Extracts from FAO/GIEWS Food Outlook No. 4, 2000
Latest indications continue to point to increased cereal output in 2000, although the growth will be lower than expected earlier. This reaffirms earlier forecasts that total cereal production will not be sufficient to meet expected utilization requirements in 2000/01, causing global cereal reserves to be drawn down.
FAO's latest forecast for cereal production in 2000 is 1 881 million tonnes, up 0.3 percent on last year. Output of wheat is forecast at 587 million tonnes, down by 0.4 percent from the previous year, while that of coarse grains is seen to rise by 1.6 percent to 896 million tonnes. The forecast for the global rice crop in 2000 remains unchanged, at 398 million tonnes (milled basis), 1.3 percent less than the record crop last year.
Food supply difficulties persist in many developing countries. As of end-August, the number of developing countries facing serious food difficulties worldwide stands at 36, unchanged from June. Additionally, however, there are several other countries affected by serious but localized disasters, mainly floods and droughts.
World trade in cereals is expected to expand further in 2000/01, to 232 million tonnes, 2 million tonnes above the estimated volume in 1999/2000. Global trade in coarse grains is forecast to increase while trade in wheat may decline marginally.
Cereal export prices remained weak during most of the past three months. However, wheat and coarse grain prices began to recover in late August mostly in response to less favourable crop prospects in some countries and strong import demand.
A gradual tightening of world meat supplies is pushing up prices in 2000. Limited use of export programmes will likely constrain trade growth to only 1 percent with developing countries set to capture all of the growth in meat exports.
During 1999/2000, prices for oils and fats declined further due to record global supplies, while oilmeal prices started to strengthen again due to a tightening supply/demand situation. The 2000/01 season is likely to be characterized by expanding meal production and contracting oils and fats output.
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Serious Food Shortages Persist in 36 Developing Countries Throughout the World 1/
As of end-August 2000, the number of developing countries facing serious food difficulties throughout the world stood at 36, the same since the June report.
In eastern Africa, the number of people in urgent need of food assistance due to drought is currently estimated at 20 million. In Kenya, drought during the current season has aggravated an already severe scarcity of water and pasture resulting in large livestock losses. Nearly 3.3 million people are now estimated to be in urgent need of food assistance. In Eritrea, the upsurge in the border conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia in May/June 2000 and resulting widespread population displacement have aggravated the precarious food supply situation the country has been facing due to drought and war. More than 1.5 million people, about one-half of the total population, are now estimated to have been displaced. In Ethiopia, with the failure of the secondary Belg season crop, the number of people in need of food assistance has increased to about 10.2 million people. In Somalia, 750 000 people are estimated to be in need of assistance and serious malnutrition rates are increasingly being reported. In Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Djibouti, despite a generally stable food supply situation, some 3.7 million people depend on food assistance due to drought-induced crop losses and/or civil strife. Distribution of emergency food aid in Burundi is constrained by insecurity, while approximately 700 000 people, including the displaced, the drought-affected and other vulnerable people, will rely on emergency food aid well into 2001. In Rwanda, food shortages persist in parts, particularly in northwestern provinces. In western Africa, food shortages persist in Sierra Leone, where a resurgence of rebel activity in May/June disrupted agricultural production at the critical planting period, while in Liberia, production remains constrained by the effects of past civil strife. In central Africa, while the humanitarian situation has improved in the Republic of Congo, persistent civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in massive population displacements and seriously disrupted agricultural production. Humanitarian assistance continues to be hampered by insecurity. In southern Africa, recent intensification of fighting in Angola has resulted in further population displacements. Some 1.9 million people require emergency food aid but up to 2.8 million are in need of some kind of humanitarian assistance. In Mozambique, free food distribution to flood-affected people has ended but 172 000 still need assistance through food-for-work schemes. Large-scale assistance for rehabilitation of the shattered infrastructure continues to be needed. Relief and rehabilitation assistance is also needed in Madagascar devastated by three consecutive cyclones earlier this year.
In several Asian countries, droughts followed by floods have displaced thousands and destroyed or damaged crops, causing localized food shortages. In India, following a serious drought earlier in the year which affected a number of western and southern states, recent floods in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh killed at least 150 people and left many homeless. Heavy rains and flash floods have also caused havoc in the north eastern states of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, and in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The state of Assam was the worst affected, with an estimated 2.5 million people made homeless. In China, a severe drought, the worst in decades, has destroyed crops and led to large-scale water shortages in the northern parts. The early outlook for food grain production in DPR, Korea is unfavourable following erratic and below average rainfall in the run-up to the 2000 cropping season. This follows below normal rainfall in 1999. The food supply situation also remains extremely tight for thousands of nomadic families in Mongolia, which experienced its worst winter weather in 30 years earlier this year, killing over 1.5 million head of livestock. In East Timor, the food supply situation has improved with this year's maize and rice harvest, but the country still needs food assistance. In the Near East, the Islamic Republic of Iran has suffered the worst drought in decades, which has severely affected agriculture and livestock. Neighbouring Afghanistan is reeling under the effects of a second consecutive year of severe drought, compounded by continuing economic difficulties and insecurity. Drought-affected populations in Iraq, Jordan and Syria still need assistance. Several CIS countries have been seriously affected by drought since the beginning of Spring. The countries hardest hit are Armenia, Georgia and Tajikistan, where the drought has exacerbated chronic economic problems. The 2000 cereal harvest in these countries is forecast to fall sharply and all three have appealed for international assistance. In Azerbaijan, vulnerable populations continue to need assistance.
In Latin America, as a result of the severe effects of natural disasters in recent years (El Niño, Hurricanes "Georges" and "Mitch", etc.), food assistance is still being provided to Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Haiti, food aid is needed due to chronic economic problems.
In Europe, food assistance continues to be necessary for vulnerable populations in the Balkans, especially in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the Russian Federation, displaced populations and host families in Ingushetia as well as returnees to Chechnya, require assistance to survive.
1/ However, there are other countries which have been seriously affected by severe but localized disasters, mainly floods and droughts, which are mentioned in this report but not included in the list. Countries facing exceptional food emergencies are underlined.
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The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Food Outlook is issued by FAO under the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture. It gives a concise analysis of information affecting the situation and outlook for basic foodstuffs.
ENQUIRIES should be directed to Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, Global Information and Early Warning Service, Commodities and Trade Division (ESC), FAO - Rome. (Telex:610181 FAO I FAX: 0039 - 06 - 5705 - 4495 E-mail: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG).
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