COSTA RICA (9 September)
Harvesting of 1999/2000 first season cereal and bean crops has begun under normal conditions. The outlook is good for the maize crop, particularly in the main producing regions of Brunca and Huetar Norte. Annual output is forecast to be a near average 27 000 tonnes, assuming favourable conditions continue. Production of paddy in 1999 is anticipated to be an above-average 290 000 tonnes, but not enough to meet domestic demand. Some 90 000 tonnes will need to be imported in 2000 (January/December) marketing year. The output of beans, an important staple, is expected to be a low 19 000 tonnes, compared to 25 000 tonnes in 1998/99.
CUBA (9 September)
Normal rains have resumed, following months of prolonged drought, which affected minor foodcrops, fruits and pastures. The rain situation still needs to be closely monitored in producing areas with successive years of low rainfall. The rainy season is until October. The rains benefited recently planted 1999/2000 first season cereal crops. Harvesting has only started and maize output is forecast at an average 81 000 tonnes, compared to 76 000 tonnes last year when crops were affected by the dry spell. Paddy output is also expected to increase from 300 000 tonnes in 1998 to some 380 000 tonnes. Imports of some 375 000 to 400 000 tonnes would however still be required to meet demand.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (9 September)
f Weather conditions favoured planting of 1999/2000 second season cereal crops which began recently. Prospects are good, particularly for maize, and outputs for the year (both crops) are forecast to increase from last year’s weather affected crop. An average maize production is expected, but imports of some 650 000 tonnes to 700 000 tonnes would nevertheless be required in the 1999/2000 (July/June) marketing year, mainly to meet an anticipated expansion in demand for animal feed, following a contraction in the poultry sector last year due to hurricane “Georges”. 1999 paddy output is also forecast to be slightly above average. Other foodcrops and pastures are reported in good condition.
EL SALVADOR (9 September)
Normal to heavy rains throughout the season benefited 1999/2000 first season maize, paddy and bean crops. Harvesting is underway and production of maize is expected to recover substantially from production last year which was affected by hurricane “Mitch”. Output for the year is provisionally forecast at 682 000 tonnes, compared to 555 000 tonnes the year before. Paddy output is also forecast to increase from 50 000 tonnes to some 60 000 tonnes, while bean production is anticipated at 72 000 tonnes, some 35 percent above last year. The arrival of first maize and beans into markets reduced prices, affected earlier by speculation and stockpiling during the lean period.
Wheat imports in 1999/2000 (July/June) marketing year are expected to be around 175 000 tonnes, similar to 1998/99, while maize imports (August/July), mostly for the feed industry, are forecast to decrease to 150 000 tonnes compared to 264 000 tonnes last year.
GUATEMALA (9 September)
Heavy rains and flooding in early July damaged 1999/2000 first season coarse grain and bean crops somewhat. The worst affected areas were Boca Costa del Sur, Esquintla and Quetzaltenango. A detailed assessment of damage to the agricultural sector has not been made yet. Maize output is provisionally forecast at a near average 1 million tonnes. Production of beans is expected to be about average while an above-average paddy output is anticipated.
Maize imports, mostly yellow, in marketing year 1999/2000 (July/June) are forecast to increase from 550 000 tonnes last year to around 600 000 tonnes. The increase is mainly in response to an increase in demand from the poultry industry and a possible decrease in local production due to adverse weather.
HAITI* (9 September)
Harvesting of 1999/2000 first season maize and irrigated paddy crops has been completed under normal conditions, while planting of rainfed paddy and sorghum is well advanced. Average maize and paddy outputs (both first and second season crops) of some 190 000 tonnes and 70 000 tonnes respectively are provisionally forecast. This is mainly due to government programmes in collaboration with the international community which continues to provide food and technical assistance.
Wheat imports in the 1999/2000 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at around 285 000 tonnes, slightly above last year. Maize imports are expected to increase from about 50 000 tonnes to 70 000 tonnes, while rice imports (January/December) are expected to remain similar to this year’s 170 000 tonnes.
HONDURAS (9 September)
Normal to above-normal rains have been reported for cereal and bean crops during the first season of 1999/2000. Harvesting began in August in main producing areas in the west (Santa Rosa de Copán) and centre-east (Danli). Despite favourable rains, maize output from the first season crop (main) is expected to be a low 400 000 tonnes, close to last year’s crop which was severely affected by hurricane “Mitch”. This is attributed largely to the unattractive producer prices. Paddy output is also anticipated to be low due to reduced planting caused by competition of low-priced imports and donations. In important grain areas it is expected that producers are likely to switch to more profitable crops such as sugar cane and tobacco. Production of beans from the first season crop, which accounts for only 30 percent of the annual output, is expected to be average. Rehabilitation and food assistance continues to be provided to the hurricane affected population.
MEXICO (9 September)
Normal and well-distributed rains in recent weeks across large producing areas of the southern plateau and Yucatan peninsula benefited planting of the important spring/summer maize crop. Dry weather prevailed in north-central areas, while more rain is still needed in parts of the north-eastern states despite beneficial rains in recent weeks. Harvesting of the 1999/2000 main maize crop (spring/summer plantings) is about to start. Output for the year is provisionally forecast at a near-average 18.1 million tonnes. Harvesting of sorghum is due from October and production is expected to be an above- average 6.1 million tonnes, but lower than last year’s bumper crop. The anticipated decline is attributed to lower than average yields due to prolonged drought in main producing north-eastern states, particularly Tamaulipas.
Wheat imports in the 1999/2000 marketing year (April/March) are expected to be about 2.4 million tonnes, similar to last year. Maize imports (October/September) are forecast to be near 5.5 million tonnes, reflecting strong demand for feed in the poultry and livestock sector.
NICARAGUA (9 September)
Harvesting of the 1999/2000 first season cereal and bean crops is underway, while land is being prepared for planting of the second season crops. Normal rains benefited developing crops. However, delayed planting coupled with reduced yields are reported in some producing areas, particularly in the north-west, because of poor and ill-distributed rains while other areas have been affected by pests. Nevertheless, an important increase in production over last year, which was affected by hurricane “Mitch”, is expected. Maize output for the year is provisionally forecast at an above-average 406 000 tonnes, which compares to 311 000 tonnes the year before. Production of sorghum is also forecast to be above average. Paddy output is forecast to increase from 210 000 tonnes in 1998 to some 250 000 tonnes. Growing conditions for minor foodcrops, such as roots and tubers as well as plantains, are reported to be normal. Rehabilitation and food assistance from the international community continues to be provided to the affected population.