and Venezuela, weather conditions are favourable for land preparation for the 1999 coarse grain and other food crops, and average plantings similar to last year’s are anticipated.

Planting of the 1999 paddy crop is virtually complete throughout the Latin American region and the crops are reported to be progressing well under generally favourable growing conditions. Harvesting of the crop is expected to start at the end of February/beginning of March and the regional paddy output in 1999 is provisionally forecast to increase by 14 percent from 1998 to about 18 million tonnes. This is largely the result of a 10 percent increase in rice area in response to attractive domestic and international prices at planting time, and a return to normal weather. In Brazil, the rice area is estimated at about 3.9 million hectares or 15 percent higher than the previous season and the highest in four years. A 4 percent rise in yields to 2.6 tonnes per hectare is anticipated which would lead to a 21 percent expansion in paddy output from 1998 to 10.3 million tonnes in 1999. Harvested rice area in Argentina is expected to increase by about 20 000 hectares from 1998 to 235 000 hectares and, accordingly, production is tentatively forecast to increase by about 30 percent from the previous season to 1.3 million tonnes. In Uruguay, a record output of about 1.1 million tonnes, compared to 864 000 tonnes in 1998, is anticipated due to a combination of larger area and higher yields.



In the United States, the final official estimate of the 1998 wheat crop is 69.4 million tonnes, 3 percent up from 1997 and above the average of the past five years. The winter wheat area for the 1999 crop is estimated at 17.6 million hectares, the lowest since 1972/73 and down 7 percent from 1998. The reduction is due to low prices last autumn which reduced farmers incentive to plant wheat. While some of the area sown to winter wheat a year earlier is likely to be planted with spring wheat crops, much is expected to be given over to other crops such as feed grains or oilseeds, or left fallow, especially in the drier areas of the Great Plains. Crop conditions are reported to be generally favourable across the Plains. In the last crop progress report in 1998 at the end of November, 72 percent of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent, the same as a year earlier. December conditions were generally milder than normal but lack of snow cover is a concern in some areas as colder weather is expected in the coming weeks. In Canada, latest estimates put the 1998 wheat crop at 24.4 million tonnes, somewhat more than earlier expected and virtually unchanged from the previous year but below the average of the past five years. The reduction was mostly due to smaller plantings.

The final estimate of the United States 1998 coarse grains crop is 271.8 million tonnes, 4 percent up from the previous year’s crop and above the average of the past five years. Of the total, maize is estimated to account for about 248 million tonnes. In Canada, aggregate output of coarse grains in 1998 is estimated at 26.8 million tonnes, 6 percent up from 1997, and above average.

In the United States, harvesting of the 1998 paddy crop is complete in all states and the production estimate has been revised upwards by 300 000 tonnes from the previous report to 8.5 million tonnes, the second largest crop on record. The estimate for rice area has also been increased by 4 percent to slightly over 1.3 million hectares. Planting of the 1999-rice crop is expected to start in April.


FAO estimates the regions aggregate 1998 wheat production at 139.8 million tonnes, about 6 percent up from the previous year. Above-average to record crops in the EC more than offset reduced outputs in some eastern European countries. By contrast, coarse grains output fell back to 161.7 million tonnes, mostly due to reduced summer maize crops in the EC and in the major producing countries in the east of the region.

With regard to 1999, early indications point to a likely downturn in wheat production, after last year’s bumper crops in several countries. Winter wheat plantings in the EC are tentatively estimated to be down by between 2 and 4 percent, in response to an increase in the area set-aside requirements but also due to adverse weather at planting. Adverse autumn weather also hit several of the major producing eastern European countries, causing some reductions in winter wheat plantings. Winter coarse grain plantings are also tentatively estimated to have fallen throughout the region, but the final outcome of the 1999 coarse grain crop also depends largely on the level of spring plantings. It is unlikely that spring plantings will increase much, if at all, in the EC because of the higher set-aside requirements this year, but better yields could be expected for maize after last year’s drought-affected levels. Among the eastern European countries, even if weather conditions are favourable for spring planting, farmers' limited finances for inputs are expected to again limit plantings and yields. In the Baltic countries, the outlook for winter grains is satisfactory so far. Aggregate output in 1998 declined somewhat to 4.5 million tons including an estimated 1.6 tons of wheat.

Harvesting of the 1998 paddy crop in the EC is complete. Based on reports of reduced yields and harvested area, especially in Italy, which accounts for over 50 percent of EC rice production, the estimate of total EC output has been lowered by 190 000 tonnes from the previous expectation to slightly over 2.6 million tonnes, almost identical with the 1997 revised figure. The lower yields were a consequence of insufficient rainfall during the summer.


In the CIS, persistent dry condition from June to August caused significant crop losses and the latest official estimates indicate a very sharp slump in the 1998 cereal and pulse harvest. However, well-informed traders and government officials in the major producing states have indicated that farmers, in response to the deteriorating economic and financial situation and burgeoning farm debt, have underreported the production of substantial quantities of marketable grains (mainly wheat). To allow for this, FAO has increased its estimates of the 1998 cereal and pulse harvest in the CIS to 111 million tons, some 15 percent more than official estimates but still sharply below the 157 million tonnes harvested in 1997. Of the total, wheat is put at 62 million tons (1997: 81 million tons), and coarse grains at about 45 million tons (1997: 71 million tons). Production of pulses also fell but that of rice remained stable at about 1.3 million tons.

In the Russian Federation, the Minister for Agriculture has stated that the grain harvest is under-reported by 15 percent: traders and other experts think output could be 20 million tons higher than the official estimate of 48.5 million tons. FAO estimates total cereal output at 55 million tons, (1997: 88.6 million tons) including 30 million tons of wheat. In the Ukraine, grain production fell to an estimated 30 million tons, (1997: 37million tons) including 17 million tons of wheat. In Kazakhstan

output is estimated to have fallen by one-third to 8 million tons, of which nearly 6 million tons is wheat. Elsewhere, the 1998 harvests were poor in Belarus (4.9 million tons) and Moldova (2.7 million tons) and declined significantly in Azerbaijan (1 million tons). By contrast, output increased sharply in Uzbekistan (by 14 percent to 4.3 million tons) and Turkmenistan.

The early outlook for the 1999 grain harvest is mixed. Indications are that the aggregate area sown to winter grains has declined somewhat mainly reflecting reduced plantings in the Russian Federation. Moreover, in the Russian Federation, crop damage by winterkill is higher than last year, with almost one third of the area sown reported to be in poor condition and the outlook for crops in the North Caucasus is poorer than last year. By contrast, the early outlook is satisfactory in the Ukraine, where the area sown could be marginally higher than last year. Many countries have substantial backlogs in field preparation for spring plantings and inflation will make it difficult for farmers to mobilise adequate working capital and inputs in 1999.

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).


In Australia, the 1998 winter wheat crop harvest is virtually complete. The latest official forecast indicates an output at some 21 million tonnes, somewhat down from earlier expectations but still 9 percent up from the previous year’s crop and well above the average of the past five years. Aggregate coarse grains output in 1998 is now estimated at 8.4 million tonnes, about 16 percent down from the previous year. Prospects for the small summer coarse grains crop for harvest in 1999 (mostly sorghum and maize) are favourable reflecting good planting conditions in late 1998. However, the area sown may have been limited by the larger availability of feed wheat and barley expected after rains caused downgrading of some crops during the recent winter grain harvest. The 1999 paddy crop is progressing well under favourable weather conditions. Output is forecast at a bumper level of about 1.35 million tonnes which, if realised, would be the second highest on record. Harvesting is expected to begin late February/early March.

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