WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — An expected smaller harvest of Boro rice has led to a lowering in the rice production forecast for Bangladesh, according to a July 13 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Rice production in Bangladesh for the 2017-18 marketing year was forecast at 34.18 million tonnes, down from 34.578 million tonnes in 2016-17 and compared with 34.5 million tonnes in 2015-16.

“The Boro rice production estimate is lowered to 17.8 million tonnes on crop losses caused by neck blast disease as well as adverse weather, including hailstorms and repeated flash floods, during an unusually heavy pre-monsoon rain 20 days before harvest: heavy rainfall fell from late March to the middle of May,” the USDA noted in the report. “The flooding damaged over 1 million tonnes of Boro rice crop across 400,000 hectares of wetlands (in Haor) and lowlands in nine districts.”

The USDA noted that rainfall in Bangladesh during April was the highest in 35 years, and the crop loss was aggravated by a fungi attack on a limited area of Boro rice crop at several northern and southern districts of the country.

The forecast for rice imports in 2017-18 was raised to 1.2 million tonnes, reflecting expectations of “robust consumer demand, expanding food safety net program, lower public stocks, and relaxed trade and financial policy impact,” the USDA said.

The USDA noted that 2016-17 wheat production is forecast to be 3% lower at 1.2 million tonnes on reduced cultivation area as some farmers sought to avoid risk of a recurrence of wheat blast. Meanwhile, the 2017-18 wheat production forecast held steady at 1.3 million tonnes, assuming normal weather conditions, according to the USDA.

The forecast for wheat imports in 2017-18 was raised to 6 million tonnes on “expected resilient domestic demand and lower international prices,” the USDA said.