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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid