AFRICA: In eastern Africa, the food situation remains precarious due to the impact of drought and armed conflicts. Currently more than 17 million people need emergency food assistance. In southern Africa, the 2004 cereal production in Zimbabwe was well below average levels, with anticipated serious food shortages in rural and urban areas. In drought-hit Lesotho, the 2004 cereal harvest was sharply down, necessitating emergency food assistance to large numbers of people. In western Africa, Desert Locusts continue to pose a serious threat to agricultural production across the Sahel, notably in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal and Niger. Joint FAO/CILSS/WFP missions are currently in the sub-region assessing the impact of the locusts on food production.
ASIA/NEAR EAST: Millions of people in Asia have been affected by heavy and extensive monsoon rains and floods. The worst affected countries include Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and China. In Korea DPR, despite a recovery in food production, the country will still depend on international assistance to meet its minimum food needs. In Afghanistan, drought conditions and crop diseases have seriously compromised harvests, prompting increased food aid needs. Drought has also affected production in Sri Lanka, Mongolia and Pakistan. In Iraq, insecurity and the reduced numbers of international aid workers are hampering humanitarian assistance.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: Devastating floods in several Caribbean countries due to hurricanes have caused loss of life and serious damage to infrastructure and crops. In Haiti, tropical storm Jeanne caused loss of some 3 000 lives and extensive damage to infrastructure in Artibonite and North-West regions. By contrast, prolonged dry spells reduced the main season cereal production in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Elsewhere, prospects are generally favourable, although dry weather conditions could lead to yield reductions in the main wheat producing South American countries.
EUROPE: Cereal production rebounded sharply in 2004 after the poor drought-reduced crops last year. Weather conditions are generally satisfactory for planting and establishment of the 2005 winter cereals although more precipitation would be beneficial in some southern parts of the region. In the European CIS, cereal harvests, though significantly up on last year, are below expectations to match the good harvests in 2001 and 2002.
NORTH AMERICA: Planting of the 2005 winter wheat crop is progressing on schedule in the United States and plants are emerging well under generally favourable conditions. The maize harvest is well underway and a record output of 295 million tonnes is forecast. In Canada, predominantly cool and wet conditions during the 2004 growing season have resulted in slow crop development, a later than normal harvest and poorer quality crops. Nevertheless, output of wheat could still be up from the previous year when drought affected yields in parts.
OCEANIA: The 2004 cereal output in Australia is set to fall from last year’s bumper level but should be about the average of the past five years. Soil moisture conditions are favourable for the summer coarse grain planting and the area of sorghum and maize, for harvest in 2005, is forecast to increase sharply.