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GIEWS Country Brief: Venezuela 28-June-2020

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• Planting of winter crops ongoing at slow pace due to shortages of diesel

• Import requirements of cereals in 2021/22 forecast below average

• Concerns over continued poor access to food

Planting of winter crops ongoing at slow pace due to shortages of diesel

Planting of the 2021 main maize and minor rice crops is underway at a slow pace due to shortages of diesel, which are expected to curb the planted area. Imports of diesel declined significantly since November 2020, in the context of international sanctions. Small farmers, who normally receive subsidized diesel from the government, reported delays and disruptions of planting operations. According to satellite imagery, crop conditions are currently favourable in key producing departments of Barinas,
Cojedes, Guarico and Portuguesa, as abundant precipitation amounts in April 2021 benefitted soil moisture levels (VHI map).
Rainfall amounts declined in May and are forecast at a below-average level in June, with likely negative effects on yields.
However, weather forecasts point to a high likelihood of average precipitation amounts in July and August, which are expected to favour the establishment of late planted crops.

Harvesting of the 2021 main rice and minor maize crops concluded in May and production is expected to increase moderately from a record low level in 2020. The year-on-year increase is mainly due to a modest expansion of the planted area and higher yields. During this season, yet available diesel reserves enabled planting operations in the last quarter of 2020.
Planting was also supported by the year-on-year improved availability of agricultural inputs, following alliances between public companies and private sector representatives. Reflecting favourable weather conditions and the increased use of agricultural inputs, yields are estimated to be above the previous year’s low levels. In some producing areas, harvesting operations and commercialization of harvested crops were reportedly disrupted by the dwindling access to diesel.

Cereal output in 2021 is forecast below the levels produced during the pre-crisis (2010-2014) period, when the country’s average output was about 3.4 million tonnes.