BANGKOK, THAILAND — Rice production in Thailand is on track to recover from 2019-20 when output was severely affected by adverse weather conditions and pest outbreaks, according to a June 4 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Rice production in 2020-21 is forecast to rise to 21 million tonnes, a 17% increase from the previous year due to favorable weather conditions at the beginning of the planting season, the USDA said.

However, domestic demand for grain is revised downward by the USDA for both 2019-20 and 2020-21, particularly for corn and wheat, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is expected to reduce domestic consumption of feed and wheat-based food products, particularly in the first half of 2020.

“Feed demand is expected to decline by 7% to 10% in 2020, which is much lower than the previous forecast mainly due to reduced poultry production in response to shrinking domestic and export demand for poultry meat,” the USDA said.

The USDA also noted that Thailand’s wheat imports for 2020-21 are revised down to 2.8 million tonnes, which is a 15% reduction from the unusual high level in 2019-20 when flour mills built up their inventories in response to the government’s pesticide ban, which went into effect June 1, 2020.

Thailand is estimated by the USDA to be the world’s No. 2 rice exporter behind India in 2019-20 at 7.5 million tonnes, and is forecast to increase that total to 9 million tonnes in 2020-21.