Wheat production set to be second highest on record this year, says UN agency

Photo: IRIN/Akmal Dawi

8 March 2012 – Global production of wheat this year will be the second highest on record at 690 million tons, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) announced today.

This year’s production is 10 million tons less than last year, a 1.4 per cent decrease. However, it is still well above the average of the past five years, FAO said in its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

In spite of the predicted increase in wheat production, the report notes that adverse weather conditions have led to food insecurity in many regions. In West Africa, it caused a sharp drop in cereal and pasture production in large parts of the Sahel, which – combined with high food prices and civil unrest – led to malnutrition in several countries, including Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso.

In Eastern Africa, droughts worsened the food situation of vulnerable groups, especially in pastoral areas. In particular, FAO expressed concern about the situation in Sudan and South Sudan, after poor harvests were reported in both countries.

In Southern Africa, crop prospects are still satisfactory despite dry spells and cyclones in some areas.

In Central America, dry weather caused a decrease in maize plantings in Mexico, but FAO stated that good maize harvest are expected elsewhere despite recent torrential rains. In South America, a dry spell affected the maize crop in Argentina and Brazil but a higher than average production due to increased plantings is still expected.

The region with the best prospects for wheat production is East Asia, with output expected to reach last year’s record level because of good gains in India.

Overall, the rise in production is expected to prompt the cereal import bill of Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) to reach $32.62 billion, slightly higher than for the period of 2010-2011.

FAO also announced that international food prices rose by one per cent in February, the second increase in two months mainly due to higher prices of sugar, oils and cereals while dairy prices fell slightly after a marked rise in January.

The cereal price index rose by two per cent from January, mainly due to an increase in wheat prices followed by maize, while rice prices were generally lower.

The oils and fats price index rose by two per cent mainly because of the poor production growth reducing supplies, and the meat price index remained virtually unchanged with the price of pork increasing by 3.4 per cent while that of poultry, bovine and sheep meat decreased.

The sugar price index increased by 2.4 per cent, but this is still substantially lower from the price in February last year, which was 18 percentage points higher. Last month’s increase was driven by unfavourable weather conditions in Brazil, which is the world’s largest producer and exporter of sugar.


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