Baku, July 10, AZERTAC
Favorable worldwide conditions for cereal crops will lead to better-than-expected production this growing season at the global level, despite continuing apprehension over El Niño. But concerns are growing over a sharp shortfall in maize grown in sub-Saharan Africa as well as poor production in other food insecure hotspot areas, the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on July 9.
According to the latest release of the monthly FAO Food Price Index (FPI) and the new edition of the quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, world cereal production this year should amount to 2.527 billion tonnes.
That represents a 1.1% decline from the record level in 2014, but an improvement from projections made last month.
Meanwhile, the FPI declined 0.9% in June compared to May. At 165.1 points, the index is now down 21% compared to a year ago and at its lowest level since September 2009.
The decline in the FAO FPI mainly came as a result of a drop of 6.6% in the price of sugar and of 4.1% in the prices of dairy products, which more than offset a rebound in palm oil and wheat quotations. Increasing worldwide demand for livestock feed, especially in Brazil, China and the U.S., is supporting prices for coarse grains, including maize.
But those global price trends and favorable prospects for world cereal production mask localized hotspots of food insecurity, the report also cautioned.
Some 34 countries worldwide, including 28 in Africa - many hosting large numbers of refugees - are in need of external assistance for food, it says.
In Africa, the overall 2015 production outlook points to a decline from last year's high level, with all regions expecting reduced harvests, except Central and North Africa.
In Southern Africa, aggregate cereal production is projected to decrease by 17%, mainly due to irregular seasonal rains and an extended dry spell. Aggregate maize production -- which accounts for the bulk of the subregion's cereal output -- is forecast at 20.6 million tonnes, 26 percent below the bumper 2014 output.
Accounting for the bulk of the decrease, South Africa's maize production is estimated at 10.5 million tonnes, a steep 30% reduction versus the high level of last year.