PAKISTAN — New higher-yielding hybrid rice varieties, improved agronomic practices and increased planting area, as farmers shift out of cotton, has led to record rice harvests in Pakistan. 

According to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Pakistan harvested a record rice crop of 8.9 million tonnes in the 2021-22 marketing year, up from 8.4 million tonnes the prior year. 

Apart from the introduction of higher-yielding varieties, the agency noted that the Pakistan government’s policy of ensuring rice growers had adequate inputs also contributed to the record production. 

Despite the record harvests, the country’s rice exports in 2020-21 (November-October) were stagnant at 3.8 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from the previous year. 

According to the report, supply chain disruptions, shipping container shortages, and high transportation costs negatively impacted rice exports. 

With this year’s record production adding more stocks, total available supply is estimated to be 11 million tonnes, the USDA said. 

“Domestic rice consumption is 3.7 million tonnes, leaving an exportable supply of 7.3 million tonnes for 2021-22,” the USDA said.  

“This large surplus will provide an opportunity to significantly increase exports, but Pakistani rice will continue to face stiff competition from India and Southeast Asia suppliers.” 

Dry weather threatens corn in Argentina 

Meanwhile, industry analysts are of the opinion that dry weather is threatening vulnerable corn crops reaching critical development stages. 

Currently, the corn harvest forecast is for a record 57 million tonnes in 2021-22, but analysts said they may need to pare back that number should this dry weather pattern hold in the coming weeks. 

Esteban Copati, head analyst, Buenos Aires Grains Exchange, is however optimistic that late-planted corn could make up potential yield losses for early-planted corn under stress. 

Argentina is the world’s second-biggest corn exporter and top supplier of soy meal for livestock feed. 

Argentine farmers have planted more than 81% of the expected 2021-22 soy area and 70% of corn, according to a recent exchange report.  

Forecasts earlier in the season warned that the La Niña climate phenomenon might bring dryness to Argentina earlier in the season, but it arrived toward the end of the calendar year, affecting some of the nation’s best corn land, Copati said. 

Unlike corn, Argentine wheat crops received better than expected rain, and Buenos Aires Grains Exchange now expects the country to harvest 21.5 million tonnes of the crop. 

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