Crop Prospects and Food Situation No. 1 March 2013
FAO’s first forecast for world wheat production in 2013 stands at 690 million tonnes, about 28 million tonnes up from 2012 and the second largest crop on record. The increase is expected mostly in Europe, driven by an expansion in area in response to high prices, and in some countries due to an expected recovery in yields from last year’s below-average levels.
The international cereal prices in recent months have followed mixed trends with rice prices rising and wheat declining, while maize prices remaining generally steady.
Aggregate cereal import requirements of LIFDCs for 2012/13 are expected to decrease following generally bumper local harvests in 2012 and an overall favourable outlook in 2013.
In the Near East, food security in the Syrian Arab Republic has further deteriorated with 4 million people (about 17 percent of the total pre- crisis population) now estimated to be food insecure.
In Central Africa, the recent escalation of civil conflict in the Central African Republic has increased population displacement and resulted in disruption of agricultural and marketing activities. A large number of people are estimated to be in need of food assistance.
In Western Africa, the overall food security situation has improved significantly in the Sahel following an above-average 2012 cereal harvest. However, a large number of people are still affected by insecurity and the lingering effects of last year’s food crisis.
In Eastern Africa, food security has generally improved as new harvests have replenished household stocks and supplied local markets. However, concerns remain in some areas, mainly due to conflict, floods or past poor production.
In Southern Africa, prospects for the 2013 cereal crops are generally satisfactory. However, flood damage, particularly in southeastern areas, and an army worm outbreak in several countries are expected to lower harvest in affected areas.
In the Far East, prospects for 2013 wheat crop are generally favourable with the output expected to reach record levels in China and Pakistan. However, a slight decline is expected in India.
In South America, prospects for the 2013 maize crop currently being harvested are generally favourable in the main producing countries – Argentina and Brazil.
FAO’s latest estimates indicate that 36 countries around the world are in need of external assistance for food as a result of crop failures, conflict or insecurity, natural disasters, and high domestic food prices.