ARGENTINA (8 February)
Harvesting of the 1999/2000 wheat crop has been recently completed following a period of erratic weather which affected the quality of the crop. Adequate yields have nevertheless been obtained and production is officially estimated at about 14.2 million tonnes, which compares to last year's volume of 11.5 million tonnes and the last 5-year average of 12.6million tonnes. The increase is also due to larger plantings caused by the combination of attractive prices and expanding exports. Planting of the 1999/2000 maize crop has just been completed and harvesting is due to start from March. The area planted is tentatively estimated at 10 percent higher than the 1998/99 season. Higher plantings are reported in particular for the provinces of Entre Rios, La Pampa and Cordoba. Sowing of the 2000 paddy crop has been completed and plantings are provisionally estimated some 27 percent lower than the 1999 record but still above average.
BOLIVIA (3 February)
Growing conditions are reported normal in general for the recently planted 1999/2000 cereal and potato crops. Sowing is still underway in some of the eastern tropical areas such as Chaco and Santa Cruz as a consequence of insufficient rains. By contrast, slight damage to crops is reported in the southern department of Tarija due to floods. Enlarged plantings are reported for most cereals. Harvesting is due to start from March, and early forecasts point out to increases in production assuming adequate weather conditions persist.
BRAZIL (3 February)
Prolonged dry weather favoured the recently completed harvest of the 1999 wheat crop. Output collected is provisionally estimated at a slightly above-average 2.4 million tonnes and quality of the crop is reported to be good. Dry weather, by contrast, affected plantings of the 1999/2000 first season maize crop, currently being harvested, as well as delaying planting of the second season crop in the north and north- east areas of the country. Main producing states, such as Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, have been affected by the dry weather and losses up to 18 percent of expected production are reported in the latter state. Despite enlarged plantings with respect to the previous year’s average level, production for the whole year is tentatively forecast to remain close to the 33 million tonnes average of the last 5 years. Harvesting of the 2000 paddy crop is underway and about 10.3 million tonnes are tentatively forecast, a decrease from 1999 near record 11.6 million tonnes, but still slightly above average.
CHILE (3 February)
Harvesting of the 1999/2000 wheat crop continues normal weather conditions and output is forecast to recover from last year’s drought affected crop. Some 1.5 million tonnes are expected to be produced, compared to 1.2 the year before. Growing conditions and water reservoir levels are reported adequate for the 2000 maize crop. Harvesting is due to start from March and production is also forecast to recover significantly from last year.
COLOMBIA (3 February)
Heavy rains, flooding and mudslides in December caused heavy loss of life and inflicted enormous damage to housing and infrastructure. Damage to the agricultural sector is reported, particularly to the coffee crop, but a detailed assessment of damage has not been made available yet. Particularly affected were the provinces of Norte de Santander, Tolima, Antioquia and some parts in the south-west of the country near the border with Ecuador. Harvesting of the 1999/2000 second season cereal crops is underway and, despite possible losses incurred, maize output for the year as a whole (both crops) is forecast to be about average. Production of paddy in 1999 is estimated at a slightly above- average 1.8 million tonnes.
ECUADOR (3 February)
Planting of the 2000 first season cereal crops is underway. Generally dry weather conditions have been registered in January and the only rains reported have been in the Andean highlands, where most of the wheat crop is grown, but precipitation has been scarce and irregular. Intended plantings of maize are provisionally forecast to decline from the 1999 average level The outlook is also poor for the area planted to paddy, which is expected to decline from the 1999 average level. This is mainly the result of credit constraints and the high cost of agricultural inputs, largely caused by the serious economic crisis affecting the country. Imports of rice are expected to increase considerable in order to fill the anticipated decline in production.
PERU (3 February)
Normal-to-abundant rains in the north and north-west areas in December replenished water reservoirs principally in the Departments of Piura, Lambayeque and La Libertad, thus fulfilling water requirements for planting for year 2000 irrigated crops in these areas; by contrast, water reservoir levels in the southern valleys of the department of Arequipa are reported lower than in the previous month. Planting of maize, which is grown all year around, is underway. Output collected in 1999, during the period January/November, is officially estimated at a bumper 996 000 tonnes which compares to 873 000 tonnes gathered in 1998 during the same period. A bumper paddy crop was obtained in 1999. A near- record 2 million tonnes had been gathered in January/November 1999 which compares to the last 5-year average of 1.3 million tonnes. Sowing of the year 2000 paddy crop is underway.
URUGUAY (3 February)
Harvesting of the 1999/2000 wheat crop has been completed and output collected is provisionally estimated at an above- average 545 000 tonnes. Harvesting of the 1999/2000 maize crop has started and output is tentatively forecast to be slightly below average as the crop was affected by dry weather at planting. Harvesting of the important paddy crop is due to start from March and early forecasts indicate that output should decline from 1999 record mainly as a result of reduced plantings.
VENEZUELA (3 February)
Incessant torrential rains from the beginning of December resulted in extensive mudslides and flooding. Unofficial sources estimate around 30 000 casualties and over 600 000 persons affected. It is reported that some 50 000 persons have been accommodated in temporary shelters. Nine states were declared in a state of emergency by end-December, of which the main affected were Vargas, Miranda, Falcón and Yaracuy. An assessment of damage to the sector by the international community in collaboration with the Government indicates that some 25 000 rural families have been seriously affected. Assessment for the rehabilitation of about 10 000 to 12 000 of these families has also been conducted. Emergency assistance, including food distribution from the international community to 110 000 victims, has been provided.