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Country Briefs

  Panama

Reference Date: 31-March-2017

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Cereal production anticipated to increase in 2017

  2. Cereal imports forecast to remain high in 2016/17 marketing year

  3. Cereal prices unchanged in March

Cereal production anticipated to increase in 2017

Planting of the 2017 rice crop is about to begin under normal weather conditions as rainfall levels have been about average across most regions of the country. According to FAO, rice sowings are anticipated to increase about 2 percent from last year’s above-average level. Maize plantings, which will begin in May, are also anticipated to increase from last year’s level. The anticipated increases in plantings, for rice and maize, mainly reflect continued Government support, particularly through the provision of seeds, official purchases and a guaranteed floor price for rice. If weather conditions remain favourable throughout the cropping season, FAO anticipates an increase in cereal output of 10 percent, recovering from the reduced levels of 2015 and 2016. However, some uncertainty about this forecast remains as the probability of an El Niño event during the June-August period, at the end of vegetative growth and the beginning of the harvest, has risen above 50 percent.

Cereal imports forecast to remain high in 2016/17 marketing year

Cereal imports in the 2016/17 marketing year (September/August) are forecast at 782 000, some 3 percent above last year’s record level. The increases mainly reflects the high levels of maize imports, as 2016 maize output was lower than initially anticipated. Rice and wheat imports are anticipated to remain about average to slightly above average.

Cereal prices unchanged in March

Retail prices of rice, the country’s main staple, were unchanged during the first half of March from their level a month earlier. Reflecting increased Government sales and imports, prices were some 10 percent below year-earlier levels. Maize prices up to mid-March were unchanged from their levels a month and a year earlier, as high import levels continued to maintain price stability. Prices of red beans, an important staple food, decreased by some 2 percent in March.