ROME, May 12, 2008 (AFP) – Rice production in Asia, Africa and Latin America is forecast to reach a new record level in 2008, but world rice prices could remain high in the short term, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said Monday. However the destruction of Myanmar’s food resources by a deadly cyclone could decrease national rice production and impair access to food, according to first FAO estimates.
“World paddy production 2008 could grow by about 2.3 percent, reaching a new record level of 666 million tonnes, according to our preliminary forecasts,” said FAO rice expert Concepcion Calpe.
Production growth could even be higher if recent appeals and incentives to grow more rice lead to expansion, according to the Rice Market Monitor.
But the May 3 cyclone disaster in Myanmar could well worsen the forecast,say FAO officials.
“The cyclone damage could worsen the current global rice production outlook,” said an FAO statement.
“The cyclone struck when paddy farmers were harvesting their dry season crop accounting for 20 percent of annual production.
“Entire rice-growing areas are flooded and many roads and bridges are impassable.
Several rice warehouses and stocks were destroyed. Rice prices in Rangoon