World cereal production outlook positive for 2007, says UN agricultural agency
The overall prospects for global cereal production this year are favourable but civil conflicts, bad weather and localized crop losses mean some countries will still face food crises, according to the latest forecast by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), released today.
The FAO report anticipates that “generally satisfactory” weather conditions and expanded plantings across Europe and North America will drive solid production levels during 2007.
Last year cereal output worldwide reached almost 2 billion tons, 2.7 per cent lower than the previous year, but still considered above average, thanks in part to significantly increased production in States classed as low-income food-deficit countries.
In those countries in Africa, cereal imports – including food aid – are expected to decline by as much as 10 per cent in 2006-07, according to the report, Crop Prospects and Food Situation.
But it stresses that at least 34 countries around the world remain extremely vulnerable to food crises. In eastern Africa, the combination of floods, an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF), localized drought and conflict poses problems.
Civil conflicts – either recent or ongoing – are jeopardizing food security in Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Zimbabwe, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, Mauritania and Niger are also under threat because of economic or political strife or poor recent harvests.
Elsewhere, the sharp reduction of food aid to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) means the food supply to millions of people there has been placed at risk; political instability and abnormally heavy monsoon rains are causing difficulties for Sri Lanka; and assistance is still required in Haiti because of insecurity and economic problems.