Reference Date: 20-July-2016
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Unfavourable weather hampered planting of 2016 secondary season paddy
Rice imports forecast to fall in 2016
Rice prices stable, those of wheat flour increasing
Floods in May affected large numbers of people
Unfavourable weather hampered planting of 2016 secondary paddy crop
The 2016 secondary Yala paddy crop, which accounts for 40 percent of the annual production, is normally sown between April and May. Planting activities this season were hampered by dry weather in April and by flooding in mid‑May, during the passage of the tropical storm Roanua. Floods mostly affected the districts of Batticaloa (Eastern Province), Anuradhapura (North‑Central Province), Kurunagala (North‑Western Province) and Monaragala (Uva Province), which together normally account for close to one‑third of the Yala output. Official reports indicate that as of the end of June, some 380 000 hectares had been planted, 20 percent less than at the same time last year. Reflecting this, and pending the final official area planted estimates, FAO has lowered its preliminary 2016 production forecast for the Yala crop to 1.5 million tonnes, 21 percent below last year’s record level. The 2016 main Maha crop, which was harvested earlier in the year, is officially estimated at a record level of 3 million tonnes, 3 percent above the 2015 level, mostly due to higher plantings. Overall, based on the estimates for the already-harvested Maha crops and the early outlook for the ongoing Yala season, FAO forecasts aggregate paddy production in 2016 at 4.5 million tonnes. This would be 7 percent below last year’s record level, but still 9 percent above the five‑year average.
Latest official estimates put the 2016 main season Maha maize crop, harvested in mid‑April, at 243 356 tonnes, up 5 percent from the 2015 bumper Maha harvest, largely reflecting an expansion in plantings. The damage from Roanua to the 2016 secondary Yala maize crop was minimal. Considering the already harvested Maha crop and assuming an average Yala output, FAO tentatively forecasts the 2016 aggregate maize production at 280 000 tonnes, 5 percent above the 2014 bumper output.
Rice imports forecast to fall in 2016
Total cereal imports in 2016 are forecast at 1.3 million tonnes, down 17 percent from last year’s high level. The decrease is the result of lower rice imports, of which the area is forecast to return to an about‑normal level of 30 000 tonnes after the high levels of the previous two years. Despite the prospects of lower output in 2016, it is estimated that the country holds sufficient stocks to meet consumption needs, following the record harvest and high imports in 2015. Imports of wheat, which is not produced domestically, are anticipated to remain at last year’s high level of 1.2 million tonnes, reflecting strong domestic demand.
Rice prices stable, while those of wheat flour increasing
After gradual increases between April and June, rice prices stabilized in early July, ahead of the Yala harvest and reflecting improved availabilities in the market following the release of Government stocks. In mid‑July, the Government announced plans to release an additional 200 000 tonnes of rice, with the aim to prevent increases in rice prices. Prices of mostly imported wheat flour have been gradually increasing since March 2016, reflecting the raising of the import duty on wheat.
Floods in May 2016 affected large numbers of people
According to official estimates, floods in mid‑May adversely affected at least 300 000 people, mainly in the Northern, Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces of the country. In these areas, paddy output is expected to decrease as a result of area contractions due to the flooding but also earlier dryness.