Photo Credit: Flickr: Waywuwei

Global wheat export prices fell in February as a result of slowing trade activity, ample supplies, and generally good growing conditions throughout the Northern Hemisphere, according to this month's FAO Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulletin. These prices reflect a decline of almost 20 percent from February 2015.

Global maize prices in February remained unchanged from January but were about 8 percent lower than February of the previous year. Increased import demand and unfavorable crop conditions throughout the Southern Hemisphere caused a slight increase in export quotations, but generally abundant global supplies restricted those increases.

Coarse grain prices remained mostly stable throughout West Africa, with the exception of Nigeria, where prices increased steeply since the beginning of the year due to currency depreciation and conflict. In Southern Africa, on the other hand, maize prices remain at record high levels due to tight local supplies and severely reduced 2016 crop expectations. Cereal prices in East Africa were mixed, with maize prices increasing in Tanzania, Sudan, and some regions of Uganda and remaining generally stable in Kenya and Ethiopia.

In East Asia, rice price trends were also mixed in February. Prices increased in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Indonesia, but declined in Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Wheat prices were reported stable in China, Pakistan, and Indonesia, while they declined in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan.

Both maize and bean prices declined in general in Central America and the Caribbean in February. Prices for both commodities did rise slightly for El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, however. In South America, cereal prices increased and reached high levels in some countries. For maize and wheat, price increases were most significant for Argentina and Brazil; these prices reflect the depreciation of the local currencies rather than any supply shortage or poor crop prospects. Rice prices also spiked sharply in Brazil and Colombia; to respond to the increases, the Colombian government has authorized additional rice imports at preferential tariffs from Ecuador, Uruguay, and the US. This increased export demand from Colombia has also caused rice prices to increase in Ecuador.

The report gives domestic price warnings for 11 countries this month: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Malawi, Myanmar, Nicaragua, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.

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