COSTA RICA (8 February)
At the beginning of January, torrential rains affected Caribbean and Northern provinces, with flooding and landslides that caused damage to infrastructure, housing and losses of banana, plantains and pineapple plantations. Harvesting of 2004 second season cereal crops is underway in Pacific provinces of Brunca (south) and Chorotega (north-west) under normal dry weather conditions. Harvesting of the important second bean crop is also well advanced and annual production for 2004 is provisionally forecast at about 11 300 tonnes, which represent a recover from previous year’s low harvest of only 8 800 tonnes (due to crop losses caused by intense rains at the beginning of 2004), but still below last five-year average of approximately 14 000 tonnes. Official sources provisionally estimate 2004 paddy production at about 233 000 tonnes, about 6 percent below previous year and 22 percent below the last five-year average of 278 000 tonnes. This decline is essentially due to the negative impact of the prolonged dry period (veranillo) in the north in August-September and to the presence of the rice mite “Steneotarsonemus spinki”, responsible of more than 20 percent yield reduction in the main producing provinces of Limon and Guanacaste. Output of 2004 (white) maize crop is expected at 12 000 tonnes, about 12 percent below 2003.
The country relies on imports to satisfy domestic needs of cereals and import requirements for marketing year 2004/05 (July/June) are forecast at average levels of 550 000 tonnes of maize, 210 000 tonnes of wheat and 120 000 tonnes of rice.