ARGENTINA (27 March)
Improved weather conditions have benefited the developing 1999/2000 maize crop, following a period of prolonged dry weather. Harvesting has started in the main producing areas and early production forecasts indicate an above-average output between 15 million and 15.5 million tonnes. Above-average yields are expected in the province of Cordoba, in particular, and other main growing areas. This will help offset the below-average yields which are however expected as a result of drought in the northern province of Entre Ríos and bordering areas with Santa Fe. Below-average yields are also being obtained in isolated areas in the central eastern areas of the main producing Buenos Aires province. The paddy crop, currently being planted, has been affected by the lack of rains in the northern parts, where the bulk of the crop is grown; in addition, plantings were reduced with respect to the previous year as a consequence of unattractive prices. Output is presently forecast at a slightly below- average 1 million tonnes which compares to 1.7 million tonnes in 1999.
BOLIVIA (27 March)
Heavy rains and flooding in January in the south-eastern province of Tarija affected the developing cereal, potato and other crops planted at the end of last year. Serious damage to farmers' housing was also incurred. Emergency relief assistance from the international community has been provided in collaboration with the authorities. Flooding is also reported in the large producing eastern areas of the Department of Santa Cruz where harvesting of the 2000 first (main) season cereal crops is about to start. Production of wheat is expected to decrease from last year to a below-average level. Dry weather conditions are reported in other producing areas. Despite the adverse weather conditions, production of maize, the main cereal, is expected to increase from last year's about average level to a bumper 705 000 tonnes. By contrast, the wheat crop has been affected by the rains and a below-average output is expected. An average sorghum output is also anticipated.
BRAZIL (27 March)
Planting of the 2000 wheat crop has started under normal weather conditions following a period of prolonged drought in the main producing southern states. Intended plantings in the states of Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul are forecast to be close to 1999 average level. Harvesting of the 2000 first (main) season maize crop has resumed following some delays due to excessive rains. Around 40 percent of the area planted has been harvested compared to 55 percent by the same time the year before. Production (both crops) is provisionally forecast at a near-average 32.2 million tonnes. However, aggregate output will largely depend upon outturns from the second season crops as lower than normal yields are being obtained from the first season crop, the result of the scarcity of rains during the developing period. Planting of the second season maize crop has already started in the north and north-eastern areas and is about to start in the central producing states under normal weather conditions. Harvesting of the paddy crop is underway and latest forecasts indicate that production should decline from last year near-record 11.6 million tonnes to some 11.4 million tonnes which is still above average.
CHILE (27 March)
Harvesting of the 2000 wheat crop has been recently completed and output is provisionally estimated at 1.2 million tonnes, similar to 1999 below-average production. A larger output had been earlier estimated but excessive rains at harvesting in late January damaged the crops. The excessive rains and winds, by contrast, did not affect the maize crop currently being harvested. A recovery from last year's drought affected crop is anticipated.
COLOMBIA (5 April)
Heavy rains in early March followed by heavier rains and flooding at the end of the month have delayed planting of the 2000 first season cereal crops. Above-normal rains are forecast for the next weeks. Intended plantings of maize are nevertheless forecast to be close to 1999 average level. Production, however, is not enough to meet domestic demand, particularly from the animal feeding industry and imports of 1.5 million tonnes, similar to the previous year, will be required. The area planted to paddy is also expected to be close to the average level of the previous year. The number of internally displaced persons continues to increase. A relief programme in collaboration with the international community is being prepared by the Government.
ECUADOR (27 March)
Planting of the 2000 first season maize (yellow)crop is well advanced in the main producing coastal areas for harvesting from May. The area planted is provisionally forecast at a near-average level. Weather conditions have benefited the crop so far and satisfactory yields are anticipated and production is expected to increase from last year's average output. The rains arrived late, however, for planting of the paddy crop and the area planted was consequently reduced. Harvesting is due from April and production is expected to be below average. Farmers were also discouraged by financial constraints and relative low prices.
PARAGUAY (27 March)
A persistent drought has affected for months the northern areas of the country, in particular the departments of Concepción, San Pedro and Chaco Central. Some rains have resumed but irregular and ill distributed. A state of emergency has been declared by the government in former first state, where about 11 300 hectares of small farm crops have been damaged. It is reported that the water shortage affects not only farming but also human consumption. Relief assistance is being provided by the government and the international community.
PERU (27 March)
Planting of the 2000 wheat crop has been virtually completed and harvesting is due to start from May. Production is provisionally forecast at a slightly above-average 160 000 tonnes. Weather conditions have benefited planting of the 2000 first season maize (white and yellow) crop, although heavy rains in central-southern highlands have resulted in mudslides, leaving a number of victims in small isolated villages. Harvesting is underway and satisfactory yields are being obtained so far. Above-average outputs are anticipated provided beneficial weather conditions remain. The bulk of harvesting operations of the important irrigated paddy crop are due to start from May. Water reservoir levels are reported adequate and an above-average output is anticipated.
URUGUAY (27 March)
Light to modest rains, although erratic and irregularly distributed, have resumed following a prolonged drought which has severely affected the 1999/2000 main cereal crops in the country. Harvesting of the wheat and barley crops have been recently completed and outputs are provisionally estimated at a low 373 000 tonnes and 99 000 tonnes respectively, which compares to earlier production estimates at planting of about 522 000 tonnes and 249 000 tonnes. The outlook is also poor for the maize crop, currently being harvested, and preliminary forecasts put production at a maximum 79 000 tonnes, against a previous forecast of 162 000 tonnes. Production of sorghum should also decline from a previous estimate of 106 000 tonnes to a maximum 20 000 tonnes. Harvesting of the important paddy crop has only started and production is provisionally forecast at 1.1 million tonnes, some 10 percent lower than formerly expected. Pertinent measures have been undertaken by the Government to cope with the serious losses incurred by the affected farmers.
VENEZUELA (27 March)
Rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes continue to be implemented in the states affected by the heavy incessant rains resulting in mudslides, landslides and flooding in December. The disaster caused about 30 000 victims and more than 68 000 homeless, apart from huge damage to the infrastructure of the country. Principally affected were the capital of Caracas and the urban areas of the state of Vargas in the north, as well as other urban areas in several northern states. The agricultural sector was also affected, particularly the states of Miranda, Falcón and Yaracuy, and to a lesser extent in Zulia, Táchira, Cojedes, Trujillo and some farm areas in Vargas. Damage to cereal crops was not significant as harvesting had already been completed, but important foodcrops for the rural population such as roots, tubers and plantains were affected. Export crops such as cocoa and coffee were also affected. The food supply situation is stable although food aid from the international community continues to be distributed and technical assistance projects for the immediate rehabilitation of the agricultural sector are being discussed with the Government. The projects will directly benefit 6 000 affected rural families. Planting of the 2000 first (main) season maize and paddy crops should start from April.