Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Early Rice Output Up 2.4% in 2013

The National Bureau of Statistics announced that early-season indica rice production totaled 34.073 million metric tons in 2013. That was an increase of 783,000 mt or 2.4% from 2012.

Early rice is the rice crop that is planted early in the spring and harvested mid-summer, followed by another rice crop on the same land (called "late rice"). The early rice crop reflects the extent of double-cropping. This occurs only in a few southern provinces where it's warm enough to grow two crops of rice in the same field, one after another. Most of China's rice is single-cropped.

In recent years Chinese officials became alarmed that farmers were giving up double-cropping, either switching to a single crop of rice or leaving their fields idle. Here's a 2011 post on measures used to boost early rice production. Last year, agricultural officials launched a big campaign to revive double-cropping by setting up specialized farms to grow seedlings and transplant them.

Reflecting the importance placed on the early-season rice crop, the Statistics Bureau sent out a senior statistician to explain why the rice crop was up this year. He emphasized the role of policies. This year officials raised the support price for early rice by 12 yuan/50kg, more than for other types of rice. He emphasized a campaign by local governments to convince farmers to switch from single- to double-cropped rice, the rice-transplanting campaign, and mechanization that reduces labor costs and speeds up transplanting. In 2013 national early rice area totaled 5,791,900 hectares. NBS said that reflected an increase of 27,100 ha (.5%) from 2012. NBS estimates that the increase in area planted contributed 160,000-mt to the increase in production--not much but at least area didn't fall.

NBS estimates that most of the increase in production is due to yield increases. Rainfall was adequate, there was plenty of sunshine, warm temperatures and no major pest problems. In 2013 the early rice yield of 5882.9 kg/ha was up 108.2 kg/ha (1.9%) from 2012, contributing 620,000 mt to output growth.

Two provinces accounted for most of the growth. Hunan's output was up 418,000 mt (+5.1%), and Jiangxi's was up 278,000 mt (+3.5%). No indication of whether they can sell this rice since these provinces also are the main areas affected by cadmium contamination.

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