|††||Crop Prospects and Food Situation|
Low-Income Food-Deficit Countriesí1/ food situation overview
In Southern Africa, despite severe localized floods in Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, prospects for the 2008 main season cereal crops, to be harvested from April, are overall favourable following abundant rains during the first half of the season. In North Africa, the outlook for the 2008 winter cereal crops is mixed: prospects are satisfactory in Egypt but uncertain in Morocco where more rains are needed after a prolonged dry spell. In Asia, early forecasts point to record wheat crops for the second consecutive year in several countries, including China, India and Pakistan. However, the main rice crop is still to be planted. In Eastern Africa, harvesting of the 2007/08 secondary crops is underway in Somalia and Kenya, where outputs are anticipated to be sharply reduced due to dry weather. Elsewhere, the 2008 main cropping seasons have not yet started in countries of Eastern and Western Africa, Central America and Asia.
FAOís estimate of the LIFDCs 2007 aggregate cereal output has been revised marginally upwards to 894.4 million tonnes, which still is less than 1 percent above the good level of 2006. However, excluding the largest producers China and India, the output of the rest of LIFDCs declines by 2 percent to 300 million tonnes. The decrease is mainly due to a sharply reduced harvest in Morocco and smaller crops in Western Africa, where the aggregate cereal output declined from the 2006 record level although remaining well above average. The most significant reductions at national level were in Senegal, Cape Verde and Ghana. In Eastern Africa, 2007 aggregate cereal production is estimated unchanged from last yearís bumper crop, with average or above-average crops in most countries, except in Somalia, which was adversely affected by dry weather. In Southern Africa, good cereal outputs were generally obtained, but in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland harvests were reduced by drought. In the Asian Far East, cereal outputs were record high in China, India and Indonesia. In the Near East and CIS countries, the outturn was mixed with reduced harvests in several countries, mainly Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In Central America, a bumper cereal crop was gathered in Honduras, in response to production support policies, but in Nicaragua the output was reduced by the adverse effect of hurricanes during the growing season. In Haiti an average cereal crop was harvested prior to the passage of hurricanes that badly damaged other food crops.
Cereal imports of the LIFDCs as a group in 2007/08 are expected to decline by about 2 percent following a sharp reduction in shipments to India, (which in the previous year imported high volumes to increase stocks), and overall good harvests in most regions. However, imports will rise markedly in countries where crops were reduced by drought, including Morocco, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland, that even in normal years rely heavily on imports to fulfil consumption needs. Elsewhere, substantially higher imports are needed in the Democratic Republic of Korea to avoid deterioration of the nutritional status of the population, as well as in Tajikistan and Iraq, which experienced significant drops in production. Increased imports are also forecast in Pakistan, to replenish stocks.
Despite the reduction in quantities to be imported by the LIFDCs as a group, their cereal import bill is projected at US$33 million, an increase of 35 percent for the second consecutive year, as a result of soaring international cereal prices and freight rates. A higher increase of 50 percent is estimated for the LIFDCs in Africa, which will be putting a heavy financial burden on several countries.
Available information in GIEWS by the end of January 2008 indicates that against the LIFDCsí estimated aggregate cereal import requirement of 82 million tonnes in the 2007/08 marketing years, 42 percent has already been covered by commercial imports and food aid deliveries/pledges. Despite the higher international prices, the pace of imports this season is higher than in the previous one when only 37 percent of the needs were covered at the same time of the year. This mainly reflects faster imports by Morocco and Egypt in North Africa. In all other subregions, imports are progressing at about the same speed as in the previous year, except in Central America because of delays in Haiti.
Due to lower 2007 cereal production in the group of LIFDCs (excluding China and India) and lower and more expensive imports in the 2007/08 marketing seasons, a significant drawdown of cereal stocks will be necessary to maintain per caput food and feed consumption levels, which, however, are forecast marginally lower. After having increased significantly in the past two years, cereal stocks of the group of LIFDCs (excluding China and India) at the end of the 2007/08 marketing seasons are forecast at about 50 million tonnes, which is some 13 percent lower than their opening levels.
1.† The Low-Income Food-Deficit (LIFDC) group of countries includes food deficit countries with per caput annual income below the level used by the World Bank to determine eligibility for IDA assistance (i.e. US$1†575 in 2004), which is in accordance with the guidelines and criteria agreed to by the CFA should be given priority in the allocation of food aid.
|GIEWS||††global information and early warning system on food and agriculture|