Global rice production is expected to touch 476 million tonnes in 2011, on the back of improved weather conditions, as the influence of La Nina is expected to neutralise by June, United Nation’s body FAO said.

The world rice production reached a new record in 2010, at 464 million tonnes (696 million tonnes paddy), up 1.8 per cent from the previous season, Food and Agriculture Organisation said.

“Although very preliminary, world paddy production in 2011, is forecast to expand by 2.5 per cent to 713 million tonnes (about 476 million tonnes, milled basis), reflecting expectations of improved weather conditions, as the influence of La Nina is expected to fade away by June,” it said.

In Asia, output is expected to grow by 2.5 per cent to 645 million tonnes (430 million tonnes, milled basis), with major increases expected in China and India and a recovery in Pakistan, it added.

According to the third advance estimate of the Agriculture Ministry, rice production in India in the 2010-11, season is pegged at 94.11 million tonnes.

However, the outlook has not been healthy for Sri Lanka, that has been affected by a consecutive round of floods, and Japan, where the catastrophic earthquake in March and ensuing tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear plant radioactive leakage will affect the output, FAO pointed out.

The event particularly affected the Tohoku district, that accounts for a quarter of Japan’s rice output, it added.

“FAO estimates that the disaster will result in a 43,000 hectares cut in area cultivated to rice in 2011, equivalent to about 3,00,000 tonnes of paddy production. If confirmed, it would bring Japan’s paddy production down by 3 per cent to 10.3 million tonnes,” it added.

In Africa, production of rice in 2011, is expected to remain close to the 2010 level, with some increases in Western Africa compensating for reductions in Egypt and Madagascar, FAO said.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, paddy production is expected to recover in 2011, after the last year’s reduced crop.

The output in 2011, is helped by a strong recovery in the southern part of the continent, especially in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and Venezuela, where harvesting of the 2011 main paddy crops is virtually completed, it added.