Developing Countries Will Lead Global Rice Import Growth in 2013-22, Says USDA Rice growers positive California MG prices are UP Russia MG Harvest coming to end Egypt open rice exports Vietnam’s rice export in tough competition with India Thai rice exports in May Rise Above Target This Year Viet-Nam Rice exports likely to fall this year
Australia Medium Grain Rice #1 $ N/A    Egypt 101 #2 $760    Egypt 178 #2 Rice $730    EU Prices Baldo €660    EU Prices LG-A Ariete 5% €550    EU Prices MG Lotto 5% €500    EU Prices RG Balilla 5% €500    Russia Rapan $ 700    USA Jupiter Paddy $375    USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480    USA Jupiter Rice $630    USA Calrose #1 $830   

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As rice prices soar, Thai farmers roll up sleeves
SUPHAN BURI, Thailand (Reuters) - Pranee On-lamoon gazes anxiously at her newly planted rice paddy, hoping to cash in on a price rally that has so far eluded most Thai growers.

Like many farmers in the heart of Thailand's main rice growing region, Pranee was spurred to grow a rare third crop of the staple grain after supply fears across Asia in the last four months pushed rice prices to historic highs.

"It's a risk, but it is the one golden chance I have," Pranee, 56, told Reuters as she prepared to work on her six hectare (15 acre) paddy field in the province of Suphan Buri, just north of Bangkok.

"I have been a farmer since I was born and I've never seen prices rise so high," the mother-of-two said.

But despite their back-breaking work, farmers such as Pranee might be the last to reap profits from high rice prices and the first to pay the bill from high planting costs and the risk that rice prices might tumble before harvest time in around June.

Most Thai farmers missed the chance to profit from prices as high as 17,000 baht a ton this month because they had to sell most of their crop after harvest in November due to a lack of storage on their own farms.

That same month India imposed a ban on non-basmati rice exports to ensure it had enough rice to feed its one billion people, sparking fears about supply and forcing up prices.

Vietnam, the world's number two exporter, then started restricting shipments, leading to a buying frenzy on world markets that has caused prices to double since January.

As a result, producer countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, which between them account for half of all world exports, are growing out extra crops to allow consumer nations to replenish stocks and alleviate some of the sense of panic.

Whether Pranee and her neighbors get to see the benefits of their extra work is another matter.

She believes a local miller is still hoarding the rice she sold in November in the hope of selling later to exporters at a higher price -- a charge also leveled at millers by the government but denied by the industry.

"I got only 7,000 baht per ton when I sold my rice," said 42-year-old farmer Kasem Laosittiwaro.

"I will grow another crop but I don't know if I can get 17,000 baht per ton when I sell my rice in June after the harvest," he said, referring to the current price for white rice paddy sold to millers for processing.

RISING COSTS

Producing a third crop is not the easy money it might seem at first glance.

The cost of fuel and fertilizer have risen steeply over the last year, pushing many farmers such as Kasem, who failed to get a much higher price for their November crop, deep into debt.

For decades, rice paddy prices have been around 6,000 baht per ton, propped up by a state minimum price scheme to prevent big fluctuations around harvest time.

This year, the domestic price has surged to 17,000 baht due to strong overseas demand.

But most farmers fear they will never be able to get that price, and will struggle just to cover their fixed costs estimated at 5,000 baht a ton.

"I'm not sure whether I could get any profit from selling prices at these historic highs as my costs have risen, leaving very little profit for us," said 53-year-old Wattana Boonyatim, who invested heavily in seed and fertilizer for his third crop.

In Vietnam, rice farmers are also feeling the pinch of high fertilizer costs which have eaten into their profits.



"This year's profit is not good as fertilizer prices have jumped strongly," Ha Van Duc said at his farm in Vietnam's Mekong Delta.

With fertilizer and rice seed prices almost doubling in the last 12 months, Bangkok has pledged to import 20,000 tons of fertilizer. Farmers say this is a drop in the ocean in a country that uses up around 4.5 million tons of fertilizer per year.

"The amount is tiny compared to what we consume per day," Wattana said.

Farmers are also aware that less fertilizer means less rice.

"Without fertilizer we can not get higher yields which means we suffer losses," said 61-year-old Chin Sudsaward, who had to borrow money for fertilizer.

Another factor playing on the minds of most farmers is the increased cost of land, with landlords seeing the high global prices as a chance to demand higher payments.

In response, farmers want the government to set a floor price of more than 10,000 baht per ton in case global prices have fallen by the time the third crop is harvested around June.

"We just want to have a choice," Kasem said. "If prices fell I need to be able to sell to the government at a price where I can afford to pay off my debts."

The government, which stopped its annual intervention scheme for the first time in decades this year due to the soaring global prices, has not responded to the request other than to say it wants the market to play its role.
MGR Archive 20.4.2008
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Region Type Price  
Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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