food outlook No.4, December 2005 
global information and early warning system on food and agriculture(GIEWS)

Previous pageTable Of ContentsNext page










Other relevant agricultural commodities

Ocean freight rates


Special features

Statistical appendix





Table 5. Rice production (million tonnes)

Change: 2005
over 2004 (%)
Asia 547.0 562.3 2.8
Africa 19.5 20.2 3.8
North Africa6.46.0-5.5
Western Africa8.28.87.3
Southern Africa3.33.610.6
Central America & Caribbean 2.4 2.4 0.4
South America 23.3 23.8 2.1
North America 10.5 10.0 -4.4
Europe 3.4 3.4 -1.0
EU 252.82.6-6.3
Oceania 0.6 0.3 -41.3
World 606.7 622.5 2.6
Developing countries580.8596.82.8
Developed countries26.025.7-1.0
Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.


Record 2005 paddy output following improved crops in major producing countries


As 2005 comes to a close, countries in the northern hemisphere are harvesting their main paddy crops. In the southern hemisphere, the 2005 crops were mostly gathered in the first half of the year and farmers are now preparing land for direct seeding or transplanting of the first 2006 paddy crops. The forecast for global paddy production in 2005 has been raised by 7 million tonnes since September to 622 million tonnes, which would be 2.6 percent, or close to 16 million tonnes above the 2004 output. The latest revision reflects improved prospects in some of the major producing countries in Asia.

The outlook for the 2005 paddy crop in Asia has improved since the last review and the aggregate production of the region is now forecast to reach some 562 million tonnes, surpassing last year’s record of 547 million tonnes. The latest semi-official forecast for production in China (Mainland) points to a 2 percent increase from 2004 to 182.8 million tonnes, the highest level since 2000. This increase was mostly in response to government incentives to plant more rice, as relatively weak domestic prices have prevailed in the course of the year. The outlook in India has improved since the previous report, with production set to reach 130.5 million tonnes this season, 2.5 million tonne more than in 2004. In Indonesia, according to the third forecast by the Ministry of Agriculture, almost 54 million tonnes of paddy rice have been gathered during 2005, virtually matching last year’s bumper crop. Production is forecast to increase in Bangladesh, reflecting favourable monsoon rains and relatively high domestic rice prices during the year, which have been an incentive to farmers. In Cambodia, abundant rainfall in September put an end to a prolonged drought and favoured an increase in plantings, which could give rise to partial recovery in production. Prospects for rice production in Myanmar are also positive. The Philippines is foreseen to gather a record output over the 2005 season (July 2005 – June 2006), reflecting expectations of abundant harvests between November and February. Japan’s official rice output forecast was also raised following an August field survey which rated the crop condition as “above-normal", and the country is now anticipated to gather 11.4 million tonnes of paddy rice, 4.6 percent more than last season. In the Democratic Republic of Korea, excellent growing conditions and improved deliveries of inputs have raised expectations of a bumper crop. In Sri Lanka, official production estimate for 2005 has been raised and now points to a 19 percent growth from the poor 2004 season outcome. In Thailand, production is anticipated to recover, reflecting a return to normal growing conditions this season. On 1 November, the Government launched the new round of intervention purchases to buy up to 9 million tonnes of rice at minimum prices of about Baht 7 000 (US$171) per tonne. The procurement programme has been instrumental to sustain domestic producer prices of rice. Official production estimates in Turkey have been raised to 525 000 tonnes, an exceptionally high level for the country. Producers have been benefiting since 2004 from a crop absorption scheme, which constrains traders to buy rice locally in order to obtain rice import licenses.

Production, however, is anticipated to fall in a few countries in the region, notably in Viet Nam where the outlook has deteriorated following the passage of typhoon Damrey and typhoon Kai-Tak in September and November respectively, which hit northern and central provinces. As a result, the official production estimate now points to a 300 000 tonne decline from the 2004 record to 35.8 million tonnes. The Republic of Korea is foreseen to harvest a smaller crop, as the Government will cease, this season, to procure rice at minimum producer prices. Paddy production in Laos and Nepal may also fall, as crop activities were hampered first by drought and then by torrential rains and flooding.

In Africa, the 2005 rice season is about to be concluded with the harvest of crops in the Western and Northern subregions almost complete. Growing conditions have been generally favourable, allowing for increased plantings and resulting in better yields. Based on the latest indications, production in the region is forecast to increase 3.8 percent to 20 million tonnes.

In North Africa, in Egypt, the official area under rice declined by 7 percent this season, but yields were reported to be excellent. On balance, paddy production may fall by 6 percent from the 6.4 million tonnes record of last year. Most countries in Western Africa enjoyed favourable growing conditions over the season, with abundant rainfall and a relatively low pest incidence, which together with the high rice prices that have prevailed in most countries resulted in an expansion in plantings and yields. In particular, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal are all set to harvest larger crops this season. Production is expected to increase also in Mauritania, although growth was constrained by a shortage of rice seeds, following the poor harvest of 2004. Prospects are positive in Nigeria. In Sierra Leone a return of refugees and improved distribution of inputs are estimated to have resulted in an increase in plantings and yields. In eastern Africa, Tanzania, which is now harvesting the second paddy crop, is estimated to gather 1 million tonnes of paddy, about 10 percent above 2004, almost matching the 2003 record performance. In southern Africa, a record crop was harvested earlier this year in Madagascar, the largest producer of the sub-region, where farmers are now engaged in land preparation to plant their 2006 main paddy crop. Paddy production has also increased in Kenya.

food outlook


In Central America and the Caribbean, several countries were harvesting their 2005 main crop as of mid-November. The production outlook in the subregion has deteriorated since the previous report, reflecting, in particular, the passage of Hurricane Stan. The 2005 aggregate output is now expected to remain virtually unchanged from last year. Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras may face a contraction in production this year, while little change is expected in Mexico and Nicaragua, reversing earlier expectations of an increase. However, the Dominican Republic and Panama are still foreseen to gather larger crops this season.

In South America, the 2005 aggregate paddy crop is estimated slightly higher than the above average level of last year. Several countries have already started seeding their first 2006 crops, under a generally depressed economic climate, characterized by relatively low rice market prices and rising production costs. In Brazil, the 2005 crop has been confirmed at a record level. However, according to reports on farmers’ planting intentions in 2006, expectations of lower returns may result in a 12-15 percent cut in plantings, especially in the Mato Grosso, the second largest producing region, which could lead to a 9 percent decline in national production. In Argentina, latest official estimates put the 2005 production down by 3 percent, but the area under rice is anticipated to expand by 2 percent in 2006. In Colombia, production also declined from the record achieved in 2004. Despite lingering drought problems, Ecuador gathered a bumper crop in 2005, as irrigation water resources were adequate. However, falling producer prices are causing concern, a situation exacerbated by the restrictions on imports imposed by Colombia. Bolivia’s 2005 production forecast has been raised somewhat, to 9 percent up from last year’s level, following official information of a sizeable increase in main crop plantings. In Uruguay production is estimated to have fallen by 4 percent in 2005. A further decline is likely in 2006, as the area is set to shrink by 10 percent, a reflection of rising costs and falling prices.

Elsewhere, in the United States, the 2005 rice crop is estimated at 10 million tonnes, only 5 percent down from the record of 2004. By contrast, Australia has harvested a dismal crop, for the third consecutive year, of just 345 000 tonnes in 2005. However, plantings for the next 2006 paddy season are anticipated to rebound. The forecast for production in the EU has been lowered somewhat since the last report and now stands at 2.6 million tonnes, 6 percent less than in 2004. The contraction reflects reduced plantings compounded with lower yields because of drought in the Iberian Peninsula. By contrast, the estimate for production in the Russian Federation was revised upward to 620 000 tonnes, a 32 percent increase from 2004. The substantial improvement over the previous year reflects larger plantings and better yields, mostly attributed to the introduction of higher protection against imports. The 2005 production outcome in Ukraine was also positive.



Trade in rice to expand by 3 percent in 2005


FAO’s forecast for rice trade in 2005, which is largely influenced by production in 2004, has been raised by about 600 000 tonnes to 27.6 million tonnes, 900 000 tonnes more than in the previous year. Improved prospects for exports by India, Pakistan, the United States and Viet Nam, more than offset a dampened sales outlook for China and Thailand. On the import side, deliveries to Cuba, Madagascar, Nigeria and South Africa are now forecast to be larger than earlier expected.

Widespread increases in imports in all regions except South America


The increase in global rice trade in 2005 is largely driven by an increase of imports in all regions except South America.

By the end of the year, Asian countries are forecast to import 12.8 million tonnes of rice, about 800 000 tonnes more than in 2004, mainly reflecting larger expected deliveries to Bangladesh and the Philippines, which both gathered reduced crops in 2004, but also to Syria and Turkey. By contrast, Indonesia’s import forecast has been lowered to 800 000 tonnes, 20 percent below the 2004 level, as much of an announced 250 000 tonne purchase now appears to have been postponed to next year. Imports by China (Mainland) are foreseen to decline. Similarly, they are also expected to fall in the Islamic Republic of Iran, partly because of the imposition of higher rice custom duties since March 2005, and in Sri Lanka, after the bumper crop it reaped this season. Imports by African countries are now forecast at 8.9 million tonnes, a 4 percent increase from last year. Sizeable imports are estimated to have been made by South Africa, but also Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique. Larger shipments to Cameroon have been reported by exporters, but much of the increase is believed to have been destined to Nigeria, which is now estimated to have brought about 1.5 million tonnes, 100 000 tonnes less than in 2004. The Government is promoting the import of husked rice as a means to support the milling industry, with tariffs set at 50 percent, half the rate applied on milled rice. Overall rice deliveries to countries in Central America and the Caribbean may rise to 2.3 million tonnes this year, up from 2 million tonnes in 2004, sustained by increases in Cuba and Nicaragua, where crops were impaired by natural disasters, but also in El Salvador and Mexico. By contrast, purchases by South American countries are estimated to have fallen by 37 percent, to 724 000 tonnes, reflecting reduced shipments to Brazil, Colombia and Peru. In Colombia, the drop was associated with the imposition of a ban of imports from the Andean Community in July. Among other importers, the United States’ official import estimates point to a 14 percent contraction in 2005. By contrast, deliveries to Australia and the EU are seen larger this year. In the EU, the increase was facilitated by a cut of tariff rates on husked rice.

Large shipments from Egypt, India, Pakistan and Viet Nam underpinned world trade


Behind the expansion in global trade in 2005 also lies a surge in exports by India and Pakistan, which benefited from the suspension, last October, of new sale contracts by Viet Nam and from the relatively high prices prevailing in Thailand. As the Government stopped issuing licenses for export in 2005, Viet Nam shipments are now likely to hover around 4.65 million tonnes, still 15 percent more than last year. Strong demand in central European and Near East countries boosted Egypt’s exports. Despite smaller opportunities for sales to Brazil, both Argentina and Uruguay are expected to increase their exports, with substantial amounts flowing outside of Latin America, in particular to markets in the Near East. Similarly, shipments from the United States are set to reach near record levels, driven by falling export prices. By contrast, deliveries are lower from mainland China and, especially, Thailand, where smaller export availability and high domestic prices may end depressing sales by 25 percent.

Early prospects for trade in 2006 point to a contraction


Given the favourable outlook for production in 2005, which largely determines the import requirements and the availability of supplies for export in 2006, global rice trade next year is now forecast at 26.1 million tonnes, 5 percent lower than currently estimated for 2005.

Some of the major importing countries likely to cut imports in 2006


In Asia, Bangladesh and the Philippines, which are expected to have abundant supplies from 2005 bumper crops, as well as Indonesia, may contract imports next year. Similarly, large production gains in 2005 should reduce the Democratic Republic of Korea’s need to import. Only a few countries in the region are currently foreseen to step up their imports in 2006. In China (Mainland) where the bulk of imports consist of high quality rice, they may recover if the quality of the grain harvested in 2005 has been negatively affected by adverse weather and pest problems. China has also signed agreements with a number of rice exporters to facilitate access to its market. A small rise in imports by the Republic of Korea is also anticipated. However, this would depend on whether the country ratifies an agreement with various countries to extend the WTO Special Treatment on rice. Shipments to Iraq and Turkey are also anticipated to increase. In Turkey, tariffs on husked and paddy rice will be cut between 1 November 2005 and 31 July 2006. Rice imports to African countries in 2006 are forecast to fall to 8.5 million tonnes, with lower shipments to Madagascar, Nigeria and South Africa. In South America, in Brazil, where the bulk of the crop is harvested early in the year, the anticipated fall in 2006 production may sustain an increase in purchases next year. In the other regions, imports by the EU are set to grow to 1 million tonnes, prompted by the lowering of the import tariffs on brokens and milled rice recently agreed with Thailand (but not yet ratified). Similarly, shipments to the United States are officially forecast to rise, while they may decline in Australia and the Russian Federation.

Some exporting countries responsible for trade growth in 2005 may be less competitive next year


The expected contraction in rice trade in 2006 would arise mainly from reduced shipments by Egypt, India, Pakistan and Viet Nam. All of these countries are facing rising production and transportation costs, which could render export a less attractive option in 2006. Shipments from the Republic of Korea are also expected to decline, as the Government may reduce food aid deliveries to the Democratic Republic of Korea. By contrast, shipments by China (Mainland), Myanmar and especially Thailand might increase. Thailand, in particular, may look for special government-to-government deals involving rice, as a means to dispose of its large publicly-owned stocks while minimizing the negative impacts on export prices. The anticipated return of Brazil as a major importer may enable Argentina to maintain the level of sales at levels close the 2005 levels, but stronger competition outside of Latin America and the Caribbean may result in some market loss in the case of Uruguay. Official prospects for exports by the United States point to a similar performance as in 2005.



Population growth to be the only force driving global rice consumption up


World rice consumption in 2005/06, which includes food, feed and other uses, is forecast to rise by 1.3 percent to some 417 million tonnes. Of the total, 368 million tonnes are estimated to be consumed as food and average per caput consumption is foreseen to remain stable at some 57 kg. Some recovery in per caput intake is anticipated in Africa and in several Low-Income Food-Deficit countries in Asia that had faced a surge in prices in the previous year. However, the average per caput rice consumption in Asia as a whole is expected to remain virtually unchanged, given the long-standing tendency in the fast-growing economies for diets to diversify. Per caput food consumption is forecast to remain of the order of 69 kg per year in the developing countries, while it may rise slightly to some 13 kg in the developed countries.



Little change in stocks expected because of closer balance between world production and consumption


The FAO forecast of global rice inventories at the close of the 2005 crop seasons has been raised since the previous issue to 97 million tonnes, reflecting more optimistic prospects for 2005 crops, and now stands slightly below the opening level. While mainland China was the main force driving the reduction in world stocks in the previous years, the country is forecast to maintain its reserves virtually unchanged. This might signal that, for rice, China has basically concluded the adjustment process it initiated in 2000. Inventories are expected to rise in Japan, reflecting the relatively large 2005 crop, in the Republic of Korea, and Myanmar. By contrast, closing stocks in India, Egypt and the United States are anticipated to decline, as the level of production would not be sufficient to cover their expected domestic demand and exports in full. Most of the other rice exporters, including Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam are anticipated to maintain their stocks close to their opening levels.

As for importing countries, the relatively low size of imports expected by the Philippines and Indonesia may result in smaller carryovers in those countries. Inventories could also decline in the EU, mainly reflecting lower production and rising consumption. By contrast, inventories in Bangladesh and Brazil are likely to end larger, reflecting bumper 2005 harvests.



Rice prices hold steady despite the arrival of large crops on the market


Despite the arrival of large harvests on the market in northern hemisphere countries, international rice prices have been stable since September, with the FAO All Rice Price Index, virtually unchanged at 101. Among the various rices, the price indices of the lower and higher quality Indica remained steady in September and October, but fell slightly in November, when large supplies from the main crop in Thailand put prices under pressure. The Japonica price index declined in September, but regained ground subsequently. Little change in the aromatic rice price index has been noted since September, although they tended to weaken in November, reflecting lower quotations of fragrant rice from Thailand and of Basmati from India.

The improvement in the 2005 crop outlook has added a bearish sentiment to price prospects in the coming months. Expectations of larger export availabilities and of reduced import requirements in some of the major importing countries would mean prices could be under downward pressure, at least in the first quarter of 2006. The pressure would be especially strong if large supplies are offered by Viet Nam when it lifts its export ban while Indonesia continues to maintain tight restrictions on imports. By contrast, the launching of government procurement programmes in Thailand and India could limit the price erosion, especially in a context of rising producing and marketing costs.

food outlook


Previous pageTable Of ContentsNext page


 Economic and Social Department

About us


©FAO, 2005