EC (10 February)
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. The increase is mostly at the expense of oilseeds, reflecting large oilseed 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. With regard to the Community’s coarse grains crops in 2000, early indications point to some reduction of the area given to barley and rye but a slight increase for maize.
ALBANIA (11 February)
Generally favourable weather conditions for autumn cereal planting suggest some recovery in cereal production could be possible in 2000 after adverse weather during both the previous autumn and spring planting periods reduced overall cereal area and output in 1999. However, production potential remains limited by an absence of credit which is the major constraint on the increased use of fertilizer and other inputs.
Food assistance continues to be provided by WFP for some 60 000 persons rendered vulnerable by the Balkan crisis. WFP, in collaboration with its local Implementing Partners, has begun three Food–for–Work (FFW) initiatives while continuing distributions to targeted economically impoverished individuals adversely impacted by the refugee crisis.
BELARUS (3 February)
Official reports indicate that the area sown to winter grains is above target at 1.155 million hectares. That sown to wheat increased by 4 percent to 240 000 hectares. Winter grains are reported to be in a satisfactory condition and more fertilizer has been applied. The government hopes that increased use of fertilizer and better weather conditions will result in grain harvest of at least 5 million tonnes in 2000. Official procurement prices for meat and milk are to be increased sharply in January/February, to enable farms to finance spring sowing.
The 1999 grain harvest is officially estimated at 3.7 million tonnes, almost 40 percent below the five-year average, and 25 percent less than the poor harvest of 1998. This record low output is the combined result of severe economic problems and adverse weather. Production could also be under-reported given the degree of market interference exercised by the government and the consequent shortages of most items in the official distribution chain. Output in agriculture has fallen sharply since 1997 in part due to the poor financial situation of the largely unreformed state farms. Extensive government credits and subsidies coupled with fixed, state controlled prices for output in a climate of rapid inflation has severely undermined farms' financial situation.
Following the second poor cereal harvest in succession, the country needs to import cereals for human consumption and animal feed. Food needs are likely to be met but the availability of foreign exchange constraints could limit the volume of feedgrain purchased. Aggregate cereal imports in 1999/2000 are tentatively estimated to increase by 500 000 tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes. On 1 January 2000, the Belarus rouble was redenominated with one new rouble replacing 1000 old Belarussian roubles.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (1 February)
The area sown to winter crops has stabilized at about 100 000 hectares, mainly wheat. The early outlook for 2000 winter crops is satisfactory. Latest indications are that the 1999 cereal harvest, at 1.1 million tonnes was about 4 percent less than in the preceding year, mainly due to adverse weather and lower wheat yields. The economy has been negatively affected by civil unrest in the region but indications are that the crop and overall food supply situation have not been unduly disrupted.
BULGARIA (11 February)
In Bulgaria, the winter wheat area is estimated at 1.1 million hectares, up almost 20 percent from the previous year, and up slightly from the planned area of 1 million hectares. Weather during the sowing period and throughout the winter so far is reported to have been generally favourable.
CROATIA (2 February)
Indications are that the area sown to winter cereals increased following the poor harvest last year. However, economic problems will continue to hinder cereal production. The 1999 cereal harvest fell by 12 percent to 2.8 million tonnes. Good yields for maize only partially offset the 46 percent fall in wheat production to 470 000 tonnes. Economic problems, which reduced winter grain plantings, were exacerbated by poor weather.
Overall, the cereal supply situation in 1999/2000 is likely to remain satisfactory, as there are substantial wheat stocks. Even with the reduced 1999 crop, farmers are experiencing difficulties obtaining payment for sales to millers and processors.
CZECH REPUBLIC (11 February)
The winter cereal area for harvest in 2000 is officially estimated to have increased, by about 15 percent, to some 1.1 million hectares. Of the total, the wheat area increased the most, expanding by about 23 percent from the previous year to over 900 000 hectares.
ESTONIA (4 February)
Indications are that the area sown to winter grains remained stable and the early outlook for winter cereals for harvest in 2000 is satisfactory. Cereal production in 1999 is officially estimated at 625 000 tonnes, some 10 percent less than output in 1998 in view of reduction in the area sown. In 1999/2000, cereal imports are forecast at nearly 200 000 tonnes.
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (11 February)
At this early stage, no significant change is expected in cereal production in 2000. Weather conditions for the winter crops are reported to have been generally favourable. Aggregate output is estimated to have reached some 750 000 tonnes in 1999 when the season was generally favourable. The major constraint on production continues to be access to credit for inputs, especially for the full-time farmers who have no secondary income sources.
A residual caseload of approximately 15 000 registered Kosovo refugees remain within the country. Approximately 12 000 of this residual caseload are currently being hosted by host families with the remainder being housed in collective centres. WFP is distributing the full basic ration to all registered refugees.
HUNGARY (6 February)
Favourable weather is reported to have promoted increased wheat planting last autumn and the area is tentatively estimated at about 1 million hectares, about 35 percent up from the previous year’s reduced level. However, heavy flooding in January is reported to have affected several thousand hectares of winter crops which will likely have an significant impact on the yield potential of these crops.
LATVIA (4 February)
The early outlook for winter grains remains satisfactory. Given higher cereal prices in neighbouring countries, the area sown to winter grains could recover. The 1999 grain harvest is estimated to fall by 5 percent to 925 000 tonnes in response to an 11 percent reduction in the area sown. Private trade in grain is not encouraged and farmers feed grain on farm or sell to mills. Imports of cereals are limited to about 70 000 tonnes per annum, mainly of bread quality wheat.
LITHUANIA (4 February)
Indications are that the area sown to winter cereals could recover this year. Growing conditions to date have been satisfactory. The 1999 grain harvest is estimated to have fallen by almost 25 percent to 2.1 million tonnes in response to a cutback in the area sown and lower yields. Despite the lower harvest, the overall food supply situation is likely to remain satisfactory in view of the substantial carry-forward stocks of cereals.
MOLDOVA (4 February)
The outlook for 2000 winter crops is uncertain. Dry conditions likely hampered winter crop establishment and a significant proportion of the area may need to be resown in the spring.
The aggregate 1999 grain harvest is anticipated to fall to 2.1 million tonnes, (from 2.5 million tonnes in 1998) in response to an 11 percent reduction in the area sown to wheat and dry conditions, which affected spring grains. In the absence of exports, this year's reduced harvest would be almost adequate to meet domestic food needs and significant commercial imports of cereals are not expected in the 1999/2000 marketing year (July/June). However, government purchases of bread grains are proceeding slowly and there are reports of substantial, but unrecorded, exports.
POLAND (11 February)
In Poland, by contrast to other parts of the region, overall winter cereal sowings are officially reported to be down by 4 percent to 5.1 million hectares. Preliminary official estimates put the winter wheat area at about 1.8 million hectares, and that of rye at 2.2 million hectares.
ROMANIA (11 February)
In Romania, early indications suggest that the winter wheat area has declined again due to farmers financial difficulties and the depressed domestic grain market. By the end of the normal planting period last autumn, the winter wheat area was reported at just 1 million hectares while that of barley was put at about 200 000 hectares. After a reduced harvest already in 1999, there is currently some concern that wheat supplies in the country will tighten somewhat before the start of the 2000 harvest this summer. If output from the 2000 harvest is further reduced then significant imports could be required in 2000/01.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION (15 February)
The early outlook for the winter grains in 2000 is satisfactory. The area sown to winter crops (13.9 million hectares) includes some 12.6 million hectares sown to grains. This is below target, and some 600 000 hectares less than in the preceding year, but the condition of the crop is significantly better. The proportion of winter grain area in total grain area is increasing steadily as the latter declines but, nevertheless, it accounted for less than 30 percent in 1999. The outlook for the overall harvest indicates that only 60 percent of the area to be planted in the spring has been ploughed, increasing spring farm work. Some seed shortages are also reported. On the positive side, the sector as a whole worked at a profit for the first time in 4 years, with a profit of 6 billion roubles comparing favourably with the loss of 36 billion roubles in 1998. In part, this reflects increased demand for domestic food produce, following sharp rouble devaluation in 1998, which made imported food more expensive. The government hopes that the 2000 grain harvest will reach 75 million tonnes, i.e. 15- 20 million tonnes more than the official estimate (54.7 million tonnes) for 1999, and enough to cover domestic requirements and replenish stocks somewhat.
FAO estimates the 1999 grain harvest at 60 million tonnes, some 5 million tonnes more than the drought reduced output of 1998, but still below average. FAO's estimate is higher than the official estimate reflecting official and unofficial statements that the harvest has been underestimated by at least 5 million tonnes and possibly by up to 15-20 percent. Output of wheat is now estimated by FAO at 34 million tonnes, 4 million tonnes more than in 1998. However, the proportion of food quality wheat, at 62 percent, was lower than in 1998 (76 percent). Coarse grain production is estimated by FAO to have increased by 2.5 million tonnes to 24.6 million tonnes, while production of rice increased by 6 percent to 444 000 tonnes. The pulse harvest is estimated at about 1 million tonnes.
Despite the somewhat larger harvest, the overall supply situation remains tight and there is no scope to rebuild stocks drawn down in 1998/99. At the aggregate level, human consumption needs are expected to be covered, but the availability of livestock feed is likely to remain constrained pointing to a further reduction in livestock numbers and output. Restrictions on the movement of grain by regional authorities are aggravating the supply situation. Cereal prices, which remained stable until the beginning of this year, are also rising in response to a 15 percent increase in the cost of rail transport of grain from Kazakhstan, a major supplier.
Total cereal utilization in 1999/2000 is estimated to decline by 3 million tonnes to 71 million tonnes, including 21 million tonnes for direct food use, 0.5 million tonnes for export to neighbouring republics, and the balance for seed, feed, losses, industrial processing and (minimum) closing stocks. Against this requirement, domestic availability of cereals (production and stocks) is estimated at 65 million tonnes, leaving a minimum import requirement of 6 million tonnes. Food aid pledges in the 1999/2000 marketing year to date have been limited to 300 000 tonnes of wheat (plus another 200 000 tonnes of wheat and processed commodities for targeted distribution). In addition, the adjusted food aid pledges carried forward from 1998/99 amount to 2.8 million tonnes, leaving a balance of just under 3 million tonnes to be covered by commercial imports. A larger volume of cereal was imported commercially in 1996/97 and 1997/98. The commercial import capacity has improved since the financial meltdown in August 1998 and the country has a substantial balance of trade surplus.
The plight of many of the 300 000 or so people displaced in Chechnya or in neighbouring countries continues to deteriorate and is desperate for those living in refugee camps. Many are short of adequate shelter, food, clothing, heating and medical supplies. Bitterly cold winter conditions in the mountains and poor shelter is leading to disease. The government of Ingushetia, a small country of 300 000 inhabitants, which is hosting around 200 000 refugees, has requested international assistance to feed and shelter refugees. The difficult security situation is impeding the transport and distribution of assistance.
The food security of the civilian population trapped in Chechnya and particularly in the capital, Grozny, is rapidly deteriorating and the outlook for winter grain and fodder crops is bleak. Reports indicate that only a small fraction of the arable area is either sown to winter crops or ploughed. The situation in agriculture is critical, with severe damage inflicted to the livestock and grape growing industry.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC (11 February)
In the Slovak Republic, favourable weather conditions for the winter cereal planting season point to a recovery in winter cereal plantings and output in 2000 after last year’s reduced crop. SLOVENIA (11 February)
Early indications point to a recovery in cereal output in 2000 from last year’s harvest which was reduced by adverse weather. This season’s winter grain planting is reported to have been completed within the optimal time period and weather conditions for crop establishment were favourable.
THE UKRAINE (4 February)
The area sown to winter crops in the public sector reached 7.3 million hectares, marginally less than in the preceding year. However, crop establishment was hindered by late sowing and dry soils and up to 1.5 million hectares of the 7 million hectares sown to winter cereals may need to be replanted in the spring. This is twice the area affected by winterkill for the 1999 harvest and will adversely affect the harvest outcome. Heavy snowfall in January helped replenish moisture reserves. Early Indications are that spring plantings could increase somewhat.
The aggregate 1999 grain harvest is estimated by FAO at 27 million tonnes, some 2 million tonnes less than last years' poor 29 million tonnes. This poor result is mainly due to hot and dry conditions in June and July, which exacerbated the effects of economic difficulties, shortages of inputs, heavy weed infestation and untimely frosts in May. Output of wheat is estimated by FAO at 15 million tonnes, about 2 million tonnes less than last year, and that of coarse grains at 11.3 million tonnes compared to 11.4 million tonnes in the preceding year. Many regions placed controls to the free movement of grain and efforts by the government and regional authorities to recover debts owed by farms have resulted in understatement in actual yields. The validity of this year's harvest estimates may also have been affected by persistent rumours of hryvnia devaluation after the elections and well- publicized moves by the government to regulate grain exports. For these reasons, FAO's estimate is about 10 percent higher than the official estimates (24.4 million tonnes, including 13.5 million tonnes of wheat and 10.2 million tonnes of coarse grains).
Following the second poor harvest in succession and large exports (5.8 million tonnes in 1998/99 and of 2.7 million tonnes between in the first half of the current marketing year), some grain deficit areas in the country may need to import cereals. To ensure the availability of an adequate quantity of wheat, the government has passed a law waiving the import duty on up to 1.5 million tonnes of cereals provided they are imported before 1 September 2000. Imports are to be financed from regional resources. The presence of hidden stocks of cereals and financial considerations are likely to keep imports well below this level. Indications are that in 1999/2000 food needs will be covered but that the availability of animal feed will remain constrained. Despite the tight domestic situation, exports have continued, fuelled by rumours that the government intends to introduce a 30 percent export duty on cereals. (It has already imposed an export duty of 23 percent on sunflowerseed). FAO tentatively forecasts 1999/2000 cereal exports at 3.2 million tonnes, including 2.1 million tonnes of wheat.
YUGOSLAVIA, FED. REP. OF (SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO)* (3 February)
Shortages of inputs, working capital and delays in harvesting the 1999 crop have prevented the ambitious winter crop sowing target of 1.1 million hectares being met. Current indications are that the area sown to winter crops could remain close to last year's level of about 840 000 hectares. Latest reports indicate that 730 000 hectares, only 3 percent more than last year, have been sown to wheat, the major winter grain. Growing conditions to date have been mostly satisfactory but rapid inflation and the shortage of inputs are likely to keep yields low. Shortages of fuel and fertilizer, following the damage incurred during the conflict last year, have led to sharply higher prices for these commodities.
In 1999, a record maize harvest of 7.5 million tonnes offset the poor wheat harvest of only 2.1 million tonnes, and aggregate output is officially estimated at just over 10 million tonnes, about 14 percent above average. The country has an exportable surplus of up to 1 million tonnes of maize in 1999/2000.
The country is in a state of acute economic crisis in the wake of the conflict over Kosovo and several years of economic sanctions. There are 1.1 million refugees, internally displaced and economically and socially deprived people who require targeted food assistance through the winter. The food needs for these populations were included in the recent UN Consolidated Appeal for South East Europe. Against WFP's request for 188 000 tonnes of food aid, less than 30 000 tonnes have been pledged to date.
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.
WFP continues to provide food assistance for a caseload of about 600 000 persons in the Province and other organizations for about 400 000. During the spring and early summer (April- June) however, the number of people in need of food aid within Kosovo is likely to decrease as business and employment opportunities (both formal and informal) and household incomes improve. It is anticipated that most of the existing IDPs will return to their homes at the end of winter; those that do not return will be reclassified as short-term social cases as their primary need will be to access employment or other income generating opportunities. Depending upon the speed and scale of recovery of the non- agricultural sectors of the economy, an overall caseload reduction to a total of 620,000 beneficiaries is expected from April.