World wheat output jumped 12.4 per cent in 2008 to 686 million tonnes, driving global cereals output to record highs, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said Feb. 12, raising its earlier estimates.
But smaller planted areas and bad weather are likely to trigger a fall in output of wheat and other cereals in major producing countries this year, the FAO said in its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report (www.fao.org).
Smaller maize crops were expected this year in southern Africa and South America where drought has hit major producing areas and farmers have already scaled down their planting plans because of high production costs, FAO said.
It did not give more precise forecast for 2009.
Last year, the world cereals output rose 6.6 per cent to a record of 2.272 billion tonnes, paving the way for a recovery in balance between supply and demand, the Rome-based agency said.
Based on the latest estimates of cereal output in 2008 and the expected consumption in 2008-09, FAO said it forecast world cereal stocks by the close of seasons ending in 2009 to rise 16 per cent to 496 million tonnes, the highest level since 2002.
Wheat inventories are expected to rise 24 per cent, up from their low opening levels with most of the growth expected in the EU, Canada, the United States and some ex-Soviet countries.
FAO said it expected the use of cereals for biofuels production to rise 22 per cent in 2008-09 marketing year ( July/ June) to a total of 104 million tonnes, or 4.6 per cent of the world cereals output.