CHILE (8 February)
Under favourable weather conditions, harvesting of the 2004/05 wheat crop is under way in southern producing areas and the output is forecast at 1.9 million tonnes, above last year’s record level of 1.8 million tonnes. Farmers are currently facing commercialization problems because of low international prices of wheat that in several cases only partially cover the production costs. Harvesting of 2005 main maize crop, planted from September to December, is due to start from March and, if favourable growing conditions persist, it is expected to obtain a record output of 1.3 million tonnes.
As a consequence of the good domestic production, wheat imports requirements in marketing year 2004/05 (July/June) are likely to decline compared to previous years and they are forecast at about 300 000 tonnes. On the contrary, despite the possibility of a record production, maize import requirement in marketing year 2004/05 (July/June) are expected to continue at average level of 900 000 tonnes due to the growing demand of the feed industry (essentially poultry and pigs).