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Country Briefs

  Venezuela

Reference Date: 05-December-2016

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Cereal production in 2016 anticipated to remain below average

  2. Cereal import requirements for 2016/17 marketing year estimated at high level

  3. Consumer prices anticipated to increase sharply in 2016

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

The aggregate 2016 cereal production is forecast by FAO to remain at a well below-average level of about 2.8 million tonnes. This mainly reflects lower-than-anticipated plantings of main cereals, maize and rice, due to difficulties in accessing inputs, coupled with the effects of severe El Niño‑induced dry weather at the beginning of the year. The harvest of the main winter maize crop is virtually concluded, while the harvest of the secondary summer crop was completed in May. While no official figures are yet available, preliminary reports from producer organizations point to a harvested area of 435 000 hectares or 12 percent above last year’s drought-reduced level, but still below the 600 000 hectares target for the year. The economic downturn, which has adversely affected the agriculture sector, made it difficult to access needed inputs lowering the area sown, despite significant Government efforts to facilitate the access to seeds and fertilizers. Aggregate 2016 maize production is anticipated at 1.9 million tonnes or 3 percent above last year’s drought-reduced level, but still below average. By contrast, the 2016 rice crop is estimated by FAO at 750 000 tonnes, below last year’s level as water deficits and difficulties accessing inputs constrained the area sown.

Planting of the 2017 summer season crop is well advanced. Prospects for the season are uncertain. Latest remote sensing data show that rainfall levels have significantly improved, but residual dryness still remains across most of the country. Continued problems with the provision of inputs may also constrain the area sown during the season.

Cereal import requirements for the 2016/17 marketing year estimated at high level

FAO anticipates that cereal import requirements for the 2016/17 marketing year (July/June) will reach 4.6 million tonnes or 24 percent above last year’s level. The increase reflects low carryover stocks from 2015 as a result of drought-reduced outputs and this year’s below average production.

Consumer prices anticipated to increase sharply in 2016

No official data on consumer prices has been published since December 2015. According to those figures consumer prices in 2015 were 180 percent above their level from a year earlier with the food and beverage price index increasing by more than 300 percent. The latest forecast from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) anticipated an increase in consumer prices in 2016 of 476 percent from the previous year, as severe food shortages and lack of foreign exchange reserves have continued to exert strong upward pressure on prices.