WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Rice production in Bangladesh for the 2019-20 marketing year is forecast lower due to Aus season rice area reduction and crop damaged by flooding, according to an Aug. 2 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA said milled rice production in Bangladesh is now forecast at 35.2 million tonnes in 2019-20, down from an earlier forecast of 35.3 million. Area harvested to rice also is forecast lower, at 11.73 million hectares, down from 11.83 million.

Aus rice (planted in March/April and harvested in July/August) production is estimated lower at 2.2 million tonnes due to decreased acreage (1 million hectare) against the initial expectation (1.17 million hectares); the acreage was reduced due to shifts to other competing crops and also due to flooding, which affected 28 districts out of 64,” the USDA said. “Field sources report that farmers switched from Aus rice to jute, maize, and vegetable cultivation due to higher returns to recover the lower return from Boro (winter) rice production.”

According to the USDA, the monsoon season in Bangladesh officially started on June 17, and heavy rains began July 9. The massive rains triggered widespread flooding and landslides, the agency noted.

Imports of rice were forecast at 100,000 tonnes for 2019-20, down from 550,000 in 2018-19 and 3.2 million in 2017-18. The USDA attributed the decline to sufficient domestic supplies and uncompetitive imports due to the government’s decision to raise the import duty on rice to 55%.

Rice exports, meanwhile, were forecast at 100,000 tonnes in 2019-20, up sharply from the earlier forecast of 4,000 tonnes.