Global Rice Prices Reach 15 Year Peak

The global rice market is currently in turmoil, facing a confluence of challenges from climate change, El Nino, and restrictive export policies—especially notable are India’s limitations on non-basmati rice exports. This combination has propelled global rice prices to a 15-year peak. Consequently, individuals in nations like Thailand and Vietnam are stockpiling rice, apprehensive of further price surges. Vietnam’s agriculture is grappling with the impacts of climate change, leading some farmers to transition from rice to alternative crops such as mangoes, indicating a potential long-term decline in rice production. Myanmar has recently joined the ranks of countries curbing rice exports, and there are expectations that India, a key player in the global rice market, will tighten its export restrictions even more next year. These developments paint a bleak picture for rice availability in 2024. The situation is further compounded by China reducing water flow in the Mekong River due to decreased rainfall from El Nino, affecting regions that produce rice.

On a more positive note, some countries are better positioned to weather this crisis. Japan is decreasing its rice consumption, and both China and Indonesia have established rice reserves in response to shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. India has also reduced the minimum price for basmati rice exports with the goal of enhancing its global market share. However, these measures may not be sufficient to alleviate growing concerns among Asian governments and experts, given the deepening economic challenges coupled with climate-related issues. The path to stabilizing the global rice trade may hinge on the relaxation of export restrictions, particularly in India.

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USDA estimates Pakistan will export 4.8m tons of rice

On the flip side, the substantial upswing in wheat production and favorable changes in cotton yields diminishes the need for imports, significantly lowering the demand for foreign exchange in the fiscal year 2023-24.

The agricultural sector is poised to play a pivotal role in reinvigorating economic growth, targeting the 3.5% mark in FY24.

The increase in rice exports is attributed to the exploration of new export markets like Russia and Mexico, with exports to Indonesia already exhibiting an upward trajectory.

The restriction imposed by India on rice exports to stabilize domestic prices opens doors for Pakistan to escalate shipments to international markets.

Pakistan has witnessed a positive shift in rice production, estimated at 9 million tons in FY24, compared to a meager harvest of 5.5 million tons in the previous fiscal year, when extensive floods damaged agricultural land.

The USDA’s recent report titled “Grain and Feed Update” for Pakistan indicates a forecast of 4.8 million tons for rice exports, matching the record set in 2021-22, when production reached a peak of 9.3 million tons.

The 4.8-million-ton export projection slightly trails the global agriculture information department’s forecast of 5 million tons. The rice export estimate is revised down to 3.4 million tons for the marketing year 2022-23 (Nov-Oct), compared to the previous forecast of 3.7 million tons.

Official statistics reveal that rice exports amounted to $2.14 billion in FY23, a decline from $2.51 billion in FY22, indicating a drop of $364 million. In terms of quantity, rice exports decreased by 25% during FY23, totaling 3.717 million tons compared to 4.97 million tons in the preceding year.

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