Concern as less rainfall cloud rice yield

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The more expensive US dollar and price hikes in exporting countries also reduce rice import opportunities

August 04, 2022, 10:55 p.m.

Last modification: August 04, 2022, 11:35 p.m.

Although the world produces enough food to feed everyone, hundreds of millions of people around the world go hungry every year. Photo: Pranto Chakraborty Nayan

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Although the world produces enough food to feed everyone, hundreds of millions of people around the world go hungry every year. Photo: Pranto Chakraborty Nayan

A lack of rain in parts of India has led to a decrease in rice planting area. And in China, rains and floods in southern provinces, including major rice-growing regions, have rekindled food security concerns.

If this is the scenario for the world’s two largest rice producers, then rice has the potential to emerge as the next challenge to the world’s food supply after wheat.

Although it is the largest producer, China is also the largest importer of rice. Any crop loss in China means the Asian giant will increase its purchases from the global rice market and reduce its availability to other consumers.

Therein lies the concern for Bangladesh, the third largest rice producer in the World Agricultural Production.com index, which still needs to import to stabilize the supply and price of the staple food. .

Much less rain this season is delaying planting of the second major rice crop, Aman, in many parts of Bangladesh. Obtaining fertilizer has become an additional concern for farmers as traders are said to reduce market supply after the latest urea price hike. The Business Standard correspondent found farmers in Dinajpur who said they were not getting fertilizer from local markets.

The Minister of Agriculture said yesterday that the price of urea had been increased by Tk 6 per kg to reduce its overuse and that this should not harm agriculture.

In the event of a drop in production, Bangladesh’s ability to source rice from India, its traditional source of imports, will decrease due to the projected drop in production in India, which accounts for 40% of global rice trade, traders said.

Lately, there have been rains since the end of July, bringing some relief to rice farmers. But rainfall is not sufficient in the weather forecast for the rest of the planting season and farmers in many areas are worried about the possible cost of irrigation if they want to plant paddy on all the area they have. reserved for Aman.

According to the Agricultural Extension Department, Aman has been planted on 15.74 lakh hectares of land so far while the target is 59.05 lakh hectares.

According to the weather forecast, rainfall may decrease after the first week of August, which farmers say could hurt Aman’s yield.

“The yield drops if you plant Aman late or if the crop is not sufficiently irrigated,” said Dinajpur rice farmer Deben Roy. Rice farmers in the northern part of the country said the below normal rainfall has already affected the nurseries in Aman.

Over the past 30 years, the average rainfall in July in Bangladesh has been 496 millimeters. But, total rainfall in July this year was just 211 millimeters – the lowest since 1981.

However, Agriculture Minister Mr. Abdur Razzak told The Business Standard: “Rainfall is now normal and we expect Aman planting to be completed by mid-August.”

According to the statistics office, about 1.5 crore tons of paddy were harvested in the last Aman season. The yield per hectare was 2.6 tonnes.

Mirza Mofazzal Islam, Director General of the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (Bina), told TBS that paddy suffers the most damage if there is water shortage at the time of flowering. Also, if the health of the seedling is poor, the yield will be low.

Also import braces for pressure

According to the government, more than 2 crore tons of rice were produced in the last Boro season.

But authorities had to offer 10 lakh tonnes of rice import permits in the face of a volatile staple food market. But the measure has yet to yield the desired output thanks to the strengthening US dollar and recent price hikes by exporters.

Only 20,000 tons of rice have been imported so far because importers do not open the Letter of Credit (LC) even after handling the rice import permit.

Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman, Principal Assistant Secretary (External Procurement) at the Ministry of Food, told TBS they were monitoring the import. The ministry is extending the opening time of the LC for the time being.

Importers point to the soaring US dollar. Citing Indian press reports, they claimed that Indian exporters had recently raised rice prices by up to 10%.

India accounts for 80% of Bangladesh’s rice imports. Traders say if they now import the staple food from India, the retail price of rice will be higher than the local crop.

Shahidur Rahman, vice president of the Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association, said rice imports per kg increased by Tk 20 for the more expensive dollars alone.

Reduced rainfall in parts of India could affect rice, which will eventually pose a challenge to the global food supply. Total paddy planting in some Indian states including West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh has dropped by 13% this season due to a lack of adequate rainfall.

India has already stopped exporting wheat and sugar as part of domestic food security and to control local market prices.

Traders and food grain importers say that if rice production drops, India may decide to cut grain export. This will put the country’s South Asian neighbors in big trouble. Because there are not many rice import possibilities for Bangladesh from Vietnam, China, Thailand and Myanmar.

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