No.3  July 2009  
   Crop Prospects and Food Situation

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Food emergencies update

Global cereal supply and demand brief

Special feature: Domestic food prices in developing countries
remain very high

Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries food situation overview

Regional reviews

Statistical Appendix


Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries food situation overview1/

Current food prices remain well above the pre-crisis level despite decline in international prices


Food prices in LIFDCs have generally declined from their peaks of 2008 but remain much higher than in the pre-food price crisis period two years earlier. In several countries, prices exceed the already high levels of 12 months ago or are still at record levels (see special feature). This is in spite of the sharp decrease in international cereal prices and overall good cereal harvests. The high food price situation continues to give rise to concern for the food security of vulnerable populations in both urban and rural areas, as these groups expend a large share of their incomes in food. Close monitoring of domestic prices of staple foods remains necessary.

In Eastern Africa, in Sudan, prices of sorghum in the main growing area of El Gedarif in June 2009 were three times higher than two years ago. In Somalia, Mogadishu, prices of staple sorghum in the same month were three times higher than in June 2007, while in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia prices of maize have doubled their levels of 24 months earlier.

In countries of Southern Africa, prices of staple maize have declined in the recent months with the 2009 bumper cereal harvests but remain above the pre-crisis levels. In Malawi, maize quotations in Lilongwe in June this year were more than twice those of June 2007.

In Western Africa, prices temporarily decreased in late 2008 following good cereal harvests, but resume increasing in 2009. In Senegal prices of imported rice in Dakar in June were 60 higher than two years ago. In Ghana, prices of maize in Accra have more than doubled their levels of June 2007.

In Asia, in Pakistan, prices of wheat in Karachi in May 2009 have doubled their levels of two years earlier.

Similarly, in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Haiti, prices of local rice in Les Cayes in June this year were almost three times higher than in June 2007. In the same period, in Nicaragua, average price for rice and maize were 61 percent and 58 percent higher respectively.

Reasons for the continuous high level of food prices vary according to regions and from country to country. They include, among others, reduced harvests, higher and/or delayed imports, civil conflict, demand in neighbouring countries and regional trade flows, devaluation of national currencies, changes in food and trade policies, increased incomes and demand, and transport constraints and higher transport costs.

Favourable prospects for the 2009 aggregate cereal production of LIFDCs


In the LIFDCs the 2009 cereal seasons are at different stages, with crops already harvested in some regions, but still to be planted in others. FAO's early forecast of 2009 cereal output for the 77 LIFDCs as a group2/, points to an increase of less than 1 percent from the record level of last year. Excluding China Mainland and India, however, the aggregate output of the rest of LIFDCs is forecast 4.6 percent higher, a significant increase for the second consecutive year.

In Northern and Southern Africa countries, bumper 2009 cereal harvests have been obtained following favourable weather and agricultural inputs support programmes, notably in Morocco and Zimbabwe where productions doubled or almost doubled from the reduced levels of 2008. Similarly in Asia, above-average 2009 wheat and first season rice crops have been gathered in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. However, prospects for the main season rice crop, still being planted, is uncertain, due to a delay in the start of the rainy season, particularly in India. In the CIS countries of Asia, cereal harvests are underway and overall prospects are favourable. In Afghanistan, this year's cereal production is anticipated to recover substantially from the 2008 poor level. In Western and Eastern Africa, the start of the rainy season has been erratic and late in several countries and more precipitation is urgently needed in the coming weeks. In Central America and the Caribbean, a good 2009 cereal crop is being gathered in Haiti, and planting prospects are favourable in Honduras and Nicaragua.

Table 4 . Basic facts on the Low-Income Food deficit countries ( LIFDCs)1
cereal situation ( million tonnes)
  2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 Change: 2009/10 over 2008/09 (%)
Cereal production 2 910.2 949.0 957.7 0.9
excluding China Mainland and India296.7313.5327.84.6
Utilization 954.0 983.9 1 002.6 1.9
Food use663.3677.1685.21.2
excluding China Mainland and India282.2291.6297.21.9
Per caput cereal food use
(kg per year)
excluding China Mainland and India158.8160.7160.70.0
excluding China Mainland and India44.145.448.15.8
End of season stocks 3 264.2 300.5 316.1 5.2
excluding China Mainland and India50.455.256.92.9
1 Includes food deficit countries with per caput annual income below the level used by the World Bank to determine eligibility for IDA assistance (i.e.USD 1 735 in 2006).
Data refer to calendar year of the first year shown.
3 May not equal the difference between supply and utilization because of differences in individual country marketing years.

Cereal imports to increase in 2008/09 despite good 2008 productions


The LIFDCs total volume of cereal imports in marketing years 2008/09 or 2009 is forecast to reach some 88.6 million tones, 8.5 percent above the level of the past season in spite of an aggregate record 2008 aggregate cereal output. This mainly reflects a substantial increase in imports in Near East countries affected by 2008 drought-reduced harvests, particularly large importers Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and Afghanistan. Similarly, as a result of poor 2008 cereal output import requirements have doubled in Kenya and Somalia. Replenishment of stocks in Asian countries, mainly Pakistan, Philippines and China, following releases last season to limit the impact of soaring food prices, also account for the increase in cereal imports this season.

Table 5. Cereal production1 of LIFDCs ( million tonnes)
  2007 2008 2009 Change: 2009
over 2008 (%)
Africa (43 countries) 117.0 128.7 136.1 5.8
North Africa22.525.931.421.3
Eastern Africa32.633.834.72.7
Southern Africa12.311.813.918.0
Western Africa46.454.052.8-2.2
Central Africa3.
Asia (25 countries) 790.4 815.6 817.7 0.3
CIS in Asia13.613.713.80.7
Far East761.6792.5791.0-0.2
- China (Mainland)400.2419.8417.7-0.5
- India213.2215.7212.2-1.6
Near East15.29.412.937.2
America (3 countries)
1.9 1.8 1.9 5.6
Oceania (5 countries) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Europe (1 country) 0.8 2.9 2.0 -31.4
Total (77 countries) 910.2 949.0 957.7 0.9
1 Includes rice in milled terms.
Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

Table 6.Cereal import position of LIFDCs ( thousand tonnes)
  2007/08 or

2008/09 or 2009
Requirements 1 Import position 2
of which
food aid
of which
food aid
Africa (43 countries) 40 223 41 959 2 775 29 981 1 888
North Africa18 26018 691 018 146 0
Eastern Africa6 2036 577 1 7184 695 1 167
Southern Africa3 2653 695 4593 695 459
Western Africa10 83111 187 4853 023 178
Central Africa1 6651 808 113 422 83
Asia (25 countries) 38 974 44 384 2 516 32 318 899
CIS in Asia3 7614 547 633 208 61
Far East24 44624 047 1 65219 190 506
Near East10 76715 790 8019 920 332
America (3 countries)
1 661 1 790 218 1 198 144
Oceania (5 countries) 431 431 0 91 0
Europe (1 country) 336 80 0 79 0
Total (77 countries) 81 626 88 644 5 509 63 667 2 931
1 The import requirement is the difference between utilization (food, feed, other uses, exports plus closing
stocks) and domestic availability (production plus opening stocks).
2 Estimates based on information available as of end June 2009.
Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

Improvement in the pace of 2008/09 cereal imports, but slow progress in food aid allocations


Latest information received in GIEWS by the end of June 2009 indicates acceleration in cereal imports by LIFDCs in recent months. Out of an aggregate import requirement of 88.6 million tonnes in 2008/09, 72 percent have been already covered by commercial imports or food aid. This compares with 70 percent at the same time last year. In particular, in North Africa, where the season has just concluded, virtually all import requirements have been covered. By contrast, in Western and Central African countries, actual imports remained well below requirements. As regards of food aid only 53 percent of the requirements of LIFDCs in 2008/09 have been covered so far. Most affected by the delay in food aid pledges/deliveries are countries in Far East and Near East where the marketing seasons are about to finish.

1.  The Low-Income Food-Deficit (LIFDC) group of countries includes food deficit countries with per caput annual income below the level used by the World Bank to determine eligibility for IDA assistance (i.e. USD 1 735 in 2006), which is in accordance with the guidelines and criteria agreed to by the CFA should be given priority in the allocation of food aid.

2.  The latest revision of the list of LIFDCs, as of May 2009, excluded five countries: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cape Verde and Tonga.

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GIEWS   global information and early warning system on food and agriculture