GUATEMALA* (9 February)
Harvesting of the 2004 second season cereal and bean crops is virtually completed. The aggregate 2004 coarse grain output is expected to reach one million tonnes, about 10 percent below the last five-year average. The decline is mainly due to the negative effects of a prolonged dry period (canicula) in August that caused serious losses to the important first season maize crop in the departments of Retalhuleu and Suchitepéquez in the south-west and of El Progreso, Zacapa and Chiquimula in the east. The 2004 paddy production is estimated at a below average level of 35 000 tonnes due to insufficient rainfall during crop season.
Maize imports, mainly yellow, in marketing year 2004/05 (July/June) are forecast to increase from previous year’s 600 000 tonnes to 750 000 tonnes, while wheat imports are expected to be stable near last year’s level of 540 000 tonnes. Food assistance continues to be provided by the international community to rural families with high rates of chronic malnutrition and those financially affected by the persistent crisis of the coffee sector.