GIEWS Country Brief: Colombia 22-October-2019

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • Cereal production in 2019 anticipated to remain close to five‑year average level

  • Cereal import requirements in 2019 expected above average

  • Prices of cereals rise in 2019, mainly driven by high production and transportation costs

  • Increasing concerns about food security situation of Venezuelan migrants hosted in country

Cereal production in 2019 anticipated to remain close to five‑year average level

The aggregate 2019 cereal output is anticipated at 3.9 million tonnes, close to the five‑year average level.

Harvesting of the 2019 main season paddy crop, planted in the second quarter of 2019, is nearing completion and production is estimated at an above‑average level, mainly driven by area expansions in key rice‑producing regions of Meta and Casanare. The increase in production reflects adequate soil moisture at the planting time, resulting from the well‑above precipitations throughout the first half of 2019, which supported planting operations and bolstered yield prospects. Production of the 2019 secondary paddy crop, which was harvested earlier in the year and accounts for one‑third of the total production, is also estimated above the five‑year average, reflecting record high yields boosted by favourable weather conditions. The 2019 aggregate paddy output is estimated at 2.66 million tonnes, close to last year’s high level and over 10 percent above the five‑year average.

Harvesting of the 2019 main season maize crop finalized in September, while the minor season maize crop, to be harvested in the first months of 2020, is at the early development stage. The aggregate 2019 maize production is forecast to decline to 1.18 million tonnes, about 17 percent below the five‑year average, mainly reflecting lower yields and area planted for the main season crop. Unfavourable weather conditions in key maize‑producing regions of Antioquia and Córdoba, where cumulative seasonal rainfall amounts were about 30 percent below the average, hampered planting operations of the main season crop and affected yields. The contraction in plantings was also due to the effects of an increase in transportation and production costs, notably in those of mainly imported inputs, following the moderate depreciation of the local currency that occurred since the last quarter of 2018.

Cereal import requirements in 2019 expected above average

About 85 percent of the country’s cereal consumption needs are covered by imports. Cereal import requirements in the 2019 marketing year (January/December) are expected to rise to 7.7 million tonnes, about 8 percent above the five‑year average.

Import requirements of maize, which account for 70 percent of the total cereal imports, are estimated at 5.4 million tonnes, close to the previous year’s high level and about 15 percent above the five‑year average, mainly reflecting the high demand of yellow maize for feed. Regarding wheat, produced at negligible levels in the country, imports are estimated at a near average level of 1.7 million tonnes.

Prices of cereals rise in 2019, mainly driven by high production and transportation costs

Prices of cereals have been generally increasing in nominal terms in 2019, mainly driven by increased production and transportation costs.

Prices of the mostly imported yellow maize spiked in the second quarter of 2019, when the weakening of the Colombian peso, which made imports more expensive, compounded the seasonal rising trend. They then declined in September due to the downward pressure from the recently harvested main crop, but were still about 20 percent higher than their year‑earlier values, reflecting costlier imports.

Prices of white maize and rice in September were also above their levels in the corresponding month in 2018, due to higher production costs.

Increasing concerns on food security situation of Venezuelan migrants hosted in country

The Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, which consists of various UN Organizations and NGOs, estimates that about 4.5 million people have fled Venezuela as of early October 2019. Colombia is the main host country in the subregion of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, with a population of 1.4 million people. According to a WFP survey, as of May 2019, about 35 percent of the migrant population were skipping meals or going a whole day without eating due to the lack of means to buy food. The scarcity of work opportunities for migrant households, aggravated by generalized irregular migratory status, is the main cause of their food insecurity situation.