FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.1 - February 2002 p. 4

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Current Production and Crop Prospects


Position by Region


Latest estimate of the 2001 cereal output in Asia is 976.6 million tonnes which compares to 989.3 million tonnes collected the year before and to the past 5-year average of 1 006 million tonnes, largely reflecting the adverse weather conditions which have affected the key grain producers in the region. Total wheat output is estimated at 240.2 million tonnes, some 10 million tonnes less than in 2000 and 15 million tonnes below the 5-year average. Most of the decline is attributed to reduced production in China and India. Estimate of total coarse grains for the region, by contrast, increased by some 4 million tonnes higher than the previous year, but more than 15 million tonnes below average. The 2001 paddy production in the region is currently forecast to dip by about 1 percent to 537.4 million tonnes. This is somewhat above the previous forecast, mainly reflecting large upward revisions of output in Bangladesh and Thailand. By contrast, estimates were reduced in several other countries, in particular Cambodia, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Far East: In China, the winter wheat crop is dormant across most of the country. Growing conditions in the south are reported to be better than those in the north and prospects are good for the spring harvest. Despite beneficial rainfall and snowfall in November/December 2001, additional soil moisture is needed in the northern areas before spring to assure satisfactory crop growth. In India, planting of the winter wheat crop has been completed under favourable weather conditions in the main irrigated growing areas of Punjab, Haryana, and West Uttar Pradesh for harvesting from April, while in Pakistan, sowing was somewhat affected by low water levels in reservoirs.

Estimates of paddy production in Bangladesh for the 2001 season have been raised, mainly reflecting improved expectations for the Boro irrigated crop, to be harvested from March. In Cambodia, the forecast of production for the 2001 season has been lowered to 3.6 million tonnes, following a downward revision of the area planted. As a result, output in 2001 would be more than 10 percent below 2000, with much of the contraction resulting from an unfavourable rainfall pattern, which depressed both plantings and yields.

The estimate of paddy output in China (Mainland) in 2001 remains at about 8 million tonnes smaller than in 2000 and the lowest level since 1995. Amidst reports of damage from typhoons last November, the figure for 2001 paddy production in the Chinese Province of Taiwan has been cut. The reduction could relieve oversupply pressure that is likely to build up this year, under the commitments that The Province made in joining the WTO. Under the Agreement, The Province has pledged to open up its domestic rice market to imports, forbid the use of export subsidies and reduce progressively Government support to producers as of 2002.

Most states in India have completed the harvest of the main Kharif crop, while planting of the irrigated Rabi crop is on going in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Based on the expectation of a normal Rabi output, the outlook for production in 2001 remains relatively high, second in size only to the 1998 paddy crop.

In the Republic of Korea, the latest assessment of the 2001 paddy crop indicated a slightly higher production estimate than earlier anticipated. At the new level, total output for the season would be 3 percent up from the previous year, reflecting excellent growing conditions during the summer, which have boosted yields. For the forthcoming season, however, increased efforts are likely to be made by the Government to reduce production, to check the burgeoning excess supplies.

Despite much improved rainfall in Pakistan, shortages of irrigation water and favourable prices of alternative crops seriously constrained paddy cultivation last season. The latest official assessment of the season indicates a 2001 paddy output which is 21 percent less than in 2000.

Similarly, the outlook for the 2001/02 (July-June) paddy production in the Philippines has deteriorated following the passage, in November, of Typhoon Lingling. Notwithstanding the downward adjustment, output would reach an all-time high. However, the final outcome for the season will also depend on the crop performance in the first half of 2002, with much uncertainty arising from the possible recurrence of an El Niño-induced drought spell.

FAO has changed the base for reporting production figures for Viet Nam, moving to a different method for aggregating the three crops grown in the country. The new aggregation yielded an estimate for 2001 production of 31.9 million tonnes, about 600 000 tonnes less than the previous season, and 300 000 tonnes below the previously reported figure. Much of the year-to-year contraction reflects a shortfall in the Summer-Autumn crop, following a reduction in plantings and floods in the Mekong Delta last November.

Viet Nam, Paddy Production by Crop 1999-2001

( . ..million tonnes . . )
10th Month Crop


World Cereal Production - Provisional Estimate for 2001

Coarse grains
Rice (paddy)
( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . million tonnes . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . )
Central America
South America
North America
2 056.2
2 075.8
(1 858)2/
(1 880)2/
Developing countries
1 190.8
1 191.5
Developed countries

In Thailand, harvest of the main paddy crop is progressing satisfactorily, under excellent weather conditions. Output this season is expected to be of the order of 25.2 million tonnes, 1 million tonnes more than the previous forecast but 0.4 million tonnes below the revised estimate of last season's harvest. Since November, the Government has been actively purchasing the new harvested rice, to sustain prices. The Government intervention scheme is expected to last until February, when the harvest comes to an end.

In Indonesia, torrential rains were reported to have caused some paddy losses and damage to irrigation infrastructure in the North of the Sumatra Province in December, when harvesting of the main season crop was on-going. Pending an assessment of their impact, the estimate of the country's production in 2001 stays 3.5 percent below the record achieved in 2000. Meanwhile, planting of the first 2002 paddy crop is well advanced in Java and South of Sumatra, where the harvest should start in February. The Government has set an ambitious target of 53.9 million tonnes for the 2002 season. However, there is still much uncertainty regarding a possible recurrence of an El Niño-related drought spell, which would jeopardize crop performance.

In Malaysia, harvest of the 2002 main paddy crop is about to start in the Peninsula. So far, conditions have been less than ideal for rice, with excessive rains in late December and January, which might have negatively affected the crop. Although the estimated paddy output in Sri Lanka has been raised by 75 000 tonnes from the previous issue, the season would end with an unexpected 6 percent contraction from 2000, reflecting a 9 percent fall in the Maha crop. The country is currently about to gather the main 2002 Maha crop.

Near East: In Afghanistan, recent heavy rains in the south and heavy snow in the north have improved moisture availability for the winter crops, after a prolonged period of drought. However, 2002 cereal output prospects remain unfavourable due to the effects of the recent civil conflict and the associated population displacements. Also in Iraq, the outlook for the winter cereals remains uncertain due to a limited recovery in moisture availability from recent severe drought conditions and shortages of essential inputs. In Syria and Jordan, recent good rains and snow cover have improved prospects for the 2002 crop to be harvested from April. In Turkey, heavy rains and snow received in the last two months are expected to be beneficial for the wheat crop, to be harvested from June. Following the release of lower official figures for the 2000 paddy output in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the estimate for the 2001 crop has been further reduced. All indications for the 2001 crop point to a lower output than the preceding year's already depressed level, reflecting the impact of the severe drought that has affected the country for the past three years, and of torrential rains which fell in major rice producing areas, last August.

CIS in Asia: Drought and general economic decline continued to affect the cereal harvest in 2001 throughout the region, except for Kazakhstan. The worst affected countries were once again Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Georgia. The total 2001 cereal harvest in the region amounted to 26.9 million tonnes, above the 20.5 million tonnes average of the past five years, but the improvement was mainly restricted to increased production in Kazakhstan only by about 6 million tonnes.

The area planted to winter cereals (which accounts for the bulk of the annual cereal crop in the region) for harvest in 2002, is similar to the previous year. Snowfall, a major source of irrigation water, has yet again been below average. This year's harvest will depend on the level of snowfall and snowmelt during the ensuing spring and summer.


Northern Africa: Aggregate cereal production in 2001 in the subregion improved significantly compared to the preceding year, when the crops were severely affected by drought. Wheat output increased by almost 28 percent and was slightly above the average of the past 5 years, while coarse grains output was about 15 per cent above the previous year's low level and about average. Growing conditions so far this year for the 2002 wheat and coarse grains, to be harvested from April, are considered favourable in Algeria and Egypt. Heavy rains in the former country in November helped improve soil moisture reserves thus allowing ploughing and sowing operations in the key wheat growing areas. By contrast, the late arrival of rains in Morocco and accumulated moisture deficits in Tunisia, have resulted in below average winter wheat and barley areas. The 2001 paddy crop has been fully harvested in Egypt where production is estimated to be 13 percent lower than in 2000. The decline has been associated with a fall in the area, while average yields improved again, reaching a record of almost 9.3 tonnes per hectare.

Western Africa: A record cereal crop has been gathered in late 2001 in the Sahelian countries following generally favourable growing conditions throughout the season. A series of FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions in October 2001 estimated the aggregate cereal output of the nine CILSS countries at a record 11.7 million tonnes, which is significantly higher than both the previous year and the average. Production is estimated to be above the average of the previous five years in all countries with the exception of Mauritania. Record crops have been gathered in Burkina Faso, Gambia and Niger while Chad, Mali and Senegal harvested above average crops. Production in Cape Verde is expected to be lower than previous year but above average. In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, harvest prospects are uncertain following reduced rains in October in some countries. In Sierra Leone, improved conditions for agricultural input distribution and increased area planted should result in a crop somewhat larger than in the previous year. The favourable weather conditions in 2001 in the subregional boosted paddy production by 5 percent, notwithstanding a massive inflow of imported rice during the year. Ghana, Mali and Nigeria are expected to account for most of the increase. By contrast, little growth is estimated in Cote d'Ivoire.

Central Africa: Harvest prospects are generally favourable in Cameroon and the Central African Republic, reflecting good growing conditions. In the Republic of Congo, food production is gradually recovering while persistent insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo will result in a below average cereal crop for the third consecutive year.

Eastern Africa: Harvesting of the 2001 wheat crop is complete in Kenya and Ethiopia. FAO's latest estimates put the subregion's 2001 aggregate output at about 2 million tonnes, an increase of some 4 percent from the previous year and slightly above average. Output in Ethiopia is forecast at 1.4 million tonnes, slightly below the previous year's good crop but about 15 percent above average. In Kenya, production is expected to recover from the poor level of 2000. In Sudan, where the 2002 crop is scheduled to be harvested from March, prospects are uncertain reflecting increased cost of production following a hike in fuel prices.

Harvesting of the 2001 main season coarse grains is complete in the subregion. Secondary season crops are now being harvested everywhere except in Ethiopia where they are about to be planted. The outlook is generally favourable. The subregion's 2001/02 aggregate production is forecast at a bumper level of some 21 million tonnes, 13 percent higher than in 2000/01.

Southern Africa: Latest estimates of the recently harvested 2001 wheat crop in the subregion indicate a crop of 2.9 million tonnes, 6 percent higher than the good level of the previous year. In South Africa, production increased 6 percent to an above-average level of some 2.5 million tonnes. This reflects larger plantings and adequate water supplies. In Zimbabwe, production of wheat is estimated at 300 000 tonnes, 20 percent higher than the 2000 poor harvest, reflecting an increase in the area planted. In Zambia, the output declined to 75 000 tonnes due to reduced plantings.

By contrast, the 2001 coarse grain production was negatively affected by a reduction in the area planted, coupled with a mid-season dry spell and excessive rains during the growing season. Output is estimated to be 25 percent lower than in the previous year. Production declined in all countries of the subregion, except Angola, Mozambique and Madagascar.

The early outlook for the 2002 coarse grains in Southern Africa is favourable reflecting abundant rains from October to December that benefited planting and establishment of the crops. However, localized floods and crop losses were experience in Malawi and parts of Angola. In Madagascar, tropical storm Cyprien in early January also resulted in floods in the south-western region. Prospects are also favourable due to a forecast increase in the area planted to coarse grains, in response to high prices of maize in most countries. In South Africa, the largest producer of the subregion, preliminary estimates indicate an increase of 6 percent in the area planted of maize. By contrast, in Zimbabwe, plantings are estimated to be reduced as a result of disruption in the agricultural sector and shortages of agricultural inputs. The 2002 rice season crop is well advanced in Madagascar, but also in Mozambique, Uganda and the Congo Democratic Republic, favoured by this season's good rainfall pattern.

Central America and the Caribbean

Early prospects are favourable for the 2001/02 irrigated wheat crop in Mexico. Harvesting is due to start from early April and output is tentatively forecast at about 3.2 million tonnes to 3.3 million tonnes, similar to the previous year's level and the average of the past 5 years.

Harvesting of the 2001/02 second season coarse grain (mostly maize) and bean crops is virtually complete in all countries while harvesting of the third season crop ("apante") is about to start in some Central American countries. A recovery in production has been reported in some areas but not enough to offset the losses incurred to the first season crops due to drought and the passage of Hurricane "Michelle" in early November. Aggregate cereal production in 2001/02 in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama is provisionally estimated at about 3.6 million tonnes, below the already low five-year average of 3.9 million tonnes, reflecting the series of natural disasters such as "El Niño" weather phenomenon (1997-1998), hurricane rains and flooding, and recurrent droughts which have affected the subregion in recent years. In Mexico, coarse grain production in 2001 is provisionally estimated at a near record 25.6 million tonnes. In the Caribbean, average to above-average coarse grain outputs are estimated in Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti, particularly in the first country where maize production is well above the past 5-year average.

Throughout most of Central America and the Caribbean, rice production has fallen in 2001, reflecting drought conditions earlier in the season and the impact of hurricanes in November, when harvesting of the summer crops was in full swing. Compared with the previous report, the forecasts of 2001 production in Haiti, Costa Rica, Mexico and Nicaragua have been cut. Overall, the region is now anticipated to produce around 2.1 million tonnes of paddy, down from 2.4 million tonnes in 2000, with the bulk of the year-to-year decline concentrated in Costa Rica, Mexico and Nicaragua. The Dominican Republic stands out as an exception, with an expected increase in production, stemming largely from a growing use of high-yielding rice varieties.

South America

Harvesting of the 2001/02 wheat crop is underway in the southern parts of the subregion. In Argentina, harvesting is well advanced following some delays in the northern regions because of excess rains which inflicted some damage to crops. Yields so far obtained in the southern areas are satisfactory and should help partially offset losses incurred in the north. Production is officially forecast at an above-average 16.5 million tonnes. In Brazil, harvesting has been recently completed and wheat output is provisionally estimated at a near 3 million tonnes, lower than earlier estimates as a consequence of damaging rains, but well above the past 5-year average. In Chile, harvesting is underway and production is expected to increase from last year's average level to a well-above average 1.8 million tonnes. In Uruguay, harvesting is about to be completed and a recovery from last year's low volume is anticipated, although output will likely still be lower than average. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, planting of the 2001/02 main wheat crop, mostly in the eastern department of Santa Cruz, for harvesting from March, has been virtually completed under normal weather conditions.

Planting of the 2001/02 coarse grain crop, mainly maize, has been completed in Argentina, following delays due to heavy October/November rains in some key producing areas. Harvesting is due from March and early prospects are poor, largely because of reduced plantings and anticipated lower than normal yields caused by excessive rains and flooding. In Brazil, harvesting of the main 2001/02 maize crop is about to start and early prospects point to an above-average output. However, this is considerably lower than the 2000/01 record crop as a consequence of a significantly smaller area planted. This is mainly the result of soybeans' more attractive prices to farmers relative to maize. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, planting of the main 2002 coarse grain crops has been virtually completed, following beneficial rains in the latter months of 2001. Harvesting is due from April and average outcomes are tentatively forecast, assuming favourable weather conditions persist. In Peru, planting of the 2001/02 maize and potato crops continues under favourable weather conditions. Water reservoir levels are considered adequate, particularly in the central and southern areas of the country. In the north, by contrast, below-normal rainfall was registered in late 2001. In Ecuador, planting of the 2002 principal maize crop continues under normal weather conditions, while in Colombia harvesting of the 2001/02 second season cereal crops (planted in September through December) has only started. In Venezuela, harvesting of the 2001 maize crop has been completed and a near record 1.4 million tonnes have been collected.

In South America, most countries situated south of the Equator completed their main 2001 paddy season last June. However, a few countries in the northern part of the continent still have some rice to harvest. This is the case of Colombia, which is in the process of reaping its winter crop. Official figures for production there have been slightly adjusted upward on account of a higher than anticipated area. Estimates of output during the 2001 season have been increased also in Argentina. In retrospective, the performance of the 2001 rice season has been rather negative in the region, with a 6 percent overall decline, much of which was concentrated in Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay. The sector, however, recorded growth in Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

Several countries in the region started planting their 2002 main paddy crops in September last year, some of which have already entered the pinnacle filling stage. Conditions for crop development have been favourable in December, but drought conditions prevailed in the first half of January in Argentina, Uruguay and in the Southern parts of Brazil, which, if they persist, could impair a satisfactory development of the crop. In Argentina, preliminary forecasts for the new 2002 season by the national authorities point to a 16 percent fall in planting. Assuming average yields, output in the country could dip to some 700 000 tonnes, which would be the lowest performance since 1995. By contrast, official forecasts in Brazil, point to a recovery in 2002 production, based on expectations of an increase in the area, consistent with the strengthening of domestic prices observed in recent months.

North America

In the United States, the final official estimate of the 2001 wheat crop is 53.3 million tonnes, some 12 percent down from 2000 and the smallest crop since 1988. The decrease was mostly caused by a reduction in plantings, although average yields also fell somewhat compared to the previous year. According to the USDA Seedings report of 11 January, the winter wheat area for the 2002 harvest has declined again marginally from last year's already low level, to 16.6 million hectares, the smallest area since 1971. Although, the Hard Red Winter wheat area (which accounts for about 70 percent of the total) is estimated to be about 1 percent up from the previous year, this increase is more than offset by reduced plantings of Soft Red Winter and White Winter wheat. Establishment of the crops in many key producing areas was somewhat patchy due to dry conditions at planting time and persisting dryness in these areas could lead to poor development when dormancy breaks in the coming weeks. In Canada, latest estimates put the 2001 wheat output at about 21.3 million tonnes, more than 20 percent down from the previous year as a result of severe drought. Precipitation has remained well below normal in many areas throughout the winter so far and prospects for the size of the 2002 wheat crop (mostly planted in May) remain very uncertain pending the weather in the coming months.

The United States 2001 coarse grains crop is now estimated at 262 million tonnes, almost 5 percent down from the previous year's crop and just below the average of the past five years. Of the total, maize is estimated to account for about 241 million tonnes, compared to 253 million tonnes in 2000. In Canada, output of coarse grains in 2001 was also affected by the drought, falling sharply to 23 million tonnes, about 6 percent down from the previous year's already reduced crop.

A bumper rice crop was harvested in the United States in 2001. USDA's latest estimate has been raised to a new record. Yields, which were boosted by good weather conditions and expanded use of improved varieties, were up by 1.4 percent, while the increase in the area was 8 percent. All of the production gain was in the form of long grain rice, while low prices at planting time resulted in falling production of medium and short grain rice.


In the EC, wheat output in 2001 is estimated at 92 million tonnes, more than 12 percent lower than the previous year, due to reduced area and adverse weather at planting time. Coarse grains output remained virtually unchanged from 2000 at 109.6 million tonnes. Early indications for the 2002 winter cereal point to a significant recovery in the wheat area by about 10 percent. Although overall planting conditions were reported to be below average, they were considerably improved compared to the previous year and crops are generally in good condition. Large increases in plantings are reported particularly in France and the United Kingdom after last year's reduced outputs.

In the EC, 2001 paddy production is estimated to have risen somewhat compared with 2000. The increase reflects moderate growth in Italy, Portugal and Spain, which has more than offset a contraction in France and Greece. Although planting of the 2002 crop will not start until April-May, the drought that is affecting the northern rice producing regions of Italy may lead to a smaller crop next year, if availability of irrigation water remains short. This could also depress EC overall output, since Italy is the largest Community rice producer, accounting for some 50 percent of the total.

Most eastern and central European countries harvested better cereal crops in 2001 reflecting improved weather, and increased plantings, after drought in the previous year. Regarding the 2002 winter grain crops, planting conditions last autumn throughout most of the region were somewhat below average due to excessive moisture. However, winter conditions have been generally favourable so far, with good snow-cover providing protection from harsh winter temperatures and ensuring increased moisture supplies will be available for crops this spring. In Bulgaria, the area sown to wheat and barley last autumn is officially reported to have increased by about 8 percent from the previous year to 1.4 million hectares. In the Czech Republic the winter wheat area may have declined due to particularly wet conditions during the autumn sowing period. In Hungary the winter grain area is tentatively estimated to be similar to the previous year's level and about the average of the past five years. In Poland, early reports indicate that the winter grain area could be down from the previous year. Winter grain planting in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is estimated to have increased, reflecting farmers' expectation of market liberalization in 2002 coupled with better availability of inputs.

In the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the 2001 cereal harvest amounted to more than 4 million tonnes, just below the average of the past five years. The area planted to winter cereals for harvest in 2002 is reported to be similar to the previous year's.

CIS in Europe: Cereal production in the CIS countries west of the Urals in 2001 significantly increased compared with the average harvest of the past 6 years. In the Russian Federation, the total grain harvest amounted to nearly 85 million tonnes in 2001 compared with 65 million tonnes in 2000. Wheat, barley and maize are the main cereals accounting for 46.9 million tonnes, 19.1 million tonnes and 16.8 million tonnes, respectively. Cereal production in the Ukraine increased by about 56 percent in 2001 compared with the previous year, while in Moldova grain output reached 2.7 million tonnes in 2001 compared with the drought-reduced harvest of 1.9 million tonnes the previous year.

The area planted to winter cereals for harvest in 2002 increased by 12 percent in the Russian Federation, while similar areas have been seeded in other parts of the region compared with 2001. Crop conditions and soil moisture have been good despite some frost and exceptionally cold weather conditions in early November and late December. The cereal harvest this year is likely to be at least as good as last year.

In the Russian Federation, the latest figures reported by the Russian State Statistics Committee pointed to a 15 percent contraction of paddy output in 2001. The decline reflects a fall in the area but also a return of yields down to average levels. Likewise, paddy production fell in Ukraine.


In Australia, the 2001 wheat harvest is virtually complete and latest indications point to a larger crop than earlier expected at about 23 million tonnes. Although the season got off to a poor start in Western Australia and Queensland, due to dry weather, conditions in Western Australia improved as the season went on. As a result, average yields in this state have turned out much higher than anticipated. Output of winter coarse grains (mostly barley and oats), is estimated to have remained about the level of the previous year at some 8 million tonnes. Aggregate coarse grains output in 2001 is estimated at 11.3 million tonnes. The development of the rice plants for the 2002 season in Australia has been delayed by cool temperatures at the onset of the season in October last year and again in January. As a result, yield forecasts by Abare have been lowered substantially from 9.5 tonnes in 2001 to 8.4 tonnes per hectare in 2002. Combined with a 10 percent contraction in the area to 167 000 hectares, production is expected to reach about 1.4 million tonnes, down from almost 1.8 million tonnes in 2001.







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