Based on the current production outlook in 2000, world cereal stocks would have to be reduced in order to meet the expected global utilization in 2000/01. By the end of countries' marketing seasons in 2001, the level of global cereal stocks could be around 321 million tonnes, which would be some 10 million tonnes, or 3 percent, below the already reduced opening level. Total wheat inventories could decline by 4 million tonnes, to 129 million tonnes, followed by rice stocks, which could also decrease by around 4 million tonnes, to 56 million tonnes. The decline in coarse grain stocks is expected to be around 2 million tonnes, to 136 million tonnes.
The possible drawdown in world cereal stocks in 2001 would cause next season's stock-to-use ratio1/ to decline to 16.6 percent, which is slightly below the 17-18 percent range that FAO considers as the minimum necessary to safeguard world food security. However, one emerging feature in the coming season is that the bulk of the expected decline in world cereal stocks is likely to be concentrated in a handful of countries. The largest decrease, about 11 million tonnes, is likely to occur in China alone, given the reduced production prospects in that country. Despite this sharp decline, however, supplies in China could remain relatively ample, permitting the country to continue with large exports of maize and rice. Another important aspect is that cereal stocks held by the major exporting countries are expected to remain virtually unchanged. In fact, the major exporters' share could increase slightly to 46 percent, well above the average in the 1990s. Because those stocks provide the main safeguard in the event of any unexpected emergencies, their continuing abundance is positive in view of the likely tighter world cereal balance.
|Crop year ending in:|
|1999||2000 estimate||2001 forecast|
|(. . . . million tonnes . . . .)|
For coarse grains, total inventories by the end of the crop years ending in 2000 are put at 138 million tonnes, down almost 11 million tonnes, or 7 percent, from the previous year but unchanged from the last report. A good portion (some 5 million tonnes) of the estimated decline in world coarse grain stocks reflect reduced inventories (mostly barley) in the EC because of the combined impact of lower production in 1999 and larger exports. Higher maize exports from China are also responsible for a reduction of at least 2 million tonnes in that country's ending stocks.
The forecast for world rice stocks at the end of the marketing seasons in the year 2000 has been revised upward by 1 million tonnes from the level reported previously to about 60 million tonnes, some 3 million tonnes more than their opening levels and the highest in 6 years. The change mostly reflects an increase in India's closing stocks following an upward adjustment in the country's 1999/2000 production estimate. For the world as a whole, bumper harvests in many of the major rice producing countries during the 1999/2000 season are expected to lead to total supplies outweighing utilization, resulting in a stock build-up in the major exporting countries.