BANGKOK, THAILAND — Due to favorable weather conditions and attractive farm-gate prices, rice production in Thailand in 2018-19 is forecast to increase by 4% to 21.2 million tonnes, according to a June 5 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA said some sugarcane growers in the northeast have shifted to fragrant rice, particularly those who would have had to replant sugarcane this year as sugarcane prices have trended downward in recent months.

The Thai Meteorological Department expects precipitation to be 5% to 10% above normal during May-July 2018 in the main crop rice growing areas, the report said.

The USDA’s forecast for rice exports in 2018 is revised up to 10.5 million tonnes due to higher-than-expected demand from Indonesia, China and the Philippines.

“Exports have been driven by government purchases, which include 120,000 tonnes of 5% grade white rice by China, and 330,000 tonnes of 25% grade white rice by the Philippines,” the USDA said. “However, our forecast is still a 9% reduction from the record 11.6 million tonnes exported in 2017 as the government has limited supplies of food-quality government rice stocks to sell in 2018.”