Rice yield may see another boom: FAO

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Rice yield may see another boom: FAO
Sohel Parvez

Bangladesh is likely to bag a record rice crop for the second consecutive year, said Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in a forecast released early this month.

The UN agency said paddy output may rise 3.2 percent to a record 51.9 million tonnes (equivalent to 34.6 million tonnes of milled rice) in the year 2011 (Jan-Dec) from 50.2 million tonnes the previous year.

The latest projection includes forecast on the second biggest rice crop, aman, harvesting of which is set to begin in full swing by the end of this month.

“In spite of the localised flooding which affected many low-lying areas in the coastal south-west, south-central and the northern regions, the 2011 aman season production is forecast to reach record levels,” said the UN agency.

It also cited that 26,709 hectares of standing crops were damaged in 18 of the 64 districts.

The agency, noting rise in production of other major cereal crops such as wheat and maize, said the aggregate cereal production will rise 4 percent to 54. 2 million tonnes in 2011 from 52.3 million tonnes the previous year.

“Wheat production, estimated at about 1.1 million tonnes showed a 13 percent increase compared to the previous year. A combination of a favourable climatic conditions and high yielding variety seeds were the main factors responsible for the increase,” said the FAO.

The agency expects that the record harvests will reduce the total cereal import requirements by 40 percent to 3.25 million tonnes in fiscal 2011-12 from 5.50 million tonnes the previous year.

The UN body unveils its crop production forecast for Bangladesh as the prospect of a good harvest of natural calamity-prone aman crop brightens after a bumper boro output and good aus harvest.

Boro rice, which provides 56 percent of the annual rice production, hit a record at 18.6 million tonnes this year.

The bumper crop was boosted by favourable weather, balanced use of fertiliser and farmers’ enthusiasm to grow the paddy to cash in on the rising prices of the staple that hit a new high early this year.

But prices of rice and paddy slipped.

In recent weeks, retail prices of rice declined slightly. Prices of paddy at the producer’s level decreased amid rise in supply in the face of release of stocks by traders, millers and large farmers ahead of the harvest of aman, which accounts for 38 percent of total annual rice output.

“The recent decrease in the domestic retail market could be explained by satisfactory aman and aus production, as well as the release of stocks by traders in anticipation of a bumper harvest in November-December. Government sales under various subsidy programmes have also had an impact on the rice prices,” said the FAO.

However, the prices in October were only 9 percent below the peak of January 2011 and 2 percent below the high levels of a year ago, it said.

The prices of wheat flour increased for the second consecutive month in October after a slowdown of imports by the private sector, the FAO added.

The FAO cited high food inflation and said: “The food security situation of the low income people has deteriorated with the high levels of staple food prices.”

Monthly inflation rose in September with food inflation soaring to 13.75 percent in September from 12.7 percent a month ago, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Referring to floods, the FAO said localised food insecurity persists especially among those who are severely affected and became homeless owing to flood.

sohel@thedailystar.net

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