World cereal production on track for record crop in 2007 UN agency

World cereal production this year is forecast to increase 4.3 per cent to a record 2.082 billion tonnes, but despite improved food supplies in many needy countries, 33 nations are in a critical situation, mostly due to conflict and adverse weather, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today. The bulk of the increase is expected in maize, with a bumper crop already being gathered in South America, and a sharp increase in plantings expected in the United States, according to the April issue of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report. A significant rise in wheat output is also foreseen, with a recovery in some major exporting countries after weather problems last year. FAO forecasts coarse grains production to rise 5.6 per cent to 1.033 billion tonnes, and wheat to increase 4.8 per cent to about 626 million tonnes. Global rice production could rise marginally to 423 million tonnes in milled terms, about 3 million tonnes more than in 2006. Although the forecast is still highly tentative, cereal production for 82 low-income food-deficit countries could remain around the above-average level of 2006, with cereal imports in the 2006/07 marketing year expected to decline in most regions. In southern Africa, preliminary forecasts put total maize production at 14.8 million tonnes, about the same as last year’s below-average crop. Prospects vary considerably from country to country with significant crop losses due to floods in some areas and reduced yields due to long dry weather spells in others. Maize prices have escalated in South Africa, the region’s main exporting country, where inadequate precipitation will reduce yields. This will affect Swaziland, Lesotho and other dependent markets in the region. Meanwhile, food prices have also risen steeply in Madagascar, due to crop damage from excess rainfall. In eastern Africa, following above-average to bumper first season crops in many countries, record cereal output is confirmed for 2006/07, improving the overall food supply situation. But millions of people there still depend on food aid due to a combination of factors including conflict and adverse weather conditions. Moreover, Rift Valley Fever, which broke out in Kenya in late December, has since emerged in southern Somalia and northern Tanzania, killing hundreds of people and much livestock. This is a further blow to the region’s pastoralists, whose herds had been greatly reduced by a severe multi-year drought. Record maize crops are being gathered in South America, where planted area increased in response to strong demand, largely for ethanol production in the United States. Yields also benefited from favourable weather. A good wheat crop is being harvested in Mexico, the main producing country in Central America and the Caribbean. But in Bolivia, contrary to the favourable regional harvest and food outlook, severe weather, ranging from torrential rains in some parts to drought in others, has caused extensive losses to agriculture, livestock, and other assets, threatening the food security of rural communities. 3 April 2007World cereal production this year is forecast to increase 4.3 per cent to a record 2.082 billion tonnes, but despite improved food supplies in many needy countries, 33 nations are in a critical situation, mostly due to conflict and adverse weather, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today. read more

Russian arrested in Spain over US election hacking

Mr Levashov’s arrest relates to alleged “hacking” of the US election last year(BBC) Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in “hacking” the US election, Spanish press reports have said.Pyotr Levashov, arrested on 7 April in Barcelona, has now been remanded in custody.A “legal source” also told the AFP news agency that Mr Levashov was the subject of an extradition request by the US.The request is due to be examined by Spain’s national criminal court, the agency added.El Confidencial, a Spanish news website, has said that Mr Levashov’s arrest warrant was issued by US authorities over suspected “hacking” that helped Donald Trump’s campaign.Mr Levashov’s wife Maria also told Russian broadcaster RT that the arrest was made in connection with such allegations.Several cybersecurity experts, including Brian Krebs, have also linked Mr Levashov to a Russian spam kingpin, who uses the alias Peter Severa.Intelligence reportA US intelligence report released in January alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to help Mr Trump to victory.Mr Trump later commented that the outcome of the election had not been affected.The report said that Russia’s objectives were to “undermine public faith” in the US democratic process and “denigrate” Mr Trump’s Democrat rival Hillary Clinton.Russia’s efforts to this end allegedly included hacking into email accounts used by the Democratic National Committee; using intermediaries such as WikiLeaks to release hacked information; and funding social media users or “trolls” to make nasty comments.However, there were no details of Mr Putin’s alleged involvement with such interference in the report.Mr Putin has strongly denied allegations that Russia tried to influence the US election. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedTrump mocks Russian hacking ‘conspiracy theory’December 12, 2016In “latest news”Obama: I warned Putin over hackingDecember 17, 2016In “latest news”Russia-US row: Putin rules out tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomatsDecember 30, 2016In “World” read more