World Rice Production to Rise 3% This Year, UN’s FAO Forecasts

World rice production is forecast to
rise 3 percent this year, based on expected better weather and
government support for farmers, the United Nations’ Food and
Agriculture Organization said.

The 2011 rice harvest is estimated to climb to 720 million
metric tons from 699 million tons, or 480 million tons on a
milled basis compared with 466 million tons a year earlier, the
Rome-based FAO said in report on its website.

Price gains for rice, a staple for half the world, have
trailed those of other grains. Thai grade-B white rice has
gained 6 percent in the past 12 months, compared with a 56
percent gain for Chicago wheat prices.

“This rather buoyant outlook relies on expectations of
improved weather conditions, as the effects of La Nina look set
to dissipate in the next few months,” the FAO said, referring
to a weather pattern that brings excessive rain to Southeast
Asia
. “The bulk of the increase is again expected to stem from
good performances in Asia.”

Output is also expected to rise in Europe, Australia and
Latin America, while the rice harvest in Africa is forecast to
be little changed, according to FAO. U.S. rice production may
slide 15 percent in 2011 as farmers switch land to more
profitable crops, the UN agency said.

The rice crop in Asia is forecast to climb 3 percent to 651
million tons, or 434 million tons on a milled basis, based on
“sizeable” increases in China and India and a recovery of
production in Pakistan, the FAO said.

Production increases in Asia will be “widespread,” with
gains countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam,
Cambodia and the Philippines, the FAO said.

“By contrast, the outlook has been marred in Sri Lanka by
consecutive rounds of floods, and in Japan, by the March 11
catastrophic earthquake and ensuing tsunami and nuclear
crisis,” the FAO said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at
rruitenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Claudia Carpenter at
ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net.

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