Rice output to rise, USDA forecasts | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:54 AM, March 25, 2019

Rice output to rise, USDA forecasts

Bangladesh’s rice production is expected to increase 7 percent year-on-year to 3.49 crore tonnes in the 12 months to April thanks to higher acreage  and yields during the aus and aman season, said the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Sufficient and uninterrupted input supply and timely disbursement of easily obtainable low-cost agricultural loans to marginal and poor farmers also contributed to increase in acreage and yields, it said.

The US agency's market year (MY) runs from May to April, so boro, which is harvested between the months of April and May, becomes the first crop of the year.

But the government calculates the annual rice output as per the length of the fiscal year, so aus becomes the first crop of the year, aman the second and boro the last.

The total rice cultivation area expanded 4 percent year-on-year to 1.17 crore hectares in MY2018-19, according to the USDA's Grain and Feed Update on Bangladesh.

The agency has revised upwards its earlier estimate of husked rice production during aman season to 1.35 crore tonnes from 1.32 crore tonnes thanks to favourable weather conditions.

Production of aus rice, harvested in the June-July period, has also been revised upwards to 25 lakh tonnes from 24.3 lakh tonnes due to increased yield of hybrid and high-yielding varieties, according to the report.

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics is yet to release its estimates on production of aus and aman rice. “Farmers had a very good harvest in boro and aman seasons of MY2018-19, resulting in increased interest to produce rice,” the report said.

Given the amply supply from domestic harvests, the USDA has lowered its forecasts of Bangladesh's rice import for MY2018-19.

Paddy prices were high in December last year but the prices of the staple crop fell in the subsequent months, creating fears of loss among many, said growers and traders earlier.

At present, the prices of the grain, irrespective of quality, are lower than they were a year ago, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.

The USDA said boro rice cultivation for MY2019-20 has begun but a mild cold wave earlier in January hampered seed bed preparation in some locations.

Farmers of some highland regions faced a shortage in water supply due to lower ground water levels. Some 3,300 litres of water is needed to produce one kilogramme of rice from boro crops. The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has targeted to bring 48.42 lakh hectares under rice coverage during the current boro season. The target has been met, as per a senior official of the DAE. Meanwhile, the USDA kept wheat import projection at 65 lakh tonnes for the current fiscal year.

However, the agency revised down wheat production to 9.50 lakh tonnes amid falling plantation because of wheat blast panic and changing weather conditions from a long to short winter period.

Another key reason to switch from wheat is opportunities to cultivate alternative profitable crops such as maize, it said.

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