FAO expects rice production to rise by 1.8 per cent in 2008

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New Delhi, Apr 7 (UNI) World rice production is expected to increase in 2008 by 12 million tonnes or 1.8 per cent, assuming normal weather conditions, United Nations agency Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has said.

FAO said in Rome recently that sizable production increases are expected in all the major Asian rice producing countries, especially Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand, where supply and demand are currently rather stretched.

Currently, China, India, Egypt, Vietnam, four among the traditional rice exporting countries, as well as Cambodia, have either imposed minimum export prices, export taxes or export quotas/bans, an FAO release here said.

Such moves are expected to reduce rice exported from these countries. Governments in these countries have already announced a series of incentives to raise production.

Production increases would ease the current very tight supply situation in key rice producing countries, according to the first FAO forecast for this year. International rice trade is expected to decrease, mainly due to restrictions in main exporting countries.

Production outlook is also positive in Africa, where high world prices may sustain a two per cent growth, particularly in Egypt, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Concerns about food import dependency in the region have led to a mobilisation of resources towards the rice sector.

Production is expected to recover strongly in Latin America.

Rice production in the European Union is also expected to rise while it may contract in Japan, one of the few countries where producer prices fell last year.

In the rest of the world, a dismal production is forecast in Australia, reflecting extremely low water availability. A reduced crop is also expected in the United States, mainly as a result of a cut in area caused by mounting competition from more profitable crops.

Since January 2008 international rice prices have seen a steep increase of about 20 per cent, according to the FAO All Rice Price Index. In March 2008 the high quality Thai 100 per cent B was quoted 546 US dollar per tonne, up 13 per cent compared to February and 68 per cent higher than in March 2007.

International trade in rice in 2008 is currently foreseen to reach 29.9 million tonnes, 1.1 million tonnes lower than the revised 2007 trade estimate. The very tight supply situations that most exporting countries may face until the last quarter of the year and the associated restrictions on exports lay much behind the anticipated drop of rice trade in 2008.

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