Population growth in developing countries and the inability of key importers to significantly increase production will boost global rice trade 2.7 percent annually over the next nine years, according to the Agricultural Projections to 2019 report, http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/oce101/, released recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

The report notes that long-grain rice varieties account for roughly three-quarters of the global rice trade and are expected to account for the bulk of trade growth over the next decade.

Regional population surges and increases in per capita incomes will drive strong demand for rice imports and an increase in rice consumption in Central America and the Caribbean, the report says. Imports to those regions will increase by 500,000 tons over the next decade to 2.1 million by 2019.

Overall U.S. rice exports are projected to increase to nearly 3.8 million tons annually, a significant increase from the current 3 million tons. The U.S. expansion in rice exports is attributable to a slight area expansion, continued yield growth and slow growth in domestic use, the report notes.