China’s early rice crop shrank in terms of area sown, yield and total production this year as floods destroyed paddies in many parts of the country and some farmers opted to delay planting.

Total area sown fell to 5.62m hectares this year, with yield dropping to 5.83 tons per hectare for total production of 32.77m tons of early rice in 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The statistics bureau said the decrease was caused by flood damage to paddies from storms that struck early in the growing season, as well as an apparent shortage of labour that resulted in farmers deciding to either forego sowing altogether or delay planting until later in the year for harvest in autumn, writes Hudson Lockett.

The bureau noted yield was also low, again blaming floods and low sunlight during growing season as well as outbreaks of disease and harmful insects. The result is the smallest early rice harvest since 2011, reflecting a year-on-year fall of 2.7 per cent in total output.

Already the cost of domestic rice appears to have risen, with agricultural commodities price tracker Yimutiao reporting the average market price up by around Rmb2.2 to almost Rmb11 per kilo, having jumped suddenly on 16 August.

With rice acting as a key component of China’s consumer inflation basket, the smaller early harvest is likely exert some upward pressure on the headline consumer price index, though that may be mitigated if pork prices continue to decline.

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