The International Grains Council (IGC) is projecting a rise in global rice output of 3% to a record 456 million tonnes in 2010-11.

"The forecast increase of almost 15 million tonnes is centered on a rebound in production in India," the IGC said in its Grain Market Report at the end of August. "Ample and beneficial monsoon rains during the critical month of July enabled sowing of this year’s Kharif crop to advance."

Plantings in India were completed on 29.8 million hectares by Aug. 20, according to the IGC, an increase of 8% on the year.

Assuming that conditions are mostly favorable, total 2010-11 production is expected to rebound to 99 million tonnes (from 89.1 million tonnes in 2009-10), the IGC said.

The IGC also pointed out that the excessive rain and flooding suffered by Pakistan have greatly reduced crop prospects in that country. According to a report carried by the Express Tribune newspaper, Pakistan’s rice exporters expect production of non-basmati rice to fall by about 15% to 20%.

"We had expected non-basmati rice cultivation to yield about 4.5 million tonnes this year, but due to flooding in various parts of Sindh, where much of this kind of rice is grown, we are now expecting up to 800,000 tonnes to be lost," said Malik Jahangir, chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan.

Large parts of the Larkana, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Dadu districts , the main areas in Sindh where non-basmati rice is cultivated, have been flooded. There are also concerns that there may be longterm adverse effects on soil fertility, leading to reduced yields in future years.

Cultivation of high-quality basmati rice has also been affected, although not as badly. "Most of the areas where basmati is grown are in Punjab and have not been affected significantly by the floods," said Jahangir.

In its Rice Advocate publication, the U.S. Rice Producers Association cited reports that Pakistan could be considering a short-term ban on rice exports "while the government there gets a better handle on just what was lost during the severe flooding in that country."

"Some of the Asian exporting countries are saying they have plenty of stocks, but prices are remaining high as the picture in other parts of the Asian rice scene may not be so rosy," the association noted. "The finish of this year and the start of the new calendar year will yield more information on this front."

Indian exporters are expecting to ship more rice as a result of Pakistan’s problems, according to India’s Food and Beverage News. It quoted the All India Rice Exporters Association as predicting a rise of 9% to 3.5 million tonnes in the 2010-11 season, which starts in October.

"India is estimated to export 3.2 million tonnes in the current marketing year ending (in September), and shipments in 2010-11 are expected to rise to 3.5 million tonnes," association president Vijay Sethia said. "Less basmati rice production in the neighboring country could enhance demand for Indian rice." The IGC is also forecasting record global rice consumption for 2010-11 at 450 million tonnes, a rise of 2%. "The increase reflects rising use in Far East Asia and Africa, and a recovery in demand in South America," it said. "In China, rice use is expected to expand only modestly, by 1 million tonnes, to 134.7 million. But in India a better crop and much improved supplies could see consumption growth return to trend. At 93 million tonnes, total use will be percent higher than in the previous year."

Chris Lyddon is World Grain’s European editor. He may be contacted at:
[email protected].