USDA World Agricultural Production
15 February 2016
Thailand Rice: Production Forecast to Decline Due to Irrigation Shortage
Thailand’s 2015/16 rice production is forecast at 15.9 million metric tons (milled basis), down 3.0 percent from last month and down 15 percent from last year. Harvested area is estimated at 9.5 million hectares, down 0.19 million or 2.0 percent from last month and down 7.9 percent from last year. Yield is estimated well below average at 2.55 tons per hectare. Thailand has experienced a second consecutive year of below-average rainfall, which has the potential to cripple its agricultural sector and slow its economy. Shortages have been widespread, forcing the government to ration water use for agricultural, industrial, and urban consumers for the past 12 months. Less-than-adequate rainfall in 2015 resulted in insufficient recharge of key reservoirs which underpin much of the economy and the country’s drinking water supply. Reservoir supplies in late January 2016 are critically low, with the government now urging industrial and urban water consumers to reduce consumption by 20 percent. The Thai government ordered a complete ban on irrigation for the current winter dry season rice crop, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives reported in January that planted rice area declined precipitously compared to last year and normal. Typically Thai farmers sow approximately 2.0 million hectares during the dry season, of which approximately 80 percent is fully irrigated. Given the existing water shortage and the official ban on agricultural irrigation, USDA forecasts that harvested 2015/16 dry-season rice acreage will decline approximately 50 percent compared to last year and 62 percent from the 5-year average. Dry-season rice production is forecast at the lowest level in the past 20 years.
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