FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.2 - May 2002 p.5

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Current Production and Crop Prospects

Position by Region


Far East: Generally, winter and spring precipitation in 2001/02 improved over the previous year, benefiting development of winter cereals and planting conditions for summer crops. However, some localized areas, notably China’s north-eastern province of Jilin, received poor spring rain and dry conditions have seriously affected spring sowing and early crop development. In a number of countries there are fears of the return of a drought-inducing El Niño weather pattern in the second half of 2002.

Harvesting of the 2002 winter wheat crop is underway or about to start. In China, due to dry conditions at planting time and low domestic wheat prices, the winter wheat area is estimated to be about 3 percent below that of the previous year. As a result, although the minor spring crop has yet to be planted, aggregate (winter and spring) output in 2002 is expected to fall below the previous year’s already reduced level to 92.4 million tonnes. By contrast, in India, below normal, but timely rainfall in January and February 2002 accompanied by a prolonged cold spell benefited crops and an output of 73.5 million tonnes is expected. This is above average, though well below the record crop of 76.4 million tonnes in 2000. Despite lower levels of irrigation reservoirs, also Pakistan forecasts an above average production of wheat in 2002, at about 19.2 million tonnes.

The 2002 coarse grain crop is expected to increase in the subregion, reflecting both larger areas planted and higher yields. In China, despite dry conditions in the north-eastern areas during planting, maize production is forecast to increase by about 2 percent to 117.6 million tonnes, which is about average, while 12.3 million tonnes of other coarse grains are also expected. In India, assuming normal rainfall during the Kharif season, the output of coarse grains is expected to increase by almost 7 percent over last year to 33 million tonnes. Harvesting of maize in Indonesia is completed. Heavy rainfall in January/February caused wet conditions during harvesting time that affected quality rather than quantity. Early indications suggest the 2002 maize output will increase somewhat from the previous year.

In the southern hemisphere and equatorial belt, countries are about to harvest their main 2002 paddy crops. In Indonesia, harvesting has begun and should continue through June. Heavy floods in February hit the main rice producing areas, reportedly destroying 200 000 hectares of paddy fields. Consequently, the first official forecast for 2002 puts paddy production at 48.7 million tonnes, 1 million tonnes lower than in the previous season. In Malaysia, production is also anticipated to fall from the relatively positive outturn in 2001. Drought conditions have prevailed during the first quarter in several parts of the country, which has led to a rationing of water for irrigation. Moreover, there is some uncertainty regarding the possible recurrence of the El Niño weather phenomenon this year and any associated effect on the second paddy crop, which is planted from April. In Sri Lanka, harvest of the main Maha paddy crop is almost concluded. FAO currently forecasts a small recovery in output, from last season’s reduced crop, which was badly affected by drought and rising production costs.

In the northern hemisphere, Bangladesh reached a new production record in 2001, boosted by increases in the Boro, irrigated winter crop, which in recent years has become the largest of the three paddy crops grown in the country. According to the Government’s target for 2002, the rising production trend should persist over the current season, barring major weather problems. Paddy output in India also increased sharply last year, owing mainly to favourable monsoon rains. Pending the release of official information regarding the 2002 Kharif (main season) crop, planted from May, FAO forecasts a 2 percent decline in overall production, based on somewhat lower yields during the current season. Prospects for production in Pakistan in 2002 are marred by the persistence of drought during the first quarter, which has aggravated existing shortages of irrigation water for the main crop. The official forecast for the forthcoming season’s production is 5.2 million tonnes, 7 percent below 2001, and the lowest since 1994.

In China (Mainland), the 2002 season has started with the planting of the early rice crop. A small drop in paddy output is currently expected, although much less pronounced than in the past two years, as farmers move to more profitable activities, especially in the northern and central provinces particularly prone to dry spells and water scarcity. Moreover, although domestic paddy prices recovered somewhat last year, they have remained below the 1999 levels, especially in the case of indica rice.

A fall in production is also expected in the Chinese Province of Taiwan, which already announced a 9 percent cut in plantings to address the excess supply problem likely to arise following the opening of the market to rice imports. In Thailand, the 2002 paddy season starts in May. The Government has already predicted some decline following poor rainfall in the first three months of the year. Furthermore, there is concern of more adverse weather should the possibility for the recurrence of the El Niño weather phenomenon materialize this year. Paddy output could also recede in Japan, where planting will start in May. The Government is considering the introduction of new measures to tackle the rice surplus situation, including a shift to an output-based production quota, replacing the previous area-based quota. In Viet Nam, the first winter/spring paddy crop is being harvested in the southern part of the country. Following reports of a lingering drought in the Mekong Delta and a shift of producers out of rice, the crop is now expected to be smaller than in the past season. Nonetheless, the Government has optimistically targeted overall paddy output to reach 32.3 million tonnes in 2002, up from 31.9 million tonnes in 2001, which would imply an increase, compared to last year, in the summer/autumn crop and the 10th-Month crop, planted in April and May respectively.

Elsewhere in the region, the paddy season awaits the arrival of monsoon rains, which generally start around May/June.

Near East: Harvesting of the 2002 wheat crop is underway in Jordan and Syria as of April. Prospects have improved in these countries over the past weeks following favourable rains. Similarly, the 2002 wheat crop in Turkey, to be harvested from June, is expected to improve significantly compared to last year due to favourable weather since last December. In Afghanistan, in addition to the adverse effects of continued civil strife and short supply of agricultural inputs, production of winter grains in 2002 is expected to be affected by low precipitation in parts. The recent invasion of locusts in northern Afghanistan has already destroyed large areas of winter wheat and may severely compromise cereal production in the coming months. In Iraq, despite some beneficial rains at the beginning of this year shortage of agricultural inputs continue to affect cereal production. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, following three years of devastating drought, improved precipitation this season favoured wheat production. Tentatively, the harvest, which is about to start, is forecast at 8.5 million tonnes, 1 million tonnes above the previous year, but still somewhat below the recent average. The improved precipitation should also support a partial recovery in paddy production this year.

CIS in Asia: Output of wheat in the 8 CIS countries in Asia this year is forecast at 22.5 million tonnes, which is more than 1 million tonnes higher than the bumper crop in 2001. A forecast 5 percent rise in Kazakhstan’s crop reflecting a larger sown area accounts for the bulk of the increase. Regarding coarse grains, the latest information points to an aggregate output of about 4.4 million tonnes for the region, mainly barley (2.7 million tonnes) and maize (1.1 million tonnes). This would be slightly down from the previous year but still above the average of the recent years. However, much will depend on spring and summer precipitation, snow melt and water availability for irrigation in late spring and summer. The region has been in the grips of a severe drought for the past three years. The invasion of locusts, which has already damaged large areas of crops in Tajikistan, may compromise winter cereal harvest in the coming months.


Northern Africa: Harvesting of the 2002 wheat crop is due to start from May virtually in every country of the subregion. Aggregate output is tentatively forecast at about 10 million tonnes, some 2.8 million tonnes below the high level reached in 2001 and about 1.5 million tonnes below the average of the past 5 years. The decline is largely attributed to the lack of adequate rainfall in the main producing areas, resulting in significantly reduced plantings and lower than normal yields. Output is expected to fall significantly in all countries, except for Egypt, where the bulk of the crop is irrigated and where an average output of some 6.2 million tonnes is expected. Harvesting of the coarse grain crops, mainly barley and maize, is also due to start from May. In Algeria and Morocco, only the northwestern parts in the former country and some areas in the east and north of the latter country, received adequate rains throughout the sowing period, while in Tunisia, the rains arrived too late in the main growing regions. As a consequence, a considerable decrease in coarse grain production from the 2001 average level is also anticipated in these countries. By contrast, normal weather conditions in Egypt have benefited the crops and average barley and maize outputs should be gathered. The paddy season in Egypt starts from late April. High producer prices in the country in 2001 are expected to induce producers to expand rice cultivation this season. However, much would depend on water availability at planting time. Although not strictly enforced, the area under rice remains subject to government limitations for water saving purposes.

Western Africa: The rainy season is starting in the southern part of the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea. Land preparation and planting of the first maize crop are progressing northwards following the onset of the rains. In the Sahelian countries, seasonably dry conditions prevail and planting should begin in June/July with the start of the rainy season. While land is now being prepared for the sowing of the 2002 season rice crop, the full planting intentions of west African countries are still not known.

World Cereal Production

Wheat Coarse grains Rice (paddy) Total
2001 2002
2001 2002
2001 2002
2001 2002
  ( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . )
Asia 239.4 247.0 205.8 212.0 539.0 533.0 984.2 992.0
Africa 17.9 15.0 81.1 78.6 17.3 17.5 116.3 111.1
Central America 3.3 3.2 30.0 29.8 2.4 2.3 35.6 35.3
South America 21.0 23.1 71.8 64.1 19.8 20.4 112.6 107.5
North America 74.6 79.8 285.3 296.2 9.7 9.6 369.5 385.5
Europe 201.1 210.6 219.7 217.6 3.2 3.2 423.9 431.4
Oceania 24.0 24.3 12.4 11.2 1.8 1.2 38.2 36.7
WORLD 581.3 602.9 906.0 909.5 593.1 587.2 2 080.4 2 099.6
  (397)1/ (393)1/ (1 884)2/ (1 905)2/
Developing countries 256.9 262.9 375.8 370.6 566.8 561.8 1 199.5 1 195.3
Developed countries 324.4 340.0 530.2 538.9 26.3 25.4 880.9 904.3

Source: FAO 1/ Milled rice. 2/ Including milled rice. Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

Central Africa: In the Democratic Republic of Congo, agricultural activities continue to be disrupted by the persistent civil conflict, particularly in the eastern Kivu provinces, and prospects for the 2002 cereal crop are uncertain.

Eastern Africa: Harvesting of 2002 wheat crop has started in the Sudan. Higher than normal temperatures, recorded in many parts of the country, are expected to adversely affect yields. Planting of the wheat crop is scheduled in the next two months in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Harvesting of the 2001/02 secondary season coarse grains is almost completed in the subregion, except in Ethiopia. FAO’s latest estimate puts the subregion’s aggregate output in 2001/02 at about 20.7 million tonnes, 14 percent above the drought-affected output of 2000/01. In Ethiopia, the main Meher crop was about 7 percent above average. Recent good rains have also improved conditions for the planting of the secondary Belg crop.

Southern Africa: Harvesting of the 2002 coarse grains is underway. Prospects are mixed. A prolonged mid-season dry spell has reduced yields in several countries, but did not affect the main growing areas of South Africa, the major producer of the subregion. FAO’s preliminary production forecast points to some recovery in the subregion’s output to 15.5 million tonnes, 7 percent up from the reduced level last year but still significantly below average. In South Africa, maize production is anticipated to recover from the poor harvest of 2001 reflecting an increase in plantings and adequate rains during the growing season. Latest official forecasts indicate a maize output of about 9 million tonnes, 20 percent up from last year. Maize production is also expected to increase in Mozambique, as a result of abundant rains in the main growing areas of the north. However, production in southern provinces will be reduced by dry weather. In Angola, favourable growing conditions are expected to result in an improved maize harvest this year. By contrast, a sharp decline in maize production is anticipated in Zimbabwe, affected by reduced plantings for the second consecutive year and severe dry weather in January and February. A mid-season dry spell in southern parts of Zambia and in Swaziland, Namibia and Botswana is also expected to result in below-average harvests in these countries. In Lesotho, excessive rains and pest infections have adversely affected this year’s maize crop. Prospects for the harvest are uncertain in Malawi following a dry spell in March and anticipated consumption of green maize in response to food shortages.

The 2001 wheat crop harvested late last year is estimated close to 2.9 million tonnes, 5 percent above the previous year's level and above average. The good level of production mostly reflects increased plantings in South Africa and Zimbabwe and favourable weather conditions.

In Madagascar, the 2002 paddy season is quite advanced and the crop has benefited from favourable weather conditions during the development phase. However, insufficient rains at planting time and low prices in the past season are likely to have resulted in a reduction in plantings. Output is currently forecast to fall below the bumper 2001 level. Conditions for crop development have been less favourable in Mozambique, as drought affected the southern and central provinces, where much of the rice is produced. The bulk of the crop will be harvested in June.

Central America and the Caribbean

Harvesting of the 2002 irrigated wheat crop in Mexico has started under normal weather conditions in the main growing areas of the northwest. Prospects are good and a near-average output of 3.2 million tonnes is forecast.

Planting of the 2002/03 first season coarse grain crops is about to start with the arrival of the first seasonal rains by end-April in most Central American countries. A recovery in production is expected from last year, when first season crops (main crop) were severely affected by drought and other adverse weather phenomena. In the Caribbean, planting of the 2002/03 rainfed maize and sorghum crops has started in the Dominican Republic and Haiti under rather dry weather conditions, while, in Cuba, where moisture deficits are also reported, sowing of this year’s maize crop is about to start.

The 2002 paddy season has just commenced in several countries, but little information is available on planting intentions. However, if normal weather prevails, production may recover in a number of countries that recorded poor growing conditions last year, especially in Costa Rica, Mexico and El Salvador.

South America

In South America, planting of the 2002 wheat crop has started in Brazil. Plantings in the main producing states in the south are forecast to expand further from the previous year’s above-average level in response to higher minimum wheat prices established by the government. Land is being prepared in the other southern countries of the subregion in preparation for planting of their 2002 wheat crops from May. In the Andean countries, in Peru, planting of the 2002 wheat crop has been recently completed and harvesting is due to start from May. A modest increase in the area planted compared to 2001 is reported. In Ecuador, planting of the first (main) 2002 wheat crop has been completed and the area planted is estimated at an average level.

Harvesting of the 2002 coarse grain crops, principally maize, is underway in the southern areas of the subregion. In Argentina, about 15 per cent of total plantings had been harvested by early April, and reported yields so far are higher than anticipated. Production is now forecast to be higher than earlier anticipated, but should nevertheless remain below the average of the past 5 years. This is principally due to the reduction in plantings caused by excess rains at planting and dry weather during the developing period. In Brazil, harvesting operations are well advanced and output is forecast to decline from last year’s record volume but should still be high above average. The expected decline is mainly due to prevailing dry weather in the major producing states during the growing period. Harvesting is underway in Chile and Uruguay and below-average outputs are expected. In the Andean countries, in Peru, planting of the white maize crop has been virtually completed and a small decline compared to 2001 is reported. Planting of yellow maize continues and the area planted is expected to be similar to last year’s above-average level. In Ecuador, harvesting of the 2002 winter maize crop has been delayed as a consequence of the heavy rains and flooding in some coastal areas in February and March. In Colombia, planting of the 2002 first maize and sorghum crops has started. Expanded plantings are tentatively forecast, reflecting the government’s programme for technical support and other incentives to farmers. In Venezuela, planting of the 2002 coarse grain crops has started under rather dry weather conditions. The intended area planted to maize and sorghum is expected to be close to the average of the past 5 years.

Harvesting of the 2002 paddy crop has started in South America. Heavy rainfall and flooding in some locations this year have been associated with a possible recurrence of El Niño and several countries are putting in place measures to monitor and temper any potentially negative effects on agriculture. In Argentina, where about 40 percent of the crop had already been harvested by early April, output is forecast to fall again, as low prices last year encouraged farmers to divert land to soybeans. The fall in plantings was about 18 percent, which, combined with a reduction in yields from the high levels reached last year, could trigger a 25 percent fall in output. Prospects for Chile point to a contraction in output, reflecting mainly the negative effects on yields of late plantings and excessive rainfall in the first three months of the year. A decline in output is also anticipated in Uruguay, where the sector has been suffering for several years from low prices and, more recently, from increased competition on export markets. In addition, heavy rainfall was reported to be hampering the harvest in early April. Excessive precipitation also affected the rice crop in Ecuador. By contrast, drought problems could hamper the season in Venezuela. In Brazil, cold temperature and heavy rains have been reported in Rio Grande do Sul in April. However, the official forecast for the country’s production remains at 11.5 million tonnes, 10.7 percent above last season, reflecting an expansion in area, triggered by rising prices at planting time, and expectations of higher yields. The overall production outlook is also positive for Peru, although producer returns continued to be low, which could discourage a proper use of inputs this season.

North America

In the United States, all wheat plantings for the 2002 crop are forecast to fall by about 1 percent to 23.9 million hectares, the lowest level since 1972. The winter wheat area is estimated to be virtually unchanged from the previous year, while spring wheat plantings are forecast to decrease by about 3 percent. Regarding harvested area and yield it is still too early to make firm forecasts. Winter crops across most of the Plains have been stressed by dry conditions since planting last autumn and their overall condition rating in mid-April was somewhat below normal. However, assuming normal weather conditions for the remainder of the season, and that the harvested/planted ratio and yields for the overall wheat crop are about the recent average, aggregate wheat output in 2002 could increase by about 5 percent to about 56 million tonnes. In Canada, the bulk of the 2002 wheat crop is due to be sown in May-June. Early forecasts point to a slight reduction in the area planted with land being switched to other grains and non-cereals. However, assuming a return to normal weather after last year’s dry conditions, wheat yields should recover significantly and the overall crop is tentatively forecast to increase by about 12 percent from 2001.

Some early coarse grain crops are already in the ground in southern parts of the United States, but the bulk of the maize planting in the Corn Belt states takes place from late April. Early indications point to a 4 percent increase in maize area after reductions last year due to adverse wet weather. By contrast, a sharp 12 percent decrease is forecast for sorghum. In Canada, latest indications point to a likely increase in the area of the major coarse grains, due to be sown in May-June. The barley and oats areas (the two main coarse grains) are expected to increase by 15 percent and 30 percent respectively and, with a recovery in yields expected for these grains also, overall coarse grains output in 2002 is forecast to rise significantly.

In the United States, information on the farmers’ planting intentions indicates that the area under rice in 2002 is likely to remain close to that of last year. However, assuming a return to normal conditions after the excellent season in 2001, production will probably decline somewhat this year.


In the EC, output of wheat in 2002 is forecast to increase after a significant expansion (+10 percent) in the winter wheat area sown last autumn, mostly at the expense of winter coarse grains for which the overall area is expected to decrease. The largest wheat area expansions have been in France and the United Kingdom, but significant increases are also reported for Germany, Italy and Spain. Furthermore, generally mild winter conditions have favoured crop development throughout most of the Community and yield prospects are good in most parts. Spring grain planting is well advanced. Generally dry weather in late March favoured fieldwork throughout the area and was especially welcome in Germany where earlier conditions had been too wet. Based on the winter grain area estimates and early indications for spring planting, current forecasts point to a significant 15 percent increase in the community’s aggregate wheat output in 2002 but a 2 percent decrease for coarse grains.

The paddy season is getting underway in the EC. An expansion of plantings is tentatively anticipated in Spain, supported by large water availability for irrigation. Production could also rise in Greece, which was afflicted last year by drought, and in Italy, in response to improved producer returns in 2001. Aggregate output for the community is currently forecast at 2.6 million tonnes, up 1.4 percent from 2001.

In eastern Europe, some beneficial rains in mid-April improved moisture supplies for winter grains, particularly in the southern parts. However, southeastern Hungary, northwestern Romania and northern parts of Serbia in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia still missed out on any significant rainfall and soil conditions remain adversely dry after below-normal precipitation throughout the winter and spring.

In Bulgaria, the area sown to winter grains (mostly wheat and barley) last autumn is officially reported to have increased by about 5 percent but planting was late in many parts and carried out under predominantly dry conditions. As a result, yields will likely be down and wheat output is expected to remain similar to last year’s level. Early indications for spring planting point to a reduction in the maize area in response to the ongoing drought and the poor performance of the crop in the past two years. In Hungary, latest estimates point to a lower winter grain area in response to low prices after last year’s bumper harvest. The winter wheat area is estimated at 1.1 million hectares (2001: 1.2 million hectares), and that of winter barley at 220 000 hectares (2001: 370 000 hectares). The winter grain area in Poland is estimated unchanged from the previous year and the overall 2002 cereal crop should be similar to 2001. In Romania, winter wheat plantings last autumn were reduced significantly due partly to adverse weather and partly to a shift of land out of cereal crops encouraged by the Government. Output in 2002 is expected to fall accordingly. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), the 2002 cereal harvest is forecast to be similar to the previous year’s, with wheat production put at about 2.9 million tonnes, and that of maize at 5.5 million tonnes. In the Baltics, an average cereal crop is in prospect: wheat output should reach about, 1.4 million tonnes and coarse grains about 2.6 million tonnes.

CIS in Europe: The area planted to wheat for harvest in 2002 increased by 10 percent in the Russian Federation while in other parts of the region similar areas were seeded compared with 2001. Except for Ukraine, winterkill has been minimal, while weather conditions for spring planting have been generally favourable. Latest forecasts put the region’s aggregate wheat harvest in 2002 at about 69 million tonnes, marginally less than in the previous year. An expected increase in the Russian Federation would be more than offset by a reduction in Ukraine.

Output of coarse grains in the region is set to rise marginally in 2002, to about 56 million tonnes, mainly barley (29.4 million tonnes) and maize (5.2 million tonnes). Production is forecast to increase somewhat in the Russian Federation and remain close to last year’s level in Ukraine. However, the forecasts are tentative and much will depend on weather conditions and the extent of summer disease and locust outbreaks, which are the main causes of spring/summer crop damage in the region.


In Australia, planting of the main 2002 wheat and coarse grain crops starts in May. Early official forecasts indicate a marginal increase in wheat production from 2001 to almost 24 million tonnes. This tentative forecast is based on the expectation of a 2 percent increase in area and an assumption of average seasonal weather conditions, leading to slightly lower yields than in the previous year. By contrast, the area sown to winter barley (the main coarse grain crop) is forecast to decrease by about 2 percent after last year’s record crop. Harvesting of the bulk of the minor 2002 summer coarse grain crops, mainly sorghum and maize, will start soon. Output of sorghum is forecast to fall by about 17 percent to 1.8 million tonnes as a result of a decrease in plantings and the adverse effect of hot dry conditions during January in some parts. Harvesting of the 2002 paddy crop is in progress. Latest official forecasts put production at 1.2 million tonnes, down 32 percent compared with 2001, due to reduced availability of irrigation water, abnormally cool temperatures at the early stage of development and weed infestation.

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