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Latest Food Outlook finds cereal production less than expected

The November issue of Food Outlook, FAO's bimonthly report on the global food situation, finds that "the outlook for cereal supplies in 1998/99 has deteriorated slightly, due to lower than expected output in the CIS and Asia." World cereal output for 1998 is now forecast to decline by 2 percent over last year, and fall to 1 872 million tonnes, just below expected consumption requirements.

This means that cereal stocks - which had increased in 1997/98 - will have to be drawn upon. However, they should remain within the range of 17-18 percent of total cereal consumption that the Organization considers the minimum necessary to safeguard world food security.

Global cereal utilization for 1998/99 is forecast at 1 878 million tonnes, up slightly from last year, but just below the long-term trend. This mainly reflects weak demand for animal feed. Cereal consumption as food is forecast to continue to rise, in line with population growth.

Food aid levels up after four years of decline

The report forecasts that cereal food aid shipments will rise sharply in 1998/99 from last year's low of 5.3 million tonnes to 9 million tonnes, a significant up-turn after four years of decline. Food aid in 1992/93 was over 15 million tonnes. The report attributes the turn around to "greater availabilities of grain supplies with the major donors combined with higher food aid needs."

Food aid shipments in this marketing year are expected to meet 12.4 percent of the low-income food-deficit countries' import needs, compared to just 6.5 percent last year.

"Among the main recipient regions, the need for food aid is expected to rise the most in Asia, reflecting the difficult food situation particularly in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Korea," the report says. Shipments of cereal food aid to Asia are forecast to rise 2.2 million tonnes over last year's level to a total of 5 million tonnes.

Shipments to the CIS are also expected to rise substantially, as are deliveries to Central American countries recovering from hurricane "Mitch". Total food aid shipments from the United States are forecast to reach some 4.5 million tonnes, double last year's figure, and half the global volume.

The Food Outlook has a standing special feature on countries suffering food emergencies.

30 November 1998

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