FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.3 - June 1999 p. 3

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page





Starting with this issue of Food Outlook, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) grouping will no longer be used. Instead, the CIS countries have now been included in the regional aggregations reflecting their respective geographical locations (i.e. Belarus, the Moldova Republic, the Russian Federation and Ukraine in Europe, and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Asia). In addition, the estimates for world cereal imports and exports have been adjusted to include intra-trade of cereals in the CIS.


Latest indications continue to point to a reduction in cereal output in 1999 and to a slight deterioration in the cereal supply outlook for the forthcoming 1999/2000 marketing season. Based on the condition of crops already in the ground and assuming normal weather for the remainder of the 1999 cropping seasons, FAO's latest forecast of world cereal output this year is 1 858 million tonnes (including rice in milled terms), 24 million tonnes or 1.3 percent less than output in 1998. If current forecasts materialize, cereal output would not be sufficient to meet expected consumption requirements in 1999/2000, and as a result global cereal stocks accumulated in the past three seasons would have to be drawn down by almost 7 percent to 315 million tonnes. The stock-to-use ratio at the end of the 1999/2000 season is forecast to fall to 16.4 percent, below the 17-18 percent range which the FAO Secretariat considers the minimum necessary to safeguard global food security. Thus, early indications are that to avoid a deterioration of the cereal supply/demand situation in 2000/01, a significant increase in cereal production to a level at least equal to consumption needs, would be required in the year 2000.


( . . million tonnes . .)
Production 1/
1 905
1 882
1 858
Coarse grains
Rice (milled)
Supply 2/
2 207
2 217
2 195
1 868
1 879
1 885
Trade 3/
Ending Stocks 4/
1/ Data refer to calendar year of the first year shown. Rice in milled equivalent.
2/ Production plus opening stocks.
3/ July/June basis for wheat and coarse grains and calendar year for rice.
4/ May not equal the difference between supply and utilization due to differences in individual country marketing years.

World Cereal Production

As indicated above, FAO now forecasts world cereal production in 1999 at 1 858 million tonnes (including rice in milled terms), 8 million tonnes more than the first forecast in the previous report but about 1.3 percent down compared to the revised estimate of 1 882 million tonnes in 1998. The forecast for wheat output remains virtually unchanged since the last report at 579 million tonnes, 2.6 percent down from 1998 and below trend. Output is expected to fall marginally in Africa and Asia, while larger declines are expected in North America and Europe. Elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, wheat output in Central America is expected to remain largely unchanged from the previous year. In the southern hemisphere, the main 1999 wheat crops are still being planted in parts, but early indications are generally favourable. A recovery in production is expected in both Argentina and Brazil after 1998's reduced crops, and another good crop is in prospect in Australia, similar to last year's. FAO's forecast for global coarse grains output in 1999 also remains virtually unchanged since the last report at 891 million tonnes, 1.5 percent down from 1998 and below trend. The bulk of the reduction compared to the previous year is expected to occur in Asia and North America, while a slightly reduced crop is also forecast in Central America. Europe is the only region where coarse grains output is foreseen to expand in 1999, mostly on account of a recovery in production expected in several eastern countries after the severely drought-reduced crops in 1998. The 1999 coarse grains crops are forecast to remain virtually unchanged in Africa and Oceania. As regards rice, planting of paddy for the 1999 season is underway in some of the northern hemisphere countries, while in the southern hemisphere and around the equatorial belt the 1999 main paddy crop season is nearing completion under very favourable conditions. Based on the good harvest results in the southern hemisphere so far, and indications of larger plantings intended in the main northern hemisphere producers, FAO now forecasts global rice output in 1999 at a record 387 million tonnes (579 million tonnes in paddy terms), 1.3 percent up from the 1998 crop. However, this forecast is still very tentative as much of the 1999 rice crop has yet to be planted in Asia pending the arrival of the monsoon rains.

FAO's first forecast of world cereal trade in 1999/2000 (July/June) is 212 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes up from the estimated volume in 1998/99. Larger wheat shipments are expected to account for most of the increase, rising by some 5 percent to about 100 million tonnes. Increased import demand for wheat is expected to come from several Asian countries where 1999 wheat production is forecast to decline, while substantial food aid pledges, particularly for the Russian Federation, which are still pending are likely to be delivered in the next season. Regarding coarse grains, little change is expected in the volume of global trade, for the fourth consecutive year. FAO forecasts coarse grains imports in 1999/2000 at about 92 million tonnes, compared to 91 million tonnes in the previous year. For rice, while it is too early to make a forecast for the calendar year 2000, FAO tentatively expects that rice shipments could decrease from the current year's level, now anticipated at 22 million tonnes.

World utilization of cereals in 1999/2000 is forecast to grow only marginally, by about 0.4 percent, to 1 885 million tonnes, after a small growth (0.6 percent) also in the preceding year, despite relatively low prices and large supplies. While the growth in direct food consumption of cereals is expected to keep pace with the population increase, feed usage of cereals is expected to remain below trend for the second consecutive year. The sluggish economic growth in several major markets and the associated weak-to-stagnant livestock production is expected to prevent any major upturn in feed utilization for at least another year.

Export activity on international cereal markets remained generally sluggish over the past two months and prices weakened further. By late May, U.S. wheat No. 2 (HRW, fob) was quoted at US$111 per tonne, down US$8 per tonne from March, and US$17 per tonne below the price a year earlier. Coarse grains prices also fell since March, with generally favourable planting prospects for the major northern hemisphere crop in the United States, adding downward pressure to an already weak market. By late May, US maize was quoted at US$91 per tonne, about US$10 per tonne down from March, and US$12 per tonne lower than a year earlier. International rice prices followed those of other cereals downwards in April, regained some ground in May, mostly in response to increased import demand. The FAO Export Price Index for Rice (1982-84=100) fell to 112 points in April, the lowest level since 1994, but recovered one point in May.

Latest information indicates larger world cereal stocks at the close of the current 1998/99 season than earlier anticipated, following upward revisions to production estimates for 1998 and slower growth in utilization. FAO's forecast of global cereal stocks at the end of countries' 1998/99 crop years is now put at 337 million tonnes, 7 million tonnes up from the previous report and 2 million tonnes up from their revised opening level. The ratio of global cereal carryovers in 1998/99 to trend utilization in the following year now stands at 17.9 percent, the upper end of the 17 to 18 percent range which the FAO Secretariat considers as the minimum necessary to safeguard world food security. However, as indicated earlier, if current forecast for 1999 cereal production materialize, a sizable reduction in cereal stocks is anticipated in the 1999/2000 marketing season, to below minimum safe levels (i.e. 16.4 percent), in order to meet expected consumption needs in that year.


In Africa, civil strife and/or weather adversities are causing food supply difficulties in parts, increasing the number of people in need of food assistance. In eastern Africa, severe drought conditions in Somalia have exacerbated the country's already tight food supply situation due to a succession of poor harvests and the long-running civil conflict. An estimated 1 million people are facing food shortages. In Ethiopia, some 4.6 million vulnerable people, including those affected by the failure of the current belg season, as well as 385 000 internally displaced people due to the ongoing conflict with Eritrea, are in need of food assistance. In Eritrea, an estimated 450 000 people affected by the conflict with Ethiopia need food assistance. In Sudan, nearly 2.4 million war-affected people in the south are receiving emergency food assistance. In Uganda, about 400 000 displaced people plus 30 000 people in Rakai district affected by drought are receiving food assistance. In Tanzania, food supply difficulties are being experienced in parts of central, northern and coastal regions, with the number of people in need of assistance estimated at about one million. In Kenya, severe food shortages are being experienced by a large number of people in Eastern and Central provinces. In western Africa, while the overall food outlook for 1999 is favourable, food supply difficulties persist in several parts. In Sierra Leone, violence in the rural areas continues to displace farmers, disrupting agricultural production. In Guinea-Bissau, civil strife has hampered agricultural production and the overall food outlook is poor. Localized food supply difficulties are anticipated in southern Chad, parts of Mauritania and Senegal, and in Cape Verde. In central Africa, civil strife continues to hamper food production and to displace rural people in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In southern Africa, renewed civil conflict in Angola since late 1998 is displacing large numbers of people, estimated at 1.1 million at the end of May. Despite favourable growing conditions, production of cereals in 1999 declined compared to last year. Elsewhere in the subregion, torrential rains in central Mozambique in February and early March resulted in floods with loss of human life, property and crops.

In Asia and Near East, several countries face food supply difficulties mainly due to adverse weather. In Jordan, a recent FAO/WFP Mission found that a severe drought has sharply reduced agricultural production leaving over 180 000 people in need of assistance. In Iraq, similar drought conditions are reported to have seriously affected cereal and vegetable production, exacerbating the food supply problems in the country. In Afghanistan, the food situation remains precarious, particularly in the areas affected by civil strife. In Korea, D.P.R. the serious food supply difficulties are anticipated to worsen with the approach of the lean season which begins in June. In Indonesia, despite some improvement in rice production, continuing economic problems have severely affected the livelihood of the poorest and their access to food. In Laos, despite increased rice production in 1998/99, targeted food assistance is still required for households affected by localised drought. In Mongolia, the food security situation of vulnerable groups continues to be precarious. Vulnerable people in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan continue to need relief food assistance.

In Central America, countries affected by hurricane "Mitch" continue to receive emergency food and technical assistance. However, prospects for recovery in 1999/2000 are favourable. In the Caribbean, the food outlook in Cuba is uncertain due to insufficient precipitation at the start of the rainy season which has already affected minor foodcrops.

You can listen/download the sound of a 3min. interview with Manuel Gavela (FAO Senior expert - GIEWS) on the Food situation in Central America, by Liliane Kambirigi:

    1. In RealAudio (with Realplayer G2):
    2. In mp3 (with any mp3 player,Quicktime 4.0 or Windows Media Player):

In Europe, a major humanitarian emergency persists as large numbers of refugees have continued to flee from the Kosovo Province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia over the past weeks, while the number of IDPs living in difficult conditions within the Province remains high. Continued international humanitarian assistance on a large scale will be required in the coming months. Vulnerable populations in remote and disadvantaged areas of the Russian Federation continue to need relief food assistance.







In Asia, the 1999 wheat crop is forecast to remain close to the previous year's level at 253 million tonnes, with increased output expected in some parts likely to offset reductions in others. A record wheat crop of nearly 73 million tonnes is forecast in India, almost 7 million tonnes or 10 percent higher than 1998. Production in main producing areas in the north benefited from below-normal temperatures and above average sunshine during February-March, whilst rainfall and irrigation was adequate during critical stages of growth. A bumper wheat crop is also in prospect in Bangladesh, the second in succession, following favourable conditions which have boosted yields. In contrast, prospects for wheat production in China, the region's largest producer, are less favourable due to drought earlier in the season that affected the main winter crop. Production for the current year is forecast to fall by about 5 million tonnes to 105 million tonnes. Production in Pakistan is also anticipated to be somewhat lower, by about 4 percent, compared to the 18.7 million tonnes produced last year. This is largely due to lower yields in response to a decrease in fertiliser use, prolonged dry weather in rainfed areas and late planting. A severe drought, reportedly one of the worst on record, has affected the wheat crop in several countries of the Near East. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, output is officially forecast to fall between 20 and 25 percent. In Jordan, a recent FAO/WFP Mission found that the 1998/99 wheat crop, estimated at 7 550 tonnes, is less than 13 percent of the 1997/98 level. Similarly, well below average wheat crops are anticipated in Iraq and Syria.

In Kazakhstan, sowing of the main 1999 wheat crop is underway. Planting conditions are favourable reflecting satisfactory soil moisture levels accumulated since last autumn, but farmers' shortage of cash and/or limited access to credit is expected to reduce the area sown to about 12 million hectares. However, if normal weather prevails throughout the growing season, yields should recover from the low levels in 1998 and cereal output could reach about 9 million tonnes (1998: 7.2 million tonnes) including 7.5 million tonnes (1998: 5.5 million tonnes) of wheat. In Uzbekistan, the aggregate area sown has remained stable but the upward trend in grain yields on private plots could result in a harvest somewhat larger than last year's 4.3 million tonnes. Wheat output is tentatively forecast at 1.8 million tonnes. In Turkmenistan grain production increased sharply in 1998 and only a marginal increase to about 1.3 million tonnes is forecast this year, given favourable conditions. In Tajikistan, the area sown to grains (mostly wheat) declined and output is now forecast to decline to 420 000 tonnes compared to about 500 000 tonnes last year. In Armenia, a smaller cereal harvest is in prospect as the dry autumn and winter reduced the area sown, caused damage to winter wheat and reduced irrigation water supplies for spring crops. In Kyrgyzstan, area diversion to more profitable non-cereal crops continues and cereal output could decline to about 1.5 million tonnes. In Azerbaijan, very heavy rains could prove beneficial enabling grain production to remain at last year's level of about 1 million tonnes. In Georgia, output could increase to 850 000 tonnes (1998: 800 000 tonnes).

Planting of 1999 main season coarse grain crops is underway or almost complete in main producing countries. Early prospects appear satisfactory in India, where normal monsoon rains are expected to begin at the end of May. In 1998 the country received normal monsoon rains for the 11th year in a row. In China, heavy rains in late April in southern parts and drought and low temperatures in the north may have delayed maize planting, which could affect yields.


Coarse grains
Rice (paddy)
Total 1/
( . . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . . . . . )
1 000.9
Central America
South America
North America
578.5 2/
2 071.2
2 048.9
Developing countries
1 206.3
1 200.8
Developed countries
1/ Total cereal, including rice in paddy terms. 2/ Highly tentative.

Asia's 1999 paddy output is forecast to expand by about 2 million tonnes from the previous season to 526 million tonnes. Unlike in 1998 when the lingering effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon caused planting delays in several Asian countries, the outlook for the 1999 season is much more favourable. The season is just getting started in the countries of the northern hemisphere while it is already quite advanced in the southern hemisphere and around the equatorial belt where early indications point to a recovery in production.

In China (Mainland), planting of the 1999 early rice crop, the first and smallest of the three crops, is at an advanced stage. Prospects are uncertain as the weather has been very variable over the last two months. Low temperatures reportedly caused rotting of early rice seedlings in some parts of the country towards the end of March, while torrential rains in late April, following earlier drought conditions, caused some crop damage. The forecast of China's total paddy output in 1999 remains very tentative at about 197 million tonnes (1998:193 million tonnes) as the bulk of the country's total paddy output is produced from its intermediate and late rice seasons. In Viet Nam , harvesting of the winter-spring paddy crop is in full swing in the south, but just getting underway in the north. Yields are reported to be lower than last year's, which is attributed to the below-normal water availability during part of the growing season. Accordingly, the estimate of the aggregate 1998/99 paddy output has been reduced somewhat since the last report to 28 million tonnes. Planting of the next crop, summer-autumn, has started in some parts of the Mekong Delta and the prevailing weather conditions are reported to be favourable. In the Philippines, harvesting of the secondary crop is virtually complete and the aggregate estimate of the 1998-99 paddy output is now 10.2 million tonnes, slightly above the previous season but still below the five-year average of about 10.5 million tonnes, due to unfavourable weather during the season. Farmers are now planting the main season crop and a return to a normal output of about 11 million tonnes is anticipated in 1999, assuming normal growing conditions.

In Thailand, harvesting of the second-season paddy crop is in progress and a paddy output of over 4 million tonnes is expected, which would be much above earlier expectations as the crop benefited from unusually high rainfall during March and April. Aggregate output in 1998 is now put at 22.6 million tonnes, similar to the previous year's crop. Preparation for the 1999 main-season crop is underway, and the Government forecasts production of this crop at about 18.9 million tonnes of paddy, up by 3 percent from 1998. In Japan, farmers have started planting the 1999 rice crop, which is officially forecast to cover about 1.8 million hectares, unchanged from last year, notwithstanding the lowering of the support price for rice in 1999. In the Republic of Korea, the rice area in 1999 is expected to remain similar to the previous season's level of 1.1 million hectares. Based on average yields, paddy output is thus forecast at 6.9 million tonnes. In Cambodia, preparations are underway for the 1999/2000 wet season crop. For the 1998/99 season, the Government estimates an output of 3.5 million tonnes, up from 3.4 million tonnes during the previous year, as fears of a critical water shortage and an insect problem reported during the season affected rice production less severely than anticipated.

In India, the harvest of the rabi crop is underway and good early results have prompted the Government to increase the total 1998/99 paddy output forecast by over 6 million tonnes to about 130 million tonnes. Planting of the Kharif main crop for the 1999/2000 season awaits the arrival of the southwest monsoon. In Bangladesh, harvesting of the mostly irrigated Boro crop, is coming to an end and output is estimated at some 9.3 million tonnes or 15 percent above the 1997/98 Boro crop, reflecting mainly an expansion in the area. Such an increase has partly offset the flood-inflicted losses of last summer and led to an upward revision of the estimate for the country's 1998/99 paddy output by 1.3 million tonnes to 28 million tonnes, only a fraction less than the previous season's outcome. Planting of the Aus crop, the first and smallest of the three paddy crops for the 1999/2000 season, is in progress. In many other northern hemisphere countries of the region, including Pakistan and Myanmar, the beginning of the 1999 paddy season awaits the arrival of the monsoon rains.

In the southern hemisphere, in Indonesia, harvesting of the main-season rice crop is proceeding and planting of the second-season crop is expected to begin towards the end of June. The official forecast for paddy output in 1999 is about 48.7 million tonnes, up by 200 000 tonnes from the previous season. In Sri Lanka, harvesting of the Maha (main) paddy crop is almost completed and the Yala season is underway. The Government is targeting a paddy output of over 3 million tonnes, compared to last year's crop of about 2.7 million tonnes.



NORTHERN AFRICA: Harvesting of the subregion's 1999 wheat crop is underway. Aggregate output is forecast at about 13 million tonnes, some 8 percent below the level of 1998 but close to the 5-year average. However conditions are very mixed throughout the subregion. In Morocco, production is expected to drop sharply this year as a result of inadequate rainfall and reduced plantings. Reports of reduced sales of quality seeds and fertilizers also suggest yields will be lower. Output is tentatively forecast at about 2.3 million tonnes, some 50 percent below the 1998 level and close to the drought-reduced 1997 crop. Production is also expected to fall in Tunisia by some 6 percent compared to the previous year. By contrast, output is expected to increase by about 40 percent in Algeria and 4 percent in Egypt.
The subregion's 1999 aggregate coarse grains crop is forecast at some 11 millions tonnes, close to the previous year's level. In Morocco, as for wheat, drought has adversely affected the winter barley crop, which is forecast to be down by 40 percent from 1998. In Algeria, however, the favourable conditions are expected to boost yields, and barley output is forecast to increase by 500 000 tonnes from 1998 to 1.5 million tonnes. Early indications for the maize crop in Egypt point to an output similar to that in 1998.

In Egypt, the main rice producer in the subregion, rice planting is underway. Normal weather conditions have prevailed so far but the final area planted during the 1999 season will depend largely on the availability of irrigation water.

WESTERN AFRICA: In western Africa, the first rains were received in early March in southern parts of the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, where they permitted planting of the first maize crop. Rains reached northern parts in early April, allowing the planting of millet and sorghum. Satellite imagery indicates that the rainfall was below-normal during the start of the rainy season in the north and the centre of most countries, which may have needed the replanting of some crops and could reduce the maize and rainfed rice output. In Liberia the agriculture sector is improving with rehabilitation programmes underway, while the tense security situation in Sierra Leone prevents most activities. In the Sahelian countries, the rainy season started in April in the south of Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad, allowing land preparation and plantings of coarse grains to start. Plantings will progress northwards following the development of the rains. Availability of seeds, is generally adequate following 1999 record crops in the main producing countries of the Sahel. The 1999 paddy season has started in several countries of West Africa and weather conditions are generally favourable.

CENTRAL AFRICA: In central Africa, planting of coarse grains are progressing satisfactorily in Cameroon and Central African Republic. Agriculture activities are hampered by civil disturbances in both the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo where another poor B-season crop is about to be harvested.

EASTERN AFRICA: Harvest of the 1999 wheat crop is underway in Sudan. Output is estimated to be sharply down from the previous year and well-below average at about 182 000 tonnes. The smaller crop is attributed to a sharp reduction in area planted and lower yields, due to late sowing and high temperatures during the growing season. In Ethiopia, the early outlook is uncertain following erratic rains but prospects in Kenya are favourable reflecting good rains so far.

Planting of the 1999 main season coarse grains is underway in several countries in the subregion. Early prospects are mixed. In Kenya, abundant rains in March and April benefited developing crops. In Uganda the 1999 main season coarse grains have benefited from well-distributed rainfall received during most of March and April. In Somalia, despite good rains in March, that provided some relief in parts of southern and northern Somalia, water and pasture conditions continue to deteriorate in eastern parts of the country. In Sudan and Eritrea, the planting of 1999 main season crop is due to start in June. In Ethiopia, the outlook for the 1999/2000 coarse grains crop is uncertain reflecting low and erratic rainfall for the belg season. The 1998/99 crop, already harvested, was significantly above-average due to favourable growing conditions.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Harvesting of the 1999 main season coarse grains is well advanced. Although rainfall during the growing season was generally satisfactory, localized floods and dry spells appear to have had a larger impact on yields than earlier anticipated. FAO's latest forecast puts the subregion's aggregate 1999 coarse grains output at 14.9 million tonnes close to last year's reduced crop. However, the outcome varies greatly from country to country. In South Africa, the largest producer in the subregion, coarse grains output is forecast to decline by about 16 percent from the previous year to 6.8 million tonnes of which maize is expected to account for 6.3 million tonnes (1988: 7.6 million tonnes). By contrast, in Zambia, despite erratic weather in some areas, coarse grain production is estimated to be substantially higher than last year's reduced level. In Zimbabwe, maize production is estimated above last year's poor level but still below average. Excessive rains during the season resulted in floods causing crop losses and reducing yield potential. In Angola, this year's coarse grain production has declined less than earlier anticipated, with good rains during the season partially compensating the disruption in the agricultural sector due to civil war. In Mozambique, despite extensive floods earlier in the season, a good crop, up from the 1998/99 level, is in prospect. Coarse grains production is also estimated above last year's level in Malawi reflecting above-normal and well distributed rains during the season. In Botswana, production is estimated to increase from last year's poor harvest but still to remain at below-average levels due to dry spells in southeastern parts. Dry spells in February also affected yields in Lesotho, where production has increased but less than earlier anticipated. Latest information confirms that the subregion's aggregate 1998/99 wheat production harvested in late 1998 declined one-third from the previous year's level to 1.8 million tonnes. This mainly reflects a reduction in the area planted in response to low international prices. Planting of the 1999/2000 wheat crop is about to begin.

Harvesting of the 1999 paddy crop is underway in Madagascar, the main rice producing country in the subregion. Growing conditions are reported to have been generally good. Infestations by the Malagasy Migratory Locusts were reported in different parts of the country but control measures implemented during the latter part of 1998 and the beginning of 1999 were instrumental in reducing their extent. The paddy harvest has also begun in Mozambique. As growing conditions have been favourable, output is expected to remain close to or even exceed last year's record of 192 000 tonnes.



Harvesting of the 1999 wheat crop in Mexico is well advanced under generally dry weather in the main producing irrigated areas of the northwest. Output is forecast at about 3.4 million tonnes, slightly above the previous year's crop. The increase is mainly the result of slightly expanded plantings and improved yields in some areas.

Normal rains are benefiting planting of the 1999/00 first season coarse grains crops, which has just started in Central America. Assuming favourable weather conditions prevail, production of maize, the main coarse grain crop, is expected to recover in El Salvator, Guatemala and Nicaragua, after adverse weather in the preceding two years which severely affected crops. In Honduras, however, plantings are expected to be below average because of prevailing low producer prices. In Mexico, the important spring/summer maize crop area is tentatively forecast to be about average assuming normal rains resume. By contrast, the area planted to sorghum is expected to decline from 1998, reflecting a reduced demand from the animal feed industry, and the negative effect of a prolonged dry spell. In the Caribbean, in the Dominican Republic, normal rains are benefiting the development of the recently planted coarse grains crops and a recovery to an average maize output is expected. In Haiti, harvesting of the rainfed maize and mountain bean crops is due to start from late May and average outputs are anticipated. In Cuba, unusually dry weather this season has caused moisture deficits in the province of Camagüey and in extreme eastern provinces, as well as in the provinces of La Habana and Pinar del Rio, in the west. Minor foodcrops, as well as citrus and fruits, continue to be affected in such locations.



Land is being prepared in the southern countries of the subregion for planting of the 1999/2000 wheat crop. In Argentina, sowings are expected to increase from last year's reduced level but will likely remain below the average of the past 5 years, reflecting continuing poor price prospects for wheat relative to some other crops. In Brazil, where sowing has already started in some areas, the outlook is better and the area planted is anticipated to increase from last year's average and reach an above-average level. This largely reflects a series of measures, recently adopted by the Government, in an effort to help improve domestic production and thus reduce the need for imports. In Uruguay and Chile, average to slightly above-average plantings are expected, following 1998/99 low outturns, particularly in the latter country, as a result of bad weather. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, normal rains have benefited planting of the wheat winter crop, which is underway in the main producing eastern Department of Santa Cruz. An above-average output is anticipated provided favourable weather conditions persist. In Peru, generally dry weather has prevailed in the past few weeks and wheat output collected during January/March is estimated at about 100 000 tonnes which compares to 525 000 tonnes for the same period last year. The bulk of harvesting operations should take place during the May/July period and production for the year is nevertheless expected to be about average. In Ecuador, normal rains in the highlands, where the wheat is mostly grown, have benefited the developing crop and an average output is expected.

Harvesting of the 1999 coarse grains crops is well advanced in most of the southern countries. In Argentina, a significant decline in production is anticipated from the 1998 record mainly because of unattractive prices, but maize output should nevertheless be close to the average of the last 5 years. In Brazil, harvesting of the 1999 main season maize crop is complete and aggregate output (both crops) is provisionally estimated at an average 32.4 million tonnes, a recovery from last year's reduced crop. In Uruguay and Paraguay respectively, average to above-average maize outputs are provisionally estimated. In Chile, by contrast, the 1999 maize crop is estimated to have fallen to 635 000 tonnes, compared to last year's average crop of 940 000 tonnes, due to drought. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, normal rains in recent weeks have benefited the developing maize and barley main season crops and average outputs are anticipated, up from 1998 drought-affected crops. In Peru, the maize (white and yellow) harvest is underway and an above-average output is anticipated, although below the near-record outputs collected in the last two years. In Ecuador, heavy rains continue to fall along the coastal provinces with consequent adverse effect on the crops. Harvesting of the white maize (summer) crop has been completed while that of the yellow maize (winter) crop is underway. Despite damage incurred by the rains, output is expected to recover significantly from last year's severely reduced crops. In Colombia and Venezuela, normal to above-normal rains have benefited planting of the maize and sorghum crops. Early indications point out to average outputs.

Prospects are favourable for the 1999 paddy crop in the Latin American region. Growing conditions have been generally good and record outputs could be achieved in some countries after severely reduced crops in 1998 due to adverse weather. In Argentina, where most of the paddy crop has been harvested, the production forecast has been increased by 200 000 tonnes from the previous report to a record 1.5 million tonnes. The rise is attributed to a larger area and higher yields. Similarly in Brazil, output is forecast to recover to some 11.4 million tonnes, which would be a 34 percent jump from 1998, reflecting both sharply improved yields and a 16 percent rise in the area to 3.7 million hectares. Harvesting of the 1999 paddy crop is nearing conclusion in Uruguay, the other big producer in the region, and a record crop of 1.2 million tonnes is anticipated, 40 percent more than in the previous season. In Guyana, harvesting of the first crop is complete and planting of the second, and larger, crop will begin soon. Total 1999 output is expected to reach a record of 600 000 tonnes, due to higher area and yields. In Bolivia, where harvesting of the 1999 paddy crop is well advanced, production is anticipated to match last year's output of 300 000 tonnes.



In the United States, aggregate (winter and spring) wheat production in 1999 is officially forecast at 61.1 million tonnes, 12 percent down from the previous year, mostly reflecting a significant reduction in winter wheat plantings and lower yields expected after last year's records (see tables A.10 and A.11). The estimate of winter wheat plantings remains unchanged at 17.6 million hectares, about 7 percent down from the previous year and the lowest level since 1972/73. However, favourable winter weather conditions have resulted in lower winter kill-out rates and the reduction in the harvested area is expected to be less significant. With regard to the spring wheat crop, plantings were almost complete by mid-May and the area is forecast to increase by some 1 percent to 7.95 million hectares. In Canada, the official March seeding intentions report (see table A.12) points to a marginal reduction in the wheat area compared to the previous year. Planting got off to a slow start in early May due to cool wet weather, but assuming conditions improve soon and the planting intentions are realized, wheat output in 1999 is forecast at about 23.5 million tonnes.

With regard to coarse grains, maize planting in the United States got off to a slow start in late April due to wet weather. However, conditions improved in May and by the middle of the month, planting had progressed to about 75 percent complete, ahead of the 5-year average. Barring a major weather impediment to the final stages of planting, the final area sown to maize should be about 31.7 million hectares, 2.5 percent down from the previous year, as indicated in the USDA's 1999 Prospective Plantings Report (see table A.11). Assuming yields are on trend, the 1999 maize output is expected to decrease by some 3 percent (see table A.10). Aggregate 1999 coarse grains output in the United States is forecast at about 263 million tonnes. In Canada, early indications in the March seeding intentions report (see table A.12), point to smaller areas of the major coarse grain crops, as farmers are expected to switch land to other non-cereal crops. Although much still depends on the weather for the remainder of the planting season, aggregate coarse grains production in 1999 is tentatively forecast to fall to about 25 million tonnes, compared to nearly 27 million tonnes in 1998.

In the United States, planting of the 1999 paddy crop is nearing completion and a record output of about 9.4 million tonnes is anticipated, 11 percent up from the previous season. The forecast is based on USDA's March Prospective Plantings, which reports that farmers are expected to plant about 1.5 million hectares to rice, up by over 100 000 hectares from the previous season and the second highest on record. A survey of the actual planted area will be conducted in June.



FAO's latest forecast puts aggregate 1999 cereal production in the EC at 202.5 million tonnes, about 4 percent down from last year but still just above the average of the past 5 years. The smaller crop expected reflects reduced areas due partly to adverse weather and partly to a 5 percent increase in the compulsory set-aside requirements. In addition, generally less favourable weather than last year during the winter and spring so far, is expected to result in lower average yields throughout most of the community. Wheat output is forecast at 98.6 million tonnes, 4 percent down from 1998, while aggregate output of coarse grains is also forecast to fall by about 4 percent to 101.2 million tonnes. In the EC, the 1999 paddy season is underway. Current indications point to an area of 400 000 hectares and to an output of 2.7 million tonnes, almost unchanged from last year.

Throughout the eastern European countries, with few exceptions, 1999 cereal production is also expected to decline compared to last year. In Albania, cereal output in 1999 is tentatively forecast to remain similar to the previous year's level at about 600 000 tonnes, of which wheat would account for about 350 000 to 400 000 tonnes. In Bulgaria, 1999 wheat output is forecast to drop, by 18 percent, to 2.7 million tonnes due to smaller plantings and reduced fertilizer applications. In Croatia, the area sown to winter wheat was reduced sharply and output is forecast to fall by about 40 percent from 1998. In response, the spring grain area may be increased somewhat but it is likely that aggregate 1999 cereal output will be well down on the previous year's. In the Czech Republic, the overall cereal area for the 1999 harvest is expected to be down by about 8 percent compared to 1998. Assuming normal yields, aggregate cereal output is forecast to fall by about 5 percent to 6.4 million tonnes. In Hungary, this year's wheat output is forecast to fall to 3.2 million tonnes, about 35 percent down from the 1998 crop. Farmers' incentive to plant wheat last autumn was dampened after they experienced severe marketing problems with their 1998 crops, but adverse weather also had a large impact on the final area sown. Moreover, severe flooding in the early spring is reported to have wiped out or seriously damaged several thousand hectares of wheat. The final area for harvest in 1999 is expected to be about half of that in the previous year. In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, current prospects point to little change in the 1999 cereal output. Aggregate cereal output is forecast at about 600 000 tonnes of which wheat would account for about 300 000 tonnes.

In Poland, a smaller cereal crop is in prospect. Although the winter grain area for the 1999 harvest is estimated to have remained similar to the previous year's, yields are expected to be lower as many farmers are facing financial problems which will reduce input use. Output of wheat is tentatively forecast at 8.7 million tonnes compared to the bumper 9.5 million tonnes in 1998. In Romania, another reduced wheat crop is expected in 1999. In view of the reduced area sown last August, even if yields improve considerably from the 1998 levels, wheat output is forecast at only 5 million tonnes, compared to 5.2 million tonnes in the previous year. The summer maize crop, however, is expected to recover from last year's low level to reach about 10.5 million tonnes. In, the Slovak Republic, prospects for 1999 cereal production are uncertain. Winter wheat planting is reported to have been limited to about 250 000 hectares due to adverse weather last autumn. The target area was 400 000 hectares. Increased spring planting was planned to compensate for the poor winter crop area but the final outcome is not yet known. In Slovenia, the winter wheat area is estimated to be about 10 percent down from the previous year, but weather conditions have been optimal so far and good yields are expected. Assuming normal weather conditions for the rest of the season wheat output is expected to be similar to the 190 000 tonnes harvested last year. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, apart from the severe reduction in cereal output expected in the Kosovo Province this year because of the impact of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, cereal production throughout the remainder of the country is also expected to be affected by the current crisis. Reported shortages of fuel and fertilizer and fears over security are likely to have a negative impact on this year's production.

Farther east in the region, in Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the early and mild spring has allowed spring grain plantings to start early and improved the condition of winter crops. However, the difficult economic situation in all these countries is expected to depress yield potential. In Belarus, the official forecast for the 1999 cereal harvest has been lowered to about 6 million tonnes (1998: 4.9 million tonnes) in view of the problems being experienced by farmers. FAO forecasts production of wheat at 900 000 million tonnes (1998: 800 000 million tonnes) and that of coarse grains at 4.4 million tonnes (1998: 3.7 million tonnes). In Moldova financial problems and limited marketing opportunities are expected to keep the 1999 harvest close to last year's level of 2.7 million tonnes, including 1.1 million tonnes of wheat. In the Russian Federation, FAO's early forecast of grain and pulse output remains at 65 million tonnes. At this level, output would be about 10 million tonnes more than last year's estimated output, reflecting good incentives for producers after last year's poor harvest and normal weather. However, the forecast output remains somewhat below the 5-year average reflecting the reduction in the area sown to winter grains (mainly wheat), substantial winterkill (1.7 million hectares), loss of yield potential in some areas (parts of the North Caucasus and Volga) and financial difficulties at all levels of the grain chain. Production of wheat is tentatively forecast to recover somewhat to 33 million tonnes (1998: 30 million tonnes) while that of coarse grains could recover sharply to 30 million tonnes (1998: 22.5 million tonnes). These forecasts remain highly tentative as spring sowing is still in progress. In Ukraine, the early outlook for the 1999 cereals is good. Crops in the field are in good condition and the sowing of spring grains (except maize) is nearing completion. The extent of winterkill was less than last year (640 000 hectares in the public sector compared 842 000 hectares last year) but there is reported to be considerable weed infestations in crops. The aggregate output of grains and pulses is tentatively forecast to be 10 percent higher than last year's drought reduced crop and reach 32 million tonnes. Including 18 million tonnes of wheat (1998: 17million tonnes) and 13 million tonnes of coarse grains (1998: 11.5 million tonnes).



In Australia, planting of the 1999 winter wheat and coarse grain crops is underway. Latest indications still point to a marginal increase in the wheat area this year. However, as of mid-May, planting was still in the early stages in some parts and being delayed by dry conditions. Subsoil moisture levels are reported to be generally adequate to support crops through the middle and late part of the season. However, good rains to moisten the topsoil are urgently needed throughout the country to allow the remainder of the planting to be carried out before the end of the optimum planting period (mid-June), and to favour early crop development, otherwise yield potential will be adversely affected. Assuming official area forecasts are realized and yields are about average, another good wheat crop is expected in 1999 at about 21.3 million tonnes, marginally above the previous year's level. The barley crop, which is normally planted a little later than wheat is expected to remain similar to last year's 5.4 million tonnes.

The 1999 paddy harvest is almost complete and reflecting very favourable growing conditions throughout the season, output is forecast to reach 1.35 million tonnes, up slightly from the previous season and very close to the record established in 1997.

Previous PageTop Of PageTable Of ContentsNext Page