ECUADOR (9 February)
Absence of precipitation is causing losses to 2005 winter paddy and yellow maize crops that were early planted at the beginning of January in key producing coastal departments of Los Rios, Guayas and El Oro. Consequently, the bulk of planting activities has been delayed and the harvest of paddy crop is likely to have a late start at the end of May, while the bulk of maize crop harvest may take place in August-September and not in June-July as usual.
The country is self-sufficient in rice, but every year between 400 000 and 450 000 tonnes of wheat, an important staple food in local diet, are required commercially in order to satisfy domestic demand. In addition, maize import requirements for marketing year 2004/05 are forecast at 350 000 tonnes.