FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No.3, June 1999

CENTRAL AMERICA (including the Caribbean)

COSTA RICA (22 June)

Planting of 1999/2000 first season cereal crops has been completed for harvesting from August. The early rains favoured crops and average to above-average maize and paddy production are provisionally forecast. In the south-western region of Brunca, the second biggest bean producer in the country, planting of the first season bean crop has been completed. Harvesting is due from July and an average outturn is anticipated. To meet domestic demand, however, about 90 000 to 100 000 tonnes of rice will need to be imported in 1999.

CUBA (22 June)

Unusually dry weather continues to affect the country. Despite the beginning of rains, soil moisture levels remain low, affecting the development of cereal and minor foodcrops. Areas most affected include Camaguey in the eastern province and the extreme eastern provinces of Las Tunas, Granma and Guantanamo, earlier affected by El Niño induced drought. Minor foodcrops such as roots and vegetables are reported to be seriously affected, as well as pasture. Serious water shortages are also reported around the capital of Havana and the Isla de la Juventud. Harvesting of the important sugar crop is complete and output is estimated at about 3.7 million tonnes compared to 3.2 million tonnes last year.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (22 June)

f Normal rains continue to benefit development of the 1999/2000 first season rainfed maize and minor foodcrops, mainly plantains and roots. Water reservoirs are also reported to be at satisfactory levels for the irrigated paddy crop being harvested. Pastures have also benefited from the rains. Timely technical and financial assistance have been provided to farmers affected last year by El Niño drought and hurricane “Georges”. Early forecasts indicate that maize and paddy production will be average to above-average respectively, providing weather remains normal.

EL SALVADOR (22 June)

Early arrival of the rainy season benefited planting of the 1999/2000 first season cereal and bean crops last month. The outlook is good and the area planted to maize, the main cereal, is forecast to be average. However, planting in some areas is reported to have declined due to high input costs and competition by low-priced imports. The anticipated recovery from the adverse effects of hurricane “Mitch” is largely due to rehabilitation programmes implemented by the Government in collaboration with the international community. Sorghum, paddy and bean planting is expected to be average. The food supply situation is under control. Food assistance will continue to be distributed to the hurricane affected population until August/September when harvesting of the first season crop is due to start.

GUATEMALA (22 June)

Planting of the 1999/2000 first season cereal and bean crops started last month with the arrival of the rainy season. Prospects are good and the area planted to maize, the main cereal, is anticipated to be about average. Average plantings of sorghum, as well as of paddy, are also expected. Food assistance from the international community continues to be distributed to the population severely affected by hurricane “Mitch” last year. International technical assistance is also being provided to affected small farmers.

HAITI* (22 June)

Harvesting of the 1999/2000 first season cereal and bean crops is underway. So far, weather conditions have favoured developing rainfed and irrigated crops and early production forecasts indicate that maize, paddy and bean production will be average. Food aid continues to be distributed.

HONDURAS (2 June)

Planting of the 1999/2000 first season cereal and bean crops started in May with the arrival of rains. Despite favourable weather conditions, below-average plantings of maize, the main cereal, are anticipated due to low prices, as a result of a larger than expected 1998/99 second season (“postrera”) maize crop and the competition of low priced imports, including substantial food aid, which continues to be distributed to people affected by hurricane “Mitch”. The decrease in plantings is also attributed to the decrease in the purchasing power of the population, caused by the general recession currently affecting the county, and an anticipated reduced demand for feed. The area planted to sorghum, paddy and beans is also expected to decline. Low prices are also likely to reduce planting of other food items.

MEXICO (12 June)

Extremely dry weather continues to prevail particularly in northern states. By the end of May, ten states had been declared disaster zones by the Government. In Sinaloa and Sonora, where about 40 percent of irrigated wheat is grown, water reservoirs are reported to be virtually dry. Water rationing has begun in some of the affected areas. Harvesting of the 1999 wheat crop is near completion and output is likely to be lower than the average. Dry conditions have also been reported in southern parts, with the exception of Puebla, Oaxaca and parts of Veracruz where moderate rains were received in May. Prospects are uncertain for the important spring/summer maize crop currently being planted unless normal rains resume. The outlook is poor for the 1999 sorghum crop, of which some 40 percent is grown in the drought affected north-eastern state of Tamaulipas. Livestock pastures have also been severely affected by the dry conditions and an increasing number of cattle losses is reported.

NICARAGUA (22 June)

Normal rains have favoured planting of the 1999/2000 first season cereal and bean crops which started last month. The outlook is generally good and average maize plantings are expected. The area planted to paddy is also expected to be about average, but production is likely to be insufficient to meet domestic requirements. Average to above-average plantings of beans are also expected, reflecting attractive prices. However, some locations in the northern parts of the country, such as Esteli, Segovia, Huaco and parts of Jinotega are facing serious problems in fulfilling planting intentions mainly because of high farm input costs and financial constraints. Other parts of the Pacific coast are threatened by the lack of rain in the first half of June and crop prospects are uncertain unless notmal rains resume. Food assistance from the international community continues to be provided to people affected by hurricane “Mitch”.

ST. KITTS AND NEVIS (2 June)

Normal rains and ongoing rehabilitation of the agricultural sector benefited development of sugar, bananas and minor food crops. A recovery from last year’s production, which was affected by hurricane ”Georges”, is anticipated.


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