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Asia’s rice crops face setbacks from adverse weather

Asia’s rice crops face setbacks from adverse weather, global production growth rate revised down, prices fall

Some markets to fare better than others – production gains in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand, 04 Dec 2013 -- Adverse weather in parts of Asia has taken a toll on rice production in a number of countries in the region, the FAO announced today.

According to FAO’s Rice Market Monitor (RMM) for November, global paddy production in 2013, while still expected to outpace 2012 production, has been revised downward by some five million tonnes to 741.4 million tonnes (494.2 million tonnes, milled basis). The predicted result by the end of the season is that global production will have increased by just 1.1 percent year-on-year, instead of the projected 1.5 percent increase anticipated by the RMM in its July 2013 report.

Bad Weather and Drought

The deterioration of prospects primarily concerned China, Pakistan and the Philippines, which were hit, in recent months, by erratic climatic events. Storms and typhoons, including super typhoon Haiyan that struck an important rice growing area of the Philippines, have damaged or destroyed crops, though in the case of Haiyan the impact was limited because most of the main crop had already been harvested when the typhoon struck. It was estimated that in combination with other factors, Philippine paddy production in 2013 would be about 18 million tonnes, 900,000 less than last year. There are concerns however about the impact on the present planting season and beyond, given the losses to human life, the displacement of farming families and loss of agricultural infrastructure, such as tools and machinery. Meantime, the drought in China’s central and eastern provinces has exacted a heavy toll on the intermediate and late rice crops, which may bring about the first production decline in the country since 2003. “Japan and Malaysia could also face a contraction,” the RMM reported.

These declines are anticipated to be more than offset by increases in production elsewhere in Asia, a region that contributes the bulk of the world’s rice output. The latest forecast for the region is a projected harvest of 672.7 million tonnes (448.6 million tonnes, milled), 1.2 percent more than was garnered in 2012. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Thailand are among the region’s countries reporting the largest production gains.

Trade predictions

As regards world trade in rice, FAO’s forecast for calendar year 2013 remains unchanged since its July report at 37.5 million tonnes (milled basis), implying a 2 percent contraction from the 2012 record. Faltering demand for rice imports in some countries, partly due to import restrictions or bumper domestic crops, will likely be felt by Viet Nam a major rice exporting country. The RMM goes on to predict that Thailand, given a poor delivery record so far, appears unlikely in 2013 to boost its exports beyond the relatively low level of last year. Expectations have, instead, improved for India, which may replicate the 2012 record performance, with Australia, Cambodia, China (Mainland) and Pakistan among the countries forecast to export more.

Prices fall

After holding steady for much of 2013, international rice prices fell markedly in September. The FAO All Rice Price Index (2002-2004 = 100) shed 5 percent of its value that month to 226 points. The index dropped by a further 2 points in October and 1 point in November, when it averaged 223 points.

The price weakness was most pronounced in the long-grain segment, where quotations were pressured by thin buying interest and prospects of large main-crop harvests in northern hemisphere countries. The RMM reported: “Because the price slide was particularly steep in Thailand, a salient development of the market in recent months has been the convergence of prices across major origins in Asia, which bears important implications for trade in the coming months.”

ENDS

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