Firmer production estimates for 2012 confirm tightening wheat and maize supplies while the outlook for rice remains positive. In spite of a contraction in overall cereal utilization in 2012/13, the world cereal stock-to-use ratio is projected to decline by 2 percentage points from the previous season.
International prices of all major cereals, except rice, remain well above last year. For wheat and maize, while prices have stabilized in recent weeks, unfavourable weather for 2013 crops in several important regions is a concern.
Aggregate cereal production of LIFDCs in 2012 has been revised upwards following a recovery in Western Africa and increased output in the Far East. Consequently, reduced imports are expected in 2012/13.
In the Great Lakes, the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo worsened following the recent escalation of conflict. An estimated 6.3 million people require emergency assistance, about 2 million more than a year ago.
In Western Africa, the overall food security situation has started to improve in the Sahel following an above-average 2012 cereal harvest. However, a large number of people are still affected by civil strife and the impact of last year’s drought.
In Eastern Africa, access to food has started to improve with the arrival of the newly harvested crops and the resulting drop in prices. However, millions of people continue to face food difficulties.
In Southern Africa, poor 2012 cereal harvests in some areas led to a deterioration of food security. Planting of the 2013 crop began in November under generally favourable weather conditions.
In the Far East, the 2012 aggregate cereal harvest is estimated at a record level. However, lower production is expected in India, Nepal and the Republic of Korea mainly due to dry spells and localized floods.
In the Near East, the deteriorating food security situation continues to be a major concern in the Syrian Arab Republic as a result of civil conflict and in Yemen due to security problems.
In CIS countries, the 2012 cereal production significantly dropped from the previous year’s record level. Consequently, the price of wheat flour in some wheat import-dependent countries has reached record levels.
In Central America and the Caribbean, prospects for 2012 in Haiti point to a significant drop in aggregate cereal production by 35 percent due to a dry spell earlier in the season and subsequent heavy rains and floods.
In South America, prospects for 2012 wheat production have deteriorated in Argentina due to a decrease in area planted and in Brazil due to dry weather conditions. However, the outlook for the 2013 maize crop is favourable.