Disasters to hit rice output

Disasters to hit rice output

Northeast reeling from drought, floods

Workers unload sacks of rice at a warehouse. Rice export prospects remain dim as a result of the stronger baht. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Workers unload sacks of rice at a warehouse. Rice export prospects remain dim as a result of the stronger baht. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Alternating drought conditions and flooding in northeastern Thailand are expected to cut paddy production in the region in the 2019-20 crop year by 488,000 tonnes.

According to the latest report by the provincial extension offices in 20 provinces of the Northeast, paddy production from the 2019-20 main season is estimated at 12.7 million tonnes, compared with 13.2 million tonnes in the previous season.

Of the total 488,000 tonnes, white rice and glutinous rice paddy are forecast to make up a combined 405,000 tonnes, with hom mali paddy accounting for the rest.

Widespread rice blast disease was also blamed for a fall in hom mali and white rice paddy production, notably in Surin province.

The report was presented on Thursday in Khon Kaen to a joint meeting of leading rice exporters, millers and senior-ranking provincial extension officials to evaluate main crop production for 2019-20.

Paddy production from the Northeast typically represents 37% of the country's average production of 32 million tonnes a year.

The report said a particular drop was seen in production of glutinous paddy, whose output is estimated to fall by as much as 320,000 tonnes, prompting a price surge in recent months.

Partly due to lower production, rice exports in the first nine months fell by 28% year-on-year to 5.93 million tonnes.

Shipments of white rice in the period tumbled 42% to 2.38 million tonnes, while those of hom mali rice were down 12.3% at 786,275 tonnes and those of sticky rice were down 49% at 71,724 tonnes.

India's rice exports were reportedly down 9.1% at 8.25 million tonnes for the period, while China's surged 56.2% to 2.15 million tonnes. Vietnam's were flat at 5.62 million tonnes.

Because of the strong baht, Thai rice export revenue in baht terms is estimated to lose 30-40 billion baht this year, with rice shipments expected to slip to as low as 8-8.1 million tonnes this year from 11.2 million tonnes last year on a sharp drop in white rice exports, said Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

The strong baht is expected to shave 35% off white rice shipments from last year's 5.49 million tonnes.

Thailand's rice exports average 10 million tonnes a year, with white rice making up half the amount.

Mr Chookiat said white rice shipments could reach just 3 million tonnes this year.

In July, the association cut its target for 2019 rice exports from 9.5 million tonnes to 9 million.

Of the total, white rice would account for 3.9 million tonnes, followed by parboiled (2.8 million), hom mali (1.3 million), aromatic (600,000) and glutinous (400,000).


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