EC (4 June)
FAO’s latest forecast puts aggregate 1999 cereal production in the EC at 201.7 million tonnes, about 4 percent below last year, but still just above the average of the past 5 years. The reduced crop expected reflects reduced areas due partly to adverse weather and partly to a 5 percent increase in the compulsory set-aside requirement. In addition, less favourable winter/spring weather is expected to result in lower average yields throughout most of the community. Wheat output is forecast at 98.6 million tonnes, 4 percent lower than 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. Weather conditions have been generally favourable so far during the season in most parts. Drought affected wheat in one of Spain’s major producing areas and also in parts of Portugal, while maize planting in southwest France has been severely hampered by heavy rains.
ALBANIA (4 June)
The crisis in the Balkan region and the influx of large numbers of refugees into Albania from neighbouring Kosovo Province in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is not expected to significantly affect 1999 cereal crop production. Aggregate cereal output in 1999 is tentatively forecast at about 450 000 to 500 000 tonnes, somewhat down from the average of the past few years, mostly due to reduced planting because of adverse rainfall during autumn planting last year. Wheat (the basic food cereal) is expected to account for about 350 000 to 400 000 tonnes. Thus, the deficit of wheat which would have to be imported to meet normal consumption requirements in 1999/2000 is estimated to be about the average of the past few years at 300 000 to 350 000 tonnes.
However, a difficult food supply situation persists in north- eastern parts of the country, which are normally food insecure, and where the bulk of the Kosovar refugees have been located. Although large-scale relief operations for refugees are ongoing, there are long-term food security implications for vulnerable groups. In response, an FAO/WFP Mission visited the country in June to assess the overall food situation, the food outlook for 1999/2000 and to analyse the impact of the crisis on food and labour markets and household food security. The report of the Mission will be issued shortly.
BELARUS (25 May)
Spring grain planting is underway. Growing conditions for 1999 winter grains have been mostly satisfactory to date although late frosts in May caused some damage. In an attempt to increase self-sufficiency in grains, all regions have been ordered to increase planted area. However, indications are that yields remain depressed due to economic problems and a shortage of credit and hard currency to finance essential inputs. The official 1999 grain and pulse production target, has been reduced from 7.3 to 6.3 million tonnes.
Following poor grain production in 1998 (officially estimated at 4.9 million tonnes), the country has to import at least 300 000 tonnes of foodgrains. Aggregate cereal imports in 1998/99 are expected to reach only about 400 000 tonnes, as market demand for livestock products has collapsed and foreign exchange constraints limit feedgrain imports.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA* (28 May)
Indications are that the crop and overall food supply situation have not been unduly disrupted. Food imports continue to reach the country via Croatia. Although detailed cropping information remains unreliable, indications are that the area of spring and winter crops remained fairly stable. However, mines in agricultural areas means that only limited scope exists to increase planted area beyond current levels. Overwintering conditions have been satisfactory. The food processing industry is plagued by a shortage of working capital to pay farmers and of raw materials.
BULGARIA (7 June)
Weather conditions over the past two months have been generally favourable for the 1999 wheat crop, and contrary to earlier concerns over farmers’ lack of finances for inputs, fertilizer and herbicide applications are reported to have been adequate and widespread, especially in the major producing areas. However, after a significant reduction in plantings last autumn, 1999 wheat production, now forecast at about 2.7 million tonnes, would still be some 18 percent lower than the previous year. Spring planting was delayed due to frequent rainfall. According to official information, by- mid May, maize had been planted on about 320 000 hectares. With planting usually undertaken until the end of May, it is likely that the final area is somewhat larger, and could be similar to the 380 000 hectares planted last year.
CROATIA (28 May)
The area sown to wheat fell sharply, from 242 000 to 150 000 hectares in response to shortages of working capital and seeds. Overwintering conditions have been generally satisfactory, but output is likely to be only about two- thirds of last year’s 1 million tonnes. There are plans to increase the spring crops to 711 000 hectares whilst production of sunflower, sugarbeet, soya and barley is to benefit from more state support with inputs. However, as trade and the economy continue to be affected by ongoing war in the region, prospects for planting targets being achieved are not good. Moreover, the area to be sown to maize is also likely to be reduced.
CZECH REPUBLIC (7 June)
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.
ESTONIA (28 May)
Spring grain planting and emergence is underway but crop establishment is being affected by cold weather. Aggregate area of grains has stabilized at about 350 000 hectares per annum. The early outlook for 1999 cereal production is satisfactory and output could reach 700 000 tonnes. A crop insurance scheme, covering grain, potatoes and rape has been introduced, and is being supported by the government. GDP is expected to remain positive in 1999 despite setbacks in the livestock industry and disruption of trade with the Russian Federation.
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (16 June)
Cereal production in 1999 is expected to be about 750 000 tonnes, virtually unchanges from the previous year. Wheat is expected to account for about 300 000 tonnes. The north-western parts of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have faced additional strain on resources this winter and spring due to the crisis in the Balkans and the influx of large numbers of refugees. An FAO/WFP Mission visited the country in June to assess the current food situation and outlook for 1999/2000, and to undertake an in- depth analysis of the impact of the crisis on food and labour markets and household food security. The report of the Mission will be issued shortly.
HUNGARY (7 June)
Wheat production this year is forecast to fall to 3.2 million tonnes, some 35 percent lower than 1998. 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 early spring is reported to have seriously damaged several thousand hectares. The final area for harvest in 1999 is expected to be about half of that in the previous year. To compensate for the reduced wheat area, and smaller crop expected, the maize area planted this spring has been increased by some 20 percent to about 1.2 million hectares. Maize could be used to replace feed wheat for certain livestock.
LATVIA (28 May)
With the livestock industry and the economy in general adversely affected by the financial crisis and reduced import demand in the Russian Federation and growing stocks, the area planted to cereals (winter and spring) is likely to remain fairly stable .The outlook for 1999 grain production remains satisfactory. Given better weather, aggregate output is forecast to recover from last year's poor level of 970 000 tonnes.
LITHUANIA (29 May)
Spring grain planting is well advanced but crop emergence and establishment was slowed by cold weather this spring. Growing conditions for the winter-planted wheat and rye crop have been satisfactory to date. Given difficulties in the livestock industry and the accumulation of stocks, the area sown to grains in 1999 is not expected to increase substantially from the 1.2 million hectares last year. Normal weather could result in somewhat better yields and output is tentatively projected at 2.9 million tonnes compared to 2.8 million tonnes in 1998.
MOLDOVA (26 June)
The outlook for 1999 grain production is satisfactory. Growing conditions for winter grains (mainly wheat and barley) were mostly satisfactory and planting of spring grains is virtually completed. Even with normal weather this year, however, yields are likely to remain well below potential due to shortage of farm capital, devaluation of the lei, economic recession and shortages of fuel.
With ample domestic supplies and carry-forward stocks, no significant commercial imports of cereals are expected in the 1998/99 marketing year (July/June). The high cost of production makes exports uncompetitive at current prices.
POLAND (7 June)
In Poland, lower cereal production 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.
ROMANIA (7 June)
Another reduced wheat crop is expected in 1999. In view of the smaller 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.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION (25 June)
Current indications point to a recovery in cereal production this year compared to last year (estimated at about 55 million tonnes by FAO). Output, however, could remain somewhat below average. Favoured by an early spring and despite economic problems, spring grain planting is nearing completion and indications are that the target of 38 million hectares will be met if not surpassed. Farmers are expected to maximize the area sown to grains as prices are high and grain provides an inflation-proof means of payment. Good precipitation this winter in most areas recharged soil moisture reserves but late frosts in May and high temperatures in June caused some damage. However, even if normal weather prevails until the harvest in September/ October, inflation and the chronic shortage of inputs are expected to keep yields below average. The bulk of inputs will have to be procured by barter, but resources from last year's poor harvest are limited. Fuel prices have risen sharply, adding to farmers' difficulties.
The outlook for winter grains remains favourable. The area sown fell by 4 percent and of the 13 million hectares sown, crops on 1.9 million hectares were affected by winterkill (1998 1.1 million hectares). Growing conditions have been mostly satisfactory except in parts of the North Caucasus (Stavropol and Rostov) and overall winter crops are in a better condition than last year. Provided weather remains favourable, average yields could be higher than last year and winter grain output could increase by some 10 percent to about 21 million tonnes including 15 million tonnes of wheat compared to 14 million in 1998. FAO tentatively forecasts 1999 grain production at 65 million tonnes, including some 33 million tonnes of wheat (1998:30 tonnes) and 30 million tonnes of coarse grains (1998: 22.6 tonnes).
Despite last year's poor harvest and reduced imports, the overall food supply situation is not critical but stocks are being drawn down sharply and the price of wheat, in nominal terms, has doubled to around US$95-100 per tonne. The shortage and high price of feedgrains has adversely affected livestock production and output, even of poultry - a sector which was showing signs of recovery until this year - is forecast to decline. However, demand for livestock products has also fallen because of the loss of purchasing power in the population. In the coming months, the scarcity of stock feed is likely to ease with the growth of natural pasture. Current indications are that in-country stocks are sufficient to meet food demand until the end of the current marketing year. About half of food aid pledged in 1998/99 (3.8 million tonnes of grain as well as meat, dairy and soybean products) is now expected to arrive between July and September 1999. These deliveries will help to ease the tight supply situation until the completion of the harvest and contain prices. However, the outlook is for the grain supplies to also remain tight in 1999/2000.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC (7 June)
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.
SLOVENIA (7 June)
Winter wheat plantings for the 1999 harvest are estimated to have fallen by about 10 percent, 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 last year.
THE UKRAINE (25 June)
Given normal weather until the completion of the harvest, the 1999 cereal and pulse harvest is expected to recover from last year's drought reduced 29.5 million tonnes. (FAO estimate), despite the widespread economic difficulties, shortages of inputs, heavy weed infestation and untimely frosts in May.
Spring grain planting is virtually completed. Despite an earlier start, planting progress is not as rapid as last year but indications are that the target of 4.8 million hectares sown (and reseeded) to spring grains (excluding maize) on the public farms will be achieved. As winter grains were sown on about 7 million hectares, the aggregate area sown to grains is likely to decrease by about 1 million hectares to 14 million. However, given better weather, the area harvested could remain similar to last year's and average yields are likely to recover somewhat. Soil moisture reserves for spring crops have been replenished. Overall, growing conditions have been satisfactory although unseasonably cold weather in May caused some crop damage and crops in some central areas now need more rain urgently. Official reports of crop damage on 1.3 million hectares are proving exaggerated and in part represent farms' attempts to reduce debt repayment obligations and retain output for private disposal. Winter grains have benefited from the good spring weather and are, on the whole, in good condition. Th latest official estimates indicate that only 0.8 million hectares, or about 11 percent of the crop were affected by winterkill compared to 1 million hectares last year. Grain production on private farms and household plots is likely to increase.
Given normal weather conditions, 1999 grain production is tentatively projected at 31.8 million tonnes, some 2 million tonnes more than last year. Output of wheat could increase by at least 1 million tonnes to reach 18 million tonnes and that of coarse grains could increase by 1 million tonnes to 14.5 million tonnes, if the expected shift to barley this spring occurs. In view of current dry conditions, these forecasts are highly tentative. Farmers' practice of hiding substantial quantities of marketable grain in response to the official prohibitions on grain shipments until all debts to the budget and pension fund have been cleared, add further uncertainty to forecast and supply analysis. Despite the lower harvest, the country is likely to export close to 5 million tonnes of cereal in the current marketing year. By end April, 4.5 million tonnes of cereals (including 3.4 million tonnes of wheat) had already been exported officially.
YUGOSLAVIA, FED. REP. OF (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO)* (30 June)
No firm data is yet available but the outlook for the 1999 grain production has likely been affected heavily by chronic shortage of farm funds and inputs, and damage to industries serving agriculture and infrastructure. Spring sowing operations were considered a strategic priority. Official plans called for spring crops to be planted on 2.5 million hectares, including 1.5 million hectares of maize and other spring grains and every effort was made to ensure funding. Official reports indicate that this target was achieved. Indications are that the area sown to sugarbeet, sunflower and soya, crops, the production of which is supported by the Government, increased by up to 20 percent. However, shortages of inputs and fuel, disruption of labour and damage to fields and other infrastructure are likely to keep yields low. The area sown to winter wheat fell well short of the target of 810 000 hectares mainly in response to economic difficulties, notably rapid inflation and shortages of money as well as persistent and untimely rains. Unofficial reports indicate that the area sown to wheat fell to about 638 000 hectares from 795 000 in 1998, but even this estimate is unconfirmed.
In the Province of Kosovo, the output of all crops is expected to be very low in 1999 due to civil unrest since March 98, which escalated to a crisis situation in March 1999, resulting in large scale population displacement. A peace accord signed on 10 June has allowed refugees to begin to return to their homes. Large-scale international assistance has already been mounted within the Province to address the needs of thousands of IDPs who have been living in very difficult conditions throughout the crisis and for the returnees who will largely have no means to support themselves in the coming months.