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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
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.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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