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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 05-June-2016


  1. Wheat production in 2017 estimated at record level

  2. Aggregate cereal production rebounded in 2016

  3. Total cereal exports in 2017/18 forecast close to last year’s reduced level

  4. Rice prices stable, while those of wheat on decrease

Wheat production in 2017 estimated at record level

Harvesting of the 2017, mostly irrigated, rabi (winter) wheat is nearing completion, with the bulk already harvested. Latest official estimates put this year’s output at a record high of 97.4 million tonnes, 6 percent above last year’s good level. The expected increase is due mostly on a 7 percent year-on-year expansion of the area to 31.8 million hectares, encouraged by State incentives provided in the form of large State purchases at high Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) ( FPMA Food Policies ), strong domestic prices and adequate irrigation water supplies.

Planting of the 2017/18 main kharif season crops, including rice and maize, has just started. FAO tentatively forecasts the 2017 rice production at 165.5 million tonnes (110.2 million tonnes, milled basis), slightly above the 2016 record crop. However, the current forecast is highly tentative, as the performance of the monsoon rains from June to September will be critical in determining the main season’s output and will influence water availability for the secondary rabi season crop, planted in the last quarter of the year. The Government support to the rice sector, such as large domestic procurement operations at minimum support prices, is encouraging farmers to continue favouring rice cultivation over other crops in 2017. The 2017 maize output is anticipated by FAO at 26 million tonnes, close to the 2016 record output, under the assumption that strong domestic demand keeps plantings at last year’s high level.

Cereal production rebounded in 2016

The 2016 season is closed now and the latest official estimates indicate a rebound in the aggregate cereal output, reflecting an overall recovery in plantings and yields mostly sustained by favourable weather conditions. The 2016/17 rice crop is set at 163.7 million tonnes (109.2 million tonnes, milled basis), implying a 5 percent rebound from the 2015 dry weather-affected output. The 2016 maize output is officially estimated at 26.1 million tonnes, a 16 percent increase from last year’s reduced level. The 2016 wheat production, harvested earlier in 2016, is put at 92.3 million tonnes, an increase of 7 percent year-on-year.

Total cereal exports in 2017/18 forecast close to last year’s reduced level

Cereal exports in the 2017/18 marketing year (April/March) are forecast to remain close to the 2016/17 low level at 12.2 million tonnes, almost 30 percent below the five‑year average. This mainly mirrors tighter exportable availabilities, following the sharply-reduced output in 2015. Wheat exports in 2017/18 are projected at 500 000 tonnes, close to the 2016 reduced level and significantly below the previous three-year average of 3.6 million tonnes. By contrast, maize exports in the 2017/18 marketing year (September/August) are anticipated to increase by 34 percent year-on-year to 850 000 tonnes, but they still remain well below the average as a result of low carryovers and increased domestic demand from the feed and starch industry. Rice exports in calendar year 2017 are forecast at 10.8 million tonnes, 8 percent above the 2016 high level, reflecting prospects of increased demand from key African and South Asian destinations.

FAO forecasts wheat imports in the 2017/18 marketing year (April/March) at 2.5 million tonnes, half the high level of 2016/17, in line with expectations of sufficient local availabilities from a large 2017 crop.

Rice prices stable, while those of wheat on decrease

Retail prices of rice were mostly stable in recent months, ahead of the 2017 rabi season harvest. Prices of wheat and wheat flour decreased in most markets, reflecting improved market availabilities, following the 2017 bumper harvest and large levels of imports in recent months.

Overall food security is satisfactory

The overall food security situation in the country is satisfactory given the provision of highly subsidized rice as well as wheat and coarse grains through distribution programmes, especially for the below poverty-line families through the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The NFSA was first approved in September 2013 and since then has gradually been rolled out throughout the country, covering all states and territories by November 2016 ( FPMA Food Policies ). The country is prone to floods during the monsoon season, which normally affect large numbers of people. In 2016, floods and landslides in July and August, mostly concentrated in the northeastern areas, affected about 6 million people causing losses of human lives, livestock and flood supplies.