Cassava output in sub-Saharan Africa, where cassava is a major food crop, is expected to grow by around 2.0 percent to hit a record level of 161 million tonnes, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) stated on Tuesday in its latest food review showing trends in cassava cultivation.
This is expected to translate into a per capita availability of cassava as food of around 86 kilogrammes, a slight decrease from the year before due to faster population growth in the region.
Worldwide production in 2018 is projected to rise to 277 million tonnes, a 0.5 percent annual increase after two decades of much more rapid expansion, while trade volumes are forecast to decline by 36 percent.
The decrease mostly reflects uncertainty in Southeast Asia, where cassava is widely grown by smallholders for export to China, the FAO review noted.
China, which typically accounts for two-thirds of world cassava imports, is auctioning off large stockpiles of maize, the crop’s main rival for energy, feed and industrial use, in a process that could last several years. The prospects for an international cassava market expanding beyond Asia remain largely elusive, according to FAO.
Whether some farmers will be driven out of business because of declines in Chinese imports and lack of compensating demand from elsewhere remains contentious, it observed.
Nevertheless, FAO has also raised optimism that declining international agricultural commodity prices should ease the bill the world’s poorest countries pay for food imports, despite concerns over stronger U.S. dollar impact.
Worldwide food imports are likely to reach $1.467 trillion in 2018, three percent above the previous year’s level, but slightly down from the July forecast.
Declining prices for coffee, tea, cocoa and sugar are easing global import costs, although the rising freight charges are expected to offset that effect. For Least-Developed Countries (LDC) and Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDC), sharp drops in the international price of sugar are offsetting rising costs for imported vegetables and cereals.
FAO said the outlook for global food supplies in the coming year remains in tandem with earlier assessments, with robust production prospects and inventory levels taming prices. However, erratic weather, trade policies and currency exchange rates all pose mounting uncertainties.