Monday, October 12, 2009

World rice stockpiles hit as yields drop

Seed Daily via UPI: Global rice stockpiles have plummeted because of poor crop yields, raising fears of upheaval in international grain markets ahead of the World Food Summit in the Italian capital next month. Sharp increases in rice prices since last year have hit consumers across the world, especially in Asia and the Americas, the Food and Agriculture Organization said. Whole communities depend on the grain as their staple food or as an important ingredient, as in Asian American communities.

Amid warnings of another surge in rice prices, after the runaway inflation triggered by shortages or export cuts in 2008, FAO experts are citing sharp reductions in the stockpiles of the grain held by the five leading exporters -- the United States, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and India.

Concepcion Calpe, a senior FAO economist, said stocks held by the five major exporters are forecast to plunge by a third to the lowest level in five years, and below last year, when prices rose amid declining inventories.

Total stockpiles held by the United States, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and India are estimated to have fallen to about 20 million metric tons at the end of the marketing year on Sept. 30, from 30 million tons a year earlier. Calpe attributed the drop to lower-than-forecast crops and rising demand for imports, amid fears of impending shortages.

In India, hit by the weakest monsoon in at least seven years, rice production could drop by about 18 percent, Calpe said. Further damage to Indian rice yields may occur as southern India grapples with effects of floods. The last time stockpiles of the five major exporters fell by a third was in 2002-2003, partly because of a bad monsoon in India….

Brown basmati rice, Wikimedia Commons

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