FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.1 - February 2000 p. 5

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Current Production and Crop Prospects

Position by Region


Far East: The outlook for the winter wheat crop, for harvest from April, is mixed. In China, the winter wheat area has declined by around 7 percent compared to 1998/99, and cold weather in the south is reported to have damaged the crop some what. In contrast, snow in the main producing province of Henna this month, helped ease earlier drought conditions. In India, the area under Rabi (winter) wheat is estimated to be higher than last year, while conditions so far this season have been satisfactory for the crop. Last year the country produced a record wheat crop of over 73 million tonnes. Following favourable weather recently, after dry conditions earlier, and higher support prices, prospects have also improved in Pakistan, where current official forecasts point to a crop of around 20 million tonnes compared to 18 million tonnes last year.

Regarding coarse grains, early indications in China point to a reduced area in 2000. The country has sizeable stocks of maize and prices are low. As a result, farmers are likely to switch to other crops such as soya, vegetable or groundnuts in view of their better price prospects. In India, the bulk of the coarse grains are produced under rainfed conditions during the main monsoon (kharif) season from June to September. Latest estimates indicate that production of 1999 Kharif maize, millet and sorghum was about 22 million tonnes, 9 percent lower than 1998. The largest decline was in millet production, which fell by around 20 percent from 10 million tonnes to 8 million tonnes.

In China (Mainland), the 1999 paddy output is estimated at 198 million tonnes, about 1 million tonnes less than in 1998. The decline is partly attributed to a reduction in early-rice plantings in reaction to the lowering of the state purchasing prices for inferior quality grains, which include early rice. In addition, heavy rains in June and July inflicted some damage to crops. The 2000 paddy season is expected to start around March but, based on the Government intention of reducing total grain output and improving quality, the area under rice, particularly early rice, is likely to shrink further. In Viet Nam, overall paddy production in 1999 is expected to be similar to the previous year's crop, now officially estimated at 31 million tonnes. Harvesting of the 10th Month crop is progressing and planting of the winter-spring crop is underway. The targets for the winter-spring crop area and output were set at 3 million hectares and 15.5 million tonnes, respectively. However, unfavourable weather conditions during the last few weeks could jeopardize such plans and planting operations will need to be accelerated to avoid yield losses. In the Philippines, gathering of the main-season crop and planting of the secondary-season crop have been completed. Based on current reports and assuming favourable conditions for the rest of the season, the 1999/2000 paddy output is estimated to rise by 16 percent from the previous season to about 11.9 million tonnes. This is attributed to a larger area and better growing conditions than in the previous year, but also to a wider use of high yielding varieties and an improved irrigation system.

In Thailand, harvesting of the 1999/2000 main-season paddy crop is almost complete, and output is officially estimated at 19 million tonnes, up 3 percent from the previous year. Planting of the second-season crop is in progress but the area is likely to decline slightly owing to the depressed price prospects. Overall, the country's 1999/2000 total production could be slightly over 23 million tonnes, assuming an output of around 4 million tonnes from the second-season crop, the same level achieved during the previous season. In Myanmar, gathering of the main-season crop is nearing completion but heavy rains in October caused some localized flooding that could result in quality deterioration in the affected areas. Planting of the secondary crop is almost complete. The country's total 1999/2000 paddy output is forecast at 17.5 million tonnes, a slight decline from the previous year's level. In Japan, the 1999 paddy season has been concluded and paddy output is officially estimated at 11.5 million tonnes, up from 11.2 million tonnes last year, despite a drop in area. Above average growing conditions boosted average yields by 3 percent to 6.4 tonnes per hectare. For the 2000 season, the Government has announced a further cut in support prices of 2.7 percent from 1999 to about 252 yen per kilogram and a similar land diversion target of 963 000 hectares.

World Cereal Production - Forecast for 1999

    Wheat Coarse grains Rice (paddy) Total
1998 1999 1998 1999 1998 1999 1998 1999
  ( . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . .. . . . . . . . . . )
Asia 254.5 262.5 230.7 218.5 533.8 537.7 1 019.0 1 018.7
Africa 18.5 15.5 78.9 78.3 15.8 17.5 113.2 111.4
Central America 3.3 3.2 28.9 28.9 2.2 2.3 34.3 34.4
South America 16.5 18.9 62.9 58.3 17.0 21.4 96.4 98.6
North America 93.4 89.5 298.7 290.8 8.5 9.5 400.6 389.8
Europe 187.7 176.6 201.9 202.4 3.1 3.1 392.7 382.1
Oceania 21.3 23.0 9.5 9.0 1.4 1.4 32.2 33.4
WORLD 595.2 589.2 911.4 886.4 581.8 592.9 2 088.4 2 068.5
          (389) 1/ (396) 1/ (1 895) 2/ (1 872) 2/
Developing countries 277.0 278.7 389.9 371.6 556.8 566.7 1 223.8 1 217.0
Developed countries 318.1 310.4 521.5 514.8 25.0 26.3 864.6 851.5

In Cambodia, harvesting of the 1999/2000 wet (main) season crop is almost complete, and the dry season crop harvest is due to start soon. Paddy production In 1999/2000 is officially forecast to rise by 9 percent to 3.8 million tonnes. Crops benefited from timely and well distributed rains during the season. In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, harvesting of the 1999 paddy season crop is over and output is estimated to have increased by about 10 percent from the previous season to 2.3 million tonnes, the largest crop since 1995. In addition to better weather conditions, yields were boosted by increased fertilizer use, helped by foreign aid. In the Republic of Korea, the 1999 paddy crop harvest is complete and output is officially estimated at about 7.2 million tonnes, or 3 percent higher than the previous season, reflecting better yields and a slightly larger area. Some parts of the country were hit by typhoons during late July/early August but the damage to rice crops was less marked than in 1998.

In Bangladesh, there was some localized flood-related damage to the 1999/2000 season rice crops in a few districts but, overall, the impact was minimal. Gathering of the Aman (main season) crop is almost over while planting of the Boro crop is nearing completion. The official forecast for overall paddy production in 1999/2000 is 30.7 million tonnes, or 1.2 million tonnes more than the previous season. In India, harvesting of the main season Kharif rice crop is almost finished. Reflecting flood-related crop losses in the eastern State of Orissa during late 1999, the official production forecast has been revised slightly downward to about 112 million tonnes. Planting of the Rabi crop is nearing completion. The forecast for the country's overall 1999/2000 paddy production now stands at about 128 million tonnes which, if realized, would be 400 000 tonnes higher than in the previous year. In Pakistan, the 1999 paddy crop has been harvested and preliminary estimates point towards yet another bumper crop of about 7.3 million tonnes or 3 percent higher than in 1998, owing to a slight increase in both area and yields.

In Indonesia, the 1999/2000 paddy output is estimated at 49.9 million tonnes, about 1 percent up from 1998/99, after two consecutive years of reduced crops due to adverse weather. The increase is attributed to a 2 percent rise in yields, which more than offset a slight decline in area. The 2000/01 main-season crop is well advanced and harvesting is expected to start around March. However, farmers are bracing themselves for potential floods following prolonged rainfall and an unusual weather pattern. The Government target for the 2000/2001 paddy production has been set at 51 million tonnes. In Malaysia, the harvest of the 2000/2001 main-season crop is anticipated to commence in a few weeks time. Floods in late October destroyed paddy fields in the northern part of the country but the impact on the country's overall output is expected to be marginal as there was still ample time for replanting.

Near East: Cereal output in the Near East Asian countries, the largest producers among which are the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey, was sharply reduced in 1999 by severe drought. Assuming a return to normal weather conditions this season, production should recover somewhat in 2000.

Cis in Asia: In the eight CIS countries in Asia, the 1999 aggregate grain harvest is forecast to increase to 24 million tonnes from 17 million tonnes in 1998. Wheat production increased by 6 million tonnes to 19 million tonnes mainly in response to a sharp recovery in Kazakhstan and higher outputs in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Coarse grain production increased by 1.4 million tonnes to 4.5 million tonnes. In Kazakhstan, where a prolonged period of good weather improved yields and facilitated late harvesting, wheat output doubled to 11 million tonnes, while that of coarse grains recovered to 2.7 million tonnes from 1.5 million tonnes in 1998. Turkmenistan achieved a record grain harvest of 1.5 million tonnes (mainly wheat) reflecting better incentives to farmers, and increased use of imported high-grade seed and fertilizer on a smaller area (570 000 hectares). In Uzbekistan, the 1999 aggregate grain harvest is estimated at 4.45 million tonnes (1998: 4.3 million tonnes), and includes 3.7 million tonnes of wheat (1998: 3.6 million tonnes). In Kyrgyzstan, the 1999 grain harvest is estimated at 1.6 million tonnes, similar to that of 1998, but wheat production declined to 1.1 million tonnes as land was moved to more profitable crops and feedgrains. In Tajikistan, a decline in the area sown and lower yields are estimated to have reduced the 1999 grain harvest to 430 000 tonnes, 70 000 tonnes less than last year.

In the Caucasus, timely rains during the growing season have resulted in better than expected yields, despite sharp reductions in the areas sown to wheat in response to import competition. In Armenia, the 1999 harvest is officially put at nearly 300 000 tonnes, about 25 000 tonnes less than 1998. In Azerbaijan, the 1999 grain harvest is estimated to have increased by 14 percent to 1.1 million tonnes in response to better farming practices following land privatization and better weather. Output of wheat remained stable at 850 000 tonnes, while that of coarse grains increased sharply to nearly 200 000 tonnes. In Georgia, timely rains, better farming practices by private farmers and improved availability of modern farm machinery has resulted in a 17 percent increase in grain production, to 880 000 tonnes, including 280 000 tonnes of wheat (1998: 200 000 tonnes).

The outlook for the 2000 wheat crop is uncertain. In Kazakhstan the bulk of grains are sown in the spring. Elsewhere in the area, indications are that the areas sown to winter grains have continued to decline in the Caucasus and Kyrgyzstan. In Uzbekistan, the irrigated area sown to winter grains has increased by 50 000 hectares to 1.36 million hectares. Turkmenistan is to promote rice production in 2000 and has announced plans to increase the areas sown to all grains by bringing virgin land into production.


Northern Africa: Aggregate production of wheat in 1999 in the sub-region is estimated at about 11.5 million tonnes, or 17 percent below the 1998 level. Output in Morocco, at 2.1 million tonnes, was about half the 1998 level as a result of inadequate rainfall and reduced plantings. Algeria also suffered a 25 percent drop in output, which fell to about 1.5 million tonnes. By contrast, production increased in Egypt by 4 percent to 6.3 million tonnes, and in Tunisia by 3 percent to 1.4 million tonnes. The sub-region's 1999 coarse grains crop in is estimated at 9.7 millions tonnes, about 5 percent below the 1998 level, largely as a result of unfavourable weather conditions in Algeria and Morocco.

Growing conditions for the 2000 winter wheat and coarse grain crops are generally favourable in the sub-region. Although land preparation and planting of crops were somewhat delayed by below-normal rainfall in September/October in Algeria and Tunisia, conditions improved substantially in November/December with widespread rains over most growing areas. In Morocco, conditions have been favourable for an early start of the season with normal to above-normal rainfall received in most areas. However, timely rains will be needed during the next few months to ensure a good harvest. In Egypt, an increase in production of the irrigated wheat crop is anticipated as a result of the expanded cultivation of higher yield wheat varieties.

In Egypt, the 1999 rice crop is officially estimated at 5.8 million tonnes, or about 30 percent above the 1998 level. This is the result of an expansion in area planted, favourable growing conditions but also sufficient and timely availability of inputs.

Western Africa: A record cereal harvest has been gathered in late 1999 for the second consecutive year in the Sahelian countries. Reflecting generally favourable growing conditions, particularly in August and September, the 1999 aggregate cereal production of the nine CILSS countries has been estimated by a series of FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions at a record 10.9 million tonnes, which is 2 percent higher than in 1998 and 16 percent above the average of the last five years. Record crops have been gathered in Cape Verde, The Gambia, Mali and Mauritania. Output is above-average in Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Senegal, while it is below average in Guinea-Bissau following civil disturbances in 1998.

In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, harvest prospects are generally good in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Togo but less favourable in Nigeria and Ghana following substantial flooding. Liberia and Sierra Leone remain heavily dependent on international food assistance despite some improvement in food production, notably in Liberia.

Harvesting of the 1999 paddy crop is almost complete in most of the countries in the sub-region, but, as was the case last year, farming activities in Sierra Leone and Liberia continue to suffer the effects of civil strife. Growing conditions in the sub-region were generally favourable despite a few isolated weather-related problems and, overall, paddy output is expected to increase slightly. In Nigeria, the largest producer in western Africa, the Government re-introduced a 25 percent subsidy on fertilizers it had abolished earlier as part of the Structural Adjustment Programme. The official estimate for the 1999 paddy output is about 3.4 million tonnes, up from 3.3 million tonnes the previous season. In Côte d'Ivoire, paddy output is forecast to increase by 25 percent to about 800 000 tonnes as favourable weather encouraged many farmers to expand area under rice cultivation.

Central Africa: Millet and sorghum have been harvested in Cameroon and Central African Republic. In the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Republic of Congo, civil strife, insecurity and population movements continue to hamper farming activities.

Eastern Africa: Harvesting of the 1999 wheat crop is complete in Kenya and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, production is estimated at some 2 million tonnes compared to the previous year's harvest of about 1.5 million tonnes. By contrast, in Kenya, production has declined by nearly 60 percent, to 135 000 tonnes, due to drought. In Sudan, the 2000 wheat crop, scheduled to be harvested from March, is forecast at 288 000 tonnes, about 70 percent above the 1999 poor harvest.

Harvesting of the 1999 main season coarse grains is completed in the sub-region. Secondary season crops are now being harvested, except in Ethiopia, where planting is expected to start shortly. In Eritrea, the coarse grains harvest is anticipated to decline from the record crop of 436 000 tonnes in 1998 due to reduced area. In Ethiopia, following drought during the season, the 1999/2000 main season coarse grain crop, accounting for some 90 percent of the annual production, is estimated to be below the 1998/99 harvest. In Kenya, output of the 1999 maize crop is preliminarily estimated at 2.1 million tonnes, nearly 15 percent below the 1998 harvest. The outlook for the secondary crop, being harvested, is also unfavorable due to drought conditions. Production of coarse grains in Somalia is estimated at 205 000 tonnes, about 5 percent above 1998 but nearly 30 percent below the average for the previous five years. In Sudan production declined by about 35 percent compared to the previous year to about 3.61 million tonnes. In Uganda, the main coarse grains harvest was below average at 1.63 million tonnes, but the outlook for the secondary season crop, being harvested, is favourable reflecting good rains. In Tanzania, the coarse grains harvest, estimated at 3.41 million tonnes, is about 4 percent below the previous year, but is about average. Prospects for secondary season crops, being harvested, are uncertain despite recent beneficial rains.

In Rwanda, the 2000 first season coarse grain output is estimated to be average despite drought-reduced crops in southern and eastern parts. By contrast, in Burundi, the harvest of the first season coarse grains is estimated a 74 000 tonnes, a decline of 13 percent from the reduced level of the previous year.

Planting of the 2000 paddy crop in Tanzania, the major rice producing country in the sub-region, has been completed but the beginning of the season was characterized with below normal rainfall, resulting in moisture stress to the early-planted crops. For the 1999 season, paddy output is estimated at about 800 000 tonnes, down by 20 percent from the previous year. In addition to erratic rains, reduced use of fertilizers contributed to the fall in yields.

Southern Africa: FAO's latest estimate of the sub-regions aggregate 1999 wheat crop is 2 million tonnes, a decline of 9 percent from the already reduced production in the previous year. In South Africa, which accounts for three-quarters of the sub-region's production, the 1999 wheat output declined to 1.5 million tonnes, which is 38 percent below the 1997 level. This reflects diversion of land to more profitable crops, but also reduced yields due to adverse heavy rains during the growing season. The excessive precipitation also negatively affected the quality of the crop is some areas. By contrast, in Zimbabwe, wheat output increased by 20 percent to 325 000 tonnes as a result of increased plantings and favourable weather. In Zambia, the 1999 wheat output estimate has been revised downward to 90 000 tonnes, but at this level is still 27 percent up from the previous year and a record level.

Early prospects for the 2000 coarse grain crops have improved reflecting abundant rains in the first half of January, after earlier dry conditions. Latest estimates of the sub-region's 1999 coarse grain crop stand at 15.7 million tonnes, 5 percent higher than in 1998 but still below average. The outcome varied from country to country. Production increased to above average levels in Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland. In Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the outputs recovered from the reduced levels of 1998 but remained below the average of the past five years. By contrast, production declined in South Africa and Angola.

The 2000 paddy season is well advanced in southern Africa and harvesting is expected to commence in March. The 1999 paddy season turned out a lot better than originally expected and output in Madagascar, which accounts for over 90 percent of the sub-region's rice production, is estimated at about 2.6 million tonnes, up 8 percent from the previous year's level. Abundant rains during the growing season, together with the absence of pests and cyclones, were beneficial to the rice crop. In Mozambique, paddy output for the 1999 season is estimated at 214 000 tonnes compared to last year's 192 000 tonnes, a consequence of favourable growing conditions and a slight expansion in area.

Central America and the Caribbean

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 wheat crop is about to start in Mexico, virtually the sole producer in the sub-region. Early forecasts indicate that output should remain close to the 1998/99 below-normal level of 3.2 million tonnes. This is largely the result of the preceding long dry spell which reduced water reservoir levels in the irrigated main growing areas of the north-west, coupled with the adverse weather which affected certain planted areas in the central states of Guanajato and Jalisco.

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 second season coarse grain and bean crops has been virtually completed in the sub-region despite delays in planting incurred by the heavy rains which affected Central America countries in September/October last year. Despite losses incurred, average to above-average outputs are provisionally estimated for the overall 1999/2000 crops in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. This represents, particularly for the latter two countries, a significant recovery from 1998/99 Hurricane "Mitch" affected crops. In Honduras, by contrast, a below-average output is expected mainly as a consequence of reduced plantings for the first season crop in response to low producer prices. In Nicaragua, where the third 1999/2000 season or "apante" crop is underway, overall production for the year is anticipated to be above-average, and sharply up from the 1998/999 crop, which was reduced by the adverse effects of Hurricane "Mitch". In Mexico, harvesting of the important spring/summer maize crop has been completed and output is tentatively estimated to be slightly lower than average as a consequence of the recent heavy rains and flooding which struck the large producing central and southern growing belts. However, output for the whole country for the year should remain near average due to increased production in other growing areas. In the Caribbean, weather conditions in the late 1999 continued to favour the developing cereal and other minor food crops in Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti, and average outputs are forecast in 1999/2000.

South America

In Argentina, harvesting of the 1999/2000 wheat crop is somewhat delayed because of irregular adverse weather in some major producing areas. Output is now forecast at some 14 million tonnes, sharply up from the previous year's below-average crop. In Brazil, harvesting has recently been completed in the main producing southern states and output is provisionally estimated to be slightly above-average. In Paraguay and Uruguay, average and above-average crops have been gathered respectively. In Chile, harvesting of the wheat crop started in December and continues through March. Production is tentatively forecast to increase significantly from last year, when the crop was severely affected by drought. In the Andean countries, harvesting of the 2000 first season wheat crop, mostly in the eastern Department of Santa Cruz, is due to start from March. The area planted is tentatively estimated to be slightly above average.

In Argentina, planting of the 2000 coarse grain crops, principally maize, has been recently completed and harvesting is due to start from March. The area planted in the main producing regions is provisionally estimated to be some 10 percent above last year's. Early forecast points to an output of some 15 million tonnes, up from 13.2 million tonnes in 1999. In Brazil, some light to moderate rains at the beginning of the year favoured the developing maize crop for harvesting from February. However, moisture is still needed in the key producing areas of the south, such as in the states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul. The overall area planted to maize is officially estimated to be some 1.8 percent below last year's average level, but output could nevertheless be near average provided normal rains resume. In Paraguay and Uruguay, harvesting of the 2000 maize crop is about to start and outputs in both countries are provisionally forecast to be close to last year's average levels. In Chile, harvesting of the maize crop is due to start from March and production is anticipated to increase from last year when the crop was significantly affected by drought. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, normal to abundant rains in December have favoured the recently planted 2000 maize crop. In Colombia, heavy rains and flooding all over the country in the last days of December have caused serious loss of lives and significant damage to housing and infrastructure. Damage to crops, particularly coffee, is also reported. In Venezuela, incessant torrential rains from the beginning of December resulted in extremely serious flooding, landslides and mudslides. It is reported that about 30 000 people have been killed and more than 600 000 persons directly affected, principally along a stretch of Caribbean coast north of the capital of Caracas. The damage to housing and infrastructure is enormous, particularly in the state of Vargas. Serious damage to the agricultural sector is also reported.

Planting of the 2000 paddy crop is virtually complete in the region and the crop development is reported to be satisfactory reflecting generally favourable growing conditions. Harvesting of the crop is expected to start from the end of February. In Brazil, the region's largest rice producer, the area under rice is estimated to have declined by 4 percent to about 3.6 million hectares, as a result of the relatively low producer prices during the 1999 season. Consequently, paddy output in 2000 is forecast to decline by 5 percent to 11 million tonnes. In Argentina, the 1999 paddy output is officially estimated at a record 1.7 million tonnes, or 70 percent above 1998. For 2000, the area sown to rice is estimated to have fallen by 27 percent to about 210 000 hectares, as poor returns to producers in 1999 encouraged a switch of land from rice to soybeans. By contrast, the rice area in Chile is estimated to have increased by 35 percent from 1999 to about 20 000 hectares due to an improvement in water supplies and higher producer prices.

North America

In the United States, the final official estimate of the 1999 wheat crop is 62.7 million tonnes, 9.5 percent down from 1998 and below the average of the past five years. The decrease mostly reflects reduced plantings and a lower ratio of harvested to planted land than in the previous year. The winter wheat area for the 2000 crop has declined for the fourth year in succession, by 1 percent, to an estimated 17.4 million hectares. Farmers are reported to have responded to continuing low price prospects for wheat at planting time last autumn. While it is expected that some of the unused wheat area will be planted with feed grains or non-cereal crops this spring, some will likely remain fallow, especially in the drier areas of the Southern Great Plains. Regarding growing conditions for the winter wheat, dry weather during the autumn of 1999 delayed emergence and affected the crop in several parts of the Great Plains as it entered the winter season. According to the last official Crop Progress report of the 1999 season in late November, overall, only 43 percent of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent, 29 percentage points below the ratings at the same time in 1998. Since then, continuing dry conditions throughout most of the Great Plains have largely precluded any improvement in crops conditions, and in some cases a deterioration has been noted. In Canada, latest estimates put the 1999 wheat crop at some 26.8 million tonnes, 11 percent up from the previous year and above the average of the past five years. Regarding the 2000 wheat crop, the bulk of which will be sown in the spring, latest official forecasts point to a possible increase in area at the expense of canola and flaxseed because of their relatively lower prices.

The final estimate of the United States 1999 coarse grains crop is 264 million tonnes, about 3 percent down from the previous year's crop but still above the average of the past five years. Of the total, maize is estimated to account for about 240 million tonnes. In Canada, aggregate output of coarse grains in 1999 is estimated at 26.9 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from the previous year and above average.

In the United States, harvesting of the 1999 paddy crop is complete in all states. Although the production estimate has been revised downwards by 100 000 tonnes from the previous report to 9.5 million tonnes, the output is still an all-time high and about 12 percent more than last year. In addition to the 7 percent expansion in area, favourable growing conditions boosted yields by 3 percent to about 6.6 tonnes per hectare.


FAO's latest estimates for the region's aggregate 1999 cereal output remain at nearly 382 million tonnes, about 3 percent down from the previous year. Output of wheat is estimated at some 176 million tonnes, 6 percent less than in 1998. The decline was largely a result of reduced area in the EC due to increased set-aside requirements and adverse weather. Wheat output also fell in several eastern European countries. The latest estimate of the region's coarse grains output remains virtually unchanged at about 202 million tonnes, while paddy production is estimated at 3.1 million tonnes.

In the EC, the wheat area for the 2000 harvest is expected to increase. Autumn planting conditions were generally favourable and the winter wheat area is estimated to be up by about 5 percent, mostly at the expense of oilseeds, reflecting large oilseeds stocks and reduced producer aid for oilseed production in 2000 under the first year of the Agenda 2000 reform. Among the major producers, the overall wheat area in France is expected to rise by some 2 percent, while that in Germany could be up by as much as 10 percent. The wheat area in the United Kingdom is also anticipated to increase somewhat. The 1999 paddy season in the EC has been concluded and output is estimated to be close to last year's official estimate of about 2.6 million tonnes. A slight decline in area was compensated for by an improvement in yields. In Italy, which accounts for over 50 percent of EC rice production, there was an area switch from Japonica rice to Indica rice. In Portugal, rice area contracted by about 8 percent from 1998 resulting in a 2 percent drop in paddy output to 159 000 tonnes.

Elsewhere in Europe, early indications also point to an overall increase in wheat area, mostly reflecting better weather during the planting season than in the previous year. In Bulgaria, the winter wheat area is estimated at 1.1 million hectares, up almost 20 percent from the previous year. Also in Croatia, a favourable planting season points to a substantial increase in the wheat area for the 2000 harvest. In the Czech Republic, the overall winter cereal is officially estimated to have expanded by some 9 percent, with wheat accounting for the bulk of the increase. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, (Serbia and Montenegro), the 1999 cereal harvest is now estimated at 10 million tonnes, some 1.3 million tonnes more than in 1998. The wheat harvest fell by 30 percent to 2.1 million tonnes, while coarse grain production recovered strongly to reach 8.0 million tonnes (1998: 5.7 million tonnes) despite disruptions caused by the war and shortages of fuel and spare parts. The area sown for the 2000 wheat crop has increased somewhat to 730 000 hectares but remains below average. An FAO Crop Assessment Mission visited the Kosovo Province in early January and estimated the winter wheat area to be 79 000 hectares, 36 percent more than the area planted in 1998 but about 10 percent less than the normal area before the civil disturbances of the past two years.

In Hungary, favourable weather also promoted increased wheat planting and the area is tentatively estimated at about 1 million hectares, about 35 percent up from the previous year's reduced level. In Poland, by contrast to other parts of the region, winter cereal sowings are officially reported to be down by 4 percent to 5.1 million hectares. In Romania, early indications suggest that the winter wheat area has declined again due to farmers financial difficulties and the depressed domestic grain market. In the Slovak Republic, favourable weather conditions for the winter cereal planting season point to a recovery in cereal output in 2000 after last year's reduced crop.

In the Baltic countries, the latest estimate of the 1999 grain harvest remains at only 3.7 million tonnes, sharply less than in 1998. The aggregate area sown to wheat fell by 16 percent, wheat output is estimated at 1.2 million tonnes (1998: 1.6 million tonnes). Output fell in all three countries, but the reduction is most marked in Lithuania where the 1999 grain harvest amounted to only 2.1 million tonnes (1998:2.7 million tonnes).

In the CIS countries west of the Ural Mountains, the early outlook for winter grains (mainly wheat and rye but also some barley) to be harvested in the summer of 2000 is mixed. In the Russian Federation, the area sown declined marginally, but growing conditions have been good. In the Ukraine, however, crop establishment was hindered by late plantings and dry weather and only about 70 percent of the crop is in satisfactory to good condition. Replanting could be necessary on 1 million of the roughly 7 million hectares sown. Coupled with inadequate use of agro-chemicals, another poor winter harvest may be in prospect.

Economic difficulties which resulted in reduced planting and input availability, coupled with adverse weather conditions, particularly in the Ukraine, but also in Belarus and Moldova, have resulted in a 1999 cereal and pulse harvest which is only marginally larger than the poor harvest of 1998. FAO estimates the aggregate output of cereals and pulses in Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine at 92.8 million tonnes, only 2.4.million tonnes more than estimated output in 1998. Aggregate production of wheat in these four countries remained stable 48.8 million tonnes, with better yields in the Russian Federation (1999: 32.4 million tonnes versus 1998: 30 million tonnes) offsetting lower harvests in Belarus, Moldova and the Ukraine (1999: 15 million tonnes versus 1998: 17 million tonnes). The aggregate production of coarse grains is estimated at 41.3 million tonnes, some 2.5 million tonnes more than in 1998. In Belarus, economic problems and adverse weather resulted in a record low harvest of 3.7 million tonnes. In Moldova, the 1999 aggregate grain harvest is estimated at 2.1 million tonnes (1998: 2.5 million tonnes); output of wheat is officially put at only 800 000 tonnes (1998: 1 million tonnes); while the coarse grain output production only reached 1.2 million tonnes (1998: 1.4 million tonnes). In the Russian Federation, FAO estimates the aggregate output of grains at 60 million tonnes, some 6 million tonnes more than in 1998, but still well below average. FAO's estimate is 10 percent higher than the official estimate (54.3 million tonnes) reflecting official and unofficial statements indicating that the harvest is underestimated. Better average yields have offset the reduction in the area sown to grains and output of coarse grains increased by 3.7 million tonnes to 26.9 million tonnes. In Ukraine, poor weather combined with inadequate production inputs and poor policies have resulted in a drop of 2 million tonnes in grain output. The 1999 grain harvest is estimated by FAO at 27 million tonnes, higher than the official forecast of 24.3 million tonnes in view of policies and practices that encourage retaining grain on farm. Output of coarse grains remained unchanged at 11.3 million tonnes, while that of wheat fell.


In Australia, the recently completed 1999 winter wheat harvest is officially estimated at a bumper 22.8 million tonnes, 8 percent up from the previous year and well above the average of the past five years. The winter coarse grain crops (mostly barley and oats) also benefited from favourable growing condition during the season but reflecting smaller plantings of barley, output is down somewhat from the previous year. Thus despite good 1999 summer coarse grain crops of sorghum and maize, aggregate coarse grains production in 1999 is now estimated at 8.4 million tonnes, compared to 8.9 million tonnes in 1998. In Australia, the 2000 paddy season is well advanced and, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, output is forecast to contract by 7 percent from the previous season to 1.3 million tonnes due to smaller area. Harvesting is expected to begin late February/early March.

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