"Post contacts indicate that planted area for rice will rise to meet staple food demand and to avoid switching crops during the monsoon season.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Rice production in Bangladesh is expected to increase 0.4% to 34.7 million tonnes in the 2017-18 marketing year, driven by higher yields in the region, according to an April 13 report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Meanwhile, planted area for the country is forecast down 0.3%, to 11.7 million hectares, on lower Boro and Aus rice planted area, the agency said.

“Farmers are reportedly switching to more profitable crops like maize, potato, jute, pulses and oilseeds,” the USDA said. “Nevertheless, Post contacts indicate that planted area for Aman rice (planted in July/August and harvested in November/December) will rise to meet staple food demand and to avoid switching crops during the monsoon season.”

Rice imports for 2017-18 are forecast at 125,000 tonnes, up from 100,000 tonnes in 2016-17, on expectations of better pricing from regional suppliers, the USDA said.

“Bangladesh importers and rice millers have requested the government of Bangladesh (GOB) reduce import tariffs to ensure adequate domestic supplies, but the GOB believes domestic supplies of paddy rice in the wholesale market still are sufficient,” the USDA noted in the report. “Sources indicate that the spread between high domestic prices and lower international prices is great enough that importers are still netting profits despite the high import tariffs. Bangladesh primarily imports rice from China, Thailand, and India, with India being the largest supplier in recent years.”

Wheat is the second most important food staple in Bangladesh after rice, and wheat planted area and production for the 2016-17 marketing year were revised to 415,000 hectares and 1.27 million tonnes, respectively, according to the USDA. Assuming favorable wheat conditions, the agency said the 2017-18 wheat crop is forecast to reach 1.3 million tonnes from 420,000 hectares. The wheat blast outbreak that dissuaded some farmers from planting wheat in the 2016-17 is not a factor in the upcoming crop season, the USDA said.

Bangladesh fulfills approximately 75% of its wheat consumption needs through imports, sourcing lower quality wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and higher quality wheat from Canada, Australia and the United States. In the 2016-17 marketing year, Bangladesh’s wheat imports were about 5.7 million tonnes, up 21% from the prior year behind record low prices in the international market and comparatively high prices in the local market. The USDA noted that wheat imports in the 2017-18 marketing year are forecast to increase to 5.9 million tonnes, driven in part by changing food consumption habits, fast urbanization and expected lower prices in international markets.