Nearrecord global production of rice still falls below need UN says

Global paddy production reached an estimated 611 million tons, 27 tons higher than 2003, with most of the increases taking place in Asia, especially China and Indonesia, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says in its “Rice Market Monitor – December 2004.”The United States was expecting a record-breaking harvest, while recovery was expected to push output over 2003 in Australia and the European Union, it says.Production was set to rise in Africa, with particularly large crops expected in Egypt, Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau, and in Latin America, with excellent crops in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.Rice inventories would rise to only 99 million tons, 4 million tons less than in 2003, and consumption would have to be supplemented from stockpiles, it says.Bad weather was expected to result in smaller harvests in eight Asian countries, including India and Thailand, and in the hurricane-battered Caribbean, it says.Export prices have slid since September and the forecast for exports have dropped by 400,000 tons to 26.1 million tons in 2004 and was forecast to slump by 900,000 tons to 25.2 million tons in 2005, FAO says.

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