FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Poor rains affect crops in parts but overall 2014/15 winter/spring rice prospects remain favourable
Rice exports in 2015 are forecast to remain close to last year’s below-average level
Domestic prices of rice were unchanged in March 2015
Prospects for 2014/15 winter/spring rice remain favourable despite dry conditions affecting crops in central and southern provinces
Harvesting of the 2014/15, mostly irrigated, main winter/spring paddy crop, which accounts for about 45 percent of annual production, started in late March in the south and will be concluded in July in the north. According to the latest official estimates, some 3 million hectares were placed under the 2015 winter/spring rice, marginally below last year’s record level of the corresponding season. Overall, good rains in the Red River Delta, the main rice-producing areas in the north and adequate irrigation water systems in the main rice-growing areas of Mekong River Delta in the south, benefitted planting operations and crop development in these areas. By contrast, in the Central Highlands and Southern Coastal provinces, prolonged poor rains from January to mid-April, have reportedly reduced water supplies for irrigation and will likely affect yields of this season’s rice crop. In these regions, there is also some concern over the 2015 summer/autumn crop, which is currently being planted. Poor rains are forecast until September 2015. While production in these areas is likely to be affected, at national level, the overall impact on the winter/spring and summer/autumn crop is expected to be minimal, since the two regions together account for around 5 percent of the total area planted to rice in the these seasons. Considering a small decrease in plantings and overall good growing conditions (NDVI anomaly graph), FAO forecasts the 2015 winter/spring rice harvest at 20.6 million tonnes, 1 percent below the 2014 record level. Assuming improved rains and continued Government support to mitigate the impact of dry weather in the affected area, the 2015 aggregate rice production, including the ongoing winter/spring, summer/autumn and the forthcoming 10th Month seasons, is put at 44.8 million tonnes, similar to last year’s record level.
Planting of the 2015 maize crop is underway. Preliminary official estimates, as of mid-March, indicated that 356 500 hectares have been placed under the maize crop, some 2 percent above the area planted at the same time in 2014. Despite the small increase in planting, 2015 maize production is forecast by FAO to decrease slightly to 5.1 million tonnes, as yields are expected to return to average after the record level of the previous year.