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Global cereal production is expected to be a record 2.04 billion tonnes in 2004, increasing cereal stocks for the first time in five years, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has claimed.

It predicts world cereal stocks will rise to 441 million tonnes by the close of the 2004/05 growing season with maize dominating increases. It says wheat reserves will grow slowly, while rice inventories will continue to decline.

Global cereal trade volumes should shrink however in 2004/05, with reduced EU demand outstripping increases in imports amongst developing countries, especially China. Wheat and coarse grains prices have fallen as a result, while rice prices have risen.

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