RUSSIAN FEDERATION (5 February)
Adequate soil moisture and favourable weather conditions in early winter throughout the country were favourable to winter cereal planting. Area planted with winter cereals is up by 13 percent compared with 2003 but more than 11 percent below the plan to match areas planted in 2002. Inadequate access to seeds and other inputs in some parts of the Russian Federation are reportedly the main causes of lower than planned areas being planted with winter cereals. Sufficient snow cover in much of the country sheltered winter cereal crops from the recent harsh winter weather. Therefore, winterkill, on average 1.5 to 2 million hectares, is seen to be significantly down. Preliminary forecasts for aggregate cereal harvest stands at about 78 million tonnes, which is nearly 19 percent above the harvest in 2003 but almost 9 percent below the bumper harvest in 2002. Last year adverse weather conditions significantly compromised the cereal harvest and exports plunged to 5.4 million tonnes from a record 18.3 million tonnes in 2002/03 marketing year.
Military operations and civil strife in Chechnya continue to disrupt social and economic activities. The conflict has displaced more than 300 000 people, 100 000 of whom live in the neighbouring Ingushetia. WFP plans to provide 47 882 tonnes of food to target some 259 000 most vulnerable population in Chechnya and Ingushetia over a period of 18 months beginning from January 2004.