rice and corn
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Rice and corn production in Thailand is expected to increase in 2018-19 due to attractive prices and available water to support irrigation, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The country’s rice production is expected to reach a record 21 million tonnes, up 3% from the 2017-18 marketing year. In February, the farm-gate price for white and fragrant paddy rice were up 5% and 53%, respectively, from the previous year. 

Farmers are planting rice earlier as water for irrigation will start on April 1 to avoid possible flooding damage during the harvest period.

“This will allow farmers in the lower northern region and the central plains to double crop the main rice crop in MY2018-19 given normal precipitation,” the USDA said.

Rice consumption is expected to decline by 4% to 11.5 million tonnes due to reduced broken rice demand from swine and limited supplies of government rice stocks.

Exports are forecast to decline to 10 million tonnes in 2018 and 2019, a 14% drop from the record 11.6 million tonnes exported in 2017. Exports that year were driven by the sale of remaining food-quality government rice stocks that totaled 3.2 million tonnes, the USDA said.

Corn production in 2018-19 is expected to reach 5.1 million tonnes, up 2% to 3% from the previous year due to attractive prices.

In February, farm-gate prices of corn increased 31% from the same period last year, the USDA said.

“The government has been encouraging farmers to shift offseason production from rice to corn due to corn’s lower water requirements,” the USDA said.

Feed consumption growth is expected to slow in both 2017-18 and 2018-19. The Thai Feed Mill Association said it expects total feed demand to reach 19.7 million tonnes in 2018, up slightly from the previous year.

“This is considerably slower growth compared to the average annual growth rate of 5% over the past five years,” the USDA said.

Prices are down on domestic eggs ad slaughtered hogs and farmers are experiencing higher production costs due to the government’s import restrictions on alternative feed ingredients like feed wheat.

Corn exports are expected to drop 70% to 200,000 tonnes as Thai corn prices will remain uncompetitive, the USDA said.

Export prices for Thai corn are 35% above world market prices as supplies of corn are in demand domestically for animal feed.