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El Niño seen ending in July

THE EFFECTS of El Niño are expected to let up by July, but the dry conditions and high temperatures are forecast to persist intensely through the remainder of May and in June, according to a United Nations monitoring body.

The Agricultural Market Information System (Amis), which is administered by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said in its latest monthly report on the global market that in Southeast Asia, dry conditions would be accompanied by above-average temperatures that, in turn, would increase the impact of the dryness.

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Even then, the Amis warned about the increasing odds of a transition to La Niña conditions by November.

“[Climate] model projections put the chance of that occurring at about 60 percent, which is double the long-term average probability of La Niña in that month,” Amis said.

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In areas where El Niño brings below-average rainfall and increased temperatures such as the Philippines, La Niña is often responsible for above-average rainfall and cooler temperatures.

As for global rice production, Amis kept the forecast volume for 2016 at 495 million tons, the same as in the previous month’s projection.

This means that the production outlook maintained a modest 1-percent recovery from the reduced output in 2015 when the estimated worldwide output was 490 million tons.

“El Niño continues to impact the rice crop in parts of Southeast Asia, most notably in Thailand where conditions remain poor as harvest progresses,” Amis said, adding that production was also expected to decrease in southern Vietnam and the Philippines.

“In the Philippines, the dry season crop conditions are favorable in the north but mixed in the south due to insufficient water, intense heat and pest outbreaks,” the agency said.

Based on the latest FAO Food Price Index, global food prices have been increasing marginally for the third month in a row.

Still, the FAO observed prices of rice declining marginally, with the forecast output for the entire year being stable, at least for now.

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Last week, Economic Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra said that with the El Niño phenomenon likely to last until July, appropriate timing of rice importation remained critical to avoid supply disruptions that could result in unstable rice prices.

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TAGS: Agriculture, Business, climate, crops, Drought, dry spell, El Niño, Food and Agriculture Organization
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