COLOMBIA (14 February)
During the second week of February, torrential rains have caused loss of human lives and damaged infrastructures and housing in northeast and central departments of Norte de Santander, Santander and Tolima. The national meteorological service (IDEAM) alerts that precipitations may continue in the following days and move toward western departments. Although an official evaluation of agricultural damages is not yet available, production of 2004/05 second season cereal crops, whose harvest is underway, is likely to be affected by recent unfavourable weather. Previous official forecast of record production of aggregate maize, sorghum and paddy output for 2004, due to the expansion of the area planted, may need a downward revision from expected volumes of 1.44 million tonnes for maize, 285 000 tonnes for sorghum and 2.6 million tonnes for paddy.
Cereal import requirements for marketing year 2004/05 (July/June) are forecast to be similar to the previous year’s level with 1.2 million tonnes of wheat and 2 million tonnes of maize. The international community continues to provide food assistance to the internally displaced population, victims of the persistent civil strife affecting the country.