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ECONOMY

Rice paddies in Japan to decrease by 65,000 hectares in 2021

  • July 29, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 12:55 p.m.
  • English Press

 

Tokyo, July 29 (Jiji Press)–Rice paddies for the grain as a staple food in Japan are projected to decrease in 2021 by up to 65,000 hectares from the previous year, the agriculture ministry said Thursday.

 

The estimate was as of the end of June. Assuming an average year harvest, the ministry expects the country’s rice production this year to total 6.94 million tons, the first annual figure below 7 million tons since comparable data became available in 1958.

 

The projected lower output is seen preventing rice prices from declining steeply at a time when domestic rice inventories are piling up due to the country’s falling population and a drop in demand for eating out amid the novel coronavirus crisis, analysts said.

 

At a meeting of a subcommittee of a relevant council Thursday, the ministry adopted a new basic policy for ensuring stability in the rice supply-demand balance and prices of the grain. In the policy, the ministry said that fields for rice to be grown this year are estimated to decrease by 62,000-65,000 hectares from the 1,366,000 hectares in 2020.

 

The ministry believes that an annual rice output cut to 6.93 million tons through a 67,000-hectare reduction in rice fields is needed for stabilizing rice prices. The ministry is now on course to achieve the target thanks chiefly to its program of providing lucrative subsidies to farmers converting their paddies for rice for human consumption to those for rice as animal feed and to fields for other crops.

 

In the basic policy, the ministry forecasts demand for rice as a staple food in the year to June 2022 at 7.03 million tons, almost unchanged from the 7.04 million tons in the preceding year.

 

Meanwhile, rice inventories in the private sector as of the end of last month grew 190,000 tons from a year before to 2.19 million tons reflecting falling demand blamed on the COVID-19 crisis..

 

Some say that the conversion of rice paddies needs to be promoted further in 2022 in order to prevent a rice price fall.

 

 

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