Favourable 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.
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 million tonnes.
That represents a 1.1 percent decline from the record level in 2014, but an improvement from projections made last month.
Meanwhile, the FPI declined 0.9 percent in June compared to May. At 165.1 points, the index is now down 21 percent 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 percent in the price of sugar and of 4.1 percent 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 United States, is supporting prices for coarse grains, including maize.
But, those global price trends and favourable 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.
Record crops in China and Pakistan
In Asia, a record crop in China and Pakistan is expected to offset declines elsewhere — mainly in India as a result of a poor wheat harvest.
Nepal has seen drops in food production due to earthquake damage, and in the Democratic Republic of Korea, a severe dry spell is expected to result in reduced cereal production in 2015.