CENTRAL AMERICA (including the Caribbean)

COSTA RICA (2 January)

Storms, heavy rains and flooding in mid-October in Central and South Pacific areas of the country caused damage to housing and infrastructure. Crops, which are currently being harvested, had previously been affected by flooding at planting. Pastures and banana plantations were also affected. Paddy output, the main cereal, is provisionally forecast at an about average 198 000 tons, slightly lower than earlier forecast. Lower than average maize production is anticipated, principally as a result of high production costs and credit restrictions in the sector.

Wheat imports in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) are expected to remain close to last year’s receipts of 165 000 tons. Maize imports are projected at about 280 000 tons, slightly up from 1995/96, reflecting steady demand from the animal feed industry. Rice imports in 1997 (January/December) are forecast to be about 50 000 tons.

CUBA (30 December)

Hurricane rains and flooding in late October worsened prospects for paddy, food and cash crops. Crops were particularly affected in the provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus, where severe damage to housing and infrastructure is also reported. Official assessment of losses indicate that about 10 000 hectares of paddy, the main crop, currently being harvested, were seriously affected. Production is expected to further decline to a low 80 000 tons. The sugar cane crop, a major foreign exchange earner, was also damaged but latest official forecasts indicate that production target for 1996/97 may still be reached. The overall food situation is likely to worsen in the next few months. At the request of the Government, international assistance is being provided in terms of food supplies for the next 5 months, building materials, medicines and basic hygiene equipment.


Prospects are good for the 1996 second season maize and sorghum crops, currently being harvested, as well as for the second season paddy crop, which is about to be harvested. The crops have been favoured by optimal weather in the past months and water reservoirs are at satisfactory levels. Output is expected to increase over last year, despite the high cost of agricultural inputs and prevailing credit limitations in the agricultural sector. Maize production is forecast at an above-average 60 000 tons, reflecting increased plantings in response to attractive prices and the sustained growth in demand from the swine feed industry in particular. Production of sorghum is expected to be an above- normal 20 000 tons. The output of paddy, the main cereal, is anticipated to be an above-average 480 000 tons.

Wheat imports in the 1997 marketing year (January/December) are expected to increase from 250 000 tons this year to about 265 000 tons. Maize imports are projected to decrease from about 560 000 tons to 500 000 tons, largely as a consequence of high carryover stocks and a restriction in demand principally from the poultry feed industry. Minimum rice imports are forecast.

EL SALVADOR (17 December)

Abundant tropical rains in the first half of October benefited the development of the 1996/97 main season maize, sorghum and paddy crops, currently being harvested, and planting of the second season crops, including beans, for harvesting from end November. Production of maize (both seasons) is expected to decrease from last year but would still be a well above-average 630 000 tons. This is largely attributed to lower producers prices relative to the previous year. Sorghum output is provisionally put at 190 000 tons, slightly above average over the last 5 years. The paddy crop is forecast at a below-average 52 000 tons, mainly due to low domestic prices. Production of beans is anticipated to be 52 000 tons, close to last year’s low output, which largely reflects high farm input and transportation costs, coupled with the shortage of credit to the sector.

Wheat imports in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) are expected to be close to last year’s 195 000 tons. Imports of yellow maize, by contrast, should decrease from 180 000 tons to 130 000 tons, mainly as a consequence of large carry-over stocks.

GUATEMALA (12 December)

Weather conditions favoured current harvesting of the 1996/97 main season cereal crops. Production of maize, mostly white, is provisionally forecast (both seasons) at an above-average 1.3 million tons, 22 percent above last year. This is mostly due to enlarged yellow maize plantings, in response to attractive prices, and to a recent purchase and collaboration agreement between producers and feed manufacturers. The output of sorghum is provisionally forecast at 40 000 tons, compared to an average of 66 000 tons for the last 5 years. The minor paddy crop is anticipated to be slightly above average, but not enough to meet the steadily growing domestic demand.

Wheat imports in 1996/97 (July/June) are expected to remain at the relatively high level of 275 000 tons, reflecting the continuing increase in bread and pastry consumption. Maize imports are also expected to be a high 150 000 tons because of the strong demand from the poultry feeding industry. Rice imports in 1997 (January/December) should be about 35 000 tons, similar to last year’s receipts.

HAITI* (20 December)

Harvesting of the 1996 second season irrigated paddy crop is about to be completed, while that of sorghum should start from January. The output of sorghum is provisionally forecast at a slightly below-average 82 000 tons. Production of rainfed and irrigated paddy for both seasons is projected at a low 80 000 to 90 000 tons. This is attributed to the use of poor seed varieties and poor water management coupled with continuing shortage of farm inputs. Food assistance from the international community is expected to increase in the next few months.

HONDURAS (14 December)

Heavy flooding caused by torrential rains during 20 - 23 November in the Northern parts of the country caused loss of life and severe damage to housing, infrastructure and agricultural land. The provinces of Colón, Cortés, Yoro, Atlántida and Santa Bárbara were affected, particularly the first two provinces, where it is reported that more than 17 000 hectares of crop land were damaged, but a detailed assessment of losses has not yet been made. The Government has made a request for international assistance. Harvesting of the 1996/97 second season (“postrera”) maize and bean crops is about to start. Aggregate maize output (both seasons) is forecast at a slightly above-average 580 000 tons. Production of sorghum is put at about 68 000 tons, compared to last year’s 84 000 tons, and below average. The paddy crop is provisionally estimated at about 40 000 tons, up 5 000 tons from last year but still below average. The output of beans is expected to be about normal.

Wheat imports in 1996/97 marketing year (July/June) should remain close to last year’s relatively high 175 000 tons. Maize imports, mostly yellow, should increase from 60 000 tons to about 110 000 tons in response to the steady growth in demand from the animal feed industry.

MEXICO (20 December)

Weather conditions have favoured the development of the 1996 wheat crop currently being harvested. Despite largely improved growing conditions from last year, output is expected to increase by only 100 000 tons to a still below average 3.6 million tons. This is mainly the result of farmers’ decision to switch to alternative crops due more attractive prices. of alternative crops.

Harvesting of the 1996/97 maize and sorghum crops is underway. Prospects are good and maize output is expected to significantly recover from last year’s drought affected crop. Production is provisionally forecast at about 17.3 million tons, compared to l6.2 million tons the year before, while that of sorghum is anticipated to increase from 4.2 million tons to 4.8 million tons. This is mostly due to highly improved weather conditions and more attractive prices. The recovery is also attributed to the successful implementation of a government’s comprehensive agricultural and rural assistance programme, which particularly includes income support to farmers, technical assistance (research and investigation) and field extension service.

Wheat imports in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) are forecast to remain similar to last year’s 1.6 million tons, while maize imports should decrease from 5.3 million tons to 4.3 tons.

NICARAGUA (12 December)

The 1996/97 first and second season crops have been negatively affected by storm rains at planting and during the growing season. Maize output, mostly white maize, is expected to decrease from last year’s record 338 000 tons record, but production would still be well above average. Sorghum production is anticipated to decrease from 61 000 tons to a low 50 000 tons. Paddy output in 1996 should be close to that of last year and well above average.

Imports of maize in marketing year 1996/97 (July/June) should be a relatively low 25 000 tons, reflecting large carry-over stocks. Rice imports in 1997 (January/December) are provisionally forecast at some 25 000 tons, compared to this year’s 30 000 tons.