FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.2, April 1999

CENTRAL AMERICA (including the Caribbean)


Normal weather has resumed and growing conditions are reported to be satisfactory for minor foodcrops, vegetables and roots, which were previously affected by hurricane “Georges” in 1998. A programme for rehabilitation of agricultural activities, with international assistance, is being implemented. COSTA RICA (6 April)

Planting of the 1999/2000 first season maize and paddy crops has begun. The area is expected to be similar to 1998/99, when the production recovered from the 1997/98 El Niño. Some cash and food crops in southern areas, such as Pérez Zeledón and Coto Brus, suffered particularly last year from the impact of hurricane “Mitch” and a recovery in production is anticipated.

CUBA (6 April)

Planting of 1999 irrigated paddy (spring crop) has started while that of the rainfed (winter) paddy has been completed. Harvesting of potato and other minor foodcrops is also underway. The crop outlook is uncertain, due to unusually dry weather and the fact that several weeks remain before the next rainy season. Moisture levels continue to decline in the eastern provinces, which were affected by a severe drought in 1998. Harvest of the important 1998/99 sugar cane crop, the main agricultural export, is well advanced. Output is officially forecast at 3.8 million tonnes compared to 3.2 million tonnes last year, the lowest production level in many years.


f Weather conditions favoured planting of 1999 first season foodcrops and development of irrigated paddy. Production is expected to recover from last year, when crops were affected by severe dry weather and hurricane “Georges”. Livestock pastures are also reported in satisfactory condition. Recovery of the agricultural sector is being supported by Government programmes with support from the international community.


Normal to above-normal rains benefited the development of 1998/99 third season maize and bean crops and a partial recovery is anticipated from the losses incurred to the second season crops by hurricane “Mitch” in 1998. Production of maize for the year (three crops) is forecast at 554 000 tonnes, which is higher than the 508 000 tonnes in 1997/98 but less than the 630 000 tonnes produced in 1996 and the 682 000 tonnes anticipated this year before the hurricane. Output of beans is forecast at 46 500 tonnes compared to 68 000 tonnes anticipated earlier. Consumer prices for basic grains and beans are stable and declining slightly due to imports from the United States and neighbouring countries. Food aid from the international community continues to be distributed to about 60 000 people.


Harvesting of the 1998/99 second season cereal and bean crops has been completed, land preparation for planting of the 1999/2000 first season crops will commence in late April. 1998/99 maize production is provisionally forecast at a below- average one million tonnes, due to reduced plantings and the effect of hurricane “Mitch”. Production, however, was higher than last year’s 880 000 tonnes when crops were significantly affected by El Niño. Production of sorghum and beans was below average due to the hurricane. Food aid continues to be distributed to about 65 000 people.

HAITI* (6 April)

Weather conditions favoured planting of the 1999/2000 first season maize and bean crops. Planting of irrigated paddy is also underway. Harvesting will commence in June and average to slightly above-average production is tentatively forecast, assuming normal weather persists. Food aid continues to be distributed. Some 150 000 tonnes in cereals have been pledged in 1998/99 (July/June) of which 110 000 tonnes have been delivered.

HONDURAS (6 April)

Harvesting of 1998/99 second season maize and beans has been completed. Weather conditions during the season have been generally favourable for crop development. As a result, an additional 100 000 tonnes of maize is provisionally expected for 1998/99 to about 505 000 tonnes, compared to 411 000 tonnes previously forecast in December. Production of beans has also improved and output is presently estimated at 64 700 tonnes compared to 61 000 tonnes estimated earlier. Increased production has contributed to the depression of market prices. In contrast, production of sorghum and rice was lower than previously estimated. Sorghum output is presently estimated at about 71 300 tonnes and milled rice 13 000 tonnes, compared to 85 000 tonnes and 18 000 tonnes respectively forecast earlier. Food assistance continues to be provided to some 810 000.

MEXICO (6 April)

Harvesting of 1999 wheat in irrigated areas in the north-west is about to start. Prospects are good and output is provisionally forecast at an average 3.4 million tonnes, compared to 3.2 million tonnes in 1998. The increase is attributed to higher yields. Planting of 1999 spring/summer maize, for harvesting from September, is about to start under generally dry conditions. The area planted is nevertheless expected to be close to the slightly above-average 1998 level unless present dry conditions persist.


Harvesting of 1998/99 third season (“apante”) maize and beans has been completed. Land preparation is also underway for planting 1999/2000 first season crops from May. The “apante” output of maize and beans is provisionally estimated at about 83 000 tonnes and 82 000 tonnes respectively. This represents a significant recovery from losses caused by hurricane “Mitch”. The recovery is mainly due to favourable weather and government rehabilitation programmes in collaboration with the international community. Consumer prices have consequently declined and exports of beans have been made to neighbouring countries which were also affected by the hurricane. Food aid continues to be distributed to some 400 000 beneficiaries while large-scale programmes for rehabilitation of infrastructure are also underway.


The agricultural sector is gradually recovering from severe damage inflicted by hurricane “Georges” last year. A programme for the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector has benefited planting and development of sugar, the main source of employment in the country, bananas, and minor food crops.

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