'Myanmar halted rice shipments after floods over the past month inundated farmland, raising the specter of supply disruptions in the sixth-biggest exporter....Declining supply from Myanmar may help boost global rice prices by about $10 a tonne, said Kiattisak Kanlayasirivat, a Bangkok-based director at Ascend Commodities SA, which trades about 500,000 tonnes of rice annually. Any impact may be limited as other exporters such as Thailand can fill the market, said Samarendu Mohanty, head of the social sciences division at the Los Banos, Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute.Thai 5% broken white rice, a regional benchmark, has dropped 9.8% this year to $377 a tonne'.
It's not often that this insight is voiced ...'Lao economists have warned the relevant sectors of the government to prepare measures for augmenting the rice supply next year after farmers around the country have been badly affected by drought and then flooding during this wet season.The late arrival of the rains this year forced some farmers, especially those without access to irrigation systems, to delay the planting of their rice crop and this was followed by thousands of hectares of planted rice being destroyed by flooding from the frequent heavy rains in the last few weeks.This could lead to a shortage of rice in the country next year and a rise in pricing, a senior economist from the National Economic Research Institute, Dr Leeber Leebouapao, has said....The cost of rice in Vientiane markets is currently showing a slight rise of 2-3 percent over normal levels the Vientiane Foodstuff state enterprise Director, Mr Khamla Saengdara, told Vientiane Times yesterday.The current rice price is around 70,000-90,000 kip per 12 kg bag, which is considered a stable price.“We still have a surplus of rice for consumption and sufficient to supply market demand for the present because a lot of farmers have stored their paddy rice after harvesting last time,” he said.Different rice traders are also bringing polished rice for sale after they bought it for stockpiling when the price was low at the beginning of the year.Mr Khamla commented that he would be happy if a price increase meant that the farmers benefited because that would help to promote more rice growing but the main beneficiaries are the middlemen or rice traders who take any opportunity to raise pricing by themselves when there is a shortage of supply'.
'On Tuesday, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology called on several provinces, including Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham, to harvest crops quickly as increased rainfall causes levels to rise dangerously high along many of the country’s main waterways'.
'For the first seven months of 2015, Cambodia has exported some 312,317 tons of milled rice to international markets, up 53.1 percent if compared with the same period last year, pointed out a report of the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality'.
'The Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday to receive $450,000 in financial support from the government to increase Cambodia’s rice exports, according to a federation official'.
'A project to build 10 warehouses to store rice paddy using Chinese funding has hit a roadblock, as the Cambodian government has been unable to meet criteria set by the Chinese for the project, according to an official associated with the project'.
'Cambodia’s need to secure China as a rice export destination is becoming increasingly urgent, with China’s multiple pending agreements with other countries in Southeast and South Asia, said industry insider David Van.China recently signed a deal with Thailand for 1 million tons of rice, with another million in a pending agreement before the end of the year, according to Mr. Van, a senior advisor with the Bower Group. He added China would also sign a deal with Laos for 300,000 tons. It also plans to import more non-Basmati rice from India.“We have tougher competition for the China market,” Mr. Van told Khmer Times. “As the Chinese vice president stated candidly earlier this year at the last China-GMS meeting, Cambodian rice is too expensive and still relatively ‘unknown.’”
'Under the proposed EU-Vietnam Bilateral Free Trade Agreement (EU-V BFTA), the EU may import around 76,000 tonnes of rice, mostly husked and milled, from Vietnam at zero per cent duty, according to Oryza, an industry publication....Currently, the European Union (EU) imports rice and other products duty-free from least developed countries under the Everything But Arms policy.Of the rice exports to the EU under this policy, Cambodia accounts for 22 per cent and Myanmar three per cent.If Cambodia needs to maintain or increase the 250,000 tonnes its exports to the EU, Saran [president of Amru Rice] said it will have to improve its production capacity and logistical services to remain competitive....Independent economist Srey Chanthy said that despite tough competition from Vietnam, Cambodia could increase focus on the niche market of fragrant rice – a variety that is not grown in Vietnam currently'.
Meanwhile, some sales are ongoing. The Bangkok Post (Aug. 12):'Commerce Ministry has delayed the auction date for inferior rice in its stockpile, from the end of this month to next month, allowing more time for officials to conduct a thorough survey and separate quality grains from inferior ones'.
'The government has sold 426,977 tonnes of rice worth 6.29 billion baht in its latest auction....Since Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha took office, the Commerce Ministry has held nine auctions including five this year in order to speed up disposal of 18 million tonnes of state stocks accumulated from rice-pledging schemes. It has sold 4.4 million tonnes for 48.6 billion baht.However, the government has fetched an average of only 10,000 baht per tonne of milled rice from the auctions, far below the 24,000 baht a tonne spent by the previous government for pledging excluding management costs and interest rates'.
'Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) fellows are urging the government to establish a Rice Market Development Institute to enhance scientific research, disseminate credible information to farmers and entrepreneurs and improve the competitiveness of Thai rice cultivation'.
However as there is still a lot of subsistence rice been grown in Laos, there might just be little takers.'The Naphok Agricultural Research Centre is seeking to produce early maturing varieties of rice seed for Lao farmers to plant in the coming years, as part of efforts to reduce the disaster related impacts of climate change.Researchers at the centre are currently conducting ongoing research into some 400-500 lines of rice varieties in order to produce the earlier maturing varieties, according to Mr Nikhom Chantheva, one of the rice researchers.The rice seeds which are currently being produced by Lao farmers take about 120-130 days before harvesting is possible, while with the new rice seeds, harvesting will be possible after only 90-95 days, he said'.
'There are more than 600 hectares of banana plantations within the province, most of the crop being exported to China, while Luang Namtha and Bokeo provinces are also affected by the same problem.Last year, Laos exported over 260,000 tonnes of bananas and received payment of about US$45 million according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.China offers a large market for the northern provinces so provincial authorities have agreed to allow Chinese companies to invest in various crops for sale to China, including cassava, watermelons, pumpkins and chillies'.
'Speaking to Vientiane Times last week, a senior analyst in the agriculture and forestry sector, Dr Palikone Thalongsengchanh, said the drop in price will have a lesser impact on companies and investors who planted a large number of rubber trees as they operate with a view to the long term.They are more likely to survive the slump as they have sufficient capital to tide them over a temporary drop in the market price. They also have more markets available to them.The greatest impact will be on small growers who planted just a few hectares on their farms and have limited financial resources, Dr Palikone said'.
Desperate times ahead? Lao authorities are mulling a cashew plantation. With cashew growing mostly tied up by the Vietnamese and prices often under opportunity costs it beats me why they would they be contemplating 10,000 ha cashew plantation? As reported by Vientiane Times (Aug. 14):
'Champassak province is aiming to plant 10,000 hectares of cashew trees from now until 2020 to ensure an adequate supply for domestic sale and export'.
An insight to growing coffee in Laos. Vientiane Times (Aug. 10):
'The Lao Coffee Association has called for the government to provide better promotional policies so that Lao products are more widely recognised in international markets.The Lao government is currently preparing growers and producers for membership in the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) but there are still many conditions to be met....Coffee exports generated more than US$70 million last year along with indirect income generated by tourism in coffee growing areas.According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the total coffee growing area in Laos is about 83,495 hectares while the area harvested last year was more than 60,000 hectares.Total coffee output last year was 98,200 tonnes, an increase of 8 percent compared to the plan for the year.....“If we are accepted as an ICO member, we must also provide monthly reports of coffee exports to ICO and address the fact that the current export figures recorded by various government ministries do not match each other,” he [Lao coffee Association President Mr Sinouk Sisombat] added'.