Harvesting of the 1998 coarse grain crops, principally maize, has been disrupted in some of the main producing provinces as a consequence of the intensive rains attributed to El Niño. By end-May, about 65 percent of the area planted had been harvested compared to more than 88 percent by the same time last year. Despite the sprouting in some areas caused by the excess humidity, satisfactory yields are obtained and official forecasts point to a historically high maize output of 19.1 million tonnes. Production of sorghum is also expected to be a record high 3.9 million tonnes, and a slightly above-average paddy output is anticipated despite some damage to the crop.
Sowing of the 1998 wheat crop has started in some parts and plantings are tentatively forecast to be close to the 1997 level.