MILAN (Reuters) - The world’s 2009 cereal crops will dip below previous forecasts on lower yields from some major producers, but high stocks will support overall supply, the United Nations said on Thursday.
World cereals output was expected to fall 3.4 percent to 2.209 billion tonnes in 2009, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said, cutting its previous forecast by 10 million tonnes.
The drop was due to lower yields after strong productivity gains in 2008 and to smaller planted areas because farmers in major producing countries were discouraged by price falls in the previous season, the FAO said.
Its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report (www.fao.org) came after leaders from rich nations at the G8 summit in Italy committed $20 billion over three years to boost agricultural investment in poorer countries and to fight hunger.
The FAO said food security was a major concern in developing countries where domestic food prices remained high, despite a sharp fall in international prices since the peaks hit last year.
In Ghana and Niger prices of imported rice, a major staple, were 23 and 35 percent higher respectively in June 2009 than a year earlier, the Rome-based agency said.
World wheat output will fall 4.2 percent to 655.2 million tonnes in 2009, just below the previous forecast of 655.8 million tonnes, the FAO said.
The European Union’s wheat output was expected to fall to 134.7 million tonnes from 150 million tonnes in 2008.
Global production of coarse grains, including maize, was forecast to fall 4.3 percent to 1.093 billion tonnes, down from the previously expected 1.099 billion tonnes. (For more forecasts, see Factbox )
Despite output falls, the world’s overall cereal supply was expected to remain nearly unchanged around the high level of the previous season thanks to strong carryover stocks.
World cereal stocks by the season’s end in 2010 were expected to edge down 1.3 percent to 517.2 million tonnes from their high opening levels but will be the second highest since 2003.
World cereal trade volume in 2009/10 was likely to fall from the 2008/09 record, mostly driven by a cut in global wheat imports because several major importing countries in North Africa and Asia expect a recovery in wheat production.