Hundred and Nineteenth Session
Rome, 20-25 November 2000
THE STATE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 2000
1. According to provisional estimates world crop and livestock production expanded by 1.6 percent in 1999. This is a slight improvement on the growth rate of 1998 and, although lower than growth in 1996 and 1997, it is close to the average of 1.7 percent over the 1990-95 period. Aggregate crop production increased
by 1.5 percent while cereal production remained unchanged after falling by 1 percent in 1998. Livestock production grew at only 0.9 percent compared to 2.7 percent in 1998. These developments largely reflect the situation in the developed countries where cereal production has declined for the last two years and crops in general have posted only a modest increase in 1999 after falling by 3.5 percent in 1998. However, developing countries also experienced slower agricultural growth rates of under 2 percent in 1999.
2. Agricultural output in Far East and Oceania grew at 2.1 percent in 1999, up marginally from the 1.8 percent of 1998 and well below the above 4 percent growth achieved on average between 1990 and 1997.
3. In China a severe drought and declining area under cultivation due to unfavourable prices have led to a slowdown in the growth of agricultural output to 1.6 percent in 1999. In India output recovered from a contraction of 0.5 percent in 1998 to grow at 4.4 percent in 1999 and good weather conditions in the main producing states led to a record wheat crop. Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Viet Nam experienced output growth in excess of 4 percent in 1999. While this reversed low or negative growth in the previous year in most countries, in the case of Laos and in particular Viet Nam this continues a period of consistently high growth. The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea saw the second consecutive year of output grow at above 4 percent in 1999. This, however, follows an annual average decline of around 4 percent between 1990 and 1997. Bangladesh and Thailand achieved 2.9 and 2.3 percent growth respectively. Indonesian agricultural output stagnated in 1999 after falling by 2.4 and 1.8 percent in 1997 and 1998 respectively. Pakistan's output fell by 0.8 percent in 1999, after growing at 5.8 percent in 1998.
4. In the Near East and North Africa region drought caused a 2.5 percent drop in agricultural output in 1999. The region, in particular North Africa, is prone to substantial fluctuations in agricultural production, with 1996 and 1998 being years of strong growth while 1997 and 1999 were years of decline. The two largest producers in the region, Turkey and Iran, suffered drought and saw output drop by 1.9 and 5.4 percent respectively in 1999. Adverse weather also led to steep falls in output in Iraq, Jordan, Morocco and Syria. On the other hand, Tunisia and Egypt recorded large output gains of about 6 percent.
5. In sub-Saharan Africa agricultural output rose by only 2 percent in 1999, down from 3.9 percent in 1998. Sahelian countries harvested a record cereal crop for the third consecutive year while output in East Africa was seriously affected by drought or erratic rainfall and some areas of southern Africa suffered from excess rainfall or prolonged dry spells. Nigeria, the largest producer in the region, grew at 3.9 percent, after recording an 8.9 percent rise in 1998. Growth of more than 5 percent was recorded in Benin, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, the Seychelles, and Zambia. However in many East African countries drought and/or erratic rainfall in 1999 left up to 16 million people, in particular pastoralists, facing severe food shortages. Civil conflict or war contributed to steep declines in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, and Sierra Leone.
6. Agricultural output growth in Latin America and the Caribbean rose to 2.9 percent in
1999 from 1.6 percent in 1998. Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, El Salvador, Guyana and Peru saw output rise at above 5 percent, a substantial improvement on 1998, when production was affected by natural disasters in several Central and South American counties. Mexico's agricultural output grew at a more modest 2.2 percent while Argentina recorded zero growth, after a large expansion of 8.8 percent in 1998. In Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Suriname's agricultural output shrank around 5 to 10 percent, while declines of less than 2 percent are estimated for Chile, Colombia, Honduras and Uruguay.
7. The transition countries experienced 1.2 percent growth in 1999, after seeing agricultural output decline by 6.3 percent in the previous year. Of the three largest producers, Russia and the Ukraine saw growth of around 0.5 percent, after massive contractions the year before. Poland on the other hand saw output drop 3.7 percent in 1999, after posting 7.2 percent growth in 1998. Sharp declines in production are estimated for Slovakia (-22 percent), Bosnia (-21 percent), Yugoslavia (-11 percent), Latvia (-10 percent), Belarus (-8 percent), Moldova (-8 percent) and Tajikistan (-7 percent), while declines of less than 5 percent took place in Estonia, Hungary and Slovenia. Strong growth, on the other hand, was recorded in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
8. Agricultural output of non-transition developed countries grew at a moderate 1.1 percent in 1999 after already slow growth of 1.6 and 0.3 percent in 1997 and 1998 respectively. Agricultural production in the United States of America, Australia, Japan and the European Union expanded by less than 1 percent in 1999. South Africa and Canada registered 4 percent growth or better.
9. World cereal production in 2000 is forecast at 1 881 million tonnes (including rice in milled equivalent), up 6 million tonnes, or 0.3 percent, from 1999. Global wheat production in 2000 is put at 587 million tonnes, marginally below (-0.4 percent) the previous year. In Asia, aggregate wheat output is forecast to remain virtually unchanged from the previous year. Although serious drought has reduced the main rainfed crops in several countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran and China, the main irrigated crops have performed well. In Africa, reflecting persistant drought in the main wheat producing countries in the north of the region, the wheat output is expected to fall below the previous year's level. In Europe, total production is expected to rise sharply from the previous year, following a significant increase in area in the EU. A smaller crop is expected in North America this year due to reduced plantings. In the southern hemisphere, early indications are favourable; above average crops are expected in South America and Oceania.
10. World production of coarse grains is forecast at 896 million tonnes, up 14 million tonnes, or 1.6 percent, from the previous year. In the United States, the world's largest producer, generally favourable growing conditions and larger planted area are likely to result in record output. However, in Asia, total production is forecast to fall sharply, by 9 percent and this mostly because of a drastic decline in China's maize production, mostly because of a drought. In Europe, production of all the main coarse grains is expected to increase in the EC but widespread drought conditions persisting through the spring affected crops in most eastern and central European countries. In Central America, dry weather during the growing period affected the 2000/01 first season crops in several countries and production is unlikely to rise above last year. In South America, harvesting of the 2000 crops has been completed and above-average maize production is expected in many countries. By contrast, in North Africa, total production could be some 20 percent smaller than in the previous year's below-average level as a result of unfavourable weather conditions. In Southern Africa, harvesting of the 2000 crops, which was delayed by unseasonable rains in June, is expected to be above average and at least 18 percent bigger than in the previous year.
11. World rice output in 2000 is forecast at about 398 million tonnes (or nearly 596 million tonnes in paddy terms), down 1.2 percent from the previous year. Current indications suggest that rice area could contract in some countries, reflecting the effects of government policies and/or low international rice prices relative to alternative crops. In Asia, total paddy output in 2000 is forecast to fall by 1.5 percent, or 8 million tonnes, to 541 million tonnes. Rice production in China is forecast to be smaller than in the previous year, mostly on account of a reduction in area. In Africa, the 2000 rice output is expected to be similar to the previous year given that a number of countries benefited from well-distributed and regular rains. However, security problems continue to disrupt agricultural activities in several countries, including Sierra Leone, where paddy
production is expected to fall. In the United States, while the average yields are forecast to be about 5 percent above last year, the increase is not large enough to compensate for the 10 percent decline in area. In Europe, drought conditions in the southern parts of Portugal and Spain at planting time are expected to have had some negative impact on overall yields. In the southern hemisphere and around the equatorial belt, harvesting of this season's main paddy crop is mostly completed and preliminary assessments point to a lower paddy production, mostly attributed to a fall in area.
12. World trade in cereals in 2000/01 is forecast to remain close to last year's relatively large volume, at around 232 million tonnes. Global trade in wheat and wheat flour (in grain equivalent) in 2000/01 (July/June) is forecast to reach 107.5 million tonnes, up slightly from last year and highest on record, mostly reflecting a likely surge in imports by the developing countries. In Asia, China (mainland) is likely to return to the international wheat market this year as a bigger purchaser of wheat due to smaller production. In Africa, total imports could rise mostly on account of larger shipments into North Africa, where drought-reduced harvests have greatly increased import demand in some countries such as Algeria and Morocco. Total imports into Europe may be smaller this season largely on account of sharply smaller imports by the Russian Federation. Imports into the Latin American and Caribbean region are forecast to rise slightly from the previous year, mostly in Brazil due to strong demand.
13. Wheat export availabilities, especially among the major exporting countries, are expected to be more than sufficient to meet the anticipated demand. While reduced supplies in several eastern and central European countries would mean lower export availabilities from those origins, among the major exporters, shipments from the United States could increase most. Other major exporters are expected to maintain or expand slightly the volume of their exports.
14. World trade in coarse grains in 2000/01 (July/June) could reach 101.5 million tonnes, up slightly from the previous year. For maize, the largest traded coarse grain, imports are put at over 70 million tonnes, unchanged from last year. Similarly, imports of sorghum are forecast to remain at last year's level of around 8 million tonnes. For barley, imports are expected to exceed 19 million tonnes, up 500 000 tonnes from the previous season.
15. In Asia, the continuing strong import demand for barley in Saudi Arabia and for maize in the Far East and this year's higher maize and barley requirements in the Islamic Republic of Iran, would result in maintaining its share of world trade at roughly 55 percent. In Africa, total imports are forecast to increase above the previous year's already large volume to an all-time high of around 15 million tonnes. Given this year's much-reduced crops in North Africa, imports by Morocco and Egypt are forecast to surge. Also in the sub-Saharan region, several countries may increase their imports this year mostly because of domestic supply shortages. Among the Latin American and Caribbean countries, purchases by Mexico and Brazil are expected to decline. Imports are forecast to decline, mostly on account of a larger domestic harvest. In Europe, total imports are seen to remain at last year's volume. While imports by the EU are likely to remain unchanged from the previous season, this year's reduced harvests in several central and eastern European countries could result in much higher imports. By contrast, improved crop prospects could result is a sharp drop in imports into the Russian Federation.
16. Regarding coarse grains exports, this year's large maize supplies in the United States would more than offset the likely sharp reduction in export availabilities in China and Hungary due to an expected decline in their production. Higher shipments are also forecast for Argentina, Canada and the Republic of South Africa, while exports from Australia and the EU could remain unchanged from the previous year.
17. Global rice trade in 2000 (which is mostly influenced by production in 1999) is put at 22.4 million tonnes, which is some 11 percent below 1999, reflecting bumper harvests in many of the major importing countries. For the year 2001, world rice trade is tentatively forecast to increase slightly from that in the current year, to about 23 million tonnes. Indonesia will probably continue to be the largest world rice importer, as it has been for the last three years, with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Philippines and Brazil remaining very important rice markets. Imports by Iraq are expected to surge, to compensate for the drought-reduced paddy output.
18. On the export side, Thailand and Vietnam, the two leading rice exporters, are forecast to expand their volumes in 2001 by 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, while shipments from the United States are projected to be similar to the level anticipated for the current year. The level of rice sales from China, which has been a major source of supplies during the last three years, will largely depend on the level of stocks that the country wants to keep, given that its paddy output is forecast to drop by 5 percent, or 9 million tonnes.
19. World cereal utilization is forecast to expand marginally (by about 0.5 percent) in 2000/01 to 1900 million tonnes, but still remain below trend, by some 13 million tonnes, or 0.7 percent. Higher food consumption, particularly among the CIS countries, is likely to account for most of the growth. Nevertheless, cereal consumption in many other countries, especially those affected by production shortfalls this year, is expected to be lower. Besides continuing problems in Africa, a severe drought in parts of Asia could result in serious food shortages in several affected countries.
20. The animal feed usage of cereals is likely to rise marginally in 2000/01; mostly driven by continuing growth in Latin America and in the EC, while unfavourable market conditions may slow down feed usage in several CIS countries. In Far East Asia, total animal feed usage is expected to increase slightly, with gradual economic recovery providing most of the support. In the United States, this year's anticipated bumper maize crop is likely to boost feed usage of maize to a new record. However, because of a possible decline in utilization of wheat for feed purposes, total feed usage of cereals in the United States could remain unchanged from 1999/2000.
21. Global cereal stocks by the close of the seasons ending in 2001 is forecast at 320 million tonnes, which is 22 million tonnes, or 6 percent, below their opening levels. At the current forecast level, the ratio of global cereal carryovers to trend utilization in 2001/2002 is 16.5 percent, slightly below the 17 to 18 percent range that the FAO Secretariat considers the minimum necessary to safeguard world food security. Although at the global level total cereal stocks are forecast to decline this season, there are a number of indications that those held by major exporting countries are sufficient to meet any unexpected increase in world demand this season. Aggregate cereal inventories held by the major exporters of wheat, coarse grains and rice are forecast to rise this season by at least 8 million tonnes to 156 million tonnes, despite a decline in China's stocks, one of the world's leading rice exporters. Overall, the likely expansion in cereal stocks in major exporting countries could boost their share to nearly 49 percent of the world total, from 43 percent in the previous season.
22. International cereal prices have remained weak since the start of the current marketing seasons mostly in response to continuing large export supplies in several countries. The downward pressure on prices has been most pronounced for maize, given the prospects of a bumper crop in the United States.
23. In August, the US maize export prices averaged US$76 per tonne, some US$16 per tonne below August 1999. With the maize harvest approaching in the northern hemisphere, the downward pressure on maize prices is likely to continue at least through November 2000, barring any sudden or unexpected increase in world demand.
24. International wheat prices continue to remain at last year's reduced levels. The US wheat No. 2 (HRW, fob) prices averaged US$115 per tonne in August, roughly the same as in August 1999. Considering that wheat harvesting is nearly complete in several important countries and the demand outlook is relatively strong, wheat prices could begin rising. However, the upside may prove limited, particularly for low quality wheat, in view of this year's ample maize supplies and the already large (around US$20 per tonne) price advantage for maize compared to low quality (i.e. feed) wheat.
25. International rice prices have also remained relatively weak, reflecting the oversupply situation on the international market relative to import demand and the arrival of new crop supplies on the market in some countries. In August, the FAO Export Price Index for Rice (1982-84=100) averaged just 95 points, down by 1 point from May and 21 points below its level in August 1999. For the remainder of the year and assuming no supply and/or demand shock, international rice prices are expected to remain weak.
26. As of end-August 2000, the number of developing countries facing serious food difficulties throughout the world stood at 362, compared to 32 reported in February 2000.
27. In eastern Africa, the number of people in urgent need of food assistance due to drought is currently estimated at 20 million. In Kenya, drought during the current season has aggravated an already severe scarcity of water and pasture, resulting in large livestock losses. Nearly 3.3 million people are now estimated to be in urgent need of food assistance. In Eritrea, the upsurge in the border conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia in May/June 2000 and resulting widespread population displacement have aggravated the precarious food supply situation the country has been facing due to drought and war. More than 1.5 million people, about one-half of the total population, are now estimated to have been displaced. In Ethiopia, with the failure of the secondary Belg season crop, the number of people in need of food assistance has increased to about 10.2 million people. In Somalia, 750 000 people are estimated to be in need of assistance and serious malnutrition rates are increasingly being reported. In Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Djibouti, despite a generally stable food supply situation, some 3.7 million people depend on food assistance due to drought-induced crop losses and/or civil strife. Distribution of emergency food aid in Burundi is constrained by insecurity, while approximately 700 000 people, including the displaced, the drought-affected and other vulnerable people, will rely on emergency food aid well into 2001. In Rwanda, food shortages persist in parts, particularly in northwestern provinces. In western Africa, food shortages persist in Sierra Leone, where a resurgence of rebel activity in May/June disrupted agricultural production at the critical planting period, while in Liberia, production remains constrained by the effects of past civil strife. In central Africa, while the humanitarian situation has improved in the Republic of Congo, persistent civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in massive population displacements and seriously disrupted agricultural production. Humanitarian assistance continues to be hampered by insecurity. In southern Africa, recent intensification of fighting in Angola has resulted in further population displacements. Some 1.9 million people require emergency food aid but up to 2.8 million are in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance. In Mozambique, free food distribution to flood-affected people has ended but 172 000 still need assistance through food-for-work schemes. Large-scale assistance for rehabilitation of the shattered infrastructure continues to be needed. Relief and rehabilitation assistance is also needed in Madagascar devastated by three consecutive cyclones earlier this year.
28. In several Asian countries, droughts followed by floods have displaced thousands and destroyed or damaged crops, causing localized food shortages. In India, following a serious drought earlier in the year which affected a number of western and southern states, recent floods in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh killed at least 150 people and left many homeless. Heavy rains and flash floods have also caused havoc in the north eastern states of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, and in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The state of Assam was the worst affected, with an estimated 2.5 million people made homeless. In China, a severe drought, the worst in decades, has destroyed crops and led to large-scale water shortages in the northern parts. The early outlook for food grain production in DPR, Korea is unfavourable following erratic and below average rainfall in the run-up to the 2000 cropping season. This follows below normal rainfall in 1999. The food supply situation also remains extremely tight for thousands of nomadic families in Mongolia, which experienced its worst winter weather in 30 years earlier this year, killing over 1.5 million head of livestock. In East Timor, the food supply situation has improved with this year's maize and rice harvest, but the country still needs food assistance. In the Near East, the Islamic Republic of Iran has suffered the worst drought in decades, which has severely affected agriculture and livestock. Neighbouring Afghanistan is reeling under the effects of a second consecutive year of severe drought, compounded by continuing economic difficulties and insecurity. Drought-affected populations in Iraq, Jordan and Syria still need assistance. Several CIS countries have been seriously affected by drought since the beginning of Spring. The countries hardest hit are Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan, where the drought has exacerbated chronic economic problems. The 2000 cereal harvest in these countries is forecast to fall sharply and all three have appealed for international assistance. In Azerbaijan, vulnerable populations continue to need assistance.
29. In Latin America, as a result of the severe effects of natural disasters in recent years (El Niņo, Hurricanes "Georges" and "Mitch", etc.), food assistance is still being provided to Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Haiti, food aid is needed due to chronic economic problems.
30. In Europe, food assistance continues to be necessary for vulnerable populations in the Balkans, especially in Yugoslavia. In the Russian Federation, displaced populations and host families in Ingushetia as well as returnees to Chechnya, require assistance to survive.
31. After having significantly declined since the mid-1980s through the first half of the 1990s, commitments of official development assistance (ODA) for agricultural development (at constant 1995 prices) rose for three consecutive years in 1996-98 ( see table ) . By 1998, latest year for which complete data are available, such commitments totalled nearly US$ 14 billion. This was, however, still 6 percent below the levels of 1990 and over 30 percent below those of the mid-1980s (when ODA to agriculture exceeded US$ 20 billion in constant prices).
|Table : External Assistance to Agriculture|
Total Commitments by Donors
At current prices
At 1995 prices
* Provisional estimates
32. Most of the overall increase in ODA commitments to agriculture in recent years was contributed by the multilateral donors particularly the World Bank. Multilateral commitments in 1998 exceeded US$ 9 billion in constant 1995 prices, over one-third above the depressed 1995 levels, but below those of 1990.
33. The commitments by bilateral donors, mainly countries of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, showed no clear trend, fluctuating around a yearly average of about US $ 5 billions in constant 1995 prices throughout the 1990s. Japan, the leading donor among the DAC members, contributed US $ 1,853 millions in 1998 (about 43 percent of total DAC commitments). The USA and Germany, the second and third top donors, contributed respectively US$ 455 million and US$ 380 million in 1998.
34. During the 1990s, the share of concessional ODA commitments to agriculture over the total were in the range of 70-75 percent in most years. In 1998, however, the concessional share of the total fell to about 65 percent. This reflected changes in the terms of multilateral ODA, since bilateral commitments are almost exclusively granted on concessional terms.
35. ODA flows to agriculture "narrowly" defined tended to lose relative importance in relation to agricultural activities "broadly" defined3. Indeed, the "narrow" concept attracted only 60 percent of total ODA in 1998, compared to 75 percent in 1980. This shift in emphasis reflected mainly the increasing support to "broad-agriculture" activities such as environment protection and rural development/ infrastructure. Environment protection, in particular, received over 10 percent of all ODA commitments in 1998, compared to less than 5 percent in the early 1990s. Within the "narrow" definition, land and water development remained important recipients of external assistance throughout the decade, but research, training and extension gained considerable ground relative to other activities in 1998.
36. The regional distribution of ODA to agriculture indicates: a relatively stable flow of funds to Asia, the largest recipient region (about 45 percent of the total throughout the 1980s); varying levels of ODA to Latin America and the Caribbean, with some increase in the commitments to this region in 1997-98; increasing flows to European countries and transition economies; and a marked fall in the level of assistance to Africa, both in absolute terms and in relation to other regions. In constant prices, Africa received US$ 4. 513 million in 1990 ( 30 percent of ODA to all regions) but only US$ 2, 893 million in 1998 (21 percent of total ODA).
37. FAO's first forecast for global cereal food aid shipments in 2000/01 (July/June) is put at 9.5 million tonnes, 5 percent below the estimate of 10 million tonnes in 1999/2000. The anticipated decline would be mostly on account of a likely reduction in shipments to the Russian Federation, given this year's improved production prospects in the country. In the previous season, total cereal shipments as food aid to the Russian Federation totalled 2.54 million tonnes, up 500 000 tonnes from 1997/98. Overall, some five countries received more than one-half of total shipments in 1999/2000; these included the Russian Federation (2.5 million tonnes), Ethiopia (1.1 million tonnes), Bangladesh (965 000 tonnes), The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (712 000 tonnes) and Indonesia (439 000 tonnes). The balance was shared by 87 countries and/or territories around the world. The largest donor during the 1999/2000 season was the United States. Total cereal shipments as food aid from the United States surged to over 6.6 million tonnes, up 300 000 tonnes from the previous season and the highest since 1993/94. Shipments from the other major donors (i.e. Australia, Canada, the European Community, Norway, Switzerland, and Japan) were generally similar to their previous year's levels.
38. Based on the forecast for total imports in 2000/01 and taking into account the current prospects for cereal food aid and prices during the course of the 2000/01 season, the cereal import bill of the developing countries is expected to approach US$22 billion, just over US$1 billion above the previous year, but substantially below the high levels registered between 1994 and 1997, when cereal prices were higher than in recent years. For the Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs), the total volume of their cereal imports in 2000/01 is put at 74 million tonnes, which would be some 1 million tonnes more than last year, mainly because of a likely increase in imports by several countries in Africa. At this level, the overall cereal import expense of the LIFDCs, as a group, is forecast at US$9.5 billion, up US$500 million, or 5 percent, from 1999/2000 but substantially below the levels in the mid-1990s, when it peaked to almost US$17 billion. The recent surge in the value US Dollar against most other currencies could lead to even higher import bills expressed in national currencies.
1 This report is based on information available up to 31 August 2000. Current information on cereals can be found in FAO's bi-monthly Food Outlook report.
2 However, there are other countries which have been seriously affected by severe but localized disasters, mainly floods and droughts, which are mentioned in this report but not included in the list. Countries facing exceptional food emergencies are underlined.
3 The "narrow definition" of agriculture includes: land and water, research, training and extension, inputs, agricultural services, crop production, livestock, fisheries, forestry and other activities related to primary production. The "broad"definition also includes environmental protection, manufacturing of inputs, agro-industries, rural development/ infrastructure and regional and river development.
4 Food aid shipment estimates for the 1999/2000 marketing season are based on data received from the World Food Programme as of mid-August 2000.