[HANOI] The UN food agency has cut its forecast for world rice production this year again saying output in Africa, North America and Australia had been hurt by drier weather as a result of the El Nino pattern.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said it was expecting global milled rice output to reach 742.6 million tonnes, down from a forecast of 749.1 million in July and 749.8 million in April. "The season has been marred by unfavourable climatic conditions, largely associated with the prevalence of the El Nino weather anomaly," the FAO said in its October report.
Global rice production stood at 745.2 million tonnes in 2014.
Asia's output could dip 0.2 per cent to 672.3 million tonnes, African production may slip 1.5 per cent to 28.3 million while a 14 per cent drop was expected in the United States and a 12 per cent decline was likely in Australia, the FAO said.
Global rice trade is now forecast at 44 million tonnes, up from 42 million tonnes projected in a previous July report.
India will retain its position as the biggest rice exporter, shipping 11.3 million tonnes this year after 11.5 million tonnes in 2014, followed by Thailand with 9.8 million tonnes and Vietnam with 7.8 million tonnes.
The FAO's forecast for Thai exports is in the 9.7-10 million tonne range projected by a senior official at the Thai Rice Exporters Association, who also said the country may become the top exporter this year after a deal with China.
China, the world's top rice producer, is forecast to produce 209 million tonnes, up 0.4 per cent from 2014, while its imports could ease 3.2 per cent to 6 million tonnes, the FAO said, revising up its estimates of China's purchases from abroad.
The upward revisions included large unrecorded volumes brought into China, mainly across its borders with Vietnam and Myanmar, the FAO said.