FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops and Shortages No.4, October 2003

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AFRICA: In eastern Africa, despite heavy rains and floods in recent months, the overall outlook for the imminent harvest is favourable in most countries. However, the food situation is still of concern in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania and parts of northern Somalia. In southern Africa, more food aid pledges are needed for the Regional Emergency Operation to avoid discontinuity in the pipeline during the hunger period that will begin as of January. In the DR Congo, agricultural activities are continuously disrupted by the persistent civil conflict. In Liberia, the overall food situation remains critical, notwithstanding an improved security situation in Monrovia.

ASIA: In Iraq, despite a good crop this year, the effects of war, sanctions and recent drought have seriously eroded the asset base of the population and left most of the population relying on food rations for their daily subsistence. Except for Georgia and Armenia, cereal harvests in most of the Asian CIS countries are now estimated at above average, although still lower than the bumper harvests of last year. In Afghanistan, a record cereal harvest is envisaged, but access to food remains difficult for a significant number of households. In DPR Korea, prospects for the rice and maize crops are improved as a result of generally good weather conditions.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: In Central America and the Caribbean, food assistance continues to be provided to families in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua who have suffered from natural disasters and economic shocks in recent years. In South America, the maize crop in Ecuador was poor for the third consecutive year, mostly as a result of adverse weather. In Venezuela, poor harvests are anticipated in 2003: financial constraints on farmers have resulted in limited or non-existent agricultural inputs.

EUROPE: Cereal production in Europe has been considerably reduced this year by adverse weather. Aggregate cereal output in the EU has fallen by about 12 percent from last year; among the CEECs, sharply reduced cereal outputs are expected from virtually all countries. Following adverse weather conditions in winter and spring, cereal harvests throughout the European CIS were also significantly lower. Ukraine will require significant imports to meet domestic requirements, and the Russian Federation will not be a significant player in the international grain market.

NORTH AMERICA: In the United States, the 2003 wheat crop rose sharply from last year’s low to 62.4 million tonnes, and the aggregate coarse grain output is also forecast to rebound from last year’s drought-reduced level. In Canada, hot and dry conditions during July and early August have diminished prospects for the main 2003 cereal crops, but the production level is still expected to be well above last year’s, which was seriously affected by drought.

OCEANIA: In Oceania, prospects for the developing winter grain crops in Australia have improved following widespread rains throughout most of the main grain-growing areas. Plantings of winter grains are estimated to have risen by 9 percent from the previous season and, assuming normal weather for the remainder of the season, good yields are expected.

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