CARACAS, VENEZUELA — As its economy continues to recover, Venezuela is expected to increase its wheat consumption by 5% in 2022-23, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Consumption is estimated at 1.2 million tonnes wheat grain equivalent. The national milling industry is expected to rebound in terms of pasta production and wheat flour due to the government’s priority of increasing local processing capacity.

“Lower imports of finished wheat products are being offset by increasing imports of wheat grain as raw material for the milling industry,” the USDA said. “The Venezuelan milling industry will likely translate rising prices of wheat into higher consumer prices if commodities become less available in the market due to current global uncertainty and supply disruptions.”

The milling industry is currently working at an average capacity of 24%. The nominal installed milling capacity is 2.54 million tonnes per year. Currently the milling industry produces 65% of total consumption. The monthly needs of the Venezuelan wheat milling industry to supply the current domestic market and maintain reasonable inventory levels are 115,000 tonnes per month, the USDA said.

Encouraged by rising global commodity prices, farmers in Venezuela are expected to produce 10% more corn in 2022-23 for a total of 891,000 tonnes. Area planted is expected to also increase by 10% to 220,000 hectares.

The same increase in production is forecasted for rice in 2022-23 due to greater access to financing to support inputs and the introduction of stronger rice varieties for planting. Production is estimated at 197,000 tonnes.