Rice market tight next year despite big harvest: IRRI

MANILA, October 15, 2008 (AFP) – World rice markets are likely to remain tight next year despite an expected record harvest after key producers clamped down on exports, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) said Wednesday. Export prices of one of the world’s most important grains almost tripled between last November and May, triggering riots in more than a dozen countries, before softening to still historically high levels of more than 700 dollars a tonne.

“The 2008-2009 rice market is likely to remain tight even with projected record global production of 432 million tonnes, a one percent increase over last year’s 428 million tonnes,” the Philippines-based institute said in its quarterly publication “Rice Today”.

The projected rise in output is mainly due to an extra one million hectares (2.2 million acres) planted with rice, to a total 155.3 million hectares, with India accounting for more than half of the total increase, it said.

After reaching a record low of 73 million tonnes in 2004-2005, global rice stocks have been steadily rising and are projected to reach 82 million tonnes in 2008-2009, compared with 78.5 million tonnes in the previous harvest.

However, “prices are likely to remain high pa