Asia’s dropping rice output threatens food security
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Nearly a decade after a spike in global food prices sent shockwaves around the world, Asia’s top rice producers are suffering from a blistering drought that threatens to cut output and boost prices of a staple for half the world’s population. World rice production is expected to decline for the first time this year since 2010, as failing rains linked to an El Nino weather pattern cut crop yields in Asia’s rice bowl.
A heat wave is sweeping top rice exporter India, while the No.2 supplier Thailand is facing a second year of drought. Swathes of farmland in Vietnam, the third-biggest supplier, are also parched as irrigation fed by the Mekong river runs dry. The three account for more than 60 percent of the global rice trade of about 43 million tonnes.
Rice inventories in the three top exporters are set to fall by about a third at the end of 2016 to 19 million tonnes, the biggest year-on-year drop since 2003, according to Reuters calculations based on U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
While currently far below 2008 highs, rice earlier this month hit $389.50, the strongest since July and up 13 percent from an eight-year low of $344 in September.
Reuters, 1 May 2016 – www.reuters.com