No.5  December 2008  
   Crop Prospects and Food Situation

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Countries in crisis requiring external assistance (total: 33 countries)

Food Emergencies Update

Global cereal supply and demand brief

National food price review

FAO global cereal supply and demand indicators

Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries’ food situation overview

Policy measures taken by governments to reduce the impact of soaring prices

Regional reviews

Statistical appendix


Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries’ food situation overview 1/

2008 aggregate cereal production of LIFDCs recovers after last year’s decline


FAO’s latest forecast of 2008 cereal production for the 82 LIFDCs as a group points to an increase of 2 percent from 2007. Excluding the largest producers China and India, which normally account for one-third of the aggregate output, production of the rest of the LIFDCs increases by 3.3 percent, which is a positive development after a decline in production last year. However, the situation varies greatly among subregions with significant increases in production at aggregate level expected for the LIFDC groups in Africa, Europe and Central America but a decline for the Asian LIFDC group.

In the LIFDCs in Western Africa, the 2008 cereal crop is estimated 14 percent higher than in the previous year reflecting favourable weather during the growing season and production support measures. In Nigeria, representing over half of the production in the subregion, the output increased by 8 percent supported by the Government’s large fertilizer procurement programme to ensure availability for the agricultural season. In the nine countries of the Sahel subregion, cereal production increased by about one-third, notably in Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso, where governments also launched various agricultural production support programmes this year. In North Africa, the 2008 cereal production increased in Egypt, the largest producer of the subregion, following a significant increase in plantings of wheat and rice. In Morocco, the cereal output more than doubled from the 2007 drought-reduced level but remained 20 percent below the average. In Eastern Africa, cereal production is forecast slightly above the good level of last year. In Ethiopia, despite earlier concerns about the late start of the rainy season, the latest forecast puts the cereal output slightly below the 2007 record crop. At the subregional level, this decline is compensated by an increase of 20 percent in cereal production in Sudan, in particular of the irrigated wheat crop that rose by 53 percent. By contrast, production remained at reduced levels in Kenya and Somalia due to erratic precipitation and high cost of agricultural inputs. In Southern Africa, the aggregate output of the LIFDCs fell by 6 percent from last year’s good level mainly on account of a one-third reduction in Zimbabwe, affected by dry weather and severe shortage of agricultural inputs.

In Asia, the outcome of this year’s cereal production is mixed. In LIFDCs in Far East Asia, a good output was obtained in almost all countries, with the exception of the Democratic Republic of Korea where despite favourable weather production declined by 8 percent from last year’s poor level due to critical shortages of fertilizer and fuel. In the largest producers China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines moderate increases in output from the good levels of last year resulted in record crops. Reflecting substantial government support with agricultural inputs, cereal production increased in Bangladesh and in Sri Lanka. In the Near East, cereal production was sharply reduced by drought in the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq and Afghanistan, where outputs declined by 53, 40 and 35 percent respectively. Similarly, in the LIFDCs in CIS Asia, dry weather reduced crops in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In Central America and the Caribbean, good cereal outputs were obtained in Honduras and Nicaragua but production declined slightly in Haiti. In LIFDCs in Europe, bumper crops were obtained, notably in Moldova and Belarus.

Table 4. Cereal production1 of LIFDCs (million tonnes)
  2006 2007 2008 Change: 2008
over 2007 (%)
Africa (44 countries) 127.0 116.6 126.9 8.8
North Africa30.122.526.517.7
Eastern Africa32.531.632.21.8
Southern Africa12.012.311.5-6.2
Western Africa49.446.953.413.7
Central Africa3.
Asia (25 countries) 748.7 789.2 793.4 0.5
CIS in Asia13.213.613.0-4.9
Far East721.0760.4771.11.4
- China (Mainland)385.6400.3409.02.2
- India195.2212.7212.3-0.2
Near East14.415.29.3-38.4
America (3 countries)
1.7 1.8 1.97.0
Oceania (6 countries) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Europe (4 countries) 9.8 9.0 12.7 41.2
Total (82 countries) 887.2 916.6 934.9 2.0
1 Includes rice in milled terms.
Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

Cereal import requirements remain high but import costs likely to decline due to lower international prices


With almost all subregions now into the new marketing year, the aggregate cereal import requirement of the LIFDCs as a group in marketing year 2008/09 or 2009 is estimated at 85.4 million tonnes, some 3 percent above the previous year’s level despite an improved cereal production in 2008. This reflects a forecast increase of over 4 million tonnes in Near East countries, where production was devastated by drought this year. Similarly, cereal imports are expected to be higher in Southern Africa, notably in Zimbabwe where import requirements are estimated 75 percent higher than last year. These increases more than offset reductions in import requirements in LIFDCs of Far East Asia, mainly Bangladesh, China, India and Indonesia, as well as in Europe, where bumper cereal harvests were gathered in 2008. In North Africa, imports from Morocco will remain high as production recovered only partially this year. However, following the sharp decline in international prices in the second half of 2008, the aggregate cereal import bill of the LIFDCs is forecast to decrease in 2009, after having increased by 35 percent in 2008 to a record 34 million US dollars.

Table 5.Cereal import position of LIFDCs ( thousand tonnes)
  2006/07 or 2007 2007/08 or 2008 2008/09 or 2009
Requirements 1 Import position 2 Requirements 1
Actual Imports Total Imports of which food aid Total Imports of which food aid pledges Total Imports of which food aid
Africa (44 countries) 36 958 39 385 2 803 34 893 2 532 40 066 2 527
North Africa15 76818 501 018 501 0 18 361 0
Eastern Africa5 4885 524 1 7604 920 1 6284 996 1 430
Southern Africa2 8683 188 4823 188 4823 868 563
Western Africa11 17410 544 4637 562 33311 063 449
Central Africa1 6611 628 98 722 891 778 85
Asia (25 countries) 41 485 39 896 1 362 37 926 1 320 42 176 2 642
CIS in Asia3 6173 758 353 758 354 143 44
Far East27 80525 037 1 10824 713 1 10522 668 1 804
Near East10 06311 101 2199 456 18015 365 794
America (3 countries)
1 698 1 668 146 1 668 146 1 665 172
Oceania (6 countries) 422 438 0 209 0 416 0
Europe (4 countries) 1 509 1 561 0 1 561 0 1 050 20
Total (82 countries) 82 073 82 947 4 311 76 257 3 998 85 372 5 360
1 The import requirement is the difference between utilization (food, feed, other uses, exports plus closing stocks) and domestic availability (production plus opening stocks).
2 Estimates based on information available as of late November 2008.
Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

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. USD 1 675 in 2005), which is in accordance with the guidelines and criteria agreed to by the CFA should be given priority in the allocation of food aid. 

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