Normal to above normal rains in the first
dekad of February provided relief to the 1999/2000 cereal crops stressed
by dry weather in late January. Although rains have been erratic since
the beginning of the season, growing conditions are generally adequate
for the developing crops. However, the outlook for the harvest is poor
as a result of a decline in the area planted from both last year and the
average level. This reflects a widespread dry spell in December, that adversely
affecting sowing operations, as well as diversion of land to other crops
following low support prices for maize, coupled with high prices and low
availability of agricultural inputs.
The 1999 wheat crop, harvested until
last November, was estimated record at 320 000 tonnes. The increase reflected
higher plantings and yields.
The overall food supply situation is
satisfactory following the recovery on last year production and adequate
levels of maize imports so far. However, prices are reported on the increase
in deficit areas, as well as in urban areas.