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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 03-March-2021


  1. Winter cereals for 2021 harvest at dormancy stage

  2. Near‑average cereal output obtained in 2020

  3. Below‑average cereal exports forecast in 2020/21

  4. Export and wholesale prices of wheat increased in September

  5. About 3.4 million people estimated in need of humanitarian assistance as of February 2021, of which 1.5 million people in need of food and livelihood assistance

Winter cereals for 2021 harvest at dormancy stage

Planting of winter cereal crops, to be harvested between July and August 2021, was completed last October over a slightly above‑average area of 8 million hectares. Precipitations have been overall adequate since late September 2020, benefiting soil moisture levels and supporting crop establishment. As of mid‑February 2021, crops were dormant and sufficient snow levels prevented them to freeze. Snow cover is also crucial to secure good moisture reserves in early spring (March‑April), when plant growth resumes.

Near‑average cereal output obtained in 2020

The total 2020 cereal output (winter and spring crops) is estimated at a near‑average level of 64.9 million tonnes. Despite the impact of drier and warmer‑than‑average weather conditions in August and September 2020, the maize output is officially set at 30.3 million tonnes, slightly above the average level due to record high plantings. By contrast, wheat and barley outputs are officially estimated at 25.1 and 7.8 million tonnes, respectively, well below the previous year’s level and slightly below average.

Below‑average cereal exports forecast in 2020/21

Total cereal exports in the 2020/21 marketing year (July/June) are projected at about 45 million tonnes, slightly below the five‑year average volume. The forecast is based on the expectation of below‑average exports of wheat and barley, due to the reduced harvests obtained in 2020. Maize exports, by contrast, are forecast at slightly an above‑average level of 24 million tonnes, corresponding to the quota set by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture on 26 January 2021 (FPMA Food Policy). This measure aims to ensure adequate domestic availabilities and preserve food security in the context of the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic.

Export and wholesale prices of wheat increased since September 2020

Export prices of milling quality wheat increased between August 2020 and January 2021, mainly due to strong demand by importing countries and the tightening domestic availabilities of milling quality wheat. Prices in January reached levels 25 percent above those recorded a year before and were the highest since June 2014.

In the domestic market, wholesale prices of milling wheat decreased slightly in December 2020, but increased sharply in January 2021, in line with seasonal trends. Prices remained well above their year‑earlier levels, reflecting the reduced harvest obtained in 2020 and a year on year weaker domestic currency, which also contributed to the annual increase in export prices.

About 3.4 million people estimated in need of humanitarian assistance as of February 2021

The civil conflict, which began in April 2014 in the eastern part of the country, has had a severe negative impact on the food security situation of people residing in both sides of the “line of contact” that separates the non‑Government controlled area (NGCA) and the Government controlled area (GCA) and caused the displacement of about 1.5 million people. In addition, the measures adopted to contain the COVID‑19 pandemic had strong socio‑economic impacts on the vulnerable people, particularly the elderly, which account for almost 40 percent of the total population in need.

People residing in the NGCA are the most affected, as they need to cross the “line of contact” to access social and financial services, including withdrawing their pensions.

With the outbreak of the COVID‑19 pandemic, in mid‑March 2020, the five crossing points along the “line of contact” were closed. Despite the partial re‑opening of two checkpoints in June 2020, the number of monthly crossings in January 2021 has dropped by over 90 percent compared to 12 months before.

According to UN-OCHA , as of February 2021, about 3.4 million people, 8 percent of the total population, were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance. About 1.67 million people in need reside in the NGCA, while 1.7 million are in the GCA, including 343 000 IDPs. Out of the total 3.4 million people, an estimated 1.5 million are in need of food and livelihood assistance in the conflict affected areas. About 40 percent of them have needs related to food insecurity.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.