The FAO Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report for the second quarter of 2018 reports that 39 countries are currently in need of food assistance. Thirty-one of those countries are in Africa, seven are in Asia, and one is in Latin America and the Caribbean. Persistent conflict remain the leading driver of these needs. In addition, weather shocks have also limited food access and availability in the affected countries, in some cases severely.

Globally, cereal production prospects have improved since the first quarter of 2018, but harvests are still expected to be below 2017’s record levels. Global cereal utilization, on the other hand, is expected to reach a new record high in 2018-2019 of 2,646,000 tons. This increase in utilization is being driven by increases in food, feed, and industrial use. Trade in cereals is also expected to reach a new high in 2018-2019, up 0.5 percent from the previous year.

Trends continue to vary by region. In Southern and Western Africa, both crop and livestock production have been severely hampered by limited rains. However, North Africa continues to see favorable production prospects, as does East Africa, although abundant rains have triggered flooding and some crop damage in the latter region.

In Asia, paddy rice production could reach record highs in the Far East. However, in the Near East and CIS Asia, cereal harvests are forecast to be below average due to poor precipitation. In addition, continuing conflict in the Near East has further hampered production.

South America will likely see lower cereal output in 2018 due to dry weather. Maize production is expected to reach high levels in Central America and the Caribbean, however.

Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) are anticipated to have cereal production 1.7 million tonnes lower than 2017; however, this remains above the average of the previous five years. Production shortfalls in CIS Asia and Southern and West Africa are driving this reduced forecast.

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