Thailand sees slightly bigger main rice crop in 2020/21 on better rain

BANGKOK, May 22 (Reuters) - Thailand forecast output of about 16 million tonnes from its main rice crop during the 2020/21 season, slightly more than the previous year, benefiting from higher expected rainfall.

The agriculture ministry expected the main crop to be planted across a total area of 60 million rais (9.6 million hectares), for a paddy yield of 24.66 million tonnes, slightly higher than last season’s 24.30 million.

“We should get around 16 million tonnes of milled rice,” Praphat Phothasoothon, a deputy minister of agriculture, told Reuters.

“Rainfall is expected to break off temporarily between June and July, but we expect heavy rainfall between August and October. This means there will be more water in reservoirs than last year.”

Farmers started planting the main crop on May 18, the start of the rainy season, after Thailand announced in April an official end of a dry spell that had begun in November, though warning that some areas might not see regular rains for weeks.

Output for all of 2020/21 is about 30.87 million tonnes, including the main crop and an off-season crop, the ministry said in an initial forecast. (Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)