Sunday, October 09, 2016

Bumper harvest but for the poor - no change

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said the world's wheat and rice producers are heading for a record harvest this year. But not everyone stands to profit from the resulting drop in prices. Futures prices on the Chicago market for wheat and maize, which is seeing a recovery in output, have fallen by over 16 percent since the start of the year in anticipation of the supply increases, the FAO noted, while rice price quotes are at their lowest since 2008.

Global wheat production increases are currently being led by India, the US and Russia, which is "poised to overtake the European Union as the largest exporter of that grain."  Total wheat utilisation is projected to reach 730.5 million tonnes, including a big jump in use of lower-quality wheat for animal rations.

Rice production has received a great boost from abundant monsoon rains in Asia and output rises in Africa, adding record crops for coarse grain in the US, Argentina and India. 

Soybeans and other oil crops could reach a production record in 2016. Production of cassava, a staple crop in Africa, is projected to rise by 2.6 percent this year. 

Nonetheless, many poorer nations will not directly benefit from the windfall, because their currencies have weakened, eliminating the advantages of cheaper food through worsening exchange rates.

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