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Last Updated:[03-02-2010 01:52:37 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

El Nino Impact - Rice Prices to Skyrocket

tradenews Based on the last month’s report on El Nino by the US Climate Prediction Center, the global rice production as well as other food products will be drastically impacted by the ongoing climatic phenomenon. El Nino, characterized by a warming of the equatorial Pacific, brings increased rain to the South American region and drought or reduced rainfall in Asia, hurting crops.

Consequently, several Latin American and Asian countries will be importing more rice to offset the resulting shortage. The South American countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and Panama and the Asian countries like India and the Philippines are understood to have increased their import quotas as El Nino effect is likely to last till June.

The US Rice Producers Association President Dwight Roberts told Bloomberg that Brazil may start buying this month, a total of 1mn metric tons throughout the year, direct fallout of El Nino. In another statement, the Agriculture Undersecretary of the Philippines Bernardo Fondevilla said his country, the world's biggest rice buyer could lose more than 0.8mn tons of paddy rice, from a severe dry spell caused by El Nino triggering renewed rice imports.

Brazil would be importing from Vietnam, the largest rice exporter behind Thailand after the latter fulfills its November and December tenders from the Philippines. As per the Philippines National Food Authority figures, the delivery of four tender amounting to 2.25mn tons mostly from Vietnam would start from January to June.

The Filipino government has set aside about $37mn to mitigate the impact of El Nino on crop and fishery production this year. The phenomenon is expected to devastate 453,204 hectares of rice, 227,843 hectares of corn fields and 14,160 hectares of the fishery industry in the Philippines alone.

Robert on a rice update to Bloomberg informed that Iraq, the fifth largest rice importer, might buy at least 120,000 tons by next week. El Nino effect is likely to peak this month causing speculative buying in the global rice market.

Robert told that the apparent decline in Mercosur production and increased demand in the South American and other Central American countries, supplies will be tight and some markets could pay considerably higher prices for imported rice. The data on rice stockpiles and production trickling in from almost all regions across the globe indicate world rice market is in for severe price rice which in a worst case scenario could even reach the all time high of 2008.

Jose Roy

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