Tokyo, Oct. 16 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese agriculture ministry Friday called for an 8 pct production cut in rice for human consumption next year, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on demand.
Demand for rice, particularly for use at restaurants, has been falling significantly as many people have chosen not to dine out due to the pandemic.
A desirable level of 2021 rice production is 6.79 million tons, compared with an estimated 2020 crop of 7.35 million tons, the ministry said.
The ministry plans to ask farmers to shift to production of rice for livestock feed in an effort to avoid an oversupply of rice for staple food, officials said.
Demand for rice for human consumption is expected to fall by up to 110,000 tons to 7.04 million tons in 2021 from the previous year due to an aging population and a change in dietary habits, the ministry said. The actual figure may be lower due to the pandemic.
Rice inventories in the country totaled 2.01 million tons at the end of June, already topping the 2-million-ton level above which prices tend to fall.
Inventories are expected to grow to 2.21 million to 2.27 million tons over the next year. The ministry thinks that a cut in 2021 production to 6.79 million tons would be enough to limit inventories at the end of June 2022 to some 2 million tons.
The ministry said that wholesale prices of 2020 rice fell by 676 yen from the previous year to 15,143 yen per 60 kilograms.