FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.3, June 2000

ASIA

AFGHANISTAN* (3 June)

A very serious food crisis has emerged in Afghanistan due to severe drought and continuing economic decline. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply assessment Mission which visited the country from 26 April to 24 May 2000 observed that rainfed crops (wheat and barley) had almost totally failed, except in a few pockets in different regions. Irrigated cereal production was also severely affected by drought, resulting in an estimated reduction of (irrigated) wheat production by some 33 percent compared to 1999. The production of secondary crops (rice, maize, barley) is also estimated to have declined by 53 percent compared to 1999 and 66 percent compared to 1998. Total cereal production in 2000 is estimated at 1.82 million tonnes - down by 44 percent compared to 1999 and by 53 percent compared to 1998. As a result, the cereal import requirement in the 2000/01 marketing year (July/June) is estimated at a record high level of 2.3 million tonnes, more than double last year's volume of 1.1 million tonnes. A generous estimate of commercial cereal imports of about 1 million tonnes, some 31 percent higher than the estimate for last year, leaves a huge gap of 1.3 million tonnes. WFP emergency food aid, in pipeline and under mobilisation, amounts to 225 000 tonnes, leaving an uncovered gap of over 1.0 million tonnes. A shortfall of this magnitude, if unmet, could have disastrous implications for the population.

Millions of Afghans of all categories - sedentary, transhumant and nomad - have little or no access to food through markets and their access to food through self production has been severely undermined by drought. Their purchasing power has been seriously eroded by the lack of employment opportunities within and outside agriculture, decline in cash crop production such as onions, potatoes, almonds, apricots and poppy (that provides employment for many even though for a short period of time) and the poor condition and high rates of mortality of livestock. The situation is likely to worsen in the coming months as the few remaining coping mechanisms are exhausted. In Afghanistan, rains normally start in October/November. Even if precipitation improves in the next season, wheat harvests will not be available until May/June 2001. However, if rains fail again the magnitude and dimensions of the needs for 'life saving' alone would be enormous. The Mission stressed that the positive move this year in terms of reduced acreage under poppy, as a result of the efforts of the international community backed by Afghan authorities and facilitated by the drought, may be reversed next year unless people get assistance to have access to food and to find viable alternative economic opportunities, which are becoming increasingly scarce.

ARMENIA* (5 June)

A Joint FAO and WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission in May found that the outlook for the 2000 grain harvest is good. The area sown to winter grains is officially estimated at about 100 000 hectares, mostly wheat. This is somewhat less than last year, reflecting diversion of land to more valuable crops, un-competititive yields and higher fuel prices. Good snowfall this winter minimised crop damage and helped replenish soil and irrigation water reserves after last year's dry conditions. Providing weather conditions remain favourable until the harvest, 2000 cereal output is officially forecast at 320 000 tonnes, somewhat more than last year (301 000 tonnes), despite lower spring grain plantings.

In 2000/01 cereal imports are estimated at 368 000 tonnes, including 350 000 tonnes of wheat. The bulk is expected to be commercial; humanitarian food aid needs, for targeted distribution and food for work programmes are estimated at 25 000 tonnes.

There is more food in the market than the population can purchase. Despite financial stability and economic growth, a large proportion of the population remains effectively under or unemployed and poor. Transport and access to markets remain a major obstacle to increasing agricultural production, employment and incomes. Without export markets, the country lacks adequate solvent markets for much of its agricultural production, as well as the economies of scale for investment in agro-processing and manufacturing. Solvent market opportunities are limited resulting in seasonal and/or localized surpluses of foodstuffs and low returns per hectare, limiting farmers' ability to invest in inputs to increase yields.

Income distribution is very uneven and living conditions precarious for many households. Purchasing power remains low and at times insufficient to cover the cost of the minimum consumption basket. In total, some 170 000 vulnerable people will be covered by WFP food assistance, including some 110 000 refugees and vulnerable persons being provided with relief food aid, while 60 000 will be reached through community based food-for-work activities, supporting economic and social development. The programme is planned for three years and will be reviewed annually.

AZERBAIJAN (3 June)

The early outlook for the 2000 grain harvest remains satisfactory. Spring grain planting has progressed satisfactorily. The area sown to winter crops (mainly wheat) increased compared to that sown for the 1999 harvest but remained well below the average up to 1997, in response to import competition from imported wheat and greater profitability from livestock, potato and vegetable production.

The outlook for significantly increasing cereal (mainly wheat) production in the short term is poor but, by contrast, livestock production is continuing to rise.

Provided FAO's projection of 2000 grain production (1.06 million tonnes) materializes, imports of cereals in the 2000/01 marketing year are estimated at 734 000 tonnes, close to the level of imports in the marketing year drawing to an end. The bulk of this will be covered commercially, though vulnerable groups, including the internally displaced, still need targeted food assistance. WFP continues to support 485 000 beneficiaries through a 3-year Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation which started in July 1999. Total food commodities committed for the life of the project amount to 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 (5 June)

In recent days, heavy rains, storms and flash floods resulted in a number of deaths and the loss of a large number of homes. The worst affected areas are reported to be around Magura, Jhenaidah, Bariasal and Shariatpur. Some 500 families have been evacuated from areas prone to further danger. Weather experts are predicting heavy rains this monsoon season, which may increase the incidence of flooding.

The main crop currently being planted is aus paddy the smallest of the country's three rice crops. Harvesting will be in August/September. Last year's aus crop was around 1.73 million tonnes, compared to a target of 1.8 million tonnes. Overall due to an increase in area planted, favourable weather and adequate input supplies, 1999/2000 rice production is put at a bumper 22 million tonnes some 2.4 million tonnes above the previous year and some 13 percent above the five year average for 1995-1999. In addition to the 1.73 million tonnes from the aus crop, aggregate production also comprised around 10.56 million tonnes from the main aman (monsoon) crop and 9.7 million tonnes from this year's irrigated boro crop. Due to a decline in area planted, by some 10 percent, the 2000 wheat crop is expected to decline to 1.8 million tonnes, around 100 000 tonnes lower than the 1999 bumper crop. Government cereal stocks of the end of April amounted to around 1.3 million tonnes, including 606 000 tonnes of rice and 707 000 tonnes of wheat.

CAMBODIA (12 June)

Serious incidences of the livestock diseases Black leg -Haemorrhagic septicaemia and foot and mouth diseases are reported from 15 provinces. Large numbers of animals are reported to have died as a result. The main agricultural activities include harvesting of dry season crops and planting transplanting of main wet season rice for harvesting from October/November onwards. Total 1999/2000 paddy production was a record estimated at a 4 million tonnes, some 500 000 tonnes or 14 percent above the previous year. Following bumper production and poor demand from neighbouring countries, which also had favourable dry season production this year, rice prices are reported to have fallen to a nine-year low. Most, around 83 percent, of paddy production is from the wet season crop, and the remainder from flood recession and dry season production. Rice also 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. Despite a satisfactory food supply situation overall, a sizeable section of the population remains vulnerable to food shortages, due to wide variation in grain production in surplus and deficit areas, poor marketing infrastructure and inadequate employment opportunities. In part some of these needs are being met through a WFP Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation, largely using local purchases of rice. In 2000, WFP will assist approximately 1.5 million beneficiaries in targeted food-insecure communes in 24 provinces, providing on average two months of basic food needs, primarily through food-for-work activities.

CHINA (12 June)

Despite some light relief recently from scattered rain showers in the north eastern plains, which benefited filling rainfed winter wheat, serious drought is again reported to have affected large wheat areas in main producing provinces. The drought is officially estimated to have affected around 12.7 million hectares of crops and created a temporary shortage of drinking water for several million people. In general continuous dry weather and strong winds since February, significantly reduced soil moisture levels affecting crops at critical stages of growth. Crop production was also affected by high irrigation cost in parts, which will affect overall prospects as an estimated 70 percent of the crop is irrigated to some extent. Spring wheat production, for harvest in late June/July, only accounts for a small proportion of aggregate output, with output this year likely to decline further due to a reduction in area planted and unattractive prices. In addition to drought crop production this year, was also affected by serious attack by locusts, which are reported to have damaged and destroyed almost a million hectares of farm land in Shandong, Henan, Hebei, Anhui, Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces. In addition a further 2 million hectares were affected in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the northwest China. The Government is mobilising large quantities of pesticides and man power to combat the attack. This year's locust outbreak is directly attributable to a warm winter and prolonged drought. Even though rainfall improved last week, many reservoirs remain dry and water tables are extremely low. In view of these problems, although final production will depend on the output of the spring wheat crop, current indications now put aggregate 2000 wheat production at 105 million tonnes, some 7 percent below last year and around 6 million tonnes below the five year average.

Planting of the early rice crop, the smallest of country's three rice crops, has been completed, though the area is reported to fallen by 6 percent. Planting of the intermediate crop is expected to be completed soon. Overall rice area in 2000/2001, is expected to contract by some 2 percent. Total 1999/2000 paddy production is put at 197.5 million tonnes, or 135.2 million tonnes in rice equivalent. Due mainly to a decrease in area planted of around 1.5 million hectares from last year, maize production in 2000-2001 is forecast to decline to around 118 million tonnes, compared to 124 million tonnes in 1999/2000.

CYPRUS (3 June)

The output of the 2000 wheat and barley crops, now being harvested, is estimated at 101 000 slightly below the average for the previous five years. Imports of wheat and barley in 2000/01 (May/April) are forecast at 500 000 tonnes slightly above last year.

EAST TIMOR (5 June)

The main maize and rice harvest this year was less affected by the disruption to the agriculture sector following last year's disturbances than had been envisaged in the months following the crisis. Although maize planting was later, compared to the optimum planting date, the delay itself did not seriously affect yields. Overall rainfall was also favourable during the 1999/2000 crop season. An FAO/WFP evaluation mission in April estimated maize and rice production for the 2000/01 (April/March) marketing year at around 94 600 and 30 500 tonnes (milled) respectively. Allowing for stocks and pipe line food aid pledges the overall (net) deficit, in relation to utilisation needs, was estimated 14 100 tonnes, part of which was expected to be covered by commercial/private imports and the rest by additional food aid pledges.

Latest reports by aid agencies indicate that, except for small pockets, the nutritional status of the population is satisfactory, with lower levels of malnutrition than would normally be expected among recently displaced persons. Partly this is attributed to a very successful seed distribution programme last year by humanitarian agencies, which allowed a large proportion of farmers to plant crops. Nonetheless vulnerable groups still continue to need food assistance. Current estimates indicate that some 161 000 of the 250 000 refugees who fled to West Timor last August have so far returned.

GEORGIA* (13 June)

The outlook for the 2000 grain crop remains satisfactory to date. Spring crop planting is underway. The target is to plant 535 000 hectares with spring crops but by end-April (latest data available) only 60 percent had been ploughed and 172 000 hectares sown. The area planted to winter crops (mainly wheat and barley) fell to 110 000 hectares, partly due to the sharp increase in the price of fuel during the planting period, but also as a result of area diversion to more profitable crops (sunflower, potatoes, vegetables and maize) and competition from imports. The grain production target in 2000 is 0.75-0.8 million tonnes.

The 1999 grain harvest is estimated by FAO at 800 000 tonnes, some 20 percent higher than in 1998. Production of potatoes, vegetables, sunflower seed and tea has also increased sharply in response to good weather but fruit/citrus production declined further in the absence of an effective marketing/processing system.

There is no shortage of food in rural or urban markets. Any shortfall in domestic production is offset by imports. In 1999/2000 and the coming marketing year, domestic cereal utilization is estimated to remain stable at around 1.3 million tonnes of cereals, including some 800 000 tonnes for human consumption, and aggregate cereal imports at 555 000 tonnes. The bulk is likely to be imported commercially.

Food constitutes a large proportion of household expenditures, and a considerable percentage of the population remains poor. Increasing malnutrition among children is being observed. In all, several hundred thousand people still need humanitarian assistance, including the 182 000 receiving assistance from the WFP under a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation. The PRRO is for a period of one year, terminating on 30 June 2000, with a total food commitment of 18 190 tonnes and a total WFP cost of about US$10 million. The WFP assistance under PRRO is comprised of two components - (i) protracted relief with free food distribution to the most vulnerable people and (ii) recovery through food for work. Another PRRO for a period of two years to start in July in under preparation.

INDIA (12 June)

Following serious drought and water shortages earlier in several states, the situation is being eased by the timely arrival of the monsoon rains in southern, eastern and south western parts. This also improved prospects for Kharif (summer) crops, with planting of oilseeds, coarse grains and groundnuts having commenced. Rice planting has also begun in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Overall, an increase in rice area compared to last years is being forecast. In normal years, the monsoon usually reaches the south western coast on 1 June, extending to the central and eastern areas before culminating in the north west. Some 80 percent of annual rainfall is received during the monsoon season. Rains should bring relief to the drought affected central western parts in the early part of July as the rains progresses north.

The government target for paddy production in 2000/2001 (Kharif and Rabi) has been set at 135 million tonnes, up 2 million tonnes on the previous year. Yields, however, could be affected by the recent removal of subsidies on fertilizer and reduced application rates. Overall 1999/2000 food grain production is likely to be similar to the 203 million tonnes (including pulses) harvested in 1998/99.

This year's drought affected some 50 million people, whilst thousands of cattle died in the western states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, the central state of Madhya Pradesh and the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. In addition, the shortage of water and animal feed have led to the loss of several thousand livestock in these states. In Gujarat, the worst drought in 100 years left more than half the 18 000 villages with serious water shortages, affecting an estimated 10 million people. In addition, the majority of reservoirs in the north and western parts become dry, whilst water levels in tubewells dropped considerably. As a result, there are now reports of sizeable out-migration of people and livestock from the worst affected areas. Due to a poor monsoon in 1999 in the state, both Kharif (monsoon) and Rabi (winter) crop production in the state are likely to fall by around 30 percent. The largest decrease in production will be in rainfed coarse grains, groundnuts and lentils, which are expected to decline by 50 percent or more. In Rajasthan cereal and oilseed production are expected to fall by 23 percent and 17 per cent respectively, whilst 26 of the total 32 districts are reported to be facing shortages of drinking water and food, as well as feed for cattle. In Madhya Pradesh, the problem appears to be comparatively less severe though 7 of the 45 districts, particularly those adjoining Rajasthan and Gujarat, have been affected. In Andhra Pradesh, 18 of the 23 districts have been affected, the worst being in Telengana and Rayalaseema regions. Border areas of Orissa state, have also been affected. The problem being exacerbated by the salination of agricultural areas caused by tidal waves following last year's devastating cyclone. As a result, there was no rabi crop this year and large numbers of the state's population continue to depend on food assistance provided by the Government.

From a national perspective, however, the drought is not expected to affect overall food production significantly as many of the areas affected were not in main grain producing areas. Despite the drought, the 2000/01 wheat crop, which is largely irrigated and was recently harvested, is currently estimated at around 70 million tonnes, similar to last year's record crop. This is mainly due to higher output in main producing states (Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh), where weather conditions were generally favourable, off-setting the decline in drought affected states. In addition, the overall food situation remains favourable in view of sizeable stocks following favourable harvests in recent years.

INDONESIA* (12 June)

On 4 June, a powerful earthquake and strong aftershocks struck the island of Sumatra, killing at least 100 people and injuring hundreds more. Relief operations are being impeded by damage to infrastructure, especially a cut in electricity supply. The initial quake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, with an epicentre 70 miles (112 km) from Bengkulu off the west coast of Sumatra. Official reports, however, indicate that the effect on commodities will not be high, as the affected area is not a main producer of plantation crops (coffee, rubber and palm oil).

Earlier, prolonged heavy rain over several days, resulted in floods after the main river in West Timor, the Benanain, over flowed. An estimated 160 people, many children, were killed, though the overall death rate could be higher as several villages still remain inaccessibly due to flood waters. Many of the victims were refugees from East Timor, some 250 000 of whom fled the civil disturbances and violence last August. In addition some 10 000 homes were also lost.

Elsewhere, dry weather eased earlier wet conditions and favoured harvesting of main season rice to be completed in June. Planting of second season rice and dry season maize will commence in late June and continue into July.

Paddy production this year is put at around 49 million tonnes of, which is about average for the last five years, but a million tonnes lower than 1999 and 2 million tonnes below target.

IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF (12 June)

Following a devastating drought last year, which saw wheat production fall by over 3 million tonnes, or around 25 percent, compared to the previous year, a recurrence of widespread drought this year again threatens crop production, though the impact on wheat is likely to be less pronounced than envisaged earlier. It is estimated that some 18 of the country's 28 provinces are affected, mostly in southern, eastern and central parts. Those hardest hit include Sistan-Baluchestan, Yazd, Fars, Kohkiluyeh Boyer-ahmad, Bushehr, Hormuzgan, Kerman and Khuzestan, in much of which agriculture is largely rainfed and where there are large numbers of livestock.

The impact of this year's drought is likely to be exacerbated by already low water reserves in dams and reservoirs, following the severe water shortage last year. Moreover, the effects of the drought may be worse than last year, which was already the worst rainfall year in 30 years, as official reports indicate that the amount of rainfall in the seven months to April was some 25 percent down on the same period in 1998/99. The country has been affected by drought in 13 of the last 25 years.

Consequently, latest prospects suggest that wheat production will decline to around 9 million tonnes, slightly above production in 1999. Wheat is normally planted in October/November and harvested in June/July. In addition to wheat, the outlook is also unfavourable for barley, currently being harvested, which is of considerable importance in livestock production on which large segments of the population depend. This, in turn, will have a serious impact on vulnerable groups, particularly in rural areas, who have limited alternative sources of income and incurred heavy losses last year. Already many villagers have begun panic selling of livestock and are reportedly leaving their homes.

In 1999/2000 the country was one of the largest importers of wheat in the world, with imports reaching almost 7 million tonnes, similar to record imports in 1996/97, which was also affected by drought. The absence of significant recovery in wheat production this year means that imports are likely to remain high, though below last year.

The Government has implemented a number of measures to counter the effects of drought, including direct assistance, amounting to US$183 million, to farmers. The country also requires international assistance in various areas, including, the provision of drinking water and in rehabilitation of the livestock and irrigation sectors.

IRAQ* (13 June)

Two consecutive years of severe drought and inadequate availability of essential agricultural inputs have severely affected the Iraqi agriculture. Reflecting a substantial reduction in plantings and yields, cereal production in 2000 is estimated to be substantially below the 1999 poor harvest. In the most affected centre/south areas, not only were the plantings reduced, but also some 75 percent of the cropped area under wheat and barley was heavily damaged and mostly used as grazing area for livestock. Cereal yields in 2000 were reduced to all time low levels. In northern Governorates, insufficient and erratic rainfall continued during much of 1999/2000 crop season, with only one-third of the normal rainfall received in parts.

Drought conditions also drastically reduced the water resources in rivers, dams, lakes and canals, some of which have virtually dried up. As a result, prospects are unfavourable for the upcoming irrigated summer crops. Shortage of imported feed, overgrazing, and inadequate veterinary services are the major constraints to the normal development of the livestock sector. Fish production has also decreased drastically. However, a positive and a notable progress has been made in the rehabilitation of the poultry sector since 1998, which has benefited from substantial Government interventions with funds generated from the oil-for-food deal. Production of chicken and eggs are expected to increase significantly this year compared to last year and 1998.

Cereal imports since 1997/98 under the oil-for-food deal has led to significant improvements in the food supply situation. However, per capita cereal food consumption in 2000/01 is estimated to decline from the 1997/98 level. Furthermore, problems of delays in the flow of food imports continue to be reported, leading to repeated cases of low levels of MOU commodity stocks. There is need to ensure urgent and timely delivery of imports under MOU contracts, including food items but also agricultural inputs, such as appropriate seeds for the next season, failing which a production recovery will not be achieved.

ISRAEL (3 June)

The outlook for the 2000 wheat crop, being harvested, is unfavourable due to drought that also affected several other countries in the region. In 1999, wheat output was estimated at 152 000 tonnes, about 3 percent above average.

Imports of cereals in 1999/2000 (July/June) are forecast at some 2.6 million tonnes, about 2 percent higher than last year.

JAPAN (5 June)

Planting of the main rice crop is underway for harvest in October/November. The Government has announced a 2.7 percent reduction in the support price of rice to 252 yen/kg, but no change in the land targeted for diversification. Since 1995, as part of the country rice area adjustment programme, area has declined by some 16 percent. As a consequence domestic (milled) rice production has declined from some 11 million tonnes in 1994 to an average of around 9 million tonnes in the last five years.

JORDAN (3 June)

Prospects for the 2000 wheat and barley crops, being harvested, are poor due to a prolonged drought that delayed sowing. This is in the wake of a severe drought in 1999 that also seriously affected cereal and horticultural crops, and resulted in a decline of 88 percent in aggregate wheat and barley output to only 15 000 tonnes. The livestock sector was also severely affected, with sheep farmers the hardest hit.

An Emergency Operation worth some US$4 million was jointly approved by FAO and WFP in July 1999 for food assistance to 180 000 affected people, for a period of eight months.

KAZAKHSTAN (9 June)

Spring grain planting is virtually completed; some 11 million hectares had been sown as of 5 June. Moisture conditions since the autumn for spring crop development has been satisfactory. It is hoped to expand the aggregate area sown to 12.3 million hectares (including 11.6 million hectares of spring grains), but the area harvested may not change significantly given normal weather and the shortages of harvesting machinery, cash and credit. Locusts continue to pose a potential threat to this year's harvest on up to 6 million hectares. Despite significant changes in the organisation of grain production and distribution in the past year, a return to normal weather conditions and the persistence of economic problems on farm, could result in a 2000 grain harvest less than the 14.3 million tonnes harvested in 1999. Some 20 large companies provide inputs and manage farm operations on about 6 million hectares in exchange for a proportion of the grain produced.

The country is forecast to export some 5.7 million tonnes of cereals in 1999/2000 mainly to other CIS countries. Official exports between 1July 1999 and March 2000 reached 4.8 million tonnes.

KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF* (12 June)

Harvesting of double crop wheat and barley and potatoes is ongoing and should be completed in the coming weeks, when planting of the main maize and rice crops will also commence. Reports from the country, however, indicate that agricultural areas have been affected by drought, with rivers and reservoirs drying up and rice planting delayed in many areas. Rainfall in some areas is reported to be 20 to 30 percent below normal, whilst temperatures are up significantly.

Double crop wheat and barley and potatoes have gained in importance in recent years. Overall, however, although 1998 and 1999 saw some recovery and stability in agricultural production, current production trends mean that the country can simply not produce sufficient food to meet needs. Even in the absence of major natural hazards, therefore, domestic food production remains well below minimum needs due to serious lack of investment and essential inputs into agriculture.

In general, notwithstanding the devastation of recurring natural disasters since 1995, a major factor leading to chronic food supply problems in DPR Korea is severe economic contraction and stagnation, particularly since the break-up of its economic alliance with the former USSR and Eastern Bloc countries. Hitherto such relations were essential to maintaining intensive agricultural systems, which were imperative given serious land and climatic limitations that still restrict what and how much can be produced. The country has extremely limited arable land, in relation to population and needs, and, effectively, only one main cropping season per year from May to October. Any natural setbacks or disasters during these months, as in 1995 to 1997, seriously undermines food production and security.

At present, therefore, there is little doubt that DPR Korea's crucial food aid safety net cannot be removed without dire consequences. The latest (1999/2000) food emergency operation for US$202 million, jointly approved by the Director General of FAO and the Executive Director of WFP, aims to save lives and counter the emergence of famine and improve the health of vulnerable groups particularly children. In keeping with previous EMOPs the international response has been generous, with over 80 percent of food requirements already met. However, as the country enters the difficult lean season, with the main harvest several months away, continued international support, for the remaining part of the operation, will be imperative, despite conflicting demands from other disaster and famine stricken countries, particularly in the Horn of Africa. International assistance is also needed for rehabilitation of agriculture through the UN Agricultural Rehabilitation Environmental Protection Programme, (AREP) which continues to be constrained by the lack of resources.

Although humanitarian assistance will continue to be vital in the short term, in the longer term, economic recovery and a stronger trading position in the world, will be essential to improving food security. In this regard, there have recently been signs for cautious optimism, which suggest an improvement in the foreseeable future. These include the partial relaxation of sanctions and the resumption or improvement in diplomatic relations. Much will also depend on the scheduled peace talks between DPR Korea and the Republic of Korea in June, which could significantly improve the overall environment for investment and economic recovery.

KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (12 June)

Rice planting is underway for harvest in October/November. The Government target for paddy production has been set at 7 million tonnes in 2000, some 3 percent lower than output last year. Prospects of economic recovery and growth, in the aftermath of the financial crisis in Asia, are continuing to improve signalling stronger demand for grains for food and feed. Wheat and maize are almost entirely imported, whilst the country on average produces around 5 million tonnes of rice (milled) per annum, during the main season which extends from around May to October. Last year, despite heavy flooding the rice crop was around 5.2 million tonnes, from an area of approximately 1.06 million hectares. The level of production was around 146 000 tonnes or almost 3 percent above output in 1998. In general, the number of productive farms and rice acreage is declining in the country as more land is made available to infrastructure and urban development. Any future expansion will come mainly from marginal and reclaimed land, including land subject to flooding.

KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (3 June)

The target grain area for harvest in 2000 is 625 000 hectares, close to last year's (621 000). The production target for wheat is 1.261 million tonnes, cleaned weight, compared to the 1999 output of 1.1 million tonnes. The aggregate 1999 grain and pulse harvest is officially put at 1.63 million tonnes, about the same as in the preceding year despite a 5 percent reduction in the area sown. Wheat production remained stable while coarse grain (maize) production increased sharply. Cereal imports, including food aid pledges amounting to 107 000 tonnes, in 1999/2000 are estimated at nearly 266 000 tonnes, mainly wheat. Duty on imports of wheat, in small quantities, for personal use has been lifted temporarily to facilitate imports. At the same time the country also exports some wheat to neighbouring Uzbekistan (in payment for gas) and Tajikistan.

LAOS* (5 June)

Favourable weather during the dry season, benefited developing the second rice crop, which accounts for around 15 percent of average annual production of around 1.7 million tonnes. Project food aid continues to be needed to support well-targeted project interventions for vulnerable groups.

LEBANON (3 June)

The output of 2000 wheat and barley, now being harvested, is expected to be about 62 000 tonnes, about the same as last year. Imports of wheat in 1999/2000 (July/June) are forecast at some 510 000 million tonnes.

MALAYSIA (5 June)

The country produces an average of around 2 million tonnes of paddy annually, of which 60 percent is from the main and 40 percent from the off season crop. Normally a third of domestic consumption requirements of rice are imported into the country, whilst wheat and maize are almost entirely imported. In view of economic recovery in the country, following slow-down after the Asia crisis, imports of both wheat and maize are anticipated to increase to meet increasing demand.

Wheat imports are projected to increase somewhat to around 1.2 million tonnes in 2000 due higher demand as a result of economic growth and favourable export projections for processed food such as noodles and biscuits.

MONGOLIA* (12 June)

Earlier this year winter snows killed several hundred thousand livestock and covered pastures for extended periods. As a result, the livelihood and food security of large number of nomadic herders, who depend entirely on animal rearing, was seriously threatened. The worst affected areas were in central, western and north-western parts where 142 of the country's 360 counties are located.

The livestock sector plays an extremely important part in the economy providing the main source of household income and contributing a major source of foreign exchange. The heavy loss of livestock and the consequent reduction in meat supplies, have also meant that there has been a large increase (up to 40 percent) in livestock prices. This is turn has had a knock-on effect on inflation and the cost of living further exacerbating the food security of the poor and vulnerable groups. In addition to meat there is also serious shortage of milk, especially in rural areas, further restricting an important source of protein and nutrients in the diet. It has also been very difficult for nomadic herd families to find alternative sources of income, as most are poorly educated and trained for alternative employment. Nonetheless many have migrated to towns and urban centres compounding existing problems of unemployment and vulnerability to food shortages.

The current food emergency, follows several years in which nutritional standards have been falling due to significant changes in economic circumstance of large sectors of the population as the economy has been reoriented from one which was centrally planned to one which is market driven. This in particular has left many groups who were formally dependent on state employment and welfare exposed to economic uncertainties due to limited alternative earning potential. Various reports in the mid 1990s indicated that those most affected by poverty and food insecurity, included the unemployed, the elderly, female headed households, children, pensioners and small herders. Another consequence of restructuring has been the sharp decline in domestic grain production, with wheat output last year, which was also affected by adverse weather, almost half that in 1994.

The Government earlier appealed for international assistance, including food, clothes, medicines, and fodder for the surviving herd.

MYANMAR (5 June)

Planting of main season rice will commence shortly to coincide with the arrival of the south-west Monsoon rains. Harvesting will commence in October/November. Main season rice normally accounts for around 85 percent of aggregate production the remaining 15 percent coming from the second, or dry season crop. Although much will depend on the performance of the monsoon and the availability of agricultural inputs, based on projections for planting, paddy (unmilled rice) production is forecast to be around 17.5 million tonnes in the 2000/01 marketing year. To encourage rice production and export, the Government has allowed private companies, reclaiming fallow and wet lands, to export 50 percent of production. So far, however, there have been no exports from the private sector. Official estimates, indicate that the country has approximately 18.22 million hectares of cultivable land, of which 9.31 million hectares have been utilised and the remainder possible for reclamation.

Rice exports fell sharply in 1999, totalling 63 700 tonnes, some 43 percent below 1998. The drop is attributed to stronger domestic demand.

NEPAL (5 June)

Official estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that food production, mainly rice, wheat, maize and millet, grew by over 8.4 percent in 1999/2000 and was around 6.98 million tonnes. The increase is attributed to better availability of agriculture inputs including fertilizer, expansion in cultivated land area, good monsoon rainfall in 1999 and low incidence of disease.

PAKISTAN (5 June)

Latest official reports from the Ministry of Agriculture, indicate that the recently harvested wheat crop is expected to be a bumper 22 million tonnes. This would be significantly higher than the target of 20 million tonnes and over 4 million tonnes above 1999. If this level of production materialises, imports are likely to decline further and exports, particularly to neighbouring Afghanistan, are likely to increase. Increased production is largely attributed to higher than target output in Punjab province, the largest producers, where a combination of higher support prices and increased use of fertilizer and other inputs increased area and yields. Average wheat production in the five years between 1995 and 1999 was around 17.5 million tonnes compared to food requirements of around 18.5 million tonnes.

Wheat production was not seriously affected by a serious drought which devastated the country's largest province, Baluchistan, in the west and Sindh Province in the south. About 85 percent of the wheat crop is irrigated, and although yields were affected by dry conditions and lack of assured irrigation in parts, particularly in Sindh province, wheat production in the main wheat producing province of Punjab, which accounts for around 75 percent of aggregate output, was favourable and above target. However, the drought could negatively impact rice production in affected province due to shortages of water for nursery preparation and transplanting.

PHILIPPINES (5 June)

Several thousands hectares of rice and property were damaged following typhoon Bering at the end of May. The full extent of the damage, however, is still being assessed.

Planting of main season rice and maize is underway and will be completed in June. Harvesting will commence in August for maize and October/November for rice. An increase in area planted and higher expected yields, indicate that paddy production could be around 12.5 million tonnes in the (2000) calendar year, some 4 percent above the previous year. However, civil unrest in the southern island of Mindanao, which accounts for between 20-30 percent of aggregate production, could affect output.

Following the financial crisis in Asia, which reduced demand, food and feed grain consumption this year is projected to increase due to growth in the economy and the recovery in the agricultural sector, after serious El Niņo drought in 1997/98.

SAUDI ARABIA (3 June)

Production of wheat in 2000 is forecast at 1.5 million, about 9 percent below average, due to drought. Similarly, despite a production quota of 1 million tonnes offered by the Saudi Grain Silos and Flour Milling Organization (GSFMO), this year's barley crop is expected to be much below average, due to high production costs. In the 1999/2000 marketing year (July/June), barley imports are estimated to increased to 5 million tonnes due to erratic rains and the continued growth of livestock numbers. Saudi Arabia is the world's largest importer of barley, accounting for nearly one-third of the world barley trade.

SRI LANKA (5 June)

Pre-monsoon rain showers are expected in the next few days. Land preparation and planting of the largely irrigated Yala dry season crop are underway for harvest in August/September. The dry season crop accounts for around 33 percent of aggregate rice production in the country the bulk coming from the Maha crop planted in October/November to coincide with the main (north-west monsoon) rainy season. Paddy production has averaged around 2.5 million tonnes in the last five years from 1995 to 1999. In addition to rice, the country's main staple, some 850 - 900 000 tonnes of wheat are imported annually to meet demand, for bread and other wheat based products.

The Government recently informed a donor briefing that food and medicine supplies were adequate for some half a million people on the Jaffna peninsula, which has been affected by long standing civil strife.

SYRIA (3 June)

Despite favourable rains in some important grain producing areas of the north-east during December 1999 and January 2000, prospects for the 2000 cereal crops, about to be harvested, have deteriorated due to extended dry conditions, The barley crop, which is almost entirely rainfed, has been particularly affected but rainfed wheat has also experienced severe damages in parts.

In 1999, the worst drought for decades reduced barley production to about 380 000 tonnes, around 72 percent below the average of the last five years, while wheat production, at 2.74 million tonnes, was about 28 percent below average. The drought had also led to a significant increase in sheep mortality rates that seriously affected household incomes.

An Emergency Operation was jointly approved in October 1999 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* (13 June)

Below-normal precipitation since February, coupled with hot weather in April and May, has stressed non-irrigated grain crops and increased irrigation water requirements. Cereal yields are also undermined by persistent shortages of inputs and working capital associated with the incomplete land privatization process and the transition to a market economy (very limited availability of credit, inadequate maintenance of the irrigation system, obsolete machinery, poor access to food seeds and fertilizers, etc.). Contrary to earlier reports, indications now are that the area sown to 2000 winter grain crops remained stable. While wheat on irrigated lands is officially reported to be in good condition (even if some of the so called īrrigated lands"are, in practice, not or insufficiently irrigated), that on dry-land farms, notably in the main growing areas of northern Leninabad, southern Khatlon, and the Karategin valley has been affected by drought. The outlook for cotton, the main irrigated crop, is also good.

However, any objective quantitative forecast of the 2000 cereal, in particular of the wheat harvest, is difficult. Systematic and timely data on the cropped area, the irrigated areas and crop production is seriously lacking and when available, is conflicting. Indications are that the amount of land being planted to cereals (mainly wheat) has increased steadily until 1998 when, according to official statistics, it stabilized at around 400 000 hectares. In 1999/2000 the area sown to grain is also reported to be around 400 000 hectares. Between 1993 and 1998 the area of rainfed wheat expanded rapidly as upland pastures, virgin land and most other spare plots of land were bought into utilization. The increase in area was due to the chronic shortage of bread, and other basic foods following independence and the civil strife (1992-97) and the practice of paying salaries on large farms in wheat, in view of the lack of cash and high inflation. In 1995 and 1996 (the last data available) the irrrigated area sown to cereals was 150 000 and 155 000 hectares respectively. Cereal (mainly wheat) plantings in 2000 have remained at this level, with diversion of land to cotton about 140 000 hectares.

This irrigated wheat is officially reported to be good; however systematic disaggregated data on the average yield of wheat from irrigated and non-irrigated land is not available. An FAO Mission in 1996 found that official yields, particularly of wheat, have been badly understated : on reasonable areas of irrigated land the average yield was found to be of the order of 1.5-2.5 tonnes /hectare and could reach 3 tonnes a hectare in a good year such as 1997. By contrast, the yield of rainfed wheat was found to be significantly lower, 1 tonne/hectare or less.

Given the current drought, the chronic shortages of working capital and inputs, and official reports that the irrigated wheat harvest is in good condition, FAO tentatively estimates the irrigated output at 210 000 tonnes of wheat (i.e 1.5 tonnes/hectare from 140 000 hectares, the lower end of the range) and some 18 000 tonnes of rice from 10 000 hectares of irrigated land). On the estimated rainfed area the yield of winter crops, is officially estimated to be only 25 percent of average in some regions, i.e 0.25 tonnes per hectare on the remaining wheat area. On the basis of these calculations the 2000 wheat harvest could be in the range of 260 000-300 000 tonnes, and the total harvest, including spring sown wheat and maize, 330 000-380 000 tonnes. The worst case scenaraio, 330 000 tonnes, would be 150 000 tonnes or almost one third less than the official estimate of production in 1999 of 475 000 tonnes) and only 75 percent of the 1994-1999 average. Spring crop plantings have progressed well and the area sown has increased. At higher altitudes a small amount of spring wheat is sown.

Based on the official production estimates in recent years and reflected import data, cereal utilization has been in the range of 900 000-950 000 tonnes per annum, of which some 730 000 tonnes were estimated for direct human consumption, 70 000-110 000 used for feed and about 110 000 tonnes for other uses (mainly seed and losses). In the 2000/01 marketing year, domestic cereal utilization is estimated at 920 000 tonnes, close to that of 1999/2000. Against this requirement, domestic production, (including rice in milled equivalent and excluding pulses) is estimated at 319 000 tonnes, leaving, in the worst case scenario an import requirement of 600 000 tonnes. This compares to estimated imports of nearly 490 000 tonnes in the 1999/2000 marketing year, of which some 66 000 tonnes were food aid. Commercial imports have averaged roughly 300 000 tonnes between 1995/96 and 1999/2000 and reached an estimated 423 000 tonnes in 1999/2000. The worst case estimated import requirement - of 600 000 tonnes, of which nearly 500 000 is wheat - is well above the usual market requirement of the past five years. In view of the drought situation, and the low output and prices of cotton in 1999/2000 (one of the major exports earners), immediate consideration needs to be given to an adequate response to effects of the drought, both in the form of non-market disruptive food aid and related non-food items and in the form of inputs and technical assistance to ensure a better crop next year.

The overall food supply situation remains problematical, as poverty is endemic in the country. About 1 million people are poor and destitute and experience acute or chronic food insecurity. Coping mechanisms are exhausted and the crop loss will result in a further decline of the living standard of the vulnerable population, who do not have income to purchase wheat at the already rising prices at the local markets. Nutrition surveys confirm a high degree of malnutrition amongst the vulnerable and children under five. The expected low crop will increase the risk of severe malnutrition, which has been rising over the past few years with global chronic malnutrition rates of more than 40 percent.

Humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations and assistance to develop agriculture will continue to be necessary. A further 98 050 people may need food aid in addition to the 370 000 beneficiaries currently receiving food aid through WFP's Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO). The additional beneficiaires are situated in Khatlon (65 000), Karategin (12 950) and Leninabad (20 000). The additional food needs for one year (until the next harvest) amount to 7 157 tonnes of wheat flour, 536 tonnes of vegetable oil and 360 tonnes of sugar.

THAILAND (12 June)

Planting of the 2000/2001 main season rice and maize crops has begun and will continue till August. Maize will be harvested from August and rice from November onwards. During the last dekad of May, widespread showers slowed harvesting of second season rice, but increased irrigation supplies for main crops. Total paddy production in 2000/2001 is forecast at around 23.3 million tonnes, comprising some 19 million tonnes from the main and 4 million tonnes from the second crops.

Rice exports during the period 1 January to the beginning of June 2000, totalled some 2.48 million tonnes, some 4 percent higher than during the same period in 1999.

TURKEY (3 June)

Output of the 2000 wheat crop is forecast at 19 million tonnes about 5 percent above last year's drought reduced crop, but about average. Maize production is also forecast to increase by nearly 8 percent to 2.2 million tonnes compared to the average. Wheat imports in the current 1999/2000 (July/June) marketing year are expected to be around 900 000 tonnes, about 40 percent of 1998/99. Maize imports are projected at 750 000 tonnes, some 80 000 tonnes higher than in the previous year.

TURKMENISTAN (13 June)

The outlook remains satisfactory, but any plantings of cereals on unirrigated virgin land have likely suffered severe moisture stress following hot and dry weather since April. Nevertheless, by 12 June 0.9 million tonnes of grains had been harvested, well in advance of last year's progress. In an attempt to increase cereal, notably wheat, production, the area sown to winter crops has reportedly increased by almost 100 000 hectares, to 680 000 hectares, bringing some virgin land into production. The winter grain production target (mostly wheat) is 1.645 million tonnes compared to actual production of 1.45 million tonnes in 1999. In addition, substantial resources are to be allocated to farmers to expand rice production to 200 000 tonnes per annum in the coming three years. Indications are that 70 000 hectares have been sown to rice and nearly US$10m million allocated to the purchase of quality seed, in an attempt to raise yield. Larger areas sown are being supported by the import of agricultural machinery.

The aggregate 1999 grain harvest is officially estimated at a record 1.5 million tonnes, nearly 300 000 tonnes above 1998. Despite the increased grain harvest, flour and bread shortages are reported to be common in both urban and rural areas, without, however, becoming persistent in any one area. Official reports indicate that 438 000 tonnes of flour were produced last year, well short of the officially estimated requirement of 720 000 tonnes. Nevertheless, given the difficult foreign exchange situation and the large 1999 harvest, cereal imports in 1999/2000 are expected to remain very low.

UZBEKISTAN (13 June)

Growing conditions for grains on irrigated land have been satisfactory. Hot dry weather in April and May benefited cotton sowing and development, but any rainfed crops have likely suffered yield loss. Temperatures have now returned to normal. The area sown to winter crops on the large state farms (mainly wheat) increased by 4 percent to 1.36 million hectares, at the expense of cotton. In addition, farmers also have to plant wheat on their household plots, which would bring the aggregate area sown to wheat up to an estimated 1.47 million hectares. The winter grain production target is 4.1 million tonnes. The area to be sown to cotton is to be reduced to 1 425 000 hectares.

The 1999 wheat and barley crop is officially estimated at 3.7 million tonnes (clean weight), some 120 000 tonnes above 1998, and the total grain harvest (including maize and rice) at 4.321 million tonnes. Imports of grain are being reduced to maintain a positive trade balance in the face of falling returns for cotton. Cereal imports in 1999/2000 are estimated to fall to about 336 000 tonnes.

VIET NAM (12 June)

Heavy rainfall in the last dekad of May, slowed late harvesting of winter-spring rice, which is normally planted from December/February and harvested in April/May. Preparations for planting the main 10th month rice crop are underway and a 4 percent reduction in area this year is being forecast.

The south, including the Mekong Delta, is estimated to have harvested more than 9.34 million tonnes of paddy from the winter-spring crop, up 8.6 percent from last year. The increase is attributed an increase in area planted and higher yields. Overall production from the winter-spring paddy crop is officially forecast at a bumper 15.5 million tonnes. Favourable production is attributed to higher yields in important growing areas, whilst an expansion of harvested area in northern provinces more than off-set reductions planted area and lower yields in South Central provinces. The rice export target for this year is 4.3 million tonnes compared to 4.56 million tonnes last year. In the first five months 1.08 million tonnes were exported.

YEMEN (3 June)

Total cereal output in 2000 is forecast at 721 000 tonnes, about 4 percent above last year's crop but about average. Isolated adults of Desert Locusts may persist on the northern Red Sea coastal plains near the Saudi Arabian border and breed if additional rains fall.

Imports of cereals in 2000 - mainly wheat - are estimated at some 2.67 million tonnes.


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