News / Asia

Thai Floods Damage Rice Fields, Small Impact on Global Market Predicted

Thai farmers plants a rice crop near Mae Sariang, Thailand. Rice has been the food stable for Thai people for centuries and plays a crucial role in the essence of their culture, (File).
Thai farmers plants a rice crop near Mae Sariang, Thailand. Rice has been the food stable for Thai people for centuries and plays a crucial role in the essence of their culture, (File).

Thailand is the world’s number one rice exporter and this year lost thousands of hectares of rice fields to historically high floodwaters that swept across the country. The damage has raised concerns about the affect on global rice prices and supply. But rice market analysts say a record harvest, global surplus, and a second crop should prevent any dramatic disruptions. 

Thailand exports up to ten million tons of rice per year, one-third of the total global market.

But devastating floodwaters this year rolled over Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, killing hundreds of people and damaging wide swaths of farmland.

Thailand took the worst hit.

A quarter of the country was covered in water, much of it farms and rice paddies.

Samarendu Mohanty is chief economist at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. He estimates up to seven million tons of Thailand’s rice crop was destroyed.

"They were expecting a record crop, around 25 million metric tons. So, that's a large crop and we're talking about one-fourth of the crop is damaged," noted Samarendu. "At the same time, I would like to say that if you take account of what's happening in other parts of the world and the global stocks level we have, we're still in a fairly comfortable situation.”

Samarendu says global rice stocks are at least 20 million tons higher than 2008, when some countries limited exports and rice prices quickly doubled over concerns of inadequate rice supplies.

Rice market analysts say the floods could create some temporary volatility in prices. But they say sharp cost increases are unlikely because of new producers entering the market.

In September, India lifted a ban on exports of non-basmati rice.

Those added exports and record harvests across other countries in Asia are expected to more than compensate for lost crops in Southeast Asia and prevent any dramatic jumps in price.

Concepcion Calpe is a senior economist with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. “And this is mainly due to very very good crops in the major producing countries, which are mainly China, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam. The only major producing countries that may incur a loss are Indonesia because it also had some bad problems. But, until recently, the government was predicting a bumper crop also there,” stated Calpe.

Calpe says that before the floods, Thailand had an estimated five to six million tons of rice stock.  And like all of East Asia, it will be able to plant a second crop once flood waters recede. “We do not believe that the floods will have more than a temporary impact. We see more [of] the damage coming from the logistics, not being able to move the supplies, rather than from a lack of supplies itself,” Calpe said.

New government price policies in Thailand are also expected to reduce its 2012 rice exports.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised to buy rice from farmers at above market rates in order to boost rural incomes.

Under the plan, authorities are expected to pay as much as 50 percent more for rice. While increasing domestic supplies by enticing producers with higher prices, the scheme is also expected to make Thai rice less competitive on global markets.

The scheme could contribute to Thailand losing its status as the world’s number one rice exporter as other suppliers such as India and Vietnam move in on Thai export markets.

Analyst Samarendu says higher prices for Thai rice may be a good thing for poorer rice producers such as Burma, also known as Myanmar.

“So, it might encourage Myanmar or Cambodia to emerge as exporters because of high prices. So, I think that’s not actually bad for long-term global food security considering that we need more multiple suppliers to stabilize this market,” Samarendu said.

Burma, as a British colony in the 1930s, was the world’s largest rice exporter. But civil strife, military rule, and economic mismanagement devastated production and it never recovered its lost standing.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More