Global rice demand, production high in Vietnam meetings

Monday, 8 November 2010 05:53 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Hanoi (Reuters): Rice research, global demand and trading and currency risks fill a basket of issues in focus at a pair of conferences on the grain in Vietnam this week.

Top rice scientists, executives, policymakers, processors and traders from around the world will attend a research conference and another focusing on rice policy and investment between Nov. 9 and Nov. 11 in Hanoi, organisers said.

“The conference is more into the scientific side and will not touch much the commercial side, so we do not expect many details on specific deals,” a Vietnamese rice trader said.

In a presentation, the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute would discuss the link between price volatility, domestic and trade policies and exchange rates, taking evidence from rice markets in Asia.

Delegates will also discuss production in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, California, Africa as well as in Uruguay and Latin America, agenda of the gatherings showed (

The conferences take place as concern emerged over rice production in Thailand and Vietnam, the world’s top exporters of the grain, as well as in the Philippines, the top rice importer, due to natural disasters such as floods and storms.

While Typhoon Megi left some crop damage, 2010/2011 rice production in the Philippines should still surpass the previous year, and the country would buy most of its grain import from Vietnam, a U.S. Department of Agriculture attache report said.

A rise in Thai currency, the baht, has resulted in Indonesia switching its import to Vietnam, having bought 200,000 tonnes of 15 percent broken rice for loading until January, traders said on Friday Manila is expected to approach Vietnam next month to discuss its rice purchase for 2011.

Eyes are on stocks in Thailand, after the country was hit by the worst floods for decades in October, and in Vietnam, where floods in most of October ravaged the central region, traders in Thailand and Vietnam said.

“What we want to know is how much rice production that was destroyed in both producing countries and importing countries. That would imply the total amount of world rice trade and an implication of how prices would move next year,” said Kiattisak Kanlayasirivat of Novel Agritrade.

Traders said rice prices could remain high in 2011, but they don’t see any chance for prices to re-visit the record high above $1,000 per tonnes reached in May 2008.

The benchmark price of Vietnamese rice is likely to be stable at $380-$500 a tonne next year barring unforeseen natural disasters or poor weather, one of the country’s top 10 exporters said.

Paddy output from Vietnam’s biggest annual rice crop, used predominantly for export, will not drop this year because Mekong Delta farmers are using more fertiliser in the face of record low flooding, a leading expert said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture attache in Vietnam has revised up the estimate for the country’s 2009/2010 paddy output to 39.28 million tonnes, from 39.24 million tonnes previously, citing more land used for higher yielding crops.

Delegates attending the gatherings next week in Hanoi would also discuss effect of global warming on rice in the Philippines and India; technologies in rice production and processing to raise yield and new rice strains to ensure green environment.

Scientists and researchers would also identify priorities for their work over the next few decades, with research in Africa and Asia in particular.

With erratic weather threatening to cut world rice output every year, traders said some producing nations as well as importing countries would pay more attention to the GMO technique in a bid to raise output to offset falls brought by adverse weather.

“China is one of an example of this case. It finally accepts GMO technology to get higher output for its population and after China I think there could be other countries to invest in GMO as we all have realised that we can’t fight against force of nature,” a Bangkok-based trader said.