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Prices of rice and wheat followed mixed trends in January

12/02/2020

In most countries of the subregion, prices of rice increased or remained stable in January. They increased in Thailand for the second consecutive month mostly reflecting concerns over the 2019/20 secondary crop currently being planted, due to critically low water supplies for irrigation. Similarly, prices strengthened further in Viet Nam amid seasonally tighter market availabilities ahead of the 2020 main “winter/spring” harvest. Prices of rice were generally stable in India, despite the recent above-average 2019 main ‘’Kharif” season harvest, mainly due to large ongoing Government procurement purchases. According to official information, as of 10 February, 35 million tonnes of paddy was already procured, which represents more than 20 percent of the main season output. In Myanmar, retail prices of rice decreased seasonally with the 2019 main season harvest, estimated at a bumper level. In Cambodia, prices showed mixed trends in January, they decreased or remained stable in the south, but increased in some northern producing areas, including Banteay Meanchey and Battambang, where below-average rains at the start of the 2019 main season delayed planting operations. In China (Mainland) and the Philippines, prices were stable and below their year-earlier levels reflecting adequate market availabilities. In Bangladesh, prices of rice decreased with the 2019 “Aman” harvest, which accounts for 35 percent of the total output and is estimated at an above-average level, and were well below a year earlier. In Sri Lanka, prices of rice continued to increase in January, with seasonal pressure exacerbated by concerns over the impact of dry weather conditions on the 2020 main “Maha’’ crop. Prices were above those a year earlier following a decline in imports and a reduced 2019 secondary “Yala’’ crop, completed in September. As for wheat and wheat flour, prices changed little in the subregion in January. The notable exception was Pakistan, where prices continued to generally increase and hit record highs due to tight domestic availabilities. In an effort to ease supply pressure and curb prices, the Government recently approved the import of 300 000 tonnes of wheat. Prices firmed up in India, ahead of the 2020 main wheat harvest, estimated at an above-average level, while they remained stable in China (Mainland), reflecting adequate market availabilities form the near-record harvest last year. Prices changed little in Bangladesh and Indonesia, while they decreased marginally in Sri Lanka on account of adequate imports in recent months.