FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.1, March 2001

CENTRAL AMERICA (including the Caribbean)

COSTA RICA (1 February)

Harvesting of the 2000/01 second season cereal crop has been completed. Output of maize (white) is expected to be lower than last year’s as a result of the lower area planted. Paddy production in the year 2000 (January/December) was a record 329 000 tonnes. For the 2001 agricultural campaign early forecasts indicate that the planting intentions may be slightly reduced.

Wheat imports in the current marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) will probably increase, in line with the observed expansion in domestic demand of recent years. Maize imports, mostly yellow, also expected to increased in the marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) relative to the previous period as a consequence of an increase in the demand for animal feed.

CUBA (1 February)

Abundant rains during December helped to partially replenish water reservoirs which were low from last year’s dry spell. These reservoirs are important in view of the forthcoming first season crop due to start in March. However, the high humidity caused by the intensive rains affected the quality of paddy crops, and did not favour the concentration of nutrients in sugar cane. The sugar cane crop currently being harvested had earlier been affected by drought, and its output is likely to decrease compared to last year’s 4.1 million tonnes. The rains receded in January, which helped to improve the quality of paddy and sugar cane crops.

Wheat imports in marketing year 2000/01 are forecast to remain at about the previous year’s 900 000 tonnes. Yellow maize imports in the current marketing year (July/June) are also expected to be close to those of the previous year, which amounted to about 260 000 tonnes.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (1 February)

Agricultural activities are progressing normally thanks to the favourable weather conditions that prevail in the main producing zones of the country. Land is being prepared for planting the forthcoming 2001 first season coarse grain crops in March, while planting of this year’s paddy crop is underway. Weather conditions have also benefited the development of other minor food crops.

Wheat imports in marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) are expected to increase from last year’s 277 000 tonnes to some 300 000 tonnes. Imports of maize are also expected to increase so as to satisfy the increasing demand for feed. Rice imports in marketing year 2001 (January - December) are expected to be about 70 000 tonnes.

EL SALVADOR (20 February)

The country has been hit by a series of earthquakes since January. On 13 January 2001 a severe earthquake killed over 800 people and totally or partially destroyed more than 140 000 homes, particularly in the vicinity of the capital city. Emergency food aid and other types of relief assistance are being provided by the international community to the affected families in urban and peri-urban areas. Official reports indicate that the worst hit agricultural sector was the important export-oriented coffee industry. Damage to cereal crops was minimum, as the event occurred at a time when the harvesting of the second season crop had already been completed. A second earthquake in mid-February killed over 270 people. As the first and second season maize crops had earlier been affected by adverse weather conditions, so total production for the 2000 campaign is expected to decline from the previous year’s 650 000 tonnes to about 570 000 tonnes. Rice and beans outputs are expected to be average compared to the previous years. A major concern for the government is the 2000/01 first season crop, due to be sown from April-May. It is feared that the total area cultivated may be reduced following the disruptions caused by the earthquake on infrastructure, labour and agricultural imports in general.

Wheat imports in marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) are expected to be 180 000 tonnes while maize imports should be between 260 000 and 280 000 tonnes. Rice imports in marketing year 2001 (January/December) are expected to remain at last year’s 20 000 tonnes.

GUATEMALA (2 February)

Harvesting of the 2000/01 second season cereal crop is completed. Maize output is anticipated to decline slightly from last year’s 1.1 million tonnes, mainly due to the damage caused by Hurricane "Keith" in October to second season crops, principally in the southern coast of the country. Paddy output in year 2000 was about 35 000 tonnes.

It is expected that wheat imports in marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) will slightly increase to some 400 000 tonnes (last year’s total was 380 000 tonnes). Maize imports in the same period are also likely to increase to compensate for the damage caused by Hurricane "Keith". Rice imports in the marketing year 2000 (January/December) were some 35 000 tonnes. A similar amount is early forecast for marketing year 2001.

HAITI* (20 February)

Harvesting of the 2000/01 second season coarse grain crops is completed. A below-average 150 000 tonnes of maize and 65 000 tonnes of sorghum are provisionally estimated. The aggregate coarse grains production is thought to be about 20 percent lower than last year because of the dry spell that affected the early stages of growth of the first season crops. Planting of the irrigated 2001 first season paddy crop has just started. Food assistance continues to be provided by the international community.

Commercial maize imports in the marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) are forecast to increase to about 90 000 tonnes compared to last year’s 66 000 tonnes. Rice imports for the marketing year 2000 (January/December) are provisionally forecast to remain close to the previous year’s 170 000 tonnes. Food aid pledges amount to 72 000 tonnes, of which 20 000 have been delivered.

HONDURAS (2 February)

Harvesting of the 2000/01 second season coarse grain and bean crops is well advanced. The first season maize crop was adversely affected in early 2000 by a dry spell (canícula), whereas heavy rains and flooding caused by the passage of Hurricane "Keith" hampered the cultivation of the second season coarse grain crops. As a result, the aggregate coarse grain output (first and second season crops) is forecast to decrease from last year’s weather affected crop. Maize production could be about 500 000 tonnes or even lower. Sorghum production is also expected to decline.

Wheat imports during marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) are estimated to increase to about 210 000 tonnes. Maize imports are also likely to increase to compensate for the decrease in production, to some 280 000 tonnes from 250 000 of the previous marketing year. Rice imports in marketing year 2000 (January/December) increased to 97 000 tonnes from some 82 000 tonnes in 1999.

MEXICO (2 February)

Wheat crops are developing normally, and a slight increase could be expected due partly to an expansion in the area cultivated and partly to the cool February weather conditions that are favouring the heading. The dry weather is also favouring land preparation for the forthcoming first season coarse grain to be planted in April/May. Planting intentions of sorghum are expected to remain at last year’s 1.15 million hectares.

Wheat imports for marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) are expected to increase slightly to some 2.7 million tonnes. Sorghum imports are forecast to increase in the same period by approximately 200 000 tonnes due of a strong demand from the feed industry. Rice imports in marketing year 2000 (January/December) were expected to decrease slightly.

NICARAGUA (2 February)

A prolonged summer dry spell (canícula) and heavy rains and flooding in October are affecting the 2000/01 coarse grains crops. While the overall sorghum and bean losses may not appear significant, these occurred in areas that had, in recent years, been hit by natural disasters (El Niño and Hurricane "Mitch"). However, harvesting of the 2000/01 third season "apante" maize and bean crops is progressing under normal weather conditions. Paddy crops were also affected by canícula, and year 2000 production is likely to decrease from last year’s record level but would still remain above average.

Wheat imports for marketing year 2000/01 (July/June) are estimated at some 100 000 tonnes, similar to the previous year. Maize imports are expected to increase slightly, some 10 000 tonnes, mainly to compensate for the drought induced losses in production. Rice imports for marketing year 2000 (January/December) are estimated at 95 000 tonnes.


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