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East Asia

Prices of rice generally softened in February

12/03/2019

In most countries of the subregion, domestic prices of rice came under downward pressure in February with the arrival of the main season harvest, while weak foreign demand also suppressed prices in exporting countries. In Viet Nam, prices decreased further in February reflecting subdued foreign demand and the onset of the 2019 main paddy winter-spring harvest, which is forecast at a bumper level. Similarly, in Thailand, prices of rice declined for the second consecutive month in February on weaker demand for exports and adequate market availabilities from the recently-concluded 2018 main season harvest, estimated at an above-average level. Prices also generally weakened in Cambodia reflecting ample availabilities from the recently-concluded 2018 main paddy harvest, officially estimated at a record level. By contrast, in Myanmar, prices strengthened seasonally in February ahead of the 2019 secondary harvest, which is about to start. In India, prices were generally stable or increased in some markets mostly due to large-scale Government purchases, despite good supplies from the bumper 2018 main kharif harvest. As of 1 March, the kharif season procurement amounted to 36 million tonnes, accounting for about one-third of the season’s output. Prices of Indica and Japonica rice varieties changed little in China (Mainland) and were around or slightly below their values in February last year, reflecting adequate supplies from the 2018 bumper paddy output. In the Philippines, prices continued to decline in February, marking the fifth consecutive month of steady falls, pressured by improved market supplies from the 2018/19 harvests as well as increased imports. Similarly, in Bangladesh, prices continued to decline in February on account of ample market availabilities from the record aus and recently-concluded aman harvests. Prices of rice declined slightly in Sri Lanka in February, after steady increases in the previous months, with the onset of the main 2019 maha paddy harvest, forecast at an above-average level. Also in Indonesia, the onset of the 2019 main paddy harvest, forecast at a bumper level, halted the increases of the past months. As for wheat grain and wheat flour, prices increased or remained stable across the subregion. In China (Mainland), the subregion’s main producer, prices of wheat and wheat flour were stable in most markets in February and were generally down from a year earlier on account of adequate supplies from the 2018 average wheat harvest and large carryover stocks. In India, prices of wheat increased seasonally ahead of the rabi harvest, officially forecast at a near-record level, and were generally above their year-earlier values. In Pakistan, prices of wheat and wheat flour remained broadly stable in February and were around their year-earlier values reflecting adequate supplies from last year’s harvest. In the wheat-importing countries, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, prices of wheat flour were also stable, while in Bangladesh they edged higher following a recent slowdown in imports. In Afghanistan, steady imports contributed to keep prices of wheat relatively stable in February despite the below-average harvest in 2018.