The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said Wednesday it will sell a total of 190,000 tons of stockpiled rice to ease growing concerns about a supply shortage.

The emergency sale reflects concern that unseasonably low temperatures this summer will likely affect the rice harvest in autumn.

The ministry said it will begin to accept orders from rice wholesalers later this week.

Of the planned supply, 100,000 tons will come from a stockpile of rice managed by the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations.

Stockpiled rice will be reduced to zero before newly harvested rice is distributed. It is the first time this category of stockpile will disappear since the meager rice harvest of 1993.

The government will also release all of the 90,000 tons of rice it purchased from farmers to stockpile in 2002. If the 190,000 tons of rice are sold as planned, the stock of rice in Japan will slip to approximately 1.3 million tons from the 1.5 million initially projected for the end of October.

The ministry has said this year’s rice harvest is “remarkably poor” in Hokkaido and the three northeastern prefectures of Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi — the country’s major rice-growing regions.

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