ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's rough rice output in the current Yala minor agricultural season is projected to grow 56 percent from a year earlier to 1.424 million tonnes, as a severe drought ends, with annual production from both seasons to be up 60 percent to 3.811 million tonnes.
More than 360,000 hectares out of a target of 422,000 hectares have been cultivated up to June, the Department of Agriculture said.
An output of 1.4 million tonnes for Yala is near normal output though still lower than the 1.9 million bumper harvest of 2015.
The rice harvest for the Maha main season in 2018 was also up 62 percent from a year earlier to 2.397 million tonnes, though still below average levels.
This year Sri Lanka is expected to produce 3.821 million tonnes of rice, up 60 percent from last year.
The Maha season is expected to produce about 1.51 million tonnes of milled rice and the Yala season 880,000 metric tonnes of milled rice totaling 2.37 million metric tonnes.
Based on average consumption of 193,000 metric tonnes, the 2018 rice output is 102 percent of consumption.
Rice and other field crops are a key source of rural incomes and a recovery of agriculture spreads to the broader economy.
Sri Lanka's has protected domestic rice production for decades with import taxes and farmers were given an incentive not to produce internationally traded grades of rice by state policy.
As a result bumper harvests does not lead to exports earning foreign exchange like in the case of tea, or rubber but leads to sharp falls in price with no takers for Sri Lankan rice.
Sri Lanka's rice yield per hectare however has grown in recent years and the steep fall in the rupee in recent years has also made imported rice more expensive in nominal terms. (Colombo/Aug15/2018)