Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thailand rations rice supply

Thailand is the world's largest exporter of rice. With domestic rice prices up 50 percent since January, today the government of Thailand set regional distribution quotas for rice.

What's the big fear? Thai officials and retailers fear people will start hoarding rice; and if that happens, the price will go even higher. Ordinary folks hoard rice to protect themselves against price increases; farmers hoard rice in hopes getting a better price at a later time.

Gwyn Dyer writes:
In six of the past seven years, the human race has consumed more grain than it grew. World grain reserves last year were only 57 days, down from 180 days a decade ago

To make matters worse, demand for food is growing faster than population. As incomes rise in China, India and other countries with fast-growing economies, consumers include more and more meat in their diet - the average Chinese citizen now eats 50kg of meat a year, up from 20kg in the mid-1980s. Producing meat consumes enormous quantities of grain.

But the worst damage is being done by the rage for "biofuels" . . . Some 30 per cent of this year's US grain harvest will go straight to an ethanol distillery. . .
Dyer goes on to say that agricultural production must not be diverted to biofuel. But we need not worry -- shortly nobody will need convincing of this.
FAO, Bangkok Post, Forbes

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