Friday, February 5, 2010

On Rice Production and Stocks

Rice fields in Japan

Oryza sativa

Because the topic of commentary has been global grain stock levels the past two weeks, today's focus is on rice, specifically, for two reasons. One, it is the grain which provides more than one-fifth of the human population's calories and is the primary staple for more than half of the world's population, with Asia and Africa being the largest consuming regions. Two, it is the only top grain which declined in last year's global grain stocks report.

A few facts

  • Genetics shows that rice was first domesticated in the region of the Yangtze River Valley.
  • As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East, South, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the West Indies.
  • 96% of the world's rice is eaten in the area in which it is grown
  • It is the grain with the second highest worldwide production, after corn.
  • Rice cultivation is well-suited to countries and regions with low labor costs and high rainfall, as it is very labor-intensive to cultivate and requires plenty of water for cultivation.
  • There are more than 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice said to exist
  • Rice can be grown practically anywhere, even on a steep hill or mountain. Although its parent species are native to South Asia and certain parts of Africa, centuries of trade and exportation have made it commonplace in many cultures worldwide.
  • The traditional method for cultivating rice is flooding the fields while, or after, setting the young seedlings.
  • Raw rice may be ground into flour for many uses, including making many kinds of beverages such as amazake, horchata, rice milk, and sake. Rice flour does not contain gluten and is suitable for people on a gluten-free diet. Rice may also be made into various types of noodles.
  • Rice is a good source of protein and a staple food in many parts of the world, but it is not a complete protein: it does not contain all of the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts for good health, and should be combined with other sources of protein, such as nuts, seeds, beans, fish, or meat.
  • Between 1961 and 2002, per capita consumption of rice increased by 40%.

Rice Production in the World

  • Today, the majority of all rice produced comes from India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Bangladesh.
  • Asian farmers still account for 92-percent of the world's total rice production. Rice is grown in all parts of India. In Cambodia 90% of the total agricultural area is used for rice production.
  • World production of rice has risen steadily from about 200 million tonnes of paddy rice in 1960 to over 600 million tonnes in 2004.
  • In 2004, the top four producers were China (26% of world production), India (20%), Indonesia (9%T) and Bangladesh (5%).

Rice Production in the U.S.

  • More than 100 varieties of rice are commercially produced primarily in six states (Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and California) in the U.S.
  • According to estimates for the 2006 crop year, rice production in the U.S. is valued at $1.88 billion, approximately half of which is expected to be exported.
  • The U.S. provides about 12% of world rice trade. The majority of domestic utilization of U.S. rice is direct food use (58%), while 16 percent is used in processed foods and beer respectively.
  • The remaining 10 percent is found in pet food.
  • U.S. rice consumption has risen sharply over the past 25 years, fueled in part by commercial applications such as beer production.
  • Almost one in five adult Americans now report eating at least half a serving of white or brown rice per day.
  • U.S. rice production is expected to be up 8% 2009/2010.

World Trade of Rice

  • World trade figures are very different, as only about 5–6% of rice produced is traded internationally.
  • The largest three exporting countries are Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States. Major importers usually include Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Brazil and some African and Persian Gulf countries.
  • Although China and India are the two largest producers of rice in the world, both countries consume the majority of the rice produced domestically, leaving little to be traded internationally.
  • Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, China and the United States account for more than four-fifths of the total volume of annual rice exports.

Recent Global Supply Issues

  • In March to May 2008, the price of rice rose greatly due to a general upward trend in grain prices caused by droughts in major producing countries (particularly Australia), increased use of grains for animal feed and US subsidies for bio-fuel production. Although there was no shortage of rice on world markets the general upward trend in grain prices led to panic buying and government rice export bans. This caused significant rises in rice prices. In late April 2008, prices hit 24 US cents a pound, twice the price that it had been seven months earlier.
  • On the 30th of April, 2008, Thailand announced the project of the creation of the Organisation of Rice Exporting Countries (OREC) with the potential to develop into a price-fixing cartel for rice.
  • The Philippines is the world's biggest rice importer and is facing problems in sourcing rice on world markets.


2009/2010 Rice Stocks

  • Projected global 2009/10 rice production is nearly unchanged from a month ago; however, there are a number of offsetting changes. Production projections are lowered for Bangladesh, Colombia, the Philippines; but raised for the United States, China, and a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. The 2009/10 Bangladesh rice crop is projected at 30.0 million tons, down 1.0 million from last month.
  • China’s rice crop is raised 900 thousand tons to 136.0 million, the largest crop since 1999/00.
  • Global exports are projected at 29.8 million tons, up nearly 0.5 million largely due to an increase for Vietnam.
  • Global consumption is up slightly from a month ago with levels raised for China and a number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa; and lowered for Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
  • Global ending stocks for 2009/10 are projected at 85.9 million tons, up 1.0 million from last month, but down 4.8 million from 2008/09. source-WAOB
  • World ending rice stocks are projected at 90.7 million tons, down 1.75 million tons from 2008/09 according to the USDA.
  • Given the anticipated decline in 2009 production, world rice reserves in 2010 are anticipated to contract to 121 million tonnes, 2 percent below their opening levels. source-FAO
  • This year, the excess in other grains is supposed to easily offset the decline in rice production.

Sources: Wikipedia, USDA, WAOB, FAO

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