Global cereal production could increase by almost two per cent in 2001 from the previous year’s below average output, however, the rise is not expected to satisfy demand, with world cereal reserves forecast to fall by 48m tonnes, or 4%, to 645m tonnes. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation has forecast that world cereal output this year will be 1,889m tonnes, 35m tonnes up from 2000 and close to the average of the past five years. Prices are not expected to rise, though, because exporting countries have plenty in store. “International cereal prices remain generally depressed, largely as a result of ample exportable supplies and slack demand,” the report notes.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent