FAO sees 2012 world wheat production at near-record 690 million tonnes

World wheat production in 2012 will be the second highest on record, at 690 million tones, 10 million tones (or 1.4 per cent) below the record harvest of 700 million tones in 2011, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations said in recent report.

International food prices also rose one per cent in February, the second increase in two months, FAO said in its quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

Although plantings have increased or are forecast to increase in many countries this year amidst strong prices, a return to normal yields is expected in areas where record highs were achieved last year, the report said.

But it was still too early for a global forecast of 2012 cereal output, it added.

The report attributed the firming of cereal prices in recent weeks due to tightening current wheat supplies and concerns over the impact of severe cold weather in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Despite this, adverse weather in West Africa has caused a sharp drop in cereal and pasture production in large parts of the Sahel. This, combined with high food prices and civil strife, has led to high food insecurity and increased malnutrition in several countries, notably in Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso, it noted.