From Field to Export: Ecuador Delegation Tours U.S. Rice Industry

October 13, 2023
Organized by the US Rice Producers Association, five rice mills from Ecuador and three government officials spent a week in the Mississippi River Delta from St. Louis to New Orleans, visiting every aspect of the U.S. rice trade.

The purpose of the trip was to gain a solid understanding of how rice is grown and handled from the field to an ocean vessel for export. The last time Ecuador imported rough rice from the United States was in 1997 due to an El Niño weather phenomenon. Since that year Ecuador has been self-sufficient in rice and most years have had a surplus that could be exported to neighboring markets. Due to a long-time relationship between the USRPA and Ecuador’s CORPCOM (Corporacion de Industriales Arroceros del Ecuador), the national rice millers organization, the two groups began discussions earlier in the year about the market and the supply/demand issues in the Western Hemisphere. Aware of meetings in Ecuador between the rice mills, producers, and the Ministry of Agriculture, the USRPA invited CORPCOM members and government officials.

After 1997 Ecuador had not been involved in the rice trade outside of their country. That year the population totaled 11 million but today the population has grown to 18 million, putting increased pressure on production where average yields are 5,500 pounds per acre. The visit to the delta by five mills and two government officials was an overwhelming success as noted by their comments.
“Thank you for all your attention, you made a week of work like a vacation, meeting great people and professionals.”
“Thank you very much for organizing and sharing your experience and knowledge with us, an enriching trip."
”You made us feel as if we were at home and we could verify every step in the process chain of rice, where we could resolve our concerns.”
A glimpse of harvest and a conversation with Justin and Landon Wheeler at Wheeler Farms near Grayridge, MO.A market presentation at Bunge headquarters in St. Louis kicked off the week.
The group met with USDA - Federal Grain Inspection Service staff in Stuttgart, AR.Thanks to Dr. Jarrod Hardke and his team at the Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center for hosting the group for lunch.
TRC Group and Russell Marine Group hosted a grading workshop for the group.A river tour and export logistics discussion with Russell Marine Group in New Orleans.
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