CUBA* (9 February)
Harvesting of sugar cane and summer season crops is underway. Prospects are unfavourable due to dry weather coupled with excessive rains due to a succession of hurricanes during the cropping season. In particular, a prolonged and severe drought in the eastern provinces of Camaguey, Holguin and Las Tunas has reduced production of food and cash crops, especially sugarcane, and livestock. Early forecasts point to a national production of raw sugar of about 1.8 million tonnes, well below the negative record of 2.2 million tonnes obtained in 2002/03. Harvesting of the irrigated summer paddy crop has been completed and aggregate 2004 paddy output is provisionally estimated at 650 000 tonnes, below the previous year’s record level, but still about last five years average. Sowing of the second season rainfed maize crop is due to start from March-April.
Wheat imports in marketing year 2004/05 (July/June) are forecast at about 1 million tonnes, while rice imports are expected to be close to previous year’s level of 600 000 tonnes.