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Ami Bangladeshi

Ami Bangladeshi

Bangladesh poised for record rice output: FAO


May 13, 2008 - 11:37am BDT  May 13, 2008

Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam could register the largest gains

Bangladesh and some Asian nations can attain tremendous growth in rice output this year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said Monday forecasting a new record level in food grain production.(The New Nation)

"Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam could register the largest gains. Prospects are also buoyant for Indonesia and Sri Lanka, despite some recent flood-incurred losses. Major gains in rice are expected all across the region," FAO rice expert Concepcion Calpe said in Rome.

However, she said, world rice prices could remain high in the short term due to the destruction of Myanmar's food resources by a deadly cyclone, which may decrease national production and impair access to food. The FAO expert quoting preliminary forecasts said, "World paddy production 2008 could grow by about 2.3 per cent, reaching a new record level of 666 million tonnes."

Production growth could even be higher if recent appeals and incentives to grow more rice lead to expansion, according to the Rice Market Monitor.

But the May 3 cyclone disaster in Myanmar could well worsen the forecast, FAO said.

"The cyclone damage could worsen the current global riceproduction outlook," FAO added.

"The cyclone struck when paddy farmers were harvesting their dry season crop accounting for 20 percent of annual production."

"Entire rice-growing areas are flooded and many roads and bridges are impassable. Several rice warehouses and stocks were destroyed. Rice prices in Rangoon (Yangon) have already surged by nearly 50 per cent."

"Myanmar may need to turn to neighbouring countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam for rice imports," the FAO said: "This could lead to further pressure on world prices."

For the first time, paddy production in Asia could surpass the 600 million tonnes benchmark this year, amounting to 605 million tonnes, Calpe said.

Assuming normal rains in the coming months, rice production in Africa is forecast to grow by 3.6 per cent to 23.2 million tonnes in 2008.

Paddy production in Latin America and the Caribbean was expected to rebound by 7.4 per cent to 26.2 million tonnes.

Rice prices have skyrocketed by around 76 per cent between last December and April, according to the FAO Rice Price Index.

International rice prices were expected to remain at relatively high levels, as stocks held by exporters are expected to be reduced heavily.

To avoid food scarcities in their own countries, major rice exporters have imposed export bans, taxes or minimum ceilings, the agency noted.

These measures further restricted the availability of supplies on international markets, triggering yet more price rises and tighter supply conditions.

For prices to fall favourable weather conditions must prevail in coming months and governments relax rice export restrictions, the FAO said.

Even then, rice prices are unlikely to return to the levels of 2007, as producers have to pay much more for their fertilisers, pesticides and fuel.

The New Nation

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