World cereal production is forecast to increase by about 7 percent in 2013, helping to replenish global inventories and raise expectations for more stable markets in 2013/14.
International prices of wheat declined slightly in June with the onset of the 2013 harvests in the Northern Hemisphere. By contrast, maize prices increased supported by continued tight global supplies. Export prices of rice showed mixed trends.
Cereal imports of LIFDCs for 2013/14 are estimated to rise by some 5 percent to meet growing demand; Egypt, Indonesia and Nigeria, in particular, are forecast to import more.
In the Syrian Arab Republic, the 2013 wheat production dropped significantly below average due to the escalating civil conflict leading to disruptions in farming activities. Furthermore, the livestock sector has been severely affected.
In North Africa, overall crop harvest prospects are generally favourable except in Tunisia. In Egypt civil unrest and dwindling foreign exchange reserves raise serious food security concerns.
In Central Africa, serious food insecurity conditions prevail due to escalating conflict affecting about 8.4 million people in Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In Western Africa, the overall food supply situation is favourable in most parts of the Sahel following a 2012 above-average cereal harvest. However, a large number of people are still affected by conflict and the lingering effects of 2011/12 food crisis.
In Eastern Africa, although household food security has improved in most countries, serious concerns remain in conflict-affected areas of Somalia, the Sudan, and South Sudan.
In Southern Africa, total 2013 cereal production declined slightly from last year and remained below average. However, the results are mixed across countries. In Madagascar, locust plague affected crop production in some areas.
In Far East, the 2013 aggregate cereal harvest is preliminarily forecast at a record level, with significant improvements in Pakistan, the Republic of Korea and Myanmar.
In CIS, the 2013 aggregate cereal production is anticipated to recover from the drought-affected harvest of 2012.
In South America, record 2013 maize harvests are expected in most countries, including the main producers, Brazil and Argentina.
FAO’s latest estimates indicate that 34 countries around the world, including 27 in Africa, are in need of external assistance for food as a result of crop failures, conflict or insecurity, natural disasters, and high domestic food prices.