BANGKOK, THAILAND — Thailand’s rice production in 2019-20 is forecast to drop to 18 million tonnes, the second lowest level in a decade, according to a Feb. 7 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA said the projected decline in output is due to reduced acreage of off-season rice as reservoirs are at such critically low levels that the government has restricted irrigation for rice production.

Off-season rice production in 2019-20 in Thailand is expected to decline to 3.2 million tonnes, down 40% from 2018-19, the USDA said.

“The shrinking 2019-20 rice supplies will likely result in a further reduction in rice exports to 7.5 million tonnes in 2020, down slightly from 7.6 million tonnes in 2019, as Thai rice export prices are expected to remain high during stiff price competition between Vietnam and India with China,” the USDA said.

The USDA projects corn production in Thailand up slightly to 4.5 million tonnes in 2019-20, driven by the government’s price guarantee program and the direct payment for farmers to purchase seeds.

Wheat imports in 2019-20 are forecast at 3.3 million tonnes, up 14% from 2018-19 due to an increase in milling wheat and feed wheat imports.

“Milling wheat is expected to increase to 1.4 million tonnes, up 25% from 2018-19 as flour mills built up their wheat grain inventories in response to the uncertainty about the government’s plan to ban agricultural pesticides,” the USDA said.