No.1  April 2006  
   Crop Prospects and Food Situation

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Highlights

Global cereal supply and demand brief

Low-Income Food-Deficit country food situation overview

Regional reviews

Statistical appendix

Terminology and notes

Low-Income Food-Deficit country food situation overview

Good start of the 2006 cereal season in Low-Income Food-Deficit countries

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Early prospects for the 2006 cereal production are favourable in the group of 82 Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs). In Southern Africa, where the main season cereal crop is being harvested, good outputs are expected in most countries. In Asia Far East, Near East and CIS countries, harvesting of the wheat and early rice crops has started and the outlook is overall positive, although in India the wheat crop will be lower than early anticipated. By contrast, in South America, floods in Ecuador have impaired prospects for the 2006 maize and rice crops. Elsewhere, planting of the main cereal seasons is about to start or is scheduled later in the year.

Significant increase in 2005 cereal production

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FAO's latest estimate of the 2005 aggregate cereal output in LIFDCs indicates a significant increase of 4.4 percent from the previous year's level. Excluding China and India, the aggregate production of the rest of the LIFDCs expanded at a higher rate of 8 percent. This reflects good cereal crops in almost all sub-regions of the world, with the main exceptions of countries in Southern Africa, Morocco and Somalia that were affected by drought.

Cereal imports to decline in 2005/06

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Total cereal imports by the LIFDCs in marketing years 2005/06 or 2006 (calendar year) are currently forecast close to 84 million tonnes, which is down 12 percent from the previous season's high of almost 96 million tonnes. More than half of the decline is in China, following good 2005 cereal production. Import requirements also declined in most other countries of the Far East Asia, including Pakistan, DPR Korea and Indonesia which gathered bumper cereal harvests in 2005. Similarly, lower imports are expected in Western Africa and CIS Asia where the 2005 cereal production recovered markedly from the reduced levels of the previous year. However, import needs, in particular food aid, increased by almost one-quarter in Southern Africa, where adverse weather sharply reduced the 2005 cereal production, especially in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Food aid requirements uncovered in Eastern Africa

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Out of the total LIFDC's imports in 2005/06, some 6 percent, or 4.85 million tonnes of cereals, is required in the form of food aid. Over half of the volume is needed for drought-affected and chronically food insecure populations in Southern Africa and Eastern Africa, where notwithstanding a bumper aggregate cereal crop, serious food shortages have emerged in Somalia and pastoral areas of Kenya and Ethiopia due to prolonged drought conditions. Substantial amounts of food assistance are also required in Far East Asia for chronically vulnerable populations in DPR Korea and Bangladesh, in spite of overall improved food supply situations. By April 2006, available information indicated that some 65 percent of the total food aid requirements of LIFDCs have been secured by distributions/pledges. In Southern Africa, where the marketing year (April/March) has just finished, virtually all the requirements were covered by food aid commitments but the slow pace of distributions resulted in food difficulties. Similarly, the 2005/06 (July/June) food aid needs of vulnerable people in the three LIFDCs of Central America and the Caribbean (Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua) were fully covered by donor's commitments. However, in Eastern Africa, where the marketing year of most countries starts in January, half of the food aid requirements (January/December) are still uncovered. More pledges are urgently needed.

Table 3. Cereal import position of Low-Income Food-Deficit countries1 ( thousand tonnes)

  2004/05
Actual
imports
2005/06
  Requirements 2 Import position 3
  Total
imports:
of which
food aid
Total
imports:
of which
food aid
Africa (44) 40 504 37 930 2 950 18 684 1 870
Northern Africa16 78715 508  11 234 5
Eastern Africa6 7005 793 1 6652 107 831
Southern Africa3 4584 382 6993 702 690
Western Africa12 04910 738 5061 523 324
Central Africa1 5111 510 80 119 21
Asia (25) 50 853 41 661 1 501 24 301 979
CIS in Asia3 0992 538 1901 865 54
Far East36 25128 258 1 08616 675 847
Near East11 50410 865 2255 760 78
Central
America (3)
1 539 1 682 252 1 119 275
South
America (1)
1 020 931 50 706 17
Oceania (6) 407 416 0 42 0
Europe (3) 1 572 1 730 100 717 1
Total (82) 95 896 84 350 4 853 45 570 3 143
3 For definition of import requirements see terminology.
3 Estimates based on information available as of April 2006.

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