Planting of the main 2000 wheat and coarse grains crops is due to start in May. Weather conditions so far are reported to have been very favourable, with the widespread rains in March already ensuring good soil moisture availabilities for crop emergence and growth in the season to come. However, early official forecasts indicate a decline in wheat production to about 22.7 million tonnes after the 1999 record crop, now estimated at just over 24 million tonnes. The forecast is based on expected plantings of 11.8 million hectares, just marginally down from 11.95 million hectares in the previous year, and an assumption of average seasonal weather conditions overall, giving an average yield of about 1.9 tonnes/hectare (2.01 tonnes/hectare in 1999). Regarding barley, the major winter coarse grain crop, early forecasts point to a sharp increase in production from 4.3 million tonnes in 1999 to 5.3 million tonnes in response to relatively better price prospects compared to other crops. Harvest of the minor 1999 summer coarse grains crop, mainly sorghum and maize, is underway. Output of sorghum is forecast at about 1.3 million tonnes compared to 1.7 million tonnes in 1999, reflecting reduced plantings. Harvesting of the 2000 paddy crop is in progress. Output is officially forecast to contract by over 20 percent from the previous season to about 1.1 million tonnes. This is largely attributed to a decline in area planted as concerns about the availability of irrigation water induced a shift out of rice cultivation.