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FAO forecasts decline in cereal output

The September edition of FAO's Food Outlook reports that the increase in world cereal production in 2000 will be lower than expected earlier and cereal stocks will fall.

The latest figures from FAO indicate that the world cereal crop for 2000 will reach 1 881 million tonnes. This is 15 million tonnes lower than the June forecast and represents an increase of only 0.3 percent over the 1999 cereal output.

Revised figures put wheat production at 587 million tonnes, 4 million tonnes less than the forecast in the previous Food Outlook. This represents a marginal decline from last year's output. The forecast for coarse grains has also been adjusted downward to 896 million tonnes, 12 million tonnes less than forecast in June, but nevertheless, 1.6 percent higher than last year.

A continuing drought in China, which hurt crop yields more than expected earlier, is the main reason for the latest downward adjustments. Harvest forecasts have also been reduced for several Eastern European countries hit by drought.

The forecast for the 2000 rice crop remains unchanged at 398 million tonnes (milled basis), 1.5 percent less than last year's record crop.

These figures put the world cereal crop 9 million tonnes below the expected utilization for 2000/01. Global cereal stocks are forecast to be drawn down to their lowest level in four years, causing the stock-to-use ratio to slip slightly below the minimum level FAO considers necessary to safeguard world food security.

Cereal export prices remain generally weak. However, stocks held by major exporting countries should be sufficient to meet any unexpected increase in world demand.

The September Food Outlook lists 36 countries facing serious food difficulties, the same number as in June.

World trade in cereals is forecast to expand further in 2000/01, reaching 232 million tonnes - an increase of 2 million tonnes over last year's estimated import volume. Global trade in coarse grains is forecast to increase, while trade in wheat may decline slightly.

Food Outlook is published five times a year by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).

20 September 2000

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