Once a rice exporting country Nepal has started importing rice in huge quantity in the recent years.
Despite the record high production in 2011, rice imports surged by 311 per cent in 2012, according to Crop Situation Update produced jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture Development, World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The country imported 524,592 metric tonnes (MT) of rice worth Rs 13.96 billion in the first 10 months — January to October — in 2012, it said, adding that 241,917 MT maize worth Rs 4.73 billion was imported in the review period. "Overall outlook for winter crops and summer crop production, however, for fiscal year 2012-13, especially, wheat and barley remains moderate."
Due to late plantation and poor soil moisture, production of winter crops was expected to decline but winter rain — in the second week of January — revived the normal production expectation for wheat.
In India, the 2012-13 summer paddy production is below the record high production of 2011-12 by some 17 per cent though its food grain production estimates for 2012-13 stand higher than the five-year average by some four million MT. Low production in India is expected to escalate the price in the market.
The FAO and International Grains Council (IGC) estimate global paddy and maize production at 728.7 million MT and 876 million MT, respectively, it said. At 728.7 million MT, paddy production is set to surpass the 2011 historical record by 4.9 million MT, which is 0.7 per cent higher.
The 2012-13 summer cereal crop output is estimated at 6.8 million MT, with 4.5 million MT of paddy, two million MT of maize and 0.3 million MT of millet. "It represents a reduction of 10 per cent overall, with 11, eight and 2.5 per cent drops for paddy, maize and millet, respectively, compared to the 2011-12 summer output," they added. "However, against the five-year average, the 2012-13 summer output marginally exceeds by 0.75 per cent."
Growing conditions of rainfall and production estimates for the 2012-13 summer crop were similar to that of 2009-10, when late and erratic rainfall resulted in significant losses for paddy and maize production."Lack of timely fertiliser supply also affected summer crop production in 2012," the report said, adding that retail prices of most food commodities showed a normal fluctuation in December 2012, as compared to the same period of the past four years. "Farm gate price of paddy increased by 18.5 per cent (by Rs 2.50) compared to 2011, whereas wage rate index of agricultural labour increased by 30 per cent."