FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.5, November 1999

ASIA

AFGHANISTAN* (3 November)

Land preparation for the 1999/2000 winter grains has started. Planting may be hampered in the northern provinces, due mainly to upsurge in fighting. As the eight northern provinces together comprise some 40 percent of the country's irrigated cereal and about 53 percent of its rainfed area, a decline of the 1999/2000 production is expected if security conditions do not improve. Recent reports indicate that more than 100 000 people have been displaced by the recent escalation of factional fighting in the Shomali Plains. More than 60 000 are believed to have arrived in the capital since 5 August. The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country last May/June estimated the 1999 total cereal production at 3.24 million tonnes (rice in paddy equivalent), about 16 percent below the previous year's bumper output of 3.86 million tonnes due to low level of precipitation and outbreak of pests. The food situation is tight for the displaced population. In 1999 food aid has been distributed to approximately more 60 000 vulnerable households in the central highlands and to some 8 000 households in the north-eastern province of Badakhshan. Vulnerable groups are being provided through urban bakeries, institutional feeding programmes in hospitals, orphanages and health centres, and through food-for-work activities. Total cereal import requirements in the 1999/2000 marketing year (July/June) is estimated at a record 1.1 million tonnes, of which more than 95 percent is wheat. Commercial imports of cereals in 1999/2000 are forecast at 800 000 tonnes, about one-third higher than last year due to increased private sector activity, cash crop production and active cross-border trade. Emergency food aid requirement (including food-for-work and food-for-seed), estimated at 97 000 tonnes, is already in the pipeline, leaving an uncovered 226 000 tonnes.

ARMENIA* (3 November) )

The 1999 grain harvest is forecast to fall to 270 000 tonnes from 326 000 tonnes in 1998. The area sown to winter wheat declined sharply reflecting mainly import competition from cheaper Russian grain in the wake of the rouble devaluation in 1998, as well as below normal autumn and winter precipitation. Increased spring plantings were not sufficient to compensate the reduced winter grain area and spring conditions were not good in some areas. In 1999/2000 the cereal import requirement is estimated to increase to nearly 400 000 tonnes. Against this requirement food aid pledges of roughly 73 000 tonnes have been made. The balance is expected to be imported commercially. However, mobilizing wheat from neighbouring countries could be more difficult (and expensive) in view of the poor harvests in Iran and Turkey. The country achieved positive economic growth in 1998, despite the adverse effect of the Russian financial crisis, which reduced exports, expatriate employment opportunities and remittances from abroad. Agricultural reform has resulted in a large number of small private farms, operating at low levels of productivity and facing major constraints in marketing their produce beyond rural markets. Domestic production and imports are covering the country's food needs, and per capita consumption appears to be slowly recovering from the low levels of the early nineties, but household purchasing power remains low and nearly one half of the population has officially reported incomes at or below the poverty line. Higher wheat prices will affect this group disproportionately. In total, 170 000 vulnerable people will be covered by the WFP food assistance. WFP will continue to provide relief food aid to 110 000 refugees and the most vulnerable. Assistance will also focus on community based food-for-work activities for 60 000 vulnerable people who are able to work, supporting economic and social development. The programme will have duration of three years and will be reviewed annually.

AZERBAIJAN (3 November)

Import competition from cheap Russian grain because of the devaluation of the rouble in late 1998 resulted in below average winter grain plantings for the 1999 harvest, but a larger area devoted to fruit and vegetables. Dry autumn weather and the persistent economic problems on farm exacerbated the reduction in the area sown to grains. Therefore, the 1999 grain harvest could decline by up to 16 percent to an estimated 900 000 tonnes. Official data collection tends to underestimate production by a margin of about 20 percent. At the household level, lower grain production is being offset by a sharp increase in potatoes and by increased production of livestock products. Land privatization is in progress but the availability of credit for newly established farmers remains a major problem. The actual level of cereal (and other food imports) is difficult to ascertain as substantial quantities are imported via Dagestan. Indications are that annual cereal imports are of the order of 550 000-600 000 tonnes per annum in recent years. In 1999/2000, the cereal import requirement could rise to almost 700 000 tonnes, to offset the lower output. The bulk of this will be covered commercially although the vulnerable groups, including the refugees, will continue to need targeted food assistance. WFP continues its support to 485 000 beneficiaries through Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation which started from July 1999 after the termination of emergency operation. This operation is for a period of three years with a total of 47 880 tonnes of food aid. The current programme supports IDPs with supplementary assistance, relief support to socially vulnerable groups, resettlement of refugees/returnees and recovery through food-for-work and food-for-training.

BANGLADESH (2 November)

Notwithstanding some localised flooding in the north and central regions in September, monsoon rainfall so far this year has been normal/above normal and generally favourable for development of the main aman rice crop currently being harvested. In the period 1 June to 11 October, of the 13 rainfall stations monitored, none had below-normal rainfall compared to two in 1998. Overall, the 1999/2000 production target is 9.5 million tonnes, and that for the aus and boro crops 1.8 and 9.2 million tonnes respectively. Total milled rice production is therefore tentatively projected at 20.5 million tonnes, though the final outcome will depend on weather next year and input supplies. In addition, the production target for next year's wheat crop has been set at 1.9 million tonnes similar to output in 1999. Rice imports for 1999 (calendar year) are estimated at 1.8 million tonnes. The overall food supply situation is satisfactory. Government stocks at the end of September stood at around 1.4 million tonnes, comprising 830 000 tonnes of rice and 561 000 tonnes of wheat.

CAMBODIA (4 November)

Torrential rains resulted in widespread flooding, principally around the capital Phnom Penh in late October/early November, when 150 mm of rainfall was received instead of 30 mm in normal years. The worst affected areas were around Pursat, Battambang, Kg.Speu, Takeo and Kandal. Although thousands of people had to abandon homes, no serious casualties have been reported so far. The full extent of damage to the main rice crop, to be harvested shortly, is yet to be determined, though unconfirmed reports indicate that around 2 000 hectares had been affected. Risks of further rainfall and flooding still remain relatively high. The overall food situation, however, remains satisfactory, following a good early rice crop and generally favourable prospects for the main wet season crop, to be harvested from January. Rice accounts for some 84 percent of annual food crop production and is planted on around 90 percent of cropped area, mainly in the Central Mekong Basin and Delta and the Tonle Sap Plain. In recent years after the end of hostilities rice production has been increasing. Aggregate 1998/99 paddy production was around 3.52 million tonnes, some 3 percent above 1997/98 production and 19 percent above the five year average. The target for 1999/00 is between 3.5-4.0 million tonnes. Before the recent floods, a good rainy season rice crop was in prospect, suggesting that there may have been an exportable surplus in parts. Although the overall food situation remains satisfactory, a sizeable section of the population remains vulnerable to food shortages, which this year may be exacerbated by the recent floods. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply mission, earlier assessed that some 40 000 tonnes of rice in food assistance (through a WFP Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation) would be needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, in addition to varying amounts of fish and vegetable oil.

CHINA (2 November)

Seasonably dry weather favoured harvesting of summer crops and planting of winter wheat. Cool weather early in the season, followed by drought and high temperatures subsequently affected maize production in several provinces in the north. This year although planted area was similar to last year, growing conditions were worse and output is likely to be lower than 1998. Abundant and above-average rainfall in the main producing areas in the north-east and north west, in October replenished soil moisture levels and was generally favourable for winter wheat planting, now near completion. However, the rains did not ease earlier drought conditions in the northern provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Ningxia, which may affect the winter crop somewhat. Winter wheat accounts for more than 80 percent of total wheat production. Overall, due to a lower autumn harvest, 1999 grain output is officially expected to be lower than the 490 million tonnes (including roots and tubers) produced last year. In the first nine months of 1999 official estimates indicate that some 2.11 million tonnes of maize was exported around 40 percent lower that in the same period in 1998.

CYPRUS (3 November)

Sowing of the 2000 wheat and barley crops is underway. Aggregate output from the wheat and barley crops in 1999 is estimated at 106 000 tonnes, some 63 percent above last year's reduced output but 6 percent lower than the average for the previous five years. Imports of wheat in 1999/2000 (May/April) are forecast at 100 000 tonnes, while aggregate imports of barley and maize are forecast at some 540 000 tonnes, unchanged from last year.

GEORGIA* (3 November)

Contrary to earlier reports, the country has harvested 280 000 tonnes of wheat, some 80 000 tonnes more than in 1998 and is expected to harvest about 550 000 tonnes of maize. Consequently the 1999 aggregate grain harvest (including also barley, oats, pulses etc) is estimated at 880 000 tonnes, 10 percent above that of 1998. Information on the level of annual utilisation of cereals is conflicting. The existence of sizeable unregistered flows of cereals (particularly wheat and flour) into the country and the transhipment to other neighbouring countries make analysis difficult. Estimates of the utilization of wheat range from 650 000 to 800 000 tonnes per annum. Registered imports in 1998/99 amounted to 114 000 tonnes from other CIS countries (59 000 tonnes from the Russian Federation and 55 000 tonnes from Ukraine). FAO estimates the annual domestic utilization of wheat (for all uses) of nearly 800 000 tonnes and an aggregate cereal utilization of about 1.35 million tonnes of cereals, including nearly 750 000 tonnes for human consumption and some 500 000-600 000 tonnes for feed and other uses. Given this assumption, the cereal import requirement in 1999/2000 is tentatively estimated by FAO at 0.5 million tonnes. This is less than last year in response to the larger output, the increased difficulty in mobilizing grain in neighbouring Turkey, given the poor harvest and the restrictions (insofar as they can be implemented) on exports from the Russian Federation, should this country receive food aid and/or close the border. Against this requirement, food aid pledges amounting to 78 000 tonnes have been reported to date. Most of the balance is expected to be imported commercially. WFP has planned to provide 18 190 tonnes of food aid to 182 000 vulnerable people and targeted food-for-work schemes over a one-year period, which commenced in July 1999 with a new phase of the protracted relief and recovery operation. The emphasis in the new phase for recovery strategy is to increase the overall level of self-sufficiency through rehabilitation. The programme also provides assistance to the vulnerable people to meet their food needs under the current conditions of decreasing purchasing power.

INDIA (8 November)

On 29 October, the worst cyclone in almost 30 years, struck coastal areas along the North Eastern state of Orissa, leaving up to two million people homeless. The worst affected districts included; Balasore, Cuttack, Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur and Kendrapara. An estimated 11 million people, almost a third of the state's population, were affected and current official estimates put the number killed at about 10 000. The number of deaths, however, could rise further as large numbers of people remain unaccounted for. Many of the displaced people are marooned and have no access to food and clean water, whilst the health and nutritional situation is deteriorating fast due to outbreaks of gastro-enteritis and cholera. The state of Orissa has an estimated population of around 36 million people and a cropped area of approximately 5.4 million hectares, or around 4 percent of national total. It is a food deficit state, with a relatively large rural population (60 percent) relying primarily on low productivity subsistence agriculture. Only 25 percent of cultivated area is irrigated, compared to an average of 40 percent nationally, whilst fertiliser use is significantly lower than levels applied in other states. Only 25 to 30 kg/ha of nutrients (NPK) are used, compared to an average of 75 kg/ha. Agricultural productivity, therefore remains low, with average yields of rice (the main staple) up to 40 percent lower than average for the country as a whole. Given the state of agriculture and the level of poverty in the state, household food security, would have depended heavily on the main rice harvest, to have commenced in a few weeks, and stored grain. Current official estimates indicate that the rice harvest in the State will be around 3.5 million tonnes compared to an expected output of 6.5 million tonnes before the cyclone. These losses will have serious repercussions not only on immediate food security but also for food supplies over the greater part of next year. This is especially so as rabi (winter) production, mainly of wheat, from Oct/Nov till March/April is negligible in the state. In addition to farm households, those that lost their entire source of livelihood, such as fishermen, will also face severe hardship in the coming months. In view of significant crop losses in the State, aggregate Kharif rice production will be around 3 million tonnes lower than the 75 million tonnes expected before the floods. Notwithstanding strenuous government efforts to provide assistance , the scale of the devastation was so large that over a week after the cyclone, hundreds of villages still remain isolated from urgently needed food and medical supplies, depending entirely on food air drops. In response to the emergency, the Government has so far provided US $130 million in cash assistance, in addition to the US $59.5 million provided in the aftermath of the earlier cyclone in mid-October. Food assistance is being transported to affected areas by road and sea, whilst 395 tonnes have been air-dropped. Relief assistance is also being provided in the form of hospital care, shelter, medical supplies and communications equipment.

INDONESIA* (2 November)

Scattered heavy rainfall in October increased moisture supplies for main season rice transplanting in main producing areas. Main season rice is planted in October/November to coincide with rains from the north east monsoon, for harvest from March onwards. In contrast to 1998, and the currency crisis, fertilizer supplies have increased and prices have stabilized, due to greater competition following liberalisation last year. Consequently, the official forecast for paddy production this year, has been increased marginally to 49.53 million tonnes, from 11.6 million hectares. Output at this level would be average and similar to last year. Private sector imports have been severely limited by a recent Government limiting importers to imports of 5 percent broken or higher quality only. The policy is to protect domestic producers from lower international rice prices. In the period January-September 1999, imports from the National Logistics Agency (BULOG) amounted to 1.9 million tonnes. 1999 maize production is estimated at 9.13 million tonnes, almost 10 percent lower than last year. In general with economic recovery and higher demand for maize feed, production is likely to increase to meet demand. Wet season maize will be planted in Oct/Nov for harvest around March/April. The humanitarian and food situation in East Timor, remains precarious, though the security situation is reported to be improving. An estimated 219 000 registered refugees are still in West Timor, of which 70 percent are expected to return. A large proportion of the population still remain internally displaced some in difficult locations with little food and water. The UN recently made a consolidated appeal for US $199 million for humanitarian assistance to cover immediate humanitarian needs during the reconstruction phase of the province and its economy. In addition to concerns regarding food and water, the start of the rainy season has also increased the risk of health problems and diseases, such as cholera and malaria. October/November are normally the period for rice and maize planting to coincide with the start of the monsoon. To assess early crop prospects and the overall food supply situation, an FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission is planned for late November.

IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (2 November)

Winter wheat and barley planting are near completion for harvest in June/July and March next year respectively. 1999 agricultural production was severely affected by drought, which followed a lack of rain since last December and reduced snow over winter. Both rainfed and irrigated production declined sharply as did output of livestock. The output of wheat, the main staple, fell by almost a quarter to 9 million tonnes. As a result the decline in domestic output, to cover demand wheat imports in the 1999/2000 marketing year (July/June) are expected to increase sharply over the previous year and are currently projected at 5.8 million tonnes. Rice production was also affected by floods in July in Mazandaran, which damaged an estimated 3 600 hectares of crops. As a result of the drought and floods, milled rice production declined to 1.45 million tonnes, some 17 percent lower than the previous year. Rice imports are projected at 900 000 tonnes for the current (calendar) year.

IRAQ* (4 November)

Planting of the winter crops, which normally starts in the second half of October, is delayed due to inadequate rainfall so far. Production is also likely to be constrained by the serious shortages of essential agricultural inputs. Last year, in addition to the shortage of agricultural inputs, a severe drought and the widespread incidence of pests and weeds adversely affected cereal crops. Total cereal output in 1999 is estimated at 1.6 million tonnes, nearly 40 percent below the previous five-year average. The drought has also caused serious damage to livestock, already weakened by foot and mouth disease. In October 1999, the UN Security council approved an increase in the current sixth phase of the "Oil-for-food" deal to US$8.3 billion worth of oil, from the US$5.26 billion announced at the beginning of the phase in May, to buy food, medicine and health supplies, and for emergency repairs to infrastructure. Despite some improvement in the overall food supply situation following the implementation of the "Oil for food" deal, however, health and nutritional problems remain widespread in many parts. A recent survey conducted by UNICEF found that child mortality rates have more than doubled in south and central Iraq since 1990.

ISRAEL (4 November)

Planting of the year 2000 wheat and barley crops, to be harvested during April/May next year, is underway. Production of the wheat crop in 1999 was estimated at 152 000 tonnes, about 10 percent below last year, due to the severe drought that affected several countries in the Near East. Imports of cereals in 1999/2000 (July/June) are forecast at some 2.5 million tonnes.

JAPAN (2 November)

In September and October, tropical storms brought heavy rainfall, resulting in localised flooding and some crop damage to the rice crop, particularly around in the south around Kyushu. As a result the Ministry of Agriculture lowered its forecast for rice production from its projection in September. Official forecast indicates that 1999 rice production, (brown basis) will be around 9.18 million tonnes, some 3 percent above last year. The government proposes to provide subsidies to farmers to grow wheat, soybeans and feed grains to improve self-sufficiency in these crops and promote a shift from rice. In addition farmers will be paid compensation for reducing rice cultivation.

JORDAN (4 November)

Sowing of the 2000 wheat and barley crops, for harvest in May/June next year, is underway. Last year, a severe drought seriously damaged cereal and horticultural crops. Consequently, aggregate output of wheat and barley declined by 88 percent in 1999 to 13 000 tonnes. The livestock sector was also affected and many sheep farms were seriously affected as costs increased and products diminished in quality and quantity. An outbreak of foot and mouth disease has exacerbated drought-induced production losses. The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country last May estimated the total cereal import requirement at 1.94 million tonnes for the 1999/2000 marketing year (July/June). About 80 percent of the requirement is anticipated to be covered commercially, leaving a deficit of 387 000 tonnes to be covered by food aid. Some 300 000 tonnes have so far been pledged through direct food aid and concessional grants. An Emergency Operation was jointly approved by FAO and WFP in July for food assistance to 180 000 vulnerable people, worth some US$429 000 for a period of nine months.

KAZAKHSTAN (3 November)

With harvesting completed, the 1999 grain crop is officially estimated at 15.9 million tonnes, about 14.4 million tonnes cleaned weight, i.e. more than double the poor 1998 harvest officially put at 6.4 million tonnes. Overall growing conditions for the 1999 crop have been satisfactory and average yields approaching 1.3 tonnes per hectare are more than double last year's. In addition, unusually good weather during the harvest season has permitted harvesting activities to continue well into October, permitting the bulk of the 11.9 million hectares sown to be harvested. The country exported 2.5 million tonnes of cereals in 1998/99 and has an export availability of 7-8 million tonnes in the current marketing year. Grain shipments from the port of Aktau have been resumed.

KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (2 November)

Late season rains in October, affected rice harvesting somewhat. The official estimate for 1999 rice production is put at around 5.2 million tonnes, which is about average and slightly higher than last year. Production this year was adversely affected by damage from heavy rains and typhoons since during the monsoon season from July. In particular typhoon Anne and Bart caused significant rice damage in south-eastern provinces in late September. The 1999 rice procurement target is one million tonnes.

KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF* (3 November)

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, which visited the country from 9 to 19 October, noted that food supply prospects will remain precarious over the next 12 months despite some improvement in rice production this year. The increase in rice was principally due to increased fertilizer use, adequate irrigation supplies and the absence of serious pest and disease attacks. Although fertilizer availability (NPK) almost doubled this year, to around 199 000 tonnes (nutrient equivalent) compared to 1998, supplies covered less than one third of requirements to attain optimum yields and maintain basic soil productivity. In addition, heavy nutrient mining, where more nutrients are being extracted from the soil than replaced, and the growing importance of double cropping in enhancing food security, mean that overall requirements of fertilizers are likely to be considerably higher than hitherto. The gains in rice production, however, were more than offset by the reduction in maize output as the area cultivated fell sharply, due to substitution and increased national emphasis on potatoes, restriction of maize cultivation on hill slopes to control degradation and a prolonged dry spell at critical stages in the crop cycle. The weather pattern in 1999 was erratic. Following a slow start to the season, rainfall at important stages of maize development from May to July was well below normal, which seriously affected yields. Overall, therefore, paddy production is put at 2.34 million tonnes, around 14 percent or 280 000 tonnes higher than estimated production in 1998, whilst maize production is estimated to have fallen by almost 30 percent from the 1.76 million tonnes estimated by FAO/WFP in 1998 to 1.24 million tonnes this year. In addition to rice and maize, food supply prospects in 1999/2000 will also depend heavily on the output of next year's potato and double crop barley and wheat crops. Although only a tentative forecast at this stage, based on target areas, production of these crops is forecast at 1.813 million tonnes of potato (453 000 tonnes cereal equivalent) and 241 000 tonnes of wheat and barley. In grain equivalent including milled rice and other minor cereal crops, such as sorghum and millets, overall domestic grain availability for the next marketing year is forecast at 3.472 million tonnes. Based on revised population figures provided by the Government, grain demand for food and other utilization needs for 1999/2000 is estimated at 4.76 million tonnes. This leaves a deficit of around 1.29 million tonnes, of which the Government is expected to import 300 000 tonnes commercially, whilst a further 126 000 tonnes is covered by pipeline food aid imports. Taking these into account, the uncovered import requirement, therefore, is estimated at 867 000 tonnes, with which the country still needs assistance. In addition, although sizeable contribution were made over the last year to rehabilitate agriculture, to ensure food security, much more is needed. In particular, contributions to the Agricultural Recovery and Environmental Protection Programme (AREP), jointly prepared by the Government and the UN have so far been disappointing and need to be enhanced.

KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (3 November)

The 1999 grain and pulse harvest is forecast at 1.6 million tonnes, marginally less than output in 1998 in response to the declining trend in the area sown and some damage to crops by rain and hail. Provided the 1999 harvest forecast materialises, cereal imports, including food aid pledges amounting to 61 000 tonnes, in 1999/2000 are provisionally estimated at about 126 000 tonnes, mainly wheat. At the same time the country also exports some wheat to neighbouring Uzbekistan (in payment for gas) and Tajikistan. About half of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line and 15 percent to live in extreme poverty. The payment of social benefits in 1998 was on average delayed by more than 80 days. In the absence of money, pensions and other benefits are mainly paid in kind, notably in flour, oil and sugar. The Araket poverty alleviation programme, introduced in 1998 seeks to improve the quality of life for the poorest segments through the provision of goods (food, fuel) and more recently micro-credit schemes. Official data indicate that per caput consumption of basic foodstuffs is recovering steadily. However, the availability of cash remains a major constraint, which is felt particularly in the health and education sectors.

LAOS (2 November)

Heavy rains in October in parts affected main crop rice maturation, harvesting of which is underway. Main season production is currently estimated at around 1.3 million tonnes, with overall 1999/2000 production forecast at 1.77 million tonnes. Around 73 percent of aggregate production will come from the main (rainy season) crop and around 15 percent from irrigated cultivation in the dry season. The rest is from upland rice.

LEBANON (4 November)

The planting of the wheat and barley crops is underway. However, domestic cereal production usually covers only about 10 percent of the consumption requirements. Aggregate production of wheat and barley crops in 1999 is estimated at 62 000 tonnes, about the same as last year. Imports of wheat in 1999/2000 (July/June) are forecast at some 0.51 million tonnes, slightly above last year.

MALAYSIA (2 November)

Paddy production this year is estimated at an average 2 million tonnes. The country is a regular importer of whit milled rice, and is likely to increase imports of more paddy and brown rice for domestic milling to increase value-added milling to cater for rising demand for higher-quality rice. The country is approximately 60-65 percent self-sufficient in rice. It produces about 1.2 million tonnes of rice compared to annual consumption of 1.7 to 1.8 million tonnes. To promote agricultural development in the country, the Government proposes to introduce a number of policy initiatives to promote research, technology transfer and use of new machinery.

MONGOLIA* (2 November)

In addition to reforms in the agriculture sector, which have meant that former state farms have been disbanded and sold, problems of economic transition continue to constrain supplies of essential inputs to agriculture. 1999 production of the main staple, wheat, was further disrupted by high temperatures and drought, over a two week period, in July. Wheat production is therefore put at around 190 000 tonnes, similar to last year's reduced crop. Compared to 1990, before the transition programme from a centrally planned to a market economy, domestic wheat production this year would be less than half, around 42 percent. In addition there may be shortage of seed for next year's planting. Areas planted this year included 273 300 hectares of wheat, 8 300 hectares of potatoes, 5 500 hectares of other vegetables. An estimated 40 percent of annual demand for wheat is domestically met and the rest imported. Around 60 000 tonnes of food aid were pledged to the country this year as assistance to vulnerable groups.

MYANMAR (3 November)

Harvesting of the main, monsoon, rice crop has commenced. The forecast for 1999/2000 paddy production is 17.5 million tonnes, from an aggregate area of around 5.5 million hectares. A total of 38 700 tonnes of rice were exported in the first half of 1999, almost double the volume exported in the same period last year. To meet increasing domestic demand for rice, the overall potential for increasing exports remains constrained. To encourage production the Government, is promoting the private sector by leasing over 400 000 hectares of vacant and new lands.

NEPAL (3 November)

Paddy production this year is projected at 3.6 million tonnes, slightly above last year and the five year average. The area under paddy is also estimated to have increased marginally to 1.5 million hectares.

PAKISTAN (3 November)

Seasonably dry conditions, favoured maturing summer crops and facilitated preparations for rabi wheat planting. The estimate of 1999 rice production has been increased slightly from earlier projections due to an increase in area and improved weather. Production is put at 4.87 million tonnes (milled), some 3 percent higher than last year and 17 percent above the five year average. The wheat production target for 1999/2000 has been set at 20 million tonnes, some 10 percent higher than production this year. The area target is 20.9 million hectares compared to 20.5 million hectares last year. Reports indicated, however, that the target may not be achieved due to lower support prices than expected and relatively high input costs. Imports for the 1999/2000 marketing year (July/June) are projected at 3.2 million tonnes.

PHILIPPINES (8 November)

Heavy rains in late October, affected the maturing (main) rice crop somewhat. Main rice is mainly planted around May/June for harvest in Oct/Nov. The procurement price of paddy has been increased to support local farmers who experienced difficulty due to excessive rains this year, attributed partly to La Nina weather disturbances. The increase in support price will be given to farmers selling rice (with up to 24 percent moisture content). Despite losses in parts to excessive rains and to typhoon damage, rice production this year is expected to be appreciably higher than in recent years. First and second quarter production were also favourable and official reports expect paddy output to be around 11.76 million metric tonnes (7.64 million tonnes of milled rice) this (calendar) year. This represents an almost 3 million tonne or 35 percent increase over the 1998 calendar year. Improved rice prospects mean that import demand will be much lower than last year.

SAUDI ARABIA (4 November)

The wheat crop for harvest in April/May next year is now being planted. Production of wheat in 1999 is estimated at 1.5 million tonnes, about 17 percent below last year's output. Low number of adult desert locusts are likely to be present near Jizan where numbers could gradually increase as a result of recent rainfall. Import of cereals in 1999/2000 (July/June) is currently forecast at about 6.9 million tonnes, similar to last year.

SRI LANKA (3 November)

Land preparation and planting of the main Maha rice crop to coincide with the north east monsoon rains is underway. Above-normal rainfall in September and October supplemented soil moisture levels and was generally favourable for planting and transplanting the crop. Output of the second yala rice crop, harvested earlier in August/September, was put at 987 000 tonnes, around 8 percent higher than 1998. Total 1998/99 paddy production is estimated at 2.7 million tonnes (1.73 million tonnes from the 1998 maha crop and 0.987 million tonnes from the 1999 yala)

SYRIA (4 November)

Recent light showers in northern parts of the country prompted planting of winter grains. However, lack of rains and above-normal temperatures in the south have delayed planting. Sowing of the 2000 wheat and barley crops is expected to continue until mid-January next year. Crop and livestock production in 1999 was seriously affected by the worst drought in decades. As a result, barley production, which is almost entirely rainfed, is estimated at 380 000 tonnes, around 72 percent below the previous five-year average. Wheat production, 40 percent of which is irrigated, is estimated at 2.74 million tonnes, about 28 percent below average. The drought had also devastated range vegetation leading to a significant increase in sheep mortality rates that seriously affected household incomes and exposed a large number of the Badia population to food shortages. Domestic wheat requirements in 1999/2000 (July/June), estimated at about 3.8 million tonnes, are anticipated to be met from current production and existing stocks. However, significant barley imports, estimated at around 1.18 million tonnes, are needed to compensate for the loss of feed and forage. In view of the country's economic slowdown, Government imports are estimated at only 200 000 tonnes, leaving an uncovered deficit of 980 000 tonnes. As part of an emergency measure, private sector imports of barley have been authorised this year, but with low purchasing power of herders, only limited quantities are anticipated to be imported. On 7 October, an emergency operation was jointly approved by FAO and WFP to assist 329 000 herders in the drought affected areas of the country for six months (October 1999 to March 2000), for a total cost of US$ 5.46 million.

TAJIKISTAN* (3 November)

Latest reports confirm a reduced grain and pulse harvest in 1999 of about 430 000 tonnes (compared to 500 000 tonnes last year) and a deteriorating food supply situation. Official reports indicate that the area sown declined somewhat to about 370 000 hectares. Lower yields than last year are due to heavy rains in July which caused severe but localized damage, heavy infestation of wheat with yellow rust and smut, inadequate use of quality seed and other inputs and poor irrigation. Given that about 150 000 hectares of the land sown to grain is irrigated, official average yield expectations seem too low, despite persistent economic problems in the sector. Lack of resources available to the national statistics office and the government's weak control over large parts of the country limit the accuracy of information on economic and agricultural activity. The agricultural sector employs almost half of the labour force but generates less than 30 percent of recorded GDP. The shortfall in cereal production will have to be met by food aid and commercial imports, the latter mainly from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. In 1999/2000, the cereal import requirement is estimated to increase to 453 000 tonnes of which up to 127 000 is likely to be provided as food aid. The overall food supply situation remains problematical, as poverty is endemic in the country. About 85 percent of the population have incomes below the poverty line and purchasing power remains low. Not all families are able to cover a shortfall in household food production by market purchases. In rural areas, high leasing costs also restrict household food availability. Recent assessments in the Karategin Valley found that large segments of the population were food insecure. Humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations will continue to be necessary.

THAILAND (3 November)

In late October, heavy rains from tropical storms hampered main season rice maturation and harvesting in central parts of the country. Main season rice is planted from May to June/July and harvested from October to December. Normally the crop accounts for around 80 percent of aggregate production the remainder coming from the second rice crop planted in January/February. The current forecast for 1999/2000 paddy production is put at around 23 million tonnes. This represents an increase of some 700 000 tonnes or 3 percent over 1998/99. The export target for the year 2000 has been set at six million tonnes compared to between 5.5-6.0 million tonnes expected to be exported this year. To the end of September approximately 4.7 million tonnes had been exported.

TURKEY (16 November)

Sowing of the 2000 wheat crop is underway. The 1999 wheat production is estimated at 18 million tonnes, about 14 percent below last year and about 4 percent below average, due to the severe drought that affected several countries in the region, including Turkey. Output from the barley crop which is estimated at 7 million tonnes is 15 percent lower than in previous year. maize production is estimated at 2.17 million tonnes, almost the same as in the previous year. Two major earthquakes which struck the north-western parts of the country on 17 August and on 12 November have killed more than 16 000 people, caused more than 52 000 major injuries and an estimated 630 00 homeless people. The earlier earthquake, in around Izmit, have affected heavily populated and mainly industrial areas, while the latter, in Bolu province, struck less populated areas with more localised damages. National and international assistance is being provided to the victims. Turkey's state grain board (TMO) bought from farmers in 1999 a total of 5.1 million tonnes of cereals, comprising 4.2 million tonnes of wheat and 818 000 tonnes of barley.

TURKMENISTAN (3 November)

The 1999 grain harvest is officially estimated at a record 1.5 million tonnes, nearly 300 000 tonnes above 1998, including 226 000 tonnes produced by private farmers. The area sown to grains fell to 570 000 hectares but the import of high quality seed and increased use of fertilizer raised yields significantly. Given the difficult foreign exchange situation and the large 1999 harvest, which would be adequate to meet domestic requirements, cereal imports in 1999/2000 are expected to remain very low. The country has introduced excise duties as of 1 October 1999 to protect domestic production. These include duties of 50 percent on imports of flour and pasta and of US$100 on exports of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. The outlook for the cotton harvest is also satisfactory and the target of 1.3 million tonnes could be achieved. Some 550 000 hectares have been planted and yields average 2.4 tonnes per hectare so far.

UZBEKISTAN (3 November)

The 1999 wheat and barley crop is officially estimated at 3.9 million tonnes, some 140 000 tonnes above 1998. As the country also produces maize and rice, indications are that total 1999 grain production could be around 4.4 million tonnes. The rice production target is 500 000 tonnes, of which 300 000 tonnes are to be sold to the government. Imports of grain are being reduced to maintain a positive trade balance. Cereal imports in 1999/2000 are estimated to fall to about 350 000 tonnes, to be met commercially.

VIET NAM (3 November)

Heavy rains, over several days in late October/early November, led to the worst flooding in decades in central coastal areas. Current reports indicate that around 550 people were killed and over 600 000 displaced. In addition damage to property and infrastructure is officially estimated at around US $200 million. Several areas remain isolated by flood waters, where concerns are mounting of food shortages. Problems may be exacerbated by further rains and floods. Although, civilian damage has been high, crop damage, was not as serious as it may have been, as the areas affected were not in the main food/rice basket of the country in the south or the coffee and tea areas further north. The main crop currently would have been the tenth month rice crop, which is planted in June/July for harvest in October/November. In normal years this rice crop nationally accounts for around 25 percent of aggregate annual production, whilst the winter/spring crop (planted from January) accounts for the largest share. The worst affected provinces were along a 500 kilometre stretch between Quang Binh to Quang Ngai, home to some 6 million of the country's 79 million people. The area is amongst the poorest in the country and is normally food deficit as it is agriculturally and industrially less developed than the rest of the country. The approximate rice area along this stretch is estimated at around 340 000 hectares of which approximately 64 000 hectares were reportedly damaged. In addition around 30 000 hectares of other crops were also affected and over 100 000 tonnes of rice and maize damaged in store. In recent years, these provinces produced around 1.2 million tonnes of rice , or around 7 percent, compared to national production of around 17 to 18 million tonnes. In addition, the affected provinces produce around 25-30 thousand tonnes of maize or less than 3 percent of aggregate production of around 1.2 to 1.3 million tonnes per year. Large quantities of rice and maize in store were also damaged. Central coastal parts of the country are regularly prone to bad weather and storms, with a reported 397 people killed by storms and floods last year. The Government has responded quickly to the emergency by distributing food assistance to affected areas, which are amongst the poorest in the country and the most vulnerable to food shortages. In spite of current humanitarian operations, it is likely that food supply problems will persist into next year, while significant intervention would also been needed to rehabilitate agriculture. The floods followed earlier damage by tropical Storm Eve, which also resulted in several deaths and damage. Rice production in 1999/2000 is tentatively projected at 19.5 million tonnes (milled), similar to the 1998/99 record crop, though much will depend on the final outcome of the tenth rice crop and the main winter/spring and summer autumn crops next year. Although indications were that the country would export around 4.3 million tonnes of rice in 1999, in line with the Government's target, the floods and resultant food shortages may mean that some of the rice is diverted as assistance to vulnerable groups. In the first nine months of the year, the country exported 3.8 million tonnes.

YEMEN (4 November)

The output of the main sorghum crop, now being harvested, is forecast at 416 000 tonnes, some 12 percent lower than last year, due to reduced planted area. Small scale breeding of desert locust could extend into areas of recent rainfall in the eastern desert and small bands and swarmlets may form.


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