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USDA cuts Bangladesh rice production forecast

Published : Sunday, 31 December, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 240

Rice production in Bangladesh may slightly decline in marketing year (MY) 2023-24 as a result of partial damage to Aman crop, now being harvested in Southern coastal districts, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said last week.

Farmers will likely bag 3.63 crore tonnes of milled rice in the current marketing year beginning from May, down from 3.64 crore tonnes the previous year, the US agency said in its Grain and Feed Update on Bangladesh.

"This revision is due to partial damage to Aman seasonal rice in some coastal districts caused by cyclone Midhili," the report said. The cyclone had hit Bangladesh on November 17 this year.

Aman, grown under monsoon rains, is the second largest rice crop after Boro, which is a dry season crop cultivated with the help of irrigation.

The USDA counts Aman seasonal rice as the last crop of a marketing year. It said the crop is known as post-monsoon rice and is traditionally fully rainfed.

"Therefore, adequate and timely rains are important for good production," it added. The cultivation usually begins in August and harvesting mainly takes place in November and December.

The US agency said, "Due to delayed rainfall during this years Aman  plantation season, farmers had to use supplementary irrigation for land preparation, transplantation, and irrigation purposes."

This incurred additional costs to farmers, adding to the already high input costs, the USDA said, revising downward its estimate on the cultivation area to 57.50 lakh acres for the current year, down 2.54 percent from its estimate of the previous year.

In addition to reduced acreage, cyclone Midhili affected about 5-10 percent of standing Aman paddy in the southern coastal districts, mainly in the Barishal and Chattogram divisions.

"The affected paddy plants either bent or flattened, but the resulting damage was minimal," the USDA said.

As such, the agency revised its forecast for production of Aman paddy  dropping it by nearly 5 percent to 1.39 crore tonnes from its estimate for the same crop in the previous year.

The latest projection is one lakh tonnes lower than the USDAs previous projection. However, the US agency said production of Aus rice, harvested in July and August, grew to 24 lakh tonnes in the current marketing year.

It also hiked its estimate regarding the output of Boro, the first crop of the current marketing year, by 1.52 percent to 2 crore tonnes.

The USDA has also lowered Bangladeshs rice import forecast to 5 lakh tonnes as the government maintains its high tariff at 62.5 percent on rice imports, down from its previous forecast of 6.5 lakh tonnes.

It however projected that Bangladeshs wheat import would be 60 lakh tonnes in MY24, beginning from July, which is 17 percent higher from its estimate of the countrys wheat import of 51.2 lakh tonnes in the previous marketing year.

The agency hiked its import prediction assuming "stable international prices and no supply chain disruptions". Bangladesh imported 22 lakh tonnes of wheat in the first five months of MY24.

"The industry contact expects that this will increase further if international prices and supply situation remains unchanged," it added, the agency said.

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