Crop Prospects and Food Situation, No. 1, March 2014
FAO’s forecasts for global cereal production, consumption, trade and stocks in 2013/14 have all been raised since February, with overall supply conditions significantly improved compared to the previous season.
Export prices of wheat rose in February mainly on concerns about the 2014 winter wheat crop in the United States. Prices of maize also increased, supported by strong domestic and export demand for feed and industrial use. Overall, however, cereal export prices remained below their year-earlier levels.
Aggregate cereal imports in LIFDCs in 2013/14 are estimated at a near-record level mainly due to reduced harvests in Africa, overall stagnant domestic production and rising demand.
In the Central African Republic, continued widespread conflict has displaced large numbers of people and sharply increased the dire food security situation.
In Eastern Africa, food security conditions have deteriorated sharply in South Sudan since the conflict erupted in mid-December, and about 3.7 million people are estimated to be in need of emergency assistance.
In Western Africa, the overall food security situation has remained stable following an above average 2013 cereal harvest. However, over 20 million people are estimated to be in need of food assistance due to insecurity and reduced crops in parts of the Sahel.
In Southern Africa, tighter maize supplies and high food prices have affected access to food, mainly to vulnerable groups; however, conditions are expected to improve with a favourable production outlook in 2014.
In North Africa, early prospects for the 2014 winter wheat and coarse grains crops, to be harvested from May, are favourable.
In the Far East, overall early prospects for the subregion’s 2014 wheat crop are favourable, with record outputs expected in India and China. . However, more than 4 million people still remain displaced in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan.
Conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic continues to affect agricultural production, trade and humanitarian aid distribution. The number of people in need of urgent food and livelihood assistance is estimated at about 6.3 million. In Yemen, some 43 percent of the population is estimated to be food insecure.
In South America, overall prospects for the first season 2014 maize crop remain favourable despite dry spells in parts, as improved rainfall in early 2014 prevented significant yield reductions in the main producing countries - Argentina and Brazil. In Bolivia severe floods hit the northern El Beni department affecting the livestock sector and causing localized crop losses.
FAO estimates that globally 33 countries, including 26 countries in Africa, are in need of external assistance for food due to or a combination of conflict, crop failures, and high domestic food prices.