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Reference Date: 17-February-2015


  1. 2015 main season “Maha” rice crop forecast to recover from last year’s drought-reduced level

  2. Considerably higher rice imports estimates for 2014

  3. Rice prices remain at near-record levels, while those of wheat are stable

  4. Recent floods affected food availability in localized areas

2015 main season “Maha” rice crop forecast to recover from last year’s drought-reduced output

Harvesting of the 2015 mostly irrigated main season “Maha” rice crop, accounting for about 65 percent of annual production, started in mid-January, with the bulk to be collected between February and March. Favourable rainfall from October to January over the eastern, central and northwestern major rice growing areas benefitted planting operations and replenished irrigation water in the reservoirs. However, heavy rains in late November and December caused localized flooding in key rice producing areas in the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country. Preliminary official estimates indicate losses of 410 246 tonnes of paddy rice, particularly in Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Polonnaruwa districts. Considering the estimated flood damage and assuming near-average yields, FAO forecasts the 2015 ‘’Maha” season paddy output at 2.7 million tonnes, up 19 percent from the drought-reduced 2014 ‘’Maha’’ crop season.

Harvesting of the 2015 main season ‘’Maha’’ maize crop, is currently ongoing and will continue until the end of March. Latest official forecasts put the 2015 main season ‘’Maha’’ maize production at 271 091 tonnes, up 21 percent from the 2013 same season level. The projected increase is the result of a 40 percent expansion in the area planted which is expected to more than compensate for a small decrease in yields, following recent floods. Assuming an average forthcoming 2015 ‘’Yala’’ secondary crop, FAO tentatively forecasts the 2015 aggregate maize production at 300 000 tonnes, 15 percent above the 2014 bumper output.

2014 rice output dropped considerably following prolonged dry weather

The 2014 aggregate rice production, including the 2014 main ‘’Maha’’ (harvested by April 2014) and secondary ‘’Yala’’ (harvested by September 2014) seasons, is officially estimated at 3.5 million tonnes, some 25 percent lower than the 2013 record output and 14 percent below the previous five-year average. The sharp reduction is the result of an overall 20 percent contraction in plantings, as well as lower yields, following prolonged periods of dry weather during the cropping seasons.

Considerably higher rice imports estimated for 2014

The 2014 rice imports, which are normally imported in minor quantities, have been revised upwards and are now estimated at 520 000 tonnes from 22 900 tonnes in 2013, mainly as a result of a reduced rice production in 2014. Anticipating a recovery in this year’s rice production, 2015 rice imports are forecast to decrease from the 2014 high level but still remain well above the 2009-2013 average. Imports of wheat, which is not produced domestically, are set to remain around last year’s level at 1.1 million tonnes.

Rice prices were stable in December, but at near-record highs

After sharp increases in previous months rice prices were stable in December, but at near-record highs, as a result of reduced production in 2014. Prices of rice are expected to decrease in February, with the recent Government’s release of 100 000 tonnes of imported rice stocks into the market and the 2015 main ‘’Maha’’ season harvest in February/March. Wheat flour prices, which are regulated, were generally stable and marginally up from a year earlier.

Recent floods affected food availability in localized areas

According to official estimates, recent floods in November and December adversely affected at least 1.1 million people, mainly in the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country. The flooding resulted in significant crop losses in these areas. The Government of Sri Lanka has allocated LKR 500 million (USD 3.8 million) to the Ministry of Disaster Management to provide relief to the flood affected people.

Relevant links:
 Food Price Data and Analysis Tool
 Earth Observation Indicators
 Seasonal Indicators
 Vegetation Indicators
 Precipitation Indicators
 Graphs & Data
 NDVI & Precipitation
 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) Reports & Special Alerts: 2004, 2004, 1997, 1996, 1996
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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