At this level, the 2011 cereal crop should be sufficient to cover the expected increase in utilisation in 2011/12 and also allow for a moderate replenishment of world reserves, it said.
The FAO raised its 2011 global wheat output estimate to a record 694.8 million tonnes, up 6.5 percent from 2010 and above a previous estimate of 691 million tonnes, due to bumper crops in some Asian countries and recovery in Russia and some other former Soviet states after drought last year.
FOOD INSECURITY HOTSPOTS
FAO said 33 countries around the world needed external assistance as a result of crop failures, conflict or insecurity, natural disasters and high domestic food prices.
In Somalia, food insecurity will remain critical in drought-affected areas until the harvest of short-season crops in early 2012, despite some improvement in food situation due to substantial humanitarian aid and favourable rains.
In the Horn of Africa as a whole, food insecurity is critical for some 18 million people in most drought-affected areas, including 4.6 million in Ethiopia, 4 million each in Somalia and the Sudan, 3.75 million in Kenya, 1.5 million in South Sudan and 180,000 in Djibouti are in need of emergency assistance, it said.
Total cereals import bill in the low income food deficit countries is expected to rise 3.4 percent to a record of $33 billion in the 2011/2012 marketing season due to increased import needs, the FAO said. (Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; Editing by Keiron Henderson and Alison Birrane)