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Economic and Social Department

 global information and early warning system on food and agriculture

 food outlook
No. 1 Rome, February 2003

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highlights

BASIC FACTS OF THE WORLD CEREAL SITUATION

Cereals

SEVERE FOOD SHORTAGES PERSIST IN MOST REGIONS OF THE WORLD

Current Production and Crop Prospects

Trade

Carryover Stocks

Export Prices

Fish and Fisheries Products

Fertilizers

Appendix Tables

STATISTICAL NOTE

highlights

Global cereal output in 2002 is estimated at 1 838 million tonnes, slightly up from the forecast in December, but still 3.3 percent down from the previous year. However, given the expected expansion in cereal utilization in 2002/03, world cereal stocks for crop years ending in 2003 could plunge to their lowest level since the early 1970s.

Prospects for 2003 cereal production are mixed. Early indications for the 2003 wheat crops point to a likely increase in global output. The first 2003 coarse grain crops are already planted, and the paddy season is well advanced in many southern hemisphere countries.

Moderate El Nińo persists, adding uncertainty to the outcome of the 2003 cereal harvests.

Based on the latest indications, 36 countries in the world are experiencing severe food shortages and require international food assistance.

The forecast for world cereal trade in 2002/03 has been raised to 240 million tonnes, but still remains 3 million tonnes below the previous year's level. The bulk of the decline is on account of smaller wheat trade, while that of coarse grains is forecast to increase marginally. For rice, early indication for trade in 2003 points to a small decline from the high level in 2002.

International prices for most cereals have weakened further since November, as non-traditional exporters continued to shift more of their domestic surpluses onto the world market.

Total world fish production in 2001 is estimated at 129.3 million tonnes, slightly below the previous year's level. Total world trade in fish and fishery products (in export value) is estimated to remain virtually unchanged in 2001, after a strong expansion in the previous year.

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