The outlook for world cereal production in 2012 improved further in recent weeks largely on expectation of a much bigger maize crop in the United States. World cereal production is now forecast to increase by 3.2 percent to a new record. At 2 419 million tonnes, global cereal production would exceed the anticipated utilization in 2012/13 and lead to a significant replenishment of world stocks, which could keep international prices under downward pressure.
Wheat and coarse grains prices eased in May, mostly during the second half, driven by good supply prospects. Rice prices were supported by a temporary surge in import demand and large Government purchases in Thailand, the number one exporter of the commodity.
Aggregate cereal imports of the 66 LIFDCs for 2012/13 are forecast to decrease slightly, mainly due to the generally favourable prospects for the 2012 domestic harvests.
In North Africa, early forecasts point to a sharp decline in cereal production in Morocco as a result of erratic and insufficient rains, while in the remaining countries of the subregion above-average harvests are expected.
In West Africa, a sharp drop in last year’s cereal and pasture production combined with high food prices and civil strife has led to increasing food insecurity and malnutrition in several countries.
The escalation of armed conflict in northern Mali in April 2012 has resulted in a large displacement of people and serious disruption in commodity movement, worsening food security in the subregion.
Desert Locust outbreaks have been reported in North Africa and could potentially pose a serious threat to the 2012 agricultural production in the Sahel, particularly in Niger, Mali and Chad.
In the Near East, the deteriorating food security situation is a major concern in the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen as a result of the civil unrest.
In Eastern Africa, the main season rains started late, shortening the crop growing period. Furthermore, floods affected areas in Kenya, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda, while severe dry conditions persist in parts of northeastern and coastal districts in Kenya.
In Southern Africa, a prolonged dry spell contributed to reduced production, aggravating food insecurity in the affected areas of the subregion.
In Far East Asia, the aggregate 2012 wheat harvest is estimated at a new record, with both China and India reporting bumper harvests.
In Central America, early prospects point to a recovery in maize production this year on account of an anticipated increase in the area planted.
In South America, a record 2012 maize harvest is anticipated while early indications point to a reduced area planted to wheat.
In the CIS, the 2012 wheat production is anticipated to drop significantly from the previous year's level, particularly in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.