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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 03-June-2020


  1. Cereal production forecast at below‑average level in 2020

  2. Cereal imports forecast to continue to decline in 2019/20 marketing year

Cereal production forecast at below‑average level in 2020

Harvesting of the 2020 main season rice crop is ongoing under favourable dry weather conditions. Production is anticipated at a below‑average level due to reduced plantings, instigated by low availabilities of mostly imported agricultural inputs and fuel following the tightening of international sanctions. Planting of the minor season rice crop is also underway. Weather forecasts point to average to above‑average rainfall amounts in the June‑August period, with likely positive effects on crop development.

Harvesting of the main season maize crop has just started and is expected to continue until end‑September. Despite the high demand for maize by the swine industry, the output is expected at a below‑average level. The planted area continued at low levels due to the shortage of agricultural inputs. In addition, reduced rainfall amounts in the March‑April period lowered yields of the early‑planted crops that were at the critical grain‑filling stage. The expected improved precipitation from June is likely to support crop development of the late‑planted crops.

Amid the low availabilities of inputs and fuel, the Government is promoting the use of animal traction, the cultivation of short‑cycle crops and the local production of seeds. As a result of these initiatives, the aggregate cereal production is forecast to slightly recover from the reduced harvest in 2019 but remain below the average level.

Cereal import requirements forecast to continue to decline in 2019/20 marketing year

Cereal import requirements in the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June) are anticipated to decline for the third consecutive year, mainly reflecting a declining population since 2018. The country’s capacity to import is curtailed by more strict international sanctions imposed on the country. Imports of maize, which account for the largest share of the imports, are forecast at 780 000 tonnes, more than 10 percent below the five‑year average.

COVID‑19 and measures adopted by the Government

In early May 2020, the restrictions on movement established in late March were lifted and the large commercial centres that had been closed during the confinement period re‑opened to the public. The Government decided to allocate some quotas of fuel, previously intended for the tourism sector that is now severely affected by the COVID‑19 outbreak, to agricultural activities. The Government also plans to provide finance to employees of the companies that have been affected by the pandemic and expand the coverage of food supply centres.

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