Global rice production looks good for 1999
The latest issue of FAO's Rice Market Monitor forecasts an increase of 1 to 2 percent in 1999 global paddy production over last year. The report stresses that this forecast is "still tentative and hinges on the timing, extent and distribution of the Asian monsoon".
Most of this season's rice crop is still to be planted in Asia, when the monsoon rains start. Planting in some Northern Hemisphere countries is already underway. In the Southern Hemisphere countries and around the equatorial belt, the 1999 main paddy crop season is nearing completion and production here is expected to rebound because farmers have planted more land to rice and growing conditions have been better than last year.
Rice trade contracts
Meanwhile, trade in rice is expected to contract sharply after last year's all-time high. Despite recent upward revisions of forecast trade, it is expected that there would still be some 5.8 million tonnes less rice traded than the revised record set last year.
In Latin America in particular, bumper crops are expected. In Brazil, output is forecast to recover to some 11.3 million tonnes, a 33 percent jump from 1998. In Argentina, the production forecast now stands at an all-time high of 1.45 million tonnes. In Uruguay, the region's other big producer, a record crop of 1.1 million tonnes is anticipated, up by over 30 percent from last year.
The downward pressure on international rice prices continued through April and the FAO Export Price Index for Rice fell to its lowest level since December 1994. "The pressure on prices largely emanates from a weakening of import demand combined with generally abundant export supplies," according to the report. "As a result of this imbalance, competition among exporters has intensified, with positive implications for the lower income rice importing countries."
FAO's forecast of world rice stocks at the close of the marketing seasons ending in 1999, has been increased by just over 1 million tonnes and now stands at 51.4 million tonnes. The increase is largely because of a forecast rise in stock levels in India. Despite this, rice stock levels are at their lowest for ten years.
For more information, contact Shakib.Mbabaali@fao.org
20 May 1999