U.S. farmers are planting the fewest acres with rice since 1989 just as global demand surpasses production for the first time in four years, driving prices as much as 12 percent higher this year. Plantings in the United States, the third-biggest shipper, may drop 25 percent this year because growers can earn more from corn and soybeans, The Thailand export price, Asia�s benchmark, may climb to $600 a metric ton by December from $534 on Jan. 26, a gain of 12 percent, according to a survey of traders, exporters and analysts.
Drought, pests seriously lower country's coconut production
By The Nation Published on February 4, 2011
Thailand is set to lose its ranking as the world's second largest coconut exporter and become a net importer as drought has damaged growing areas.
For more than four years, Prachuap Khiri Khan, the country's most important area for coconut cultivation, has been hit by drought. The province now has only about 400,000 rai (64,000 hectares) of productive plantation area out of a potential 2.5 million rai.
In addition to the land, drought has directly affected the trees and fruits themselves, making them vulnerable to insects that damage the quality of the product. In the worst case, coconut palms in Thap Sakae district have died, their green fronds turning brown. Production dropped drastically to about 10 per cent of normal. from 1,000 to 100 fruits for 10 rais plantation.
The farmers said coconuts could grow anywhere in the country with normal rainfall. However, the province has faced such severe drought that even irrigation systems have had insufficient water for the past four years. The result is a shortage of coconuts, prompting prices to skyrocket to Bt20-30 per fruit. This also directly affects coconut milk, whose price has also jumped in line with the raw material. Ampol Food Processing said the supply of coconuts for its plant producing coconut milk had dropped sharply from 150 tonnes to 60-70 tonnes per day. "Our production cannot serve market demand right now."
Rice Market Monitor, January 2011, Volume XIV - Issue No. 1
Forecast for world rice trade in calendar 2011 by nearly 900 000 tonnes to 31.4 million tonnes, only slightly below the estimate for 2010. Compared to 2010, improved supplies are anticipated to help countries in Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean to cut purchases, while, in Europe and Africa, they may buy more. As for exports, Thailand is foreseen to step up deliveries substantially next year, compensating, together with Cambodia, China (Mainland) and Myanmar, for an expected sharp reduction in shipments from Pakistan and Viet Nam. Improved production prospects for 2010 are behind a higher forecast for global rice consumption in 2011, now assessed in the order of 461 million tonnes, or 3 percent above 2010. Much of the increase is likely to be in rice destined to food, with per caput consumption averaging close to 57 kilos in 2011, half a kilo more than in 2010. This increase largely reflects rising demand in the fast growing economies, which has also contributed to fuelling domestic price rises.
Dramatic developments for coconuts, and with that for coconut milk prices
23 Dec 2010 COLOMBO (Commodity Online): In the backdrop of spiraling coconut prices in SriLanka, government has been forced to take hard measures to control the price rise as it considered a dietary staple on the island. The government has now decided to import coconuts from India and Malaysia to end the shortages and bring down prices.
Agencies reported that in an effort to curb a coconut black market, the Sri Lankan government last week set a ceiling retail price of 30 rupees (27 US cents) per coconut in state-owned stores. But stocks quickly sold out and then reappeared at more than double the price on the black market.
The prices of coconuts were Rs 55-60 two weeks ago and now it has come down to between Rs 30 and 32.
With Christmas later in the week, the festive spirit of citizens has taken a hit because of the shortage.
Earlier this week, the Government banned the felling of coconut trees without permission from the Coconut Cultivation board with immediate effect.
Stores facilities which have been setup at Vauxhall Street, Colombo can store one million coconuts which are collected from around the country.
These stocks are collected by Government lorries, Army and private vehicles and distributed through the cooperative network, the Minister said. The Government has implemented a program to control soaring coconut prices during last few weeks, he said.
The Government has launched several programs to increase coconut production. The Government has banned the felling of coconut trees under the provision of the Coconut Development Act.
Accordingly, prior permission from the Regional Manager of the Coconut Cultivation Board of the relevant area should be obtained to cut down a coconut tree.
Coconut Development and Janatha Estate Development Minister Jagath Pushpakumara said the decision was taken to protect coconut cultivation and thereby keep a check on the price.
Sri Lankas annual coconut production is 2.7 billion nuts, and the ministry expects to increase this to 3.5 billion, Pushpakumara said.
Coconuts have traditionally been a key Sri Lankan export, after tea and rubber. But many say that the main reason for the coconut shortage is that large chunks of coconut plantations have been sold to build housing projects.
The fruit is widely used to make curries and the island specialty of `sambol�, a type of dry chutney.
Sri Lanka's Central Bank said coconut production fell 4.4 percent in the third quarter of this year after falling 19.3 percent in the corresponding period last year.
Not only coconut, the Lankan government has also decided to import chicken and eggs to meet the demands of the festive season.
Reports also said that Sri Lanka soon plans to start importing camels and ostrich to meet the demand for rising milk and egg consumption.
Sri Lanka takes on nationwide coconut crisis
By Charles Haviland
The Sri Lankan government has stepped in to try to stem a severe shortage of a national staple - coconuts.
The felling of palm trees has been banned without the special permission of the Coconut Cultivation Board.
The government has also begun importing coconuts from India and Malaysia, and attempted to impose price controls.
The coconut development minister said the shortage was a "burning issue". The hard-shelled fruit is an intrinsic part of Sri Lankan culture and cuisine.
Coconuts have also traditionally been exported as well.
Shoppers at a food market in a suburb of Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, told the BBC they were not happy about the situation.
Periapperummal Dalton said the price of a coconut had doubled in two months to as much as 60 rupees ($0.54).
Analysts say the shortage has arisen because coconut plantations have been unscrupulously converted for housing development.
Production has also been affected by the relatively high cost of fertiliser.
The government last week tried to cap the price of coconuts at 30 rupees and rationed their sale in official outlets.
But supplies ran out and the coconuts appeared at higher prices on the black market.
Two vendors at the Colombo coconut market said that with imports about to enter the Indian Ocean island, prices were already beginning to fall.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's 2010 election manifesto this year declared that Sri Lanka was importing far too much food.
His government is currently engaged in a campaign to boost domestic food production.
But now coconuts, along with poultry, are being imported as seasonal demand rises.
Coconut milk lends a distinctive flavour to Sri Lankan curries of fish, meat and vegetables.
Coconuts are also used to make chutneys, pickles known as sambols and cooking oil.
Coconut production in free-fall (Thailand) Drought and pests mean more imports
Falling coconut output in pest-ravaged provinces has adversely affected Thailand's coconut milk and food industry. Local food processors are sourcing more coconuts from abroad, mainly Indonesia and Vietnam, but the solution is only short-term and shortages will continue unless more effective ways are found to deal with pests.
Ampol Food Processing Co, Thailand's leading producer of coconut-based food and milk under the Chaokoh brand, is now forced to import 200,000 coconuts a day from Indonesia, but that volume still falls short of demand, said Kriengsak Theppadungporn, the managing director.
The company and its parent firm the Theppadungporn Group are local market leaders in coconut milk and coconut-based foods. Together they use more than 500,000 coconuts a day to produce Chaokoh coconut milk and Roi Thai brand curry.
Drought and destructive pests, notably beetle infestations, have damaged coconuts fields for many years, especially in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Thap Sakae district, a major production area.
"Unfortunately, the area has suffered a dry spell for five or six months now despite most of the southern provinces being inundated in recent months," said Mr Kriengsak.
"We've had to bring in large volumes of coconuts from Indonesia recently, but even then it is unlikely to meet market demand."
The Agriculture Ministry reported that pest outbreaks, especially hispine beetles, which feed on the developing leaves of the coconut palm, are to blame for the steady decline in local coconut production in recent years. It estimates drought and destructive pests have devastated more than 400,000 rai of coconut sites nationwide, shrinking plantation areas by 3.36% to 1.44 million rai this year for output of 1.3 million tonnes, down by 6% year-on-year. Falling production has tripled the price of coconuts to 20 baht a piece, up from 6-7 baht last year. The prices of shredded coconut, which is crushed to make coconut milk, has climbed to 58-68 baht a kilogramme this week, from 30 baht a year ago.
Although shredded coconut is expensive, demand remains strong as it is a key ingredient in several Thai desserts and dishes, especially curries.
"It's also becoming difficult to find fresh coconut milk, so customers have turned to instant instead, and that has even driven sales of Chaokoh," said Mr Kriengsak.
"Despite the import volume being so large, we can supply only 100 tonnes of coconut milk per day to the market, far less than normal demand of 150 tonnes."
Ampol Food believes the reduced supply will cause it to miss this year's sales target of 1.9 billion baht. It now expects sales of only 1.6 billion baht but hopes that will rise to 2.2 billion baht once the supply eventually returns to normal.
Mr Kriengsak said the company is working with the ministry and Kasetsart University to use parasitic wasps to attack hispine beetles. The method is recommended by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as an effective biological way to eliminate pest outbreaks and help save the coconut industry in many countries.
As well, there is also campaign to encourage growers to replace old coconut trees, mostly older than 30 years, with new varieties of drought- and pest-resistant seedlings.
5 Dec 2010: Lean season, weather lead to coconut price hike
The rise in the price of coconuts is due to the lean season and the drought last year, said Chairman, Coconut Cultivation Board (CCB), Sarath Keerthiratne.
He said there is a drastic reduction in the harvest this time unlike in other years due to adverse weather conditions.
The price of coconuts has risen, making most consumers unable to afford it. The price of a coconut hovers around Rs. 45 while many retailers do not have sufficient stocks.
Tea, rubber and coconut are Sri Lanka's main export crops.
"The prices will be high during the next two months and will gradually decline by the end of February. We expect a harvest of around 2,600 million nuts this year", Keerthiratne said.
Sri Lanka's annual coconut production is around 2,800 million nuts while the country requires around 3,700 million nuts. "The CCB will provide coconuts to Sathosa and Cooperative Societies at Rs.26 a nut", Keerthiratne said.
Coconut production drops by around 50 percent during the lean period from September to March and increases during the rest of the year.
Chairman, Coconut Development Authority, Sugath Hadunge said changes in consumer patterns and the rise in demand for coconut oil have resulted in the increase in coconut prices.
Coconut oil is a substitute for the costly palm oil.
"The coconut palm disease in the South has no major impact on the price escalation", Handunge said.
The Ministry of Plantations has directed institutions under its purview to increase coconut cultivation and promote it as a garden crop. (LF)