No.4  November 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 high

Special feature: El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

Special feature: how China stabilized grain prices during the recent globalfood price crisis
Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries food situation overview

Regional reviews

Statistical Appendix


Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries
food situation overview1/

Food prices have stabilized in several regions in the past months but generally remain at above pre- food crisis levels


In LIFDCs food prices remain, in general, much higher than in the pre-food price crisis period of two years earlier (see special feature) despite declines in several countries. The high food price situation continues to give rise to concern for the food security of vulnerable populations.

In Eastern Africa, prices of cereals have fluctuated in a narrow range since July. By October prices of maize in the main markets of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania were 171 percent 80 percent and 68 percent higher than in October 2007. This reflects tight regional supplies following a second consecutive below average harvest in Kenya and congestions in the Mombassa port. In Sudan, prices of main staple sorghum have been on an increasing trend in the past two years and by September they were 190 percent higher than two years earlier.

In Southern Africa, prices of main staple maize have stabilized since May-June. In spite of bumper 2009 harvests, maize prices in October in Zambia and Mozambique were 59 percent, 58 percent higher than two years earlier and in Malawi, by September, maize quotations had more than doubled their level of September 2007.

In Western Africa, prices of cereals declined in October reflecting the new 2009 cereal harvest. However, millet prices in Mali and Burkina Faso were about one-third higher than in October 2007, while in Nigeria were still 73 percent higher than two years earlier. Substantial delays in cereal imports during 2009 have supported high prices of cereals in the sub-region.

In Asia, in Afghanistan, price of flour have declined in the past months with the bumper 2009 wheat harvest but by September remained 40 higher than two years ago. In Pakistan, prices of wheat flour remain on the increase and are some 70 above the pre-crisis level. In Sri Lanka and India rice prices have stabilized in the past months although are still 60 percent and 40 percent higher than two years ago. By contrast, in Bangladesh cereal prices have declined to the pre-2008 food-crises levels reflecting a good harvest and policy interventions.

In Central America and the Caribbean, in Honduras and Nicaragua prices of white maize have declined substantially with the arrival of the new harvest and by October are at the levels of two years ago.

2009 aggregate cereal production of LIFDCs put close to last year's record level


With the 2009 cereal seasons completed or drawing to a close in most regions of the world, FAO’s latest forecast of the 2009 cereal production for the 77 LIFDCs as a group points to a marginal decline from the record output of 2008. A substantial decline in cereal production is expected in India where the poor 2009 monsoon season rains are anticipated to result in a sharply reduced paddy crop. By contrast, in the largest producer China, cereal harvest is put 1 percent down from the record of 2008. When China and India, normally accounting for one-third of the aggregate output, are excluded production of the remaining LIFDCs increases by a significant 4.5 percent.

Bumper cereal crops were harvested earlier in the year in LIFDCs of Southern and Northern Africa and production recovered from the 2008 drought-reduced level in countries of Near East. Similarly, in countries of Asia, the 2009 wheat crop is estimated to be a record, notably in Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, but latest prospects for the main season rice point to a crop lower than the good 2008 harvest although still above average.

In Western Africa, where harvest of the 2009 cereal crops is well advanced, erratic rains have reduced production compared to the record of last year, notably in Niger and Senegal, and the aggregate output of LIFDCs is forecast to return to normal levels from last year’s bumper crop

In Eastern Africa, following two years of bumper crops, the 2009 aggregate cereal production is forecast to be reduced, notably in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, due to poor rains and civil conflict. It estimated that over 20 million people will need emergency food aid in 2010.

In LIFDCs in Central America and the Caribbean, dry weather associated with El Niño phenomenon has affected planting of the 2009/10 secondary cereal crops in Honduras and Nicaragua. Heavy rains in early November, that resulted in flooding and landslides, reversed the drought situation but were too late to avoid reductions in the areas planted.

Slow pace of 2008/09 cereal imports in Western Africa


With almost all subregions now into the new marketing year, latest information received in GIEWS by early October 2009 indicates that 90 percent of the LIFDCs aggregate cereal import requirements in the 2008/09 have already been covered by commercial imports or food aid. However, in Western Africa, where the seasons conclude at the end of October or at the end of December, the path of both commercial and food aid imports has been slow with only 60 percent of the import requirements have been received. This is likely to have influenced the high level of food prices in LIFDCs of the subregion during 2009 in spite of a 2008 record cereal harvest.

Table 4. Basic facts of 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 2 910.8 945.7 939.6 -0.6
excluding China Mainland and India297.8311.2325.34.5
Utilization 965.6 988.6 1 005.4 1.7
Food use661.9676.4687.81.7
excluding China Mainland and India282.6293.6299.21.9
Per caput cereal food use
(kg per year)
excluding China Mainland and India157.8160.6160.50.0
excluding China Mainland and India44.744.947.15.0
End of season stocks 3 252.9 286.9 285.5 -0.5
excluding China Mainland and India50.857.657.5-0.2
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.

Table 5. Cereal production1 of LIFDCs ( million tonnes)
  2007 2008 2009 Change: 2009
over 2008 (%)
Africa (43 countries) 117.0 128.3 131.8 2.8
North Africa22.526.631.217.2
Eastern Africa32.632.630.5-6.3
Southern Africa12.311.814.018.5
Western Africa46.454.052.8-2.2
Central Africa3.
Asia (25 countries) 791.0 813.8 803.8 -1.2
CIS in Asia13.913.414.48.0
Far East761.8791.6775.8-2.0
- China (Mainland)400.2419.8416.2-0.8
- India212.9214.7198.1-7.7
Near East15.38.913.652.8
America (3 countries)
1.9 1.8 1.9 5.9
Oceania (5 countries) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Europe (1 country) 0.9 1.8 2.0 11.2
Total (77 countries) 910.8 945.7 939.6 -0.6
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 2008/09 or 2009 2009/10 or 2010
Requirements 1 Import position 2 Requirements 1
Actual Imports Total Imports of which food aid Total Imports of which food aid pledges Total Imports of which food aid
Africa (43 countries) 40 234 45 043 2 916 38 677 2 426 39 263 3 055
North Africa18 26020 817 020 817 016 192 0
Eastern Africa6 2157 496 1 8126 657 1 5346 871 2 190
Southern Africa3 2653 702 4633 702 4633 151 361
Western Africa10 82911 214 4876 696 27811 271 419
Central Africa1 6651 813 155 804 1511 778 85
Asia (25 countries) 39 969 46 182 2 191 43 752 1 472 39 960 1 402
CIS in Asia5 3996 357 826 357 825 596 40
Far East23 79223 774 1 44822 163 77521 069 1 127
Near East10 77816 051 66115 232 61513 295 235
America (3 countries)
1 666 1 783 171 1 783 171 1 816 183
Oceania (5 countries) 431 431 0 178 0 431 0
Europe (1 country) 339 88 0 88 0 88 
Total (77 countries) 82 639 93 527 5 278 84 476 4 069 81 558 4 641
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 early October 2009.
Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

Table 7. Cereal import bill in LIFDCs by region and type
(July/June, USD million)
  2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10
LIFDC 17 326 16 492 22 882 37 571 29 945 21 856
Africa8 3748 29310 41719 11214 50310 555
Asia8 5937 83111 97117 53514 80410 752
Latin America and Caribbean 270283392630482418
Wheat10 27710 09413 42922 81619 49113 176
Coarse grains2 5622 2563 3124 4534 4323 405
Rice4 4874 1436 14210 3016 0215 275



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.

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