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Global cereal production to drop in 2003, UN food agency reports

Global cereal production to drop in 2003, UN food agency reports

Declaring that 32 countries are facing food emergencies, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today said the global production of cereal stocks for crop years ending in 2003 would continue to plunge sharply due to deteriorating prospects in a number of major producing countries.

In its October 2002 edition of Food Outlook, FAO revises its 2002 forecasts for global cereal output downwards to 1.8 billion tons, representing a 3 per cent decrease from last year’s figures and building on a four-year trend of diminishing yields.

Decreased production of wheat, coarse grains and rice have affected exportable grain supplies and pushed prices above last year’s level, according to the report, which finds the steepest rises for goods from North America and Australia, where the most pronounced production declines are expected this year because of drought.

The FAO forecasts that 236 million tons of cereals will be exported in 2002-2003 – a decrease of 4 million tons compared to the previous season’s volume. “The expected decline is exclusively on account of sharp contraction expected in world wheat trade while trade in coarse grains and rice is expected to rise.”

According to the report, world cereal use by the end of the 2002-2003 season will be 1.9 billion tons, representing a negligible growth from the previous year. FAO blames the sluggish growth on the anticipated drop in cereal feed use this year. “The decline in feed use this season is mainly driven by drought and soaring feed grain prices, especially in the United States, which is the single largest livestock market.

In another FAO-related development, the agency announced today that a benefit concert earlier this month featuring world famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti raised more than $220,000 for the global battle against hunger. “Every penny of the ticket proceeds will be ploughed directly into small-scale projects to improve the lives of some of the world’s neediest communities,” said FAO’s Kay Killingsworth, noting that donations are still being received from individuals.