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FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 11/99 - Yugoslavia, Fed. Rep. of (Serbia and Montenegro)

Originally published
Official reports indicate that sharply higher spring grain yields have offset the reduced planted area, bringing aggregate cereal production in 1999 to 8.6 million tonnes compared to 8.7 million tonnes in 1998. The wheat harvest is put at only 2.2 million tonnes, some 27 percent less than last year. Lower average yields, some 15 percent down, exacerbated the reduction in the area sown during the autumn. The area sown to winter wheat fell to around 700 000 hectares mainly in response to economic difficulties, particularly rapid inflation and shortages of inputs, as well as persistent and untimely rains at planting and harvest. Official harvest estimates put the 1999 maize harvest at between 5.8 and 6 million tonnes. Spring sowing operations were considered a strategic priority. Official reports indicate that the spring crop target area - 2.5 million hectares, including 1.5 million hectares of coarse grains - was achieved, despite floods in July, and chronic shortages of farm funds and inputs, disruption of labour and damage to fields and other infrastructure. The area target for winter crops, to be harvested in the spring of 2000, is set at 1.1 million hectares. Included in this target are 850 000 hectares of wheat (actual in 1998/99 was closer to 700 000 ha) and 150 000 hectares of barley (1998/99 130 000 ha). Chronic shortages of fertilizer and agrochemicals will also depress yields, pointing to another poor wheat harvest next year. Substantial carry-forward stocks from 1998/99 are available. Even if, according to official estimates, the overall cereal supply situation is expected to remain satisfactory, there are a large number of economically and socially deprived people and internally displaced who will require targeted assistance to get through the winter, not only with food but also with shelter and heating. Some 825 000 socially and economically vulnerable people are assessed to need 74 300 tonnes of food aid over 6 months. In the Province of Kosovo, the output of all crops was severely disrupted by hostilities and large-scale population displacement. An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission which visited the Province in August, forecast wheat production in the province in 1999 at about 113 000 tonnes, 65 percent lower than estimated output in 1997. This will meet only 30 percent of the domestic requirement. Output of maize, at 57 000 tonnes, is forecast to be only 20 percent of average. In addition, the normal spring/summer vegetable harvest was almost zero and there has been widespread looting and slaughter of livestock. These losses will have both nutritional and economic consequences in the coming year. Although the Republic of Serbia is a net exporter of cereals, the Province of Kosovo has a wheat import requirement in 1999/2000 marketing year of an estimated at 228 000 tonnes, of which 143 000 tonnes of emergency food aid deliveries/pledges are scheduled up to the end of 1999, leaving an uncovered import gap of about 85 000 tonnes.