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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

10 August 2009

Moldova Update-
Drought in Southern

This is an update of the August 04 posting.

The area sown to crops for harvest in 2009 exceeded 1.1 million hectares, including 433 000 hectares of winter crops (mainly wheat and barley). Until late April, winter crops developed satisfactorily. However, drier and hot conditions as of May adversely affected the yield potential of grain-filling winter crops, and severely stressed spring maize in southern areas. As a result, the average yield of winter wheat has fallen below the five-year average (2004-2008). The table below, from the European Commission's Joint Research Center shows expected yields for barley, maize and wheat.

Preliminary official reports indicate that the aggregate output of wheat is only 650 000 tonnes (cleaned weight), only half of last year’s bumper harvest of 1.3 million tonnes and an average of 875 000 tonnes. The reduced quantity is offset by better quality and higher gluten levels of the wheat.

The dry conditions have severely affected the main spring crop, maize, notably in the districts of Kahul, Chadry-Lunga, Bassarabjaska, Leova, Stefan Voda, Taraska and Streshen. Early reports indicate that the Government expects maize yields to be between 1.6-1.8 tonnes per hectare; that is almost 40 percent below the five-year average of 2.9 tonnes per hectare, and only about half of last year’s bumper yield. The effect of drier weather on other crops, potatoes, vegetables and fruit is expected to be more muted as their production is spread throughout the country and often takes place on household plots. The yield of sunflower is reported to be about average.

Following last year’s bumper harvest, the implications for aggregate food security are not disastrous but household and farm income (already amongst the lowest in Europe) will be further reduced in the affected areas. Production of wheat is sufficient to meet domestic needs, and substantial stocks are available to be drawn down. The maize supply situation is tighter, but a stock drawdown will ensure that, compared to the really poor harvest of 2007, twice the amount of maize will be available for feed. Indications are that, providing the harvest forecasts eventuate, and with a stock drawdown of over 300 000 tonnes, both food and feed use of cereals will remain close to trend at the aggregate level. However, in the affected districts, individual farmers could experience shortages.