FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.4 - September 2000 p. 5

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Current Production and Crop Prospects

Position by Region

Latest information confirms a significant reduction in this year's cereal output in the region, by some 3 percent, or almost 36 million tonnes, to 991.6 million tonnes. The decline largely reflects reduced plantings and the effects of adverse weather conditions in many countries. Harvesting of the 2000 wheat crop is complete in the main producing countries and the region's aggregate output is estimated to be about 3 percent down from the previous year at some 252 million tonnes. The region's coarse grains output is forecast to fall sharply, by 9 percent, to 198 million tonnes. Harvesting of the main-season paddy crops is expected to start soon in Asia. The region`s 2000 paddy output is currently forecast to fall by 1.5 percent, or 8 million tonnes, to 541 million tonnes.

Far East: In China, a combination of reduced plantings and serious drought have led to a sharp reduction in wheat production by about 13 million tonnes, to 101 million tonnes. In India, despite severe drought in several states, which affected rainfed crops, a record wheat crop of 74.3 million tonnes has been harvested, about 4 million tonnes higher than forecast earlier and well above last year's crop of 70.8 million tonnes. A record wheat crop of 22 million tonnes was also produced in Pakistan, despite a serious drought there also, earlier in the year. At this level, Pakistan's production is over 4 million tonnes above last year's crop.

Aggregate coarse grain production in China is now forecast at about 122 million tonnes, compared to 141 million tonnes last year. Of the total, maize is expected to account for 108 million tonnes. Prospects remain satisfactory in India, where monsoon rains have been normal in the first half of the four-month season and are likely to remain so during the second half. Some damage due to floods may have occurred, however, in some states.

Harvesting of the autumn paddy crop in China (Mainland) is underway while gathering of the early-rice summer crop, the first and smallest of the three crops, is virtually complete. Output from this year's early crop could fall by 7 percent from the previous year to about 38 million tonnes, following an 9 percent cut in area, which is consistent with the Government policy of reducing the production of inferior quality grains. Planting of the winter rice crop is nearing completion and area is estimated to have fallen by approximately 5 percent. As a result, China's overall paddy output in 2000 is forecast at about 190 million tonnes, down by 9 million tonnes from 1999. In Viet Nam, floods, which have been described as the worst in 40 years, have affected more than 300 000 hectares of rice in several provinces of the Mekong Delta, where the bulk of the country's rice is produced. Estimates of the paddy losses vary between 400 000 tonnes and 700 000 tonnes. In addition, the quality of much of the rice harvested has been negatively affected so the share of the country's production allocated to animal feed is likely to increase. In the Philippines, there are fears that El Niño-like weather may recur towards the end of the year. The main-season crop will likely be unaffected as harvesting should begin in September and conclude some time in December. However, the secondary-crop, which is planted in October would be affected by a drought. Overall, the country's paddy output is expected to increase slightly, which is mostly attributed to the expanded use of high yielding rice seeds, made possible by the distribution programmes spearheaded by the Government.

As was the case in 1999, there have been some isolated incidents of flooding in Thailand but the impact on rice crops has been minimal. Harvesting of the 2000 main-season crop is expected to start in October and the Government is forecasting output of about 18.9 million tonnes of paddy, unchanged from the previous year. In an effort to help improve the competitiveness of rice production in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives is working on a proposal to introduce a zoning system for rice production. The proposal basically calls for rice production to be concentrated in selected high-yielding areas with water resources that would enable the production of a secondary crop. In Myanmar, planted area of the 2000 paddy season is estimated at about 6 million hectares, about 200 000 hectares up from last year. Area expansion is the result of fallow land being brought back into production. In addition, there are reports that some wetlands and virgin land were reclaimed. Harvesting of the main-season crop is expected to start in October and the planting of the secondary crop in November. In Japan, rice crops are reported to be growing under generally satisfactory conditions. Area planted to rice has remained around last year's level of about 1.8 million hectares, notwithstanding the lowering of the support price by about 2.7 percent from 1999. Harvesting is expected to start in September and paddy output is tentatively forecast at 11.5 million tonnes, similar to last year's. In Cambodia, early rains in July caused flooding that interfered with the planting of the 2000 wet season crop. In certain areas seedlings were destroyed by the floods and replanting was necessary. Although the Government is provisionally forecasting an expansion in rice area and production, much will depend on whether the flood-inflicted damage could be repaired. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is again reported to be suffering from weather-related calamities, as has been the case over the past few years. A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission that visited the country over the June/July period confirmed that rainfall was below normal and many rice fields were dry. As a result, delays in rice transplanting have been incurred, a factor that is bound to result in reduced yields. In addition, area planted to rice was reported to be slightly below the previous year's level as some land has been switched to other crops. By contrast, torrential rains have fallen in the central region of the Republic of Korea causing floods, landslides and loss of lives. However, only a small portion of the rice area was reported to have been damaged. Independently from the weather pattern, the Government has set a paddy production target of about 7 million tonnes in 2000 or 3 percent less than actual 1999 output.

World Cereal Production - Forecast for 2000

    Wheat Coarse grains Rice (paddy) Total
1999 2000 1999 2000 1999 2000 1999 2000
  ( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . . . . . . . . . )
Asia 260.0 252.4 218.0 197.9 549.3 541.4 1 027.3 991.6
Africa 14.9 13.6 75.7 77.5 17.5 17.6 108.1 108.6
Central America 3.1 3.2 28.7 29.2 2.3 2.4 34.1 34.8
South America 19.3 19.5 58.6 64.0 21.2 20.1 99.1 103.7
North America 89.5 87.0 290.8 314.6 9.5 9.0 389.8 410.5
Europe 178.2 188.0 201.7 203.5 3.2 3.2 383.1 394.8
Oceania 24.3 23.1 8.9 9.7 1.4 1.1 34.6 33.8
WORLD 589.3 586.7 882.5 896.4 604.4 594.8 2 076.2 2 077.9
          (404) 1/ (398) 1/ (1 876) 2/ (1 881) 2/
Developing countries 276.1 269.2 368.8 354.4 577.9 569.1 1 222.8 1 192.7
Developed countries 313.2 317.4 513.7 542.0 26.4 25.7 853.3 885.1

In Bangladesh, harvesting of the Aus paddy crop and planting of the Aman crop are virtually complete. Although flood-related damage to rice crops has been reported in some districts, the country's paddy production should be little affected since the Aus harvest accounts for only a small portion of total output. Most of the country's paddy comes from the Aman crop which is harvested in October/November and from the Boro crop, which is still to be planted. Total paddy production for the 2000 season is forecast at 33.8 million tonnes, slightly down from the previous year. In India, planting of the main season Kharif rice crop is complete in some parts of the country and nearing completion in others and preliminary indications suggest that area could surpass last year's. The increase is partly in reaction to a 4 percent rise in the minimum support prices of paddy suggested by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices in May. Assuming normal growing conditions for the rest of the season, India's total paddy output for the 2000 crop year is tentatively forecast at an all-time high of 134 million tonnes, slightly above the previous year's level. In Pakistan, the 2000 paddy output is expected to be lower than the preceding year's due to the drought that has affected Baluchistan, an important rice producing province that accounts for 8 to 10 percent of national production. A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was fielded in May and estimated that the province's paddy output could fall by about 8 percent. Some parts of Sind, the country's largest rice producing province were also affected by the drought, but to a lesser extent. Harvesting of the crop, which usually starts in October, could be delayed by a few weeks in some parts of the country.

In Indonesia, practically all of the 2000 main-season paddy crop has been harvested and planting of the secondary crop is nearing completion. The Government's latest forecast for the season's paddy output stands at slightly more than 50 million tonnes, 1 million tonnes more than the previous forecast and almost unchanged from the previous year's, following an upward revision to area and yield. In Malaysia, gathering of the main-season crop is virtually complete. The country's 2000 paddy production is expected to be close to last year's level of about 2 million tonnes. In Sri Lanka, the Maha (main) paddy crop has been harvested and, similar to last year, crop losses and quality deterioration caused by rains during part of the harvesting period have been reported. Planting of the Yala crop is virtually done. Overall, total paddy output is projected to decline slightly from the last year to about 2.6 million tonnes, largely due to a fall in the area.

Near East: Persistent drought and insecurity continue to affect agricultural production in several countries of the Near East. In Afghanistan, aggregate 2000 cereal production is estimated at 1.8 million tonnes, about 44 percent below the previous five year's average. In Iraq, the 2000 cereal crop, estimated at 794 000 tonnes, is about 47 percent below last year's drought reduced crop. An extensive drought also in the Islamic Republic of Iran for the second year in succession has prevented any chance of a recovery in production there. Wheat output this year is expected to fall further from the previous year's level, to about 8 million tonnes, while that of rice is expected to remain close to the previous year's reduced level of 2.3 million tonnes. Similarly, production was well below average in Jordan and Syria due drought conditions. In Saudi Arabia, production is estimated at 2.1 million tonnes, slightly lower than last year but about 17 percent below average. In Turkey, however, production recovered from last year's drought-affected level following generally favourable weather.

CIS in Asia: In the eight CIS countries in Asia, rainfed crops and the availability of irrigation water have been affected by a mild winter and unusually hot and dry conditions this spring and summer, particularly in the southern and western parts. However, irrigated wheat crops - where systems were operational - have fared somewhat better and crops in the major producing regions of northern Kazakhstan have benefited from good soil moisture levels. In many countries, and particularly Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan, the drought has compounded chronic economic problems, including shortages of improved seed, inadequate working capital for other yield enhancing inputs, and the decay of the irrigation system. As a result, the 2000 cereal harvests in these countries are forecast to be sharply less and all three countries have requested the international donor community for assistance with the supply of wheat seed for the upcoming season. In Tajikistan the 2000 cereal harvest has roughly halved to only 236 000 tonnes (1999: 448 000 tonnes), and food aid needs have risen sharply. In Georgia, an FAO/WFP mission has estimated the 2000 cereal harvest at about 330 000 tonnes, including 83 000 tonnes of wheat. This is nearly 60 percent less than estimated output in 1999. The outlook for spring crops including maize is also poor. In Armenia, preliminary official assessments indicate that the cereal harvest could be up to 30 percent below average. In all the affected countries, potato, vegetable and fodder crop output is also affected, reducing further food supply availability and constraining livestock production.

By contrast, the outlook for the 2000 cereal harvest in Azerbaijan remains mostly satisfactory as of mid- August, and output could remain close to last year's level of 1.1 million tonnes. In Kyrgyzstan the 2000 cereal crop is officially reported to be marginally higher than last year, but the declining trend in wheat production has persisted. Also Turkmenistan is reported to have a larger cereal harvest this year, at 1.87 million tonnes. In Uzbekistan, the 2000 cereal harvest is somewhat less than last year's, having been affected by drought and inadequate irrigation. In Kazakhstan the crop outlook is satisfactory. The minor winter wheat crop in the south has suffered from moisture shortages but the major winter wheat in the north is developing satisfactorily. The aggregate area sown to cereals increased marginally to 11.1 million hectares. Crop conditions are currently good and the harvest is officially forecast at about 11 million tonnes.

Northern Africa: The subregion's wheat production in 2000 is estimated at about 9.7 million tonnes, some 14 percent less than last year's level and below the 5-year average. In Algeria, as a result of inadequate rainfall during the growing period, wheat output is estimated to have fallen to some 750 000 tonnes, much below average and some 34 percent less than in 1999. Predominantly dry conditions during the growing season in Morocco also resulted in a reduced wheat output of about 1.4 million tonnes, 36 percent lower than last year's below-average crop. Similarly in Tunisia, inadequate rainfall seriously affected cereal crops, and wheat output is estimated at about 795 000 tonnes, 43 percent below the 1999 level. By contrast, reflecting satisfactory growing conditions, in Egypt production of the mostly irrigated wheat crop is expected to reach 6.7 million tonnes, 5 percent up from last year's above average crop. Latest information regarding the subregion's 2000 coarse grain crops points to an output of 7.6 million tonnes, about 20 percent lower than the previous year's below-average production.

Planting of the 2000 rice crop is complete in Egypt and the availability of inputs is reported as adequate. The Government has indicated that rice area expanded by about 6 percent from the previous year to approximately 694 000 hectares. Harvesting of the earliest crops is expected to start soon and output is forecast to increase by almost 7 percent to an all-time high of 6.2 million tonnes.

Western Africa: The growing season is developing satisfactorily and crop prospects are generally good so far in western Africa. In the Sahel, rains have been generally widespread and abundant over the main agricultural zones in July and early August. They decreased in mid-August but resumed in late August over the western half of the Sahel. In the Center of the Sahel, precipitation remained below normal in Burkina Faso, except in the south and the west. In Niger, below normal rainfall was registered in late August while in Chad, growing conditions were favourable in the Sudanian zone and unfavourable in the Sahelian zone. Therefore, crops are generally developing satisfactorily in the western half of the Sahel region while reduced rains affected crop development in central and eastern Burkina Faso, most parts of Niger and the Sahelian zone of Chad. Improved rains are urgently needed in these areas to avoid water stress or crop failure. Growing conditions are also generally favourable in the countries along the Gulf of Guinea. However, in Sierra Leone, insecurity continues to disrupt agricultural activities and output is unlikely to recover from last year's reduced level.

The 2000 paddy season is progressing well in the subregion under generally favourable conditions. Crops in a number of countries benefited from well-distributed and regular rains, which are expected to help boost yields. However, security problems continue to disrupt agricultural activities in Sierra Leone and paddy production is expected to fall. In Nigeria, the largest producer in the region, a slight increase in output is expected, following the Government's removal of the import and value-added taxes on all agricultural inputs, a measure that could boost yields. In Mali, the Government is forecasting a 10 percent rise in paddy production stemming from higher area and a small increase in yields.

Central Africa: Crops of coarse grains are currently developing under generally favourable conditions in Cameroon and Central African Republic. Continued civil strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo has disrupted agricultural and marketing activities, pointing to another reduced harvest.

Eastern Africa: The early outlook for the subregion's 2000 wheat crop is uncertain. In Sudan, where the crop was harvested earlier in the year, an FAO/GIEWS mission estimated the output at 214 000 tonnes, some 24 percent above last year's reduced crop but about 60 percent below the average for the previous five years. In Kenya, prospects for the crop are unfavourable reflecting continued drought conditions during the season. In Ethiopia, good rains in July and August in some major producing areas have favoured establishment and development of the wheat crop.

Drought has also adversely affected prospects for the 2000 coarse grains. In Kenya, the output of the maize crop being harvested is forecast at 1.4 million tonnes, about 36 percent lower than the average long-rains crop. In Tanzania, latest coarse grains production forecasts indicate an output of 2.8 million tonnes, about 20 percent below the previous five-year average. In Uganda, where harvest of the 2000 first season coarse grains is well advanced, output is forecast to be below average due to prolonged drought in some major producing areas. In Eritrea, prospects for the 2000 main season crops are bleak following the displacement of large number of farmers from the major agricultural production areas of south-western Eritrea due to the border conflict with Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, recent good rains have improved prospects for the developing main season crops. However, the 2000 secondary "Belg" season crop has failed reflecting delayed and erratic rains. In Sudan, prospects are uncertain because of late and erratic rains in important producing areas. In Somalia, despite poor crop establishment in some agriculturally important areas, prospects for the current "Gu" season maize and sorghum crops are favourable.

In Burundi, coarse grain production of the recently harvested 2000 B season declined by 20 percent from last year's level. Yields were reduced due to badly distributed rains during the season, particularly in the northern provinces, and a premature cessation of precipitation in April. In Rwanda, the 2000 B coarse grains harvest was overall satisfactory but in southern areas an early cessation of the rainy season negatively affected production. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the persistent civil war continues to disrupt agricultural production.

Paddy production in Eastern Africa is currently expected to be close to last year's level, owing to stagnation in both area and yields. In Tanzania, the major rice producing country in the subregion, harvesting is complete and output for 2000 is provisionally estimated at about 700 000 tonnes, unchanged from the previous year.

Southern Africa: Harvesting of the 2000 coarse grain crops, which was delayed by unseasonable rains in June, is now completed. FAO's latest estimates put the subregion's aggregate output at 18.2 million tonnes, up 18 percent from last year and above average. Dry weather at the beginning of the season was followed by torrential rains and flooding in some districts but, overall, the abundant precipitation benefited the main producing areas in the subregion. However, the outturn varies from country to country. Production recovered substantially in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana, where good harvests were gathered. In Malawi, production remained virtually unchanged from the bumper crop of 1999, with a maize output close to 2.5 million tonnes. By contrast, production declined in Mozambique following crop losses in southern parts due to devastating floods. Maize output also fell in Madagascar, as the country was affected by drought in the south and cyclones in the north. In Angola, where the persistent civil conflict continues to disrupt agricultural production, maize production fell for the second consecutive year. In Swaziland, a decrease in plantings, coupled with torrential rains, resulted in a sharp decline in this year's maize output. In Lesotho, the output declined sharply from last year's average crop.

Overall prospects for the 2000/2001 wheat crop, to be harvested from October/November, are satisfactory. Output in South Africa, which accounts for over 80 percent of the aggregate production, is expected to be higher than the reduced level of last year reflecting abundant irrigation water supplies. However, at a forecast level of 1.8 million tonnes production will remain below the average of the past five years. In Zimbabwe, by contrast, production is anticipated to decline following a sharp decrease in the area planted in response to civil disturbances in agricultural areas and the Government's land distribution programme.

Harvesting of the 2000 paddy crop is complete in the subregion. In Madagascar, the main rice producing country, output is estimated to have declined by about 15 percent from the previous year to 2.2 million tonnes. In Mozambique, paddy production is estimated at about 140 000 tonnes or 25 percent lower than the previous year.

Harvesting of the 2000 irrigated wheat crop in Mexico, practically the sole producer in the subregion, has been completed and output is provisionally estimated to be between 3.1 and 3.2 million tonnes, which is slightly below average. An average production had been earlier forecast but the crop was affected by adverse weather at planting and by a dry spell throughout the growing season which kept water reservoirs at below-normal levels.

Dry weather during the growing period has affected the 2000/01 first season coarse grain crops in Central American countries. Harvesting is about to start and below-average outputs are anticipated in several countries, particularly in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua where serious localized losses are reported. It is reported that more than 50 percent of the maize crop, the main cereal, has been lost in some areas. By contrast, in Mexico, where harvesting is underway, aggregate maize output is expected to be average, reflecting satisfactory harvests in the northwest areas and the recent widespread rains, which have benefited the developing crops in the large producing central and eastern belts. The outlook is equally good for the sorghum crop, mostly grown in the northeastern states. In Costa Rica and Guatemala, outputs are also expected to be about average. In the Dominican Republic, normal rains in July have benefited the developing crops and slightly above-average maize and sorghum harvests are anticipated. In Cuba, abundant rains in July have improved conditions for crops after a long dry spell earlier in the year. Maize output is expected to be about average. In Haiti, harvesting of the maize crop is about to be completed and below-average output is provisionally forecast as a consequence of the long dry spell which has been particularly affecting the central plains and the northwest of the country.

Planting of the 2000/2001 wheat crop continues in most countries in the southern part of the subregion. In Argentina, weather conditions have recently improved and soil moisture is reported to be adequate. About 86 percent of intended plantings have been sown, compared to 90 percent by the same time the year before. In Brazil, where planting has been completed, widespread rainfall has benefited the developing crops in the country's main growing areas in the south, but a lower than average output is nevertheless forecast as a direct result of the severe damage to crops caused by frost in July. In Chile, plantings were affected by the heavy rains in June while in Uruguay the area planted was considerably reduced as a consequence of a long and severe dry spell. Below-average outputs are forecast for both countries. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, harvesting of the second season crop is underway. Output for the year is expected to be low as a result of the heavy rains and flooding which affected the main crop at harvesting, particularly in the important producing Department of Santa Cruz. In Peru, the 2000 wheat harvest is virtually complete and output is expected to decrease from last year's near record level, but will nevertheless remain above average. In Ecuador, harvesting of the main wheat crop, mostly grown in the highlands, is almost complete and an average output is anticipated, while in Colombia, where harvesting is underway, production is expected to be below normal, largely as a consequence of the heavy rains which affected the crop at planting.

Harvesting of the 2000 coarse grain crops has been completed in the southern countries. In Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile, aggregate maize production is provisionally estimated at an above-average 51.7 million tonnes, which compares to 46.9 million tonnes collected in 1999. The increase is mostly due to satisfactory outputs obtained in the first two countries, despite the adverse weather which affected the crops in some of the large growing areas of Brazil earlier in the year. Planting of the 2001 maize crop has started in some parts of Brazil. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, land is being prepared for planting of the 2000/2001 first (main) coarse grains and potato crops. Beneficial rains are reported in the main producing areas of the highlands and valleys where sowing should start from September. In Peru, the bulk of the 2000 maize crop (white and yellow) has been harvested and output collected in the first 6 months of the year exceeds by 12 percent the volume gathered during the same period last year. This is largely the result of better yields obtained. A near record output is expected. In Ecuador, harvesting of the first season maize crop, mostly yellow, is almost complete. A considerable increase in output is anticipated with respect to last year, boosted mainly by increased demand from the poultry feeding industry. In Colombia, harvesting of the first season maize crop is well advanced. Despite the heavy rains and flooding at planting, a near average output is anticipated. In Venezuela, harvesting of the 2000 maize crop is underway and a slightly below average output is provisionally forecast. This is mostly due to reduced plantings following the heavy rains, which resulted in severe flooding and mudslides at the end of last year and, again, shortly before planting.

Harvesting of the 2000 paddy crop is complete in the region and paddy output is estimated at about 20 million tonnes, slightly down from the previous year. Much of the decline is attributed to a 4 percent fall in area in response to the low paddy prices that prevailed at planting time in most countries. In Argentina, the Government's new production estimate stands at 880 000 tonnes or 47 percent below the previous year's all-time high, mostly due to a 35 percent fall in area. Likewise in Uruguay, a fall in area and yields caused a contraction of about 16 percent in production. In Brazil, the region's largest rice producer, higher yields helped compensate for the reduced area and the Government's paddy output estimate of 11.5 million tonnes is only marginally below last year's. By contrast, in Bolivia, the Government has estimated paddy output at 349 000 tonnes, up from last year's 189 000 tonnes, following an improvement in yields and an increase in area.

Total wheat production in the United States in 2000 is estimated at 61.6 million tonnes, almost 2 percent down from 1999. A significant decline in winter wheat production (-6 percent) to 43.4 million tonnes will only be partially offset by an increase in spring wheat output. Production of spring wheat is now forecast to reach some 18 million tonnes, compared to 16.4 million tonnes in 1999. In Canada, as of mid August the winter wheat harvest was well underway or nearing completion in some areas. Harvesting of the main spring crops should start in late August. Warmer temperatures in July in the main wheat producing areas of Western Canada favoured crop development after generally wetter and colder than normal conditions in June. It is reported that there is potential for average to above-average yields in most of the major producing areas. Latest official reports forecast the total 2000 wheat production at 25.4 million tonnes.

Regarding coarse grains, the USDA's August Crop Production report indicates significantly larger production in the United States than earlier expected. This mostly reflects generally favourable growing conditions throughout July. Aggregate coarse grain output is now forecast to reach 287.6 million tonnes, 9 percent up from 1999. The bulk of the increase is accounted for by a larger maize crop, which is set to reach a record 263 million tonnes, 12 percent up from last year. The outputs of barley and oats are also expected to be somewhat above the previous year, but the sorghum crop could be smaller. In Canada, coarse grain production is expected to change little this year and is currently forecast at 27 million tonnes. Although barley output is forecast to increase, reflecting larger plantings, outputs of the other small coarse grains could decline somewhat. Early indications point to a smaller maize crop also, although the harvest is still some way off.

Harvesting of the 2000 paddy crop is underway in some parts of the United States while in others the crops still need a few more weeks to reach maturity. Although average yields are forecast to be about 5 percent above last year, the increase is not large enough to compensate for the 10 percent decline in area. The area reduction reflects the substantial decline in rice prices in the preceding season that has led farmers to switch to more lucrative crops. Paddy output is expected to reach 9 million tonnes, down by about 5 percent from last year.

In the EC, results of the cereal harvest so far continue to point to a larger output this year. FAO's latest forecast of the Community's aggregate cereal crop is 213.2 million tonnes which, although marginally down from that in the previous report, is nevertheless some 6 percent up from the 1999 output. Of this, wheat is forecast to account for 105.1 million tonnes, almost 8 percent above 1999. The bulk of the increase in wheat output is expected in Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain, although several other countries are also reported to be harvesting slightly larger crops this year. The quality of this year's crop is expected to be quite variable reflecting the variable weather conditions throughout the region. The Community's largest producer France is reported to have an above-normal proportion of low quality wheat, which will be suitable only for animal feed, but over all countries an average crop is expected. Production of all the main coarse grains is also expected to increase this year in the EC. Outputs of barley, oats and rye are forecast to increase by 6 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent respectively. Prospects for the maize harvest are also favourable and current indications point to a slightly larger crop of about 38 million tonnes this year. However, as the harvest is just starting in the main producing areas the final outcome will not be known for some time yet. The 2000 paddy harvest is getting underway in the EC. Drought conditions in the southern parts of Portugal and Spain at planting time are expected to have had some negative impact on yields. Total production is forecast to be slightly below last year's estimated output of about 2.7 million tonnes.

Elsewhere in Europe, widespread drought conditions persisting through the spring affected crops in most countries, to a lesser or greater extent. In Bosnia Herzegovina, wheat production is expected to decline further this year reflecting the adverse dry conditions, but also unremunerative producer prices, which continue to make wheat an unattractive crop for farmers. Coarse grains (mostly maize) in particular are expected to be affected by the dry spring conditions. In Bulgaria, the wheat harvest is complete and output is officially estimated at 3.1 million tonnes, similar to the previous year's crop. Coarse grains output is set to drop, however, reflecting the adverse effect of spring drought and a summer heat wave on developing maize crops. In Croatia, winter wheat production is reported to have recovered sharply form last year's poor level and could be close to 1 million tonnes. However, as in other neighbouring countries, the effect of spring drought is expected to be evident on the spring crops and their outputs could decline somewhat. In the Czech Republic, total wheat production is estimated close to the 1999 level at about 4 million tonnes, despite larger plantings, which reflects this years drought-reduced yields. Output of barley is estimated to be down significantly compared to last year, reflecting lower yields and a smaller area. In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, after earlier favourable conditions, drought conditions also set in during the late spring and summer reducing cereal yield potential. The aggregate cereal crop is expected to be about 650 000 tonnes, of which wheat would account for about 320 000 tonnes.

Cereal crops in Hungary have also been affected by drought this year, but conditions for wheat have not been as bad as in 1999 when the planting season was affected by adverse conditions and, as a result, the area fell sharply. Output of wheat is now estimated at about 3.7 million tonnes. This is above last year's drastically reduced crop of 2.6 million tonnes but, nevertheless, well below the 1997 and 1998 levels of around 5 million tonnes. Coarse grain yields have been hit more by the exceptionally hot dry spring weather and the maize crop could be well down at about 5 million tonnes, compared to over 7 million tonnes in 1999. In Poland, conditions for cereal production have been particularly bad this year. Late spring frosts were followed by exceptionally hot and dry conditions and heavy summer rains have disrupted harvesting. Wheat output is estimated at 8.2 million tonnes, down almost 10 percent from last year. Coarse grain output is also forecast to be sharply reduced as a result of the adverse conditions. Rye production could fall to as low as 4 million tonnes, nearly 30 percent below the average of the past 5 years and barley output is forecast at just 2.8 million tonnes, 20 percent below the five-year average. In Romania, although growing conditions were also unfavourable this year, the final outcome of the wheat harvest is somewhat better than earlier expectations. Latest estimates put the 2000 wheat output at 4.3 million tonnes, about 9 percent down from 1999 but over 20 percent down from the five-year average. Prospects for the maize crop are uncertain but it is unlikely that last year's above-average crop of 10.9 million tonnes will be repeated. In the Slovak Republic, contrary to expectations much earlier in the season, aggregate cereal output is set to fall again after a reduced crop already last year. After favourable planting and overwinter conditions, dry and hot weather affected crops in the spring and summer and average yields have been reduced. The aggregate cereal output is forecast at about 2.3 million tonnes, 500 000 tonnes less than last year's reduced crop. Also in Slovenia, a further decline in cereal output is expected this year due to the adverse spring/summer conditions. Aggregate cereal output is forecast at between 400 000 and 450 000 tonnes.

In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, (Serbia and Montenegro), winter flooding and water-logging followed by persistent hot and dry conditions since April has kept wheat yields low and adversely affected spring crops including maize. Moreover, unremunerative producer prices for wheat, and critical shortages of fuel and fertilizer for the planting and development of winter crops has also reduced plantings and yields. An FAO/WFP mission, which visited the country in July found official estimates of wheat area and yields to be over-estimated. The Mission estimated the 2000 wheat harvest to be in the range of 1.7 - 1.8 million tonnes, even less than the poor 1999 harvest of 2 million tonnes. Current conditions also point to a coarse grain harvest only about two-thirds of the bumper 1999 crop of 6.5 million tonnes. An FAO/WFP Mission to the Kosovo Province in late June forecast its wheat production in 2000 at about 231 000 tonnes, from a harvested area of 86 600 hectares, more than double the war-affected crop in 1999.

In the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the outlook is for generally better harvests. The aggregate 2000 grain output of the three countries could recover to about 3.8 million tonnes (1999: 3.4 million tonnes), including 1.3 million tonnes of wheat (1999: 1.2 million tonnes) and 2.5 million tonnes of coarse grains (1999: 2.0 million tonnes).

In the CIS countries west of the Ural Mountains, the outlook is for the 2000 cereal harvests to recover somewhat from last year's low level, mainly due to better prospects in the Russian Federation. In general, crops have overwintered well, but hot and dry conditions in the spring and summer have adversely affected yields in Moldova and the Ukraine. Despite a reduction in the aggregate areas sown to grains, current indications are that the area for harvest will not be significantly less than last year, due to reduced winterkill, notably in the Russian Federation. Mixed weather in the spring and chronic economic problems prevented most farmers from increasing the areas sown to cereals, despite the tight supply situation and higher cereal prices. Nevertheless, early indications are that the aggregate grain harvest in 2000 in Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine could be somewhat higher mainly due to better winter and crops. Preliminary estimates point to an aggregate cereal harvest of some 96 million tonnes ( 1999: 91 million tonnes), which could include 52 million tonnes of wheat ( 1999: 50 million tonnes) and 44 million tonnes of coarse grains ( 1999: 40 million tonnes). However, growing conditions and the availability of inputs until the completion of the harvests will determine the actual yields and the area of maize harvested for grain rather than silage will affect the coarse grain forecasts.

In the Russian Federation, the winter grain harvest is now forecast to reach at least 24-26 million tonnes. Crop condition is mixed but the area affected by the hot dry weather is limited and crop damage by winterkill is well below average. Despite a reduction of about 1 million hectares in the area sown, (spring grain plantings were below target and less than last year), aggregate cereal output is tentatively forecast by FAO to increase by about 10 percent to 65 million tonnes. This would include 37 million tonnes (1999: 34 million tonnes) of wheat and 27.5 million tonnes (1999: 25 million tonnes) of course grains. In Ukraine, by contrast, aggregate output is tentatively forecast to be less than last year as crop yields have been affected by dry conditions during the autumn planting period, untimely frosts and persistent hot and dry conditions this spring and summer. Coupled with chronic on-farm economic problems, current indications point to a 2000 cereal harvest of only 25.6 million tonnes (1999: 26.3 million tonnes), provided the spring-planted maize crop benefits from good conditions from now until the completion of the harvest in September. In Moldova, persistent hot and dry weather has sharply reduced both wheat and maize yields and the aggregate cereal production is provisionally forecast at only 1.6 million tonnes, 0.5 million tonnes less than last year's poor harvest. In Belarus, economic problems, some spring frost damage and shortages of fertilizer and fuel lead FAO to forecast a cereal harvest of only 4.2 million tonnes, still well below average but somewhat better than the 3.4 million tonnes harvested in 1999.

Prospects for the 2000 winter wheat and coarse grain crops in Australia remain generally favourable after satisfactory rains in the past few weeks. The largest threat to the crops, which could alter the current outlook, is an unhatched locust plague, which spreads from western New South Wales (NSW) through to southern parts of the national wheat belt and into Western Australia. It is reported that up to 1.5 million hectares of crop land are infested with eggs. The first hatchings are expected in late August in Western Australia and would then progressively spread throughout the grain-belt. However, the situation is being closely monitored and a huge control campaign has been prepared. Assuming adequate and successful control of the locust threat in the remainder of the season, the total wheat output to be harvested later this year is forecast at 22.8 million tonnes. This would be about 5 percent down from the record crop last year, but still above the average of the past five years. Production of barley, the main winter coarse grain crop, is expected to increase sharply this year after a recovery in plantings from the previous year's reduced area. The 2000 paddy season is complete and the Government estimates a contraction of about 21 percent from the 1999 exceptional crop to about 1.1 million tonnes, reflecting a drop of 12 percent in area and 9 percent in yields.

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