This is the second year in a row the Southern Hemisphere's cereal harvest has been negatively affected by severe dry weather related to El Niño and some are saying it's the worst in the past 18 years. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua have begun distributing agricultural aid packages to hundreds of thousands of farmers to support them in the second planting season.
Countries throughout South America have also been hit hard by El Niño. Venezuela, which has suffered major crop shortages, has turned to the U.S. to fulfill its consumption needs. Total rough rice sales to Venezuela are at nearly 150,000 MT within just the past two months. At the same time, Panamanian farmers had to reduce rice planting by 50 percent because of water shortages and U.S. sales rose to 60,000 MT. Guatemala and Honduras have imported nearly 20,000 MT each this year. As noted earlier this month (see USA Rice Daily, September 9, 2015), Honduran drought conditions led to a rice shortage and an allowance for imports of 25,000 MT of U.S. rice above the tariff rate quota amount.
"The substantial reduction in local production in the region has led to a surge of U.S. rice exports in a short time period," said Brian King, chairman of the USA Rice Western Hemisphere Promotion Subcommittee. "Our sympathies go to the farmers in these countries as we know all too well how unpredictable Mother Nature can be."