AFRICA: In eastern Africa, despite improved outlook for current season crops in several countries, more than 18 million people are in need of food assistance. In western Africa, notwithstanding improved harvest prospects generally in the Sahel, the food security situation is still of concern notably in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. In Southern Africa, food insecurity is worsening for an estimated 12 million people due to reduced harvests in 2005, escalating food prices and rising energy costs. Prospects for 2006 main season crops are unfavourable in Zimbabwe, whatever the rainfall situation, due to the looming serious shortages of agricultural inputs. In Malawi, a “state of disaster” was declared by the Government due to the worsening food shortages.
ASIA/NEAR EAST: The recent earthquake in South Asia caused more than 50 000 deaths and destroyed homes and livelihoods of millions of people in Pakistan and India. In areas hit by the tsunami nine months ago, most of the displaced people are still depending on food aid. Recovery and reconstruction activities continue. In DPR Korea, an expected good harvest will ease the country’s need for food aid. Crop and food security prospects are poor in Laos, Nepal, and Timor-Leste due to bad weather. Cereal harvesting in Asian CIS countries is complete and production is slightly up on last year’s average level, owing mainly to favourable weather conditions. In Afghanistan, a bumper crop has been harvested.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: In Guatemala, preliminary assessment of the damage caused by Hurricane Stan indicates that most families in the departments of San Marcos, Sololá, Huehuetenango and Quetzaltenango have not only lost most of their crops but also 40-60 percent of their land due to mudslides. In Haiti and Cuba, crop production has been seriously affected by dry weather followed by excessive rains due to hurricanes. In Ecuador and parts of Bolivia, dry weather conditions have adversely affected food crop and livestock production.
EUROPE: The 2005 cereal output in the EU is estimated to be sharply down from last year’s bumper harvest and below the average of the past 5 years. Winter cereals for harvest in 2006 have already been planted in northern parts of the EU and planting is ongoing in the centre under generally satisfactory conditions. Good precipitation is urgently needed for planting in the drought-affected Iberian Peninsula if another reduced crop is to be avoided there. In the European CIS cereal harvesting is nearly complete and output is estimated similar to last year’s average level.
NORTH AMERICA: Planting of the 2006 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 good output of 276 million tonnes is forecast. In Canada, the 2005 cereal harvest is progressing somewhat slower than normal due to cool temperatures and rainfall, but yields have generally been good and another above-average output is expected.
OCEANIA: The harvest of the 2005 winter grains is just starting in some northern parts of Australia. Although production forecasts still vary somewhat reflecting very varied rainfall patterns in different parts of the country, the impact of which has been difficult to assess in parts, output of wheat, the major winter grain, is expected to be at least 20 million tonnes, close to last year’s level. Prospects for the summer coarse grain crops (mostly sorghum and maize) planted in September and October for harvest in 2006 are somewhat uncertain following predominantly dry weather continuing throughout September in Queensland, where a large share of the summer crops is produced.