Latest indications confirm a decline in world cereal production in 2012 from the record in 2011. The decrease will result in a significant reduction in world inventories by the close of seasons in 2013, even with world demand sliding as a result of high prices.
International cereal prices remained firm in September, with average wheat and rice quotations increasing slightly, but those of maize declining.
Although the volume of aggregate cereal import requirements of LIFDCs in the 2012/13 marketing years are estimated to decline by 5 percent from the high level the previous year, the total import bill, on the other hand, is expected to rise due to higher international prices.
In North Africa, wheat production declined sharply in Morocco as a result of unfavourable weather conditions. As the subregion is highly dependent on wheat imports, the anticipated larger import bills, combined with staple food subsidies, would result in additional budgetary pressures.
In West Africa, notwithstanding favourable harvest prospects in the region, the food security situation in the Sahel is still of concern with close to 19 million people in need of continued assistance largely due to the lingering effects of last year’s poor harvests. The Desert Locust threat also remains a serious concern.
In Eastern Africa, the overall food security situation has started to improve with the beginning of the harvest season in several countries, following declining food prices and improved livestock productivity due to enhanced rains. However, about 13.4 million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance.
In Southern Africa, a prolonged dry spell caused a drop in aggregate cereal production in 2012,with several countries registering significant declines, including Lesotho. The lower cereal harvests have contributed to an increase in the number of food insecure.
In Far East Asia, the 2012 aggregate cereal harvest is estimated to exceed the record harvest of 2011; however, delayed monsoon and erratic weather conditions in some countries may dampen the final outcome. Improved harvests are expected to reduce the aggregate cereal imports.
In the Near East, the deteriorating food security situation continues to be a major concern in the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen as a result of the civil unrest. Elsewhere, in Afghanistan, a bumper wheat harvest has been gathered.
Cereal output in CIS countries has sharply dropped from last year’s levels. Lower export availabilities in the region have resulted in higher regional prices and strengthened domestic prices of main staple wheat flour in importing countries.
In Central America and the Caribbean, good 2012 main season cereal harvests were gathered despite severe localized crop losses. In Haiti, adverse weather conditions sharply reduced the 2012 main season’s coarse grains output.
In South America, the 2012 wheat output is forecast to decline following reduced plantings. By contrast, this year’s maize production was estimated at record levels mainly as a result of a bumper crop in Brazil.