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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        27  May 2011

Rice crisis could reappear

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Repeating the 2008 rice crisis that led to riots in the developing world cannot be ruled out as the cost of other agricultural goods surge, the International Rice Research Institute has warned.

The institute said the global rice market was delicately balanced as the grain had managed to avoid huge price rises thanks to stable weather in rice growing regions.

The cost of wheat surged 121 percent over the eight months to February, maize jumped 92 per- cent and sugar was 80 percent higher due to bad weather and rising global demand for commodities. However, at the same time rice prices rose just 17 percent due to good harvests in 2010.

But the IRRI, in its quarterly Rice Today magazine, said the possibility of panic-buying of the staple similar to three years ago could send prices soaring again. Rice prices nearly tripled from US$362 (S$448) a tonne in December 2007 to almost US$1,000 in April 2008 as stocks fell to 30-year lows amid surging global demand, IRRI data show.

'The rice sector has been fortunate to have escaped the wrath of the weather,' the magazine report said. 'However, similar panic actions by other rice-consuming countries may tilt the market to an override mode and possibly cause a repeat of 2008.'

The institute said rising prices of other food commodities had forced rice-eating countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Myanmar to either dramatically boost their rice inventories or impose export bans. This echoed similar moves by major rice exporters in 2008, which led to the spike in prices, leading to riots in several developing countries.


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ASEAN  ANALYSIS

This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

 

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