June 29 (Bloomberg) — Rice production in Thailand, the largest exporter of the grain, may drop to the lowest in eight years as drought and the spread of plant hoppers damage crops, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The nation’s main rice crop, which accounts for about 75 percent of total output, may be 22 million metric tons in the year starting October, the smallest since 2002, said Concepcion Calpe, a senior economist at the United Nations’ agency.
“We’re still maintaining our relatively downbeat forecast for rice production,” she said in a phone interview from Rome.
Falling supplies may drive the price of Thai 100 percent grade-B white rice, the benchmark for Asia, to $500 a ton by the end of the year, Banjong Tungjitwattanakun, vice president of the Thai Rice Mills Association said last week. The price has risen from a two-year low of $469 on June 9 as a strengthening local currency makes exports expensive.