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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 17-August-2016


  1. Cereal production in 2016 anticipated to remain below average

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

  3. Consumer prices under strong upward pressure

  4. Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Colombia agree to re‑open borders

Cereal production in 2016 forecast to remain at below‑average level

Harvesting of the 2016 first season rice crop concluded in May and the output is estimated to have remained close to last year’s drought‑reduced level, mainly reflecting difficulties in accessing inputs coupled with the effects of severe El Niño‑induced dry weather. Planting of the second season rice crop will conclude in early September and prospects for the season are uncertain. Although official forecasts are not available, the economic downturn, which has adversely impacted the agriculture sector, is anticipated to keep the second season output at a below‑average level, as input shortages, despite significant Government efforts to facilitate access to seeds and fertilizers, and water deficits continue to constrain the area sown. Based on the first season results and these early prospects for the second season, the aggregate 2016 rice output is forecast at 750 000 tonnes, 10 percent below last year’s level. However, this figure may yet be revised downward pending on final information about the second season plantings.

Planting of the 2016 main season maize crop concluded in July under improved weather conditions, according to remote sensing data for the month. However, constrained access to inputs are expected to have kept sowings at a below-average level.

Overall, the aggregate 2016 cereal production is anticipated to remain at a well below-average level of about 2.8 million tonnes.

Consumer prices reportedly continue to increase

The Venezuelan Consumer Price Index reached a record level in December 2015, increasing by 180 percent from a year earlier. The food and beverage price Index in December 2015 was more than 300 percent above its year earlier value, reflecting the particularly tight supply situation for food commodities. Although, no official data has been published since, severe food shortages and lack of foreign exchange reserves have continued to exert strong upward pressure on prices in 2016.

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Colombia agree to re‑open borders

The governments of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Colombia reached an agreement on 12 August 2016 to gradually re‑open their border crossings, which had been closed since 19 August 2015 to prevent food smuggling from Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of). The agreement foresees the opening of five border crossings for use by pedestrian traffic and will facilitate access to food and medicines by Venezuelans. Previously, the border was temporarily opened from 10 to 11 July 2016, enabling Venezuelans to purchase food and other items which are in severe shortage in the country.