Crop Prospects and Food Situation, No. 4, December 2014
World cereal production in 2014 is forecast to surpass last year’s record, boosting stocks to a 15-year high.
Maize export prices increased significantly in November supported by lower than previously expected yields of the 2014 crop in the United States of America. Wheat export prices strengthened in general, while rice quotations declined. Overall, however, cereal export prices persisted at levels below those of a year earlier, reflecting ample global supplies.
In Western Africa, the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone continues to affect the food security situation of large numbers of people through the disruption of livelihoods, farming activities and markets. Moreover, adverse weather conditions in 2014 caused a sharp drop in cereal and pasture production in large parts of the Sahel, notably in Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
In Central Africa, the food security situation remains grave in the Central African Republic with one-third of the population in need of urgent assistance.
In Eastern DRC, continued population displacements together with recent damaging floods aggravated food insecurity.
In Eastern Africa, the food security situation improved in most countries following recent harvests. However, in Somalia and the Sudan food prices remained at very high levels negatively impacting on food access.
In Southern Africa, prevailing stable maize prices reflect ample supplies from 2014’s bumper output, contributing to an improved food security situation.
In North Africa, a slightly below-average cereal crop was gathered in 2014. However, sharp reductions were recorded in Morocco due to erratic rains, while in Tunisia production recovered from the previous year’s poor harvest.
In the Near East, persistent conflicts continued to exacerbate food insecurity in the Syrian Arab Republic and in Iraq with the outflow of refugees affecting neighbouring countries. Urgent response to appeals for assistance is required. In addition, drought conditions resulted in poor harvests in the main producing countries.
In the Far East, the 2014 aggregate cereal harvest is estimated to remain high, despite a small decrease in the rice output.
In CIS Europe, the record 2014 cereal harvest was followed by concerns about the impact of the early onset of winter conditions on 2015 crops.
In Central America, excluding the main producer Mexico, the 2014 cereal production is forecast at a sharply reduced level. Crop losses reflect drought conditions during the main first season.
In South America, cereal production is estimated at an above-average level. The wheat output recovered strongly from the previous year’s low level, while maize production remained close to last year’s record.
FAO estimates that globally 39 countries, including 29 countries in Africa, are in need of external assistance for food due to conflict, crop failures and the impact of localized high food prices on vulnerable groups.