Monday, May 19, 2008

Pakistan Plans to Export 1 Million Tons of Rice

(Photo / Pam Berry for the Globe)

Rice prices eased after a record high in April because Pakistan, confident of meeting local demand, will export 1 million tons and it looks like other countries will follow suit.

Pakistan, the fifth-biggest exporter, will permit shipments of 1 million metric tons because local needs have been met, Mohammad Azhar Akhtar, chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, said yesterday. Rice has fallen 13 percent in Chicago this week.
Prices reached an all time high in April and helped trigger riots over food cost from Haiti to Egypt. This peak and food cost fear was partly due to real concerns over increased demand and diminished supply but was also made dramatically worse by speculative hedge funds and corporate greed.

In spite of good news from Pakistan rice exporters, the outlook is not all that rosy.
The surge in rice prices, coupled with record energy and wheat costs, stoked concern that basic goods would cost more than the poor could afford, creating a global food crisis. The UN's FAO estimated May 12 the global rice trade will drop 7.1 percent this year to 28.8 million tons.
Rice prices had also gained earlier this month after a cyclone slammed into Myanmar's main rice-growing region on May 3, inundating farmland and fueling speculation that the nation will be forced to halt exports. The impact of Cyclone Nargis had been factored into global rice prices, Sunny Verghese, chief executive officer of commodity supplier Olam International Ltd., said today. Myanmar used to contribute about 5 to 6 percent of the world rice trade, Verghese said in an interview. ``The new crop, I don't think they will export.- Bloomberg
Now that food concerns are going to finally be center stage, maybe food politics will gain a stronger consideration in global political circles and progressive discourse. Our food strategy in the future is going to have to be an important part of foreign policy in future years. The politics of the world food supply is not going to be something anyone can ignore.

For some basic background reading about food politics I reccomend anything by Marion Nestle