According to the Thai Internal Trade Department of the Commerce Ministry, Thailand exported 3,196,641 tons of rice January 1-June 30 2002, a 0.8% increase from exports of 3,171,426 tons registered during the same period of last year. Between June 1 and June 30, Thailand exported 338,555 tons of rice, a 44.6% decrease from exports of 611,610 tons during the same period in 2001.

The Prime Minister of Thailand indicated on Monday (July 1) that he has invited officials from Vietnam, India, Pakistan and other rice-exporting countries to a meeting to develop a cooperative strategy for improving the value of rice exports on the global market.

With low export prices available, buyers continue turn to India for supply. Logistical problems, however, are making the exchange between buyer and seller very difficult. A strike by clearing and forwarding agents against the railways at Kandla port in western India, is now severely disrupting the export of rice and other goods. Several trains are waiting for discharge for onward loading onto vessels, without willing workers to complete the job. Exporters are concerned the strike could have a large impact on the rice exports, and could ultimately result in canceled contracts.

In the first quarter of calendar year 2002, India's rice exports nearly doubled to 937,000 tons, compared to the same period last year. The increase was entirely confined to non-basmati rice. The main buyer of non-basmati rice during the quarter was South Africa (210,682 tons) followed by Indonesia (134,166 tons).

As part of a research project conducted under direction of the National Rice Network Program of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, six universities in India are coordinating their efforts to identify drought-tolerant strains of rice. The scientists involved in the project are using molecular and genomic technologies to identify the estimated 3,000 drought tolerant genes for the climactic conditions found in India. So far, participants in the project have identified approximately 800 of these genes.

In Vietnam, price pressure from improved demand and ongoing loading activity against old sales is being offset by entry of summer-autumn rice onto the market. The USDA post in Vietnam has lowered its 2002 rice exports estimate for Vietnam to 2.8 million metric tons. Rice exporters who load for government-to-government contracts are facing big losses as the local price is higher than the export price quoted in the contracts. Some government analysts have said that for Vietnam to avoid big losses, the country should not even try to reach their revised export target of 3.5 million tons.

South Korean officials said Wednesday that it was not likely that the country would follow through with its April pledge to send 300,000 tons of rice as food aid to North Korea following a naval battle between the two countries on the Yellow Sea on Saturday. South Korean officials said that they would now consider donating the surplus rice to other countries that are in need of food aid instead. The North Korean grain shortfall this year is seen at 1.47 million tons according to the United Nation's World Food Program.

In Bangladesh, rice production for 2002/03 (July-June) is projected to increase by about 6% from the 2001/02 season to 25.65 million tons. Although planted rice area is expected to decline by about 80,000 hectares to 10.24 million hectares in 2002/03, the country's agricultural officials are optimistic that they will see higher yields because of improved crop management, use of hybrid seeds and use of more modern technology. According to the USDA, rice consumption in Bangladesh is projected at 26.250 million tons of rice in the 2001/02 marketing year.

In Iran, the director of the Rice Production Association projected that the country's rice output could reach 2 million tons in 2002, up 15% from 2001, if weather conditions remain favorable. Poor output during the past few years has been the result of prolonged drought and resulting shortage of irrigation water. The USDA estimates 2002 rice imports by Iran at 1.25 million tons, against yearly rice consumption of approximately 2.8 million tons.

Despite heavy flooding in 19 of China's provinces, traders say damage to the rice output in the country will be limited. Harvest of the early crop, which accounts for approximately 30% of the country's rice production total, was already completed prior to the flooding. In most areas, planting of the second crop has not yet started. Traders expect that farmers in areas where early second-crop rice was damaged should be able to replant successfully. Last week, the National Grains and Oils Information Center projected 2002 rice production in China at 178 million tons, unchanged from 2001.

According to China's State Statistics Bureau, planted area for early rice this year was 5.83 million hectares, a drop of 5.9% from 2001. The bureau said that acreage had declined in part because protected pricing for rice was removed, and because poor weather and drought lowered spring plantings at the middle and lower regions of the Yangtze River and in Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

Scientists in China report successful breeding of a "high-nutrition" variety of rice that increases the average protein content to 13.8%, compared to approximately 8% protein content found in average Chinese varieties. In field tests, the protein-rich rice proved to be high yielding and very disease resistant. The scientists developed the rice by adding genetic material from a high protein maize variety. Researchers report that one rice strain in the series produced a protein content that reached 14.9%.

The chairman of Indonesia's National Logistics Agency (Bulog) said the agency's rice stocks were sufficient to meet demand for the next 7 months of domestic distribution, including the remainder of the dry season (April-October). The chairman reported that the agency's stocks stood at 1.7 million tons on July 1, with 1.49 million tons purchased from domestic farmers so far this year.

The Philippine Agriculture Secretary said Wednesday (July 3) that January-September paddy rice output in the country is projected to hit 8 million tons, a 0.4% (30,000 ton) increase from paddy output registered for the same period last year. During the first six months of the year, rice production of 5.61 million tons was up 0.8% (50,000 tons) from the same period in 2001. The Secretary indicated that while output is expected to be up during the first 3 quarters of 2002, El Nino weather would likely temper overall growth in Philippine rice production this year.

On Friday (June 28), the U.S. Agriculture Secretary and the U.S. Trade Representative made an official public statement regarding their opposition to Europe's proposal to change its grain import tariff system. In the statement, the U.S. officials said that they were "deeply troubled by the European Commission's recent public statement that it will seek to restrict access by the United States and other nations to European markets for grain and rice."

The European Union's Agriculture Commissioner said Monday (July 1) that he was troubled by the misunderstanding, and that there is no intention on the behalf of the EU to restrict imports of cereals and rice. The Commissioner added that provisions under the GATT agreement ensure that the rights of WTO partners are maintained, and that that the changes were proposed only because the current system for calculating tariffs does not work.

The USDA reported net sales of 93,000 tons (combined new sales for the 2001/02 and 2002/03 seasons) and exports of 30,300 tons during the week June 21 - 27. According to the USDA, 2001-02 U.S. outstanding sales (sales still requiring shipment) stood at approximately 297,700 tons.

After increasing the world market price (WMP) for two weeks in a row, the USDA-FSA lowered lowered the WMP on Tuesday (July 2) to $5.97 per cwt for long grain, $5.44 for medium grain, $5.45 per cwt for short grain.

The 2002 rice crop condition for the six rice-growing states in the U.S. was mostly unchanged from last week with 14% reporting in excellent condition excellent (down 2%), 55% in good condition (up 3%), 27% in fair condition, 3% in poor condition and 1% in very poor condition.

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