Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Weather-related uncertainty looms over Asian paddy harvest

28 Aug 2002 -- Bangkok – Adverse weather conditions could affect Asia’s paddy harvest in 2002 but this is unlikely to reduce rice exports with India and Myanmar emerging as major international suppliers, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a new rice market report released today.

FAO’s latest Rice Market Monitor (August 2002), which tracks trends in global production, trade and prices, has revised upwards by 6 million tonnes its 2002 world paddy production forecast. “The 2002 production outlook, however, is still highly uncertain, especially as adverse weather conditions are being reported in several parts of the world, including faltering monsoon rains in India,” it cautions.

[…] With a weak monsoon troubling paddy farms in northern India, which account for 25 percent of the national production, the country’s 2002 paddy output is projected at 134 million tonnes - 2 million tonnes below 2001. But exports are expected to rise sharply to 4.2 million tonnes, an increase of 600 000 tonnes since the last FAO report and 2.2 million tonnes above last year. “Exportable supplies of rice made available from public (FCI) stocks remain in abundance, despite a worsening of production prospects this year,” notes Rice Market Monitor.

[…] On the other hand, the world’s leading rice exporter Thailand’s active policy to sustain domestic prices is reportedly slowing down the closure of new sale contracts. This has led to a lowering of the country’s 2002 export forecast by 100 000 tonnes to 7.5 million tonnes, equal to the record volume shipped last year. “Low international rice quotations remain a concern for the Government, which has recently called on the other major exporters to adopt a common strategy to raise export prices.”

[…] International rice prices of different origins and grades have followed opposing trends within the past few months. Quotations from Viet Nam have fallen in the face of low demand together with the arrival of new crop supplies, while strong demand for United Sates rice as a result of the weakened US dollar, and short supplies in Pakistan, have firmed price quotations from both origins.

[...] FAO, however, notes that the short-term price outlook is “rather optimistic”. While global import prospects have improved, policy intervention by India and Thailand will continue to support prices. “Finally, growing uncertainty about future production prospects in a number of major producing countries is likely to induce larger purchases at a moment when market prices are still considered to be attractive”

RAP 02/30

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