ECUADOR (1 October)
Harvesting of the 2004 second season paddy crop has started. As a consequence of the prolonged dry weather at the beginning of the year that seriously affected the winter paddy crop, total paddy production in year 2004 is forecast at low 1.1 million tonnes, some 9 per cent below the average of last five years. Planting of the maize summer crop (mainly white) for harvesting from October has been completed in the inter-Andean departments of Azuay, Chimborazo and Pichincha. Prospects for total 2004 maize production are below average as plantings of the first season crop, which accounts for about 75 per cent of domestic output, were affected by reduced soil moisture, especially in the coastal main growing area of Los Rios. Maize import requirements for marketing year 2004/05 (January/December) are expected to increase considerably from last year's 200 000 tonnes to some 300 000 tonnes. Wheat imports in marketing year 2004/05 (July/June) are forecast to increase from 475 000 tonnes in the previous year to some 500 000 tonnes.