CENTRAL AMERICA (including the Caribbean)

COSTA RICA (7 October)

Harvesting of the 1996/97 first season cereal crop has been recently completed, while planting of the second season crop is underway. The outlook is good for paddy, the main crop, despite damage incurred to plantings by hurricane floodings in early August. Production should recover from last year and is provisionally forecast at a slightly above-average 200 000 tons. By contrast, maize output is expected to decrease for the second consecutive year and production is put at a below- average 28 000 tons, mostly reflecting the shortage of credit to farmers.

Wheat imports in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) are anticipated to be close to last year’s receipts of 165 000 tons. Maize imports (mainly yellow maize) are projected to increase from 270 000 tons to about 290 000 tons, as a result of the steady demand from the animal feed industry. Rice imports in 1997 (January/December) are provisionally forecast to be similar to the 1996 level of some 50 000 tons.

CUBA (23 October)

Winds and flooding caused by hurricane during 17-18 October affected the western and central parts of the Island, particularly the provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus, causing severe damage to housing and infrastructure, and the agricultural sector. A detailed assessment of food and cash crop losses has not yet been made, but serious damage has been sustained by banana, fruit and coffee plantations, paddy and sugar cane fields, in particular. Preliminary official estimates indicate that over 650 000 hectares of sugar cane, which represent 43 percent of the total area planted to sugar, 10 000 hectares of paddy (16 percent of the total cereal plantings), 213 000 hectares of citrus (30 percent of the area planted), 22 000 hectares of banana (20 percent of the area sown to bananas) and 36 000 hectares of other food crops have been affected. The 1996/97 sugar cane crop, the major foreign exchange earner, to be harvested within a month, is likely to decrease considerably. The output of paddy, the main cereal, currently being harvested, should further diminish from the earlier low forecast of 100 000 tons. This is less than half the average of the last 5 years and reflects the continuing shortage of farm inputs. The already tight food situation, despite the various government programmes to stimulate production, could be aggravated in the coming months. The Government has appealed for international assistance.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (12 October)

Widespread normal to abundant rains in August, resulting from tropical depressions, favoured planting of the 1996 second season maize and paddy crops, as well as that of vegetables, beans and plantains. Pastures also benefited from the rains. Maize output (both seasons) is provisionally forecast at an above-average 60 000 tons. This is due to expanded plantings in response to the steady demand from the poultry and swine feed industry. It is also attributed to high import prices and increased duties on quantities exceeding a determined level of imports. Harvesting of the sorghum crop has been recently completed and production is preliminarily estimated at an above-average 20 000 tons. The outlook is also good for the paddy crop and a satisfactory output is anticipated.

Wheat imports in the 1996 marketing year (January/December) should decrease from the relatively high level of 257 000 tons in 1995, mainly due to the tight credit situation of major importers. Maize imports are also expected to be lower at about 560 000 tons, compared to last year’s 715 000 tons, reflecting large carryover stocks and high prices. Rice imports should be about 50 000 tons, close to the 1995 level.

EL SALVADOR (10 October)

Well-distributed and abundant rains in August benefited the development of the 1996/97 main season maize and bean crops. Harvesting is completed while fieldwork has started for planting of the second season crops. Good maize yields have been obtained so far and aggregate output (both seasons) is provisionally forecast at about 644 000 tons, close to last year’s crop and well above average. A satisfactory 70 000 tons bean crop is anticipated. Harvesting of the sorghum and paddy crops should start from late October. The outlook is good for the sorghum crop provisionally forecast at 200 000 tons. By contrast, the output of paddy is expected to be slightly below average.

Wheat imports in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) should remain close to the previous year’s level of 195 000 tons. Maize imports are projected to decrease considerably mainly due to large carryover stocks from the previous year. Rice imports in 1996 (January/December) are expected to be about 14 000 tons.

GRENADA (3 October)

The risk imposed by the Hibiscus Mealy Bug, or Pink Mealy Bug, on food and cash crops has been greatly limited following the pest control measures adopted. However, the pest continues to attack the forest areas of the country.

GUATEMALA (2 October)

Growing conditions have been favourable for the 1996/97 main season cereal crops, mostly maize. Maize output is estimated at an above-average 1.3 million tons, compared to 1.1 million tons last year. This reflects expanded plantings in response to high international prices and relatively low carryover stocks. The increase is also attributed to a recent purchase and collaboration agreement between producers and feed manufacturers. The latter would pay farmers a minimum price and avail them with credit facilities, farm inputs and fertilizers at wholesale prices. Sorghum production is expected to fall for the second consecutive year to a below- average level. The minor paddy crop is anticipated to be about average.

Wheat imports in 1996/97 (July/June) should remain relatively high at 275 000 tons, mainly due to the Government’s decision to lower import tariffs. Maize imports should decrease from 175 000 tons to 150 000 tons, while rice imports in 1996 (January/December) are expected to be about 35 000 tons.

HAITI* (17 October) Harvesting of the 1996 second season irrigated paddy crop is underway under normal conditions while that of the sorghum crop is underway. Sorghum production is provisionally forecast at a slightly below-average 82 000 tons. The output of paddy (both seasons) is expected to be a below-average 80 000 tons, largely reflecting the continuing shortage of farm inputs, principally fertilizers, the use of poor yield variety seeds, and unsatisfactory water management, like canal cleaning and drainage. Other minor foodcrops, such as beans and vegetables, and fruit cash crops are reported normal.

Wheat imports in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) are expected to be close to last year’s level of 250 000 tons, while maize imports should decline from 30 000 tons to some 25 000 tons.

HONDURAS (2 October)

Harvesting of the 1996/97 first season maize and bean crops has been completed under favourable conditions. Aggregate maize output (both seasons) is provisionally forecast at about 600 000 tons, compared to the previous year’s 670 000 tons, but still average. The output of beans is anticipated to recover from last year’s poor crop. The relatively small paddy and sorghum crops should be below average.

Wheat imports in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast at about 175 000 tons, similar to last year’s. Maize imports are expected to increase from 60 000 tons to 110 000 tons in order to offset the decline in production.

MEXICO (17 October)

Heavy seasonal and storm rains from late August through mid- September in the main wheat growing irrigated areas of the north-west and north-central Mexico have brought much needed soil moisture relief and help replenish water reservoirs for planting of the 1996/97 crop. The rains particularly benefited the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajato, Sonora and Sinaloa, which account, particularly the last three, for the bulk of the domestic wheat production.

Abundant rains in August and September in the maize growing southern and central belts, and Yucatan peninsula, have favoured the developing crops. Residual storm rains have also brought some relief to the long lasting drought affected northeastern states of Nuevo Leon, Cohauila and Tamaulipas, where most of the non-irrigated sorghum crop is grown; however, more rain is needed to ensure recovery from last year’s poor crop. Early forecasts put maize production between an above-average 17 and 17.5 million tons, while about 4.8 million tons to 5.2 million tons of sorghum are anticipated.

Maize imports in the 1996/97 marketing year (October/September) are projected to decline from 5.3 million tons to 4.2 million tons as a consequence of the anticipated improved production.

NICARAGUA (10 October)

Harvesting of the 1996/97 first season cereal crops has been completed, while land is being prepared for planting of the second season crops. Due to hurricane damage to crops in late July, the output of maize, the main crop, is forecast to decline from last year’s 338 000 tons to about 320 000 tons, but production would still remain above average. Sorghum output is expected to decrease for the third consecutive year to a below-average level. The paddy crop was also affected by the hurricane, but a larger than average production of paddy is nevertheless anticipated.

Wheat imports for marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) are expected to be about 110 000 tons, similar to last year. Maize imports should decline from 50 000 tons to about 25 000 tons, mainly as a consequence of large carryover stocks.

ST. KITTS AND NEVIS (10 September)

The peril imposed by the Hibiscus Mealy Bug, or Pink Mealy Bug, to food and cash crops has diminished as a result of the control measures adopted.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (10 September)

Teak plantations and other forest areas continue to be threatened by the Hibiscus Mealy Bug. The control measures imposed have helped reduce, however, the peril to food and cash crops.