Early indications point to a reduction in global cereal output in 2009 from the previous year's record. Smaller plantings and/or adverse weather look likely to bring grain production down in most of the world's major producers.
In Low-Income Food-Deficit countries, prospects for the early 2009 cereal crops point to a lower output. Good crops are expected in North Africa. Although the early outlook has improved in southern Africa a lower maize crop is still expected; prolonged dry weather is adversely affecting wheat prospects in most of Asia, where much depends on the rice crop yet to be planted.
Latest information confirms an easing of the cereal supply/demand situation in the Low-Income Food-Deficit countries as a group in 2008/09, following above-average harvests in 2008.
Prices of food staples remain at high levels in several developing countries. In some countries where they have decreased following improved 2008 cereal outputs and lower international cereal prices, they are, however, well above their levels a year earlier.
Food crises persist in 32 countries around the world. The situation is of particular concern in the Gaza Strip as a result of the recent conflict. In Kenya, Somalia and Zimbabwe, the food security situation is precarious following drought-reduced crops, civil disturbance and/or economic crisis.
In South America, the 2008 wheat production was halved by drought in Argentina, and persistent dry weather is adversely affecting prospects for the 2009 coarse grains in the sub-region.