WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Colombia is expected to import a historically high level of corn from the United States as its production stagnates due to lack of incentives to increase acreage.

Total corn imports are estimated at 5.7 million tonnes for 2019-20, with 5.6 million tonnes coming from the United States, according to a March 15 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). U.S. corn is price competitive due to trade preferences under the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) and geographical advantages compared to South American competitors, the FAS said.

“Corn imports have shown an upward trend as feed demand continues to grow while domestic corn production remains flat,” the FAS said.

Colombian corn production is forecast to remain unchanged at 1.6 million tonnes in 2019-20 as weather conditions are expected to be favorable for crop development, but area planted continues to marginally decrease.

Consumption, however, is forecast to increase to 7.4 million tonnes with increasing demand from the animal feed industry. The FAS said 95% of corn imports are destined for animal feed while the remaining 5% is for human consumption.

Rice production is estimated to be stagnant at 2.4 million tonnes. Since 2017, the National Federation of Colombian Rice Producers (Fedearroz) has been actively conducting campaigns among producers to decrease area planted to maintain profitable producer prices and reduce large stocks after record production seasons, the FAS said.

Consumption in 2019-20 is estimated at 1.85 million tonnes. Rice is a basic staple food in Colombia and has a high per capita consumption compared to neighboring countries.

Rice imports are forecast at 160,000 tonnes with the United States remaining the primary supplier.