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Far East Asia

Domestic prices of rice and wheat generally stable in October


In most countries of the subregion, domestic prices of rice and wheat remained relatively stable in October. In Thailand, prices were mildly up despite the arrival of the first supplies from the 2018 main crop harvest in the markets, mostly reflecting anticipated purchases by the Philippines, including the announced three government tenders for a combined 750 000 tonnes. Prices firmed up also in Viet Nam. Similarly, in India, prices changed little in most markets with the downward pressure from the start of the 2018 main kharif harvest and the launch of the Government’s local procurement drive. By contrast, in Myanmar and Cambodia, prices strengthened further in October in line with seasonal trends and were higher than a year earlier, with exports contributing to the high level of prices. Among the importers of the subregion, prices showed mixed trends in October. In the Philippines, prices of rice levelled off with the start of the 2018 main harvest and imports. However, prices were well above their year-earlier levels after steady increases since the start of 2018, associated with low public inventories as well as increased farmers’ operational expenses. Similarly, prices of rice remained stable in Indonesia reflecting good market availabilities mainly as a result of the above average 2018 harvests, which were supplemented by state imports. In Bangladesh, prices of rice continued to decline in October reflecting large market availabilities from the record 2018 aus and boro harvests, with prospects of the aman crop also favourable. By contrast, in Sri Lanka, prices continued to increase in October due to tighter market supplies from a below-average 2018 aggregate rice harvest affected by dry weather conditions. An increase in prices of input costs in September also contributed to the upward pressure. As for wheat grain and wheat flour, prices remained generally stable and were overall higher than their earlier-year levels. In wheat importing countries, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, prices remained virtually unchanged reflecting adequate market supplies from imports in recent months. Similarly, in India, prices changed little as the ongoing large government procurement offset the downward pressure from the 2018 record harvest, completed in May. According to official estimates, as of October, the Government procured about 35.8 million tonnes of wheat, representing almost 40 percent of the total annual output in 2018. In Pakistan, prices increased in most monitored markets, with seasonal patterns exacerbated by a strong pace of exports in recent months. As of September, cumulative wheat exports amounted to 833 000 tonnes since the beginning of the current marketing year in May, considerably above the average of the past five years of 16 000 tonnes during the corresponding period. Prices of wheat increased seasonally also in Afghanistan for the second consecutive month in October, a below-average 2018 output compounded the upward pressure.