In general, the food supply situation in most developing countries is somewhat better than it was at this time last year, although serious food difficulties persist for many. In the Horn of Africa, improved weather conditions have ameliorated somewhat the severe food problems caused by a prolonged and extensive drought that devastated crops and livestock last year. However, parts of Sudan are currently experiencing serious food supply difficulties due to drought and a flare-up in the long-running civil war. In southern Africa, a mid-season dry spell and excessive rains in parts have resulted in significant falls in harvests, although the impact varies among countries. Elsewhere, despite favourable weather conditions for food production, civil conflicts continue to disrupt agricultural production in Angola, Burundi, DR Congo, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In Asia, parts of China, India and Pakistan have been seriously affected by drought, but the impact is not significant at the national level as the countries have adequate food stocks to cover shortfalls. DPR Korea is currently experiencing what is said to be the worst spring drought in 80 years, which is likely to aggravate the already precarious food supply situation. In central Asia, Mongolia is recovering from two consecutive harsh winters that killed large numbers of livestock, while the CIS countries affected by drought last year (Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) have yet to fully recover. In the Near East, Afghanistan is in the grip of a food crisis caused by a succession of droughts exacerbated by the continuing civil conflict. Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Jordan have been experiencing drought conditions for nearly three years, with large numbers of small farmers, particularly livestock herders, rendered food insecure and in need of assistance.
In Latin America, El Salvador is showing signs of recovery from last year's dry spell and recent earthquakes, while Bolivia and Peru are recovering from the impact of floods early this year that caused some crop losses.
In Europe, crop growing conditions are generally favourable so far, with increased harvests in prospect, except in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where the on-going civil conflict is disrupting agricultural activities.
In North America, wheat production in the United States is forecast to fall sharply after another significant decline in plantings. The area sown to coarse grains and rice is also forecast to decline this year. In Canada, the wheat area is also forecast down from last year, and total wheat production is forecast to decline by 12 percent.
In eastern Africa, good secondary season harvests in parts have improved the food supply situation. However, the effects of the devastating droughts in the last two years and past or ongoing civil strife and conflicts continue to undermine the food security of large numbers of people. In Sudan, the food supply outlook is highly unfavourable in several parts and supplies are anticipated to tighten further in the coming months with the start of the lean season. Two consecutive years of reduced cereal harvests and depletion of stocks have led to sharp increases in cereal prices. The recent escalation of the civil war, particularly in Bahr El Ghazal, has displaced large numbers of people and is aggravating the situation. Consequently, the number of people in need of international assistance, estimated at some 2.97 million people, is expected to increase in the coming months. In Eritrea, the outlook for the 2001 agricultural season, which has just started, remains uncertain with the bulk of the displaced farmers so far unable to return to their farms and large tracts of land still inaccessible due to landmines. The slow response to the humanitarian appeal of 2001 is also a major concern with only a small fraction of the Government's appeal of about US$224 million met so far. In Kenya, the food supply prospects improved in several central and western pastoral districts following abundant rains. However, eastern pastoral districts have yet to recover with only scanty rainfall received so far. In Ethiopia, favourable prospects for the current short rains "belg" crop preceded by a bumper main "meher" season harvest late last year, have significantly improved the food supply situation in the country. However, some 6.5 million people affected by successive droughts and the war with neighbouring Eritrea depend on food assistance. Furthermore, depressed grain prices since late last year have adversely affected household incomes. In Somalia, below normal rains in May in some main cereal growing areas in the South have affected the 2001 main "gu" season crops. More rains are needed to prevent a reduction in yields. Pasture conditions remain good in most parts of the country. However, the effects of the livestock import ban by countries in the Arabian Peninsula and high inflation due to injection of newly printed Somali Shillings into the economy have eroded the purchasing power of large sections of the population. In Uganda and Tanzania, the overall food supply situation is adequate following favourable rainfall. In Burundi, despite an improved harvest last season, the food supply situation is difficult for 324 000 internally displaced people and for drought-affected persons in some areas. In Rwanda, food assistance is required for 267 000 people who have gathered a reduced harvest in southeastern parts due to poor rains.
In southern Africa, harvesting of the 2001 coarse grains is nearly complete. Output is estimated to be sharply reduced as a result of lower plantings and adverse weather. Preliminary estimates of maize production, which accounts for over 90 percent of the total coarse grains, indicate a crop of 13.7 million tonnes, 26 percent lower than in the previous year and well below average. In South Africa, maize production is forecast at 7.2 million tonnes, 3.7 million tonnes less than last year. Despite large carryover stocks, the country's exportable surplus for marketing year 2001/02 is not expected to cover import requirements in the sub-region. Recently completed FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions to Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho have confirmed earlier unfavourable production forecasts. In Zimbabwe, maize output is estimated over one-quarter below the level of 2000 reflecting lower plantings and reduced yields. The overall food supply situation is expected to be very tight as the country faces severe shortages of foreign exchange, which constrain commercial imports. At household level, food difficulties are anticipated in southern and eastern parts, where the cereal harvest was sharply reduced. In Lesotho, cereal production is forecast at 80 000 tonnes, about 55 percent below last year and 60 percent below the last five years average. As a result, cereal import requirement for 2001/02 (April/March) is estimated substantially higher than average. In Swaziland, cereal production is forecast at 73 000 tonnes, around last year's level but 66 percent of the last five years average. Import requirements have doubled from last year and the food supply position is anticipated to be tight. Sharply reduced coarse grains crops were also gathered in Zambia, Namibia and Botswana. In Malawi, maize output declined by over 18 percent from the bumper level of the previous year, when an exportable surplus was available. However, the country will remain self-sufficient in maize. By contrast, in Angola a recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission estimated this year's cereal production significantly above last year due to improved IDPs' access to land, increased agricultural inputs distribution and generally favourable weather. However, over 1.3 million internally displaced people are in need of emergency food aid. In Mozambique, recent official estimates point to an increase in this year's coarse grain output reflecting higher plantings and overall favourable weather, despite excessive rains in northern and central parts.
In northern Africa, harvesting of the sub-region's 2001 winter crops is underway. Aggregate cereal production is expected to reach 26 million tonnes, much above last year's drought-affected output and also above average. The wheat crop is anticipated to be close to 13 million tonnes, compared to about 10 million tonnes last year and just above the five-year average. However, the harvest situation varies across the sub-region. In Morocco, wheat production is expected to be more than double the drought-affected level of 2000, due to favourable weather conditions in northern and central areas. A below-average output is anticipated in southern growing regions as a result of inadequate rainfall and reduced plantings. In Algeria and Tunisia, although wheat harvest is expected to be above the 2000 crop which was adversely affected by drought, prolonged dry conditions in April/May this year during the grain filling stage may result in lower than expected yields and outputs in many areas. As a consequence, a below average wheat crop is forecast in Tunisia while in Algeria it is anticipated to be close to the five-year average. In Egypt, output of the irrigated wheat crop is expected to be only slightly below the 2000 above average level of 6.6 million tonnes, as a result of a small reduction in area planted this year. The sub-region's 2001 aggregate coarse grains crop is forecast at some 10 millions tonnes. This is above the previous year's drought-reduced crop but below the 5-year average, on account of inadequate rainfall over many areas.
In western Africa, the rainy season
is now well established in the countries along the Gulf of Guinea.
Abundant rains were registered in April and May in Côte
d'Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria.
The first maize crop is developing satisfactorily in the south and the centre
while coarse grains are emerging in the north. However, in Guinea
and Sierra Leone, fighting in border areas affected
agricultural and marketing activities and caused population displacement. Relief
programmes are also hampered and refugee camps have been relocated from the
"Parrot's Beak" area in Guinea.
In the Sahel, first rains permitted land preparation and early plantings in
the south of Burkina Faso, Chad
and Mali. Elsewhere, seasonably dry conditions
prevail and plantings will start upon the onset of the rains in June and July.
In central Africa, growing conditions are favourable so far in Cameroon and Central African Republic. The security situation has improved and food production should increase in the Republic of Congo. The food and nutrition situation of an estimated 2 million internally displaced people in the Democratic epublic of Congois extremely serious but insecurity continues to hinder provision of humanitarian assistance.
The main rice season is well advanced in countries around the Equatorial belt. Land preparation and planting of rice and coarse grains has started or is about to start with the arrival of monsoon rains. However, planting has been delayed or hampered by serious drought conditions in some countries. In DPR Korea, crop prospects have become unfavourable due to drought, which follows two consecutive years of harsh winters. In China, drought conditions in the northern part have adversely affected winter wheat planted in September/October. Below-average rainfall has led to water shortages for livestock and human consumption and drying up of water sources for irrigation. Planting of the early rice crop is drawing to a close in the south. In Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam, planting of the main wet season rice crop, which accounts for the bulk of aggregate paddy production, is underway. In the Indian sub-continent, planting of the main Kharif season rice and coarse grains will commence shortly with the arrival of the Southwest monsoon rains. South of the equator, harvesting of the main rice crop is near completion in Indonesia, whilst planting of the second, dry season crop, will commence shortly. Serious drought has devastated crops and livestock in several countries in west Asia, particularly in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan and western India. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the recurrence of drought this year threatens domestic grain production, mostly in southern, eastern and central parts. In Pakistan, the drought has devastated the Baluchistan province and part of Sindh province, causing serious water and food shortages in the worst affected areas. The drought has decimated livestock and severely affected fruit and rainfed cereal production in Balochistan, parts of Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab. Livestock numbers in some districts have been reduced by up to 60 percent of their 1998 levels. In India, drought and the consequent shortage of water and animal feed have seriously affected several central and western states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The states Haryana and Punjab, the country's wheat basket, have also bee affected. Elsewhere, the food situation of nomadic herders in Mongolia still remains precarious following two consecutive harsh winters which killed large numbers of livestock and destroyed the livelihood of pastoralists. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is facing the worst spring drought in more than 80 years. Food supply difficulties are expected to persist, necessitating continued food assistance.
Three consecutive years of drought and below normal rains have severely reduced food output in several countries in the Near East, with particularly sharp falls in Afghanistan, Jordan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq and Syria. In Afghanistan, an exceptionally cold winter exacerbated the very serious food crisis that has emerged following two consecutive years of drought and continuing civil conflict. More than 3 million people depend on international food assistance. A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the country in May 2001 has forecast 2001/02 cereal import requirement at an unprecedented level of about 2.2 million tonnes. In Iraq, two years of drought have seriously reduced food production, while in Jordan drought in three consecutive years and below-average rains have severely affected crops and livestock, leaving thousands of herders in need of assistance. Overall, the outlook is bleak for livestock producers in the region, as livestock mortality rates have increased due to a shortage of fodder and water. This will have serious repercussions particularly in countries where livestock and livestock products constitute an important export and/or provide a livelihood to large segments of the population.
In the eight CIS countries in Asia, spring grain planting is well underway in Kazakhstan, the major producer in the region. Both the aggregate area to be sown and the target output (11.7 million tonnes including 9.2 million tonnes of wheat) seem realistic forecasts at this early stage. Good snows this winter have provided ample soil moisture reserves.
Elsewhere in the region, harvesting of winter grains has started early in some countries in response to hot dry conditions since late April, notably in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In these countries, unseasonably hot weather since late April has favoured spring planting (cotton, potatoes, vegetables, etc) but has also increased irrigation requirements. Information on river flows until end-April indicates that they are even less than last year when drought caused serious losses to both irrigated and rainfed crops. In Uzbekistan, reports indicate that the area sown to rice and cotton has been reduced in response to water shortages in the Karkalpakstan Autonomous region where the availability of drinking water and employment remains grim. In view of the threat of water shortages current indications are that the grain harvest in Uzbekistan could be less than last year's 3.9 million tonnes while the food security situation in the downstream areas (notably the Karakalpakstan Autonomous region) could deteriorates further. The Government of Tajikistan has also issued a drought warning and the cereal harvest is expected to be less than last year's poor level, now estimated at some 400 000 tonnes. In Kyrgyzstan, the early outlook remains satisfactory. In Turkmenistan the harvest outlook could also be affected by water shortages.
In the Caucasus region, following the drought reduced crops of 2000, seed shortages have limited the areas that could be sown with winter wheat in several countries, notably Armenia and to a lesser extent Georgia. Growing conditions to date are by and large satisfactory due to good rains in the spring. However, soil moisture and irrigation reserves have not been replenished after last year's prolonged drought and the final outcome will depend crucially on regular rains for spring crops. In Armenia, indications are that the area sown to winter wheat has fallen to about two thirds of normal but spring grain plantings are planned to boost the aggregate area sown. Nevertheless the cereal harvest could be less than last year. By contrast, in Azerbaijan, the area sown to wheat has increased and spring grain plantings are also set to rise. Tentative projections, given normal weather until the completion of the harvests, is for aggregate wheat production in the region in 2001 to increase to 17.3 million tonnes (2000: 16.7 million tonnes) reflecting perhaps a further increases in output in Turkmenistan, and some recovery in Georgia. Spring coarse grains, (mainly maize) and rice are being planted now.
It is the start of the rainy season in Central America and the Caribbean; harvesting of wheat is well advanced and planting of 2001 first season coarse grain crops is under way. The hurricane season also started at the end of May; Hurricane `Adolph' reached force 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale and moved off the coast of Mexico. The timely start of the rainy season and unchanged planting intentions from last year indicate that aggregate cereal output will increase, specially in Mexico, the largest cereal producer in the sub-region. The area planted with maize is also anticipated to remain unchanged in other Central American countries with the exception of Nicaragua, where low farm prices are expected to cause a reduction of 4 per cent in the area planted. El Salvador is showing signs of recovery from last year's dry spell and recent earthquakes, but the food situation in poor rural areas needs close monitoring until August/September, when the first season crop is harvested. In the Caribbean, rains in May in Cuba partially replenished water supplies, important for the forthcoming paddy crops.
Wheat planting in southern and central parts of South America is under way, and the harvest of coarse grain crops is almost complete. In MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), wheat plantings are expected to increase due to the expectation of higher prices and a record soybean area planted (which is rotated with wheat). Maize harvest is well advanced and output is expected to increase by about 5.5 million tonnes thanks to a record crop in Brazil. In the Andean countries, Bolivia and Peru are recovering from floods which earlier in the year caused localized crop losses. The outlook for wheat and potato crops currently being planted is favourable due to the accumulated water in soils and reservoirs. In the remaining South American countries weather conditions are favourable for the normal development of the crops.
In Europe, conditions for the 2001 cereal crops remain mixed reflecting varied weather conditions across the region in the past two months. Northern parts were generally characterized by abundant rainfall while the southern Mediterranean areas were dry with hot temperatures. Central and eastern parts have mostly received satisfactory rainfall and conditions are generally better than last year when widespread drought affected these parts. Latest information confirms expectations of a decrease in the EC cereal crop in 2001, with most of the reduction expected in wheat. Elsewhere in the region cereal crops are generally expected to increase somewhat from the 2000 levels.
In the CIS countries west of the Ural Mountains, (Belarus, Moldova, Russian Federation and Ukraine) early forecast is for an increase in the 2001 cereal production in response to mostly good growing conditions for winter crops and favourable conditions so far for spring planted crops. This could lead to an increase in the aggregate area sown to cereals in the order of 4 million hectares. Markedly better growing conditions this season in the Ukraine and Moldova to date point to a recovery from the poor levels of the past two years.
In the Russian Federation, the aggregate area sown to grains is estimated to have increased by over 2 million hectares to about 48 million hectares compared to 45.6 in 1999/2000 season. Winter crop area increased, and winterkill has affected 1.2 million hectares, similar to last year's level and spring grain planting is projected to rise by 1.4 million hectares. Yield projections are difficult to make for an area as large and varied as the Russian Federation but, given normal weather until the completion of the harvest, FAO projects that the 2001 grain (cereal and pulse) harvest could reach 74 million tonnes compared to the estimate of 71 million tonnes in 2000. At this early stage the 2001 wheat harvest is projected at 40 million tonnes (2000: 38 million tonnes) and coarse grains at 32 million tonnes, similar to last year's level.
In Ukraine, growing conditions are favourable to date for both winter and spring planted crops. Current conditions point to a harvested area of 13.4 million hectares (2000: 12.6 million hectares). The outlook is for a sharp recovery from the poor harvests of the past two years, (estimated at 27 and 23 million tonnes respectively). Early projections, provided normal weather prevails, are for the 2001 grain harvest to reach 31 million tonnes, including about 18 million tonnes (2000: 11 million tonnes) of wheat and 13 million tonnes (2000: 12 million tonnes) of coarse grains. In Belarus, weather conditions for the 2001 crops have also been beneficial overall and despite persistent economic problems, indications are that the 2001 grain harvest could reach 5 million tonnes, cleaned weight compared to an estimated 4.8 million tonnes in 2000. In Moldova, also, expectations are for an increase to an estimated 2.4 million tonnes (2000: 2.1 million tonnes) in response to better weather conditions to date.
In the Baltic countries, (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) the 2001 cereal harvest is likely to remain close to last year's good level, with aggregate wheat and coarse grain production estimated to remain stable at 1.5 and 2.6 million tonnes respectively.
In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, (Serbia and Montenegro), good rains since December helped to boost soil moisture for crop development but soil moisture reserves have not yet been fully recharged. Winter wheat condition is satisfactory throughout the country but spring crops, and in particular the maize crop, remain at risk of moisture stress in the absence of regular rains until September at least. Although official expectations of the 2001 cereal harvest are high, FAO tentatively forecasts the 2001 wheat harvest at 2 million tonnes (compared to 1.6-1.8 million tonnes last year) and the maize harvest to recover to around 5 million tonnes ( from 3.1 million in 2000). In Croatia, the outlook is similarly uncertain with moisture reserves remaining tight, but again good spring rains have improved the outlook and the 2001 cereal crops are likely to recover from last year's low of 2.8 million tonnes. In Bosnia Herzegovina, wheat production is likely to remain at about 250 000 tonnes but maize output, given adequate rains this growing season could recover from last year's drought reduced level.
In North America, wheat production in the United States is set to fall sharply after a further significant decline in plantings, particularly of winter wheat. Aggregate wheat output in 2001 is now officially forecast at 53.4 million tonnes, 12 percent down from the previous year. The overall area sown to coarse grains is also expected to decrease this year, and output is tentatively forecast to fall by about 3 percent to some 267 million tonnes, of which maize would account for about 243 million tonnes. Paddy production for 2001/02 is officially forecast to fall by about 3 percent from the previous year to 8.4 million tonnes. Also, in Canada, the wheat area for the 2001 harvest is estimated down from the previous year and the country's aggregate wheat output is now forecast at 23.7 million tonnes, 12 percent down from 2000. For coarse grains, latest indications continue to point to an increase in area and output.
In Oceania, prospects for the winter cereal crops in Australia have improved significantly following the arrival of widespread rainfall after a prolonged dry spell during the main planting period. Latest indications suggest that wheat output could still rise from last year's below average level but not by as much as earlier anticipated. The recently completed rice harvest has yielded a record crop reflecting favourable conditions during its growing season. The two earthquakes that hit Papua New Guinea in June have reportedly caused damage to property and infrastructure, leaving some 200 people homeless. However, damage to crops has been limited. The food situation in the Solomon Islands continues to be tight, particularly for the internally displaced persons and the new returnees. In Vanuatu, cyclone season has been generally calm this year and limited crop damage is reported from the cyclone in early April.