Light rains in late October brought relief to the 1997/98 second season cereal and bean crops, which had earlier been affected by dry weather. First season crops were also affected by El Niño- related effects, particularly provinces on the Pacific coast and in the Central Valley region. The output of paddy, the main crop, for both seasons is forecast to decline from last year’s average 200 000 tons to about 185 000 tons. Lesser damage has been incurred by maize and average output is expected. Production losses were incurred to the first season bean crop, an important staple, but some recovery is expected from the more important second season crop, as adequate growing conditions are reported in the main producing areas. A shortfall of some 20 000 tons is nevertheless expected.
Maize imports (mainly yellow maize) in marketing year 1997/98 are provisionally forecast to increase from the previous year’s relatively high receipts of 280 000 tons to about 290 000 tons, in anticipation of steady demand from the animal feed industry. Rice imports in 1998 (January/December) are estimated at 90 000 tons to cover demand of 275 000 tons.