Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Need to boost rice production

Tuesday April 8, 2008

THE global food crisis was precipitated largely by a significant drop in food production in grain-producing countries due to severe weather and an increased demand for food in developing countries.

This coupled with rising fuel prices has produced a frighteningly bleak future for the poorer people of Asia who spend about 60% of their income on food.

Worries over rising prices and adequacy of domestic supplies have recently forced major rice exporting countries in the region including Vietnam, Cambodia and India to introduce curbs on overseas sales.

Most of Malaysia’s rice supplies are sourced from countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

While it is true that locally produced rice is heavily subsidised, it will still be prudent – as an insurance to ensure our food security (to avoid the possibility of any food emergencies), to raise the local rice production to meet reasonably adequate levels of self-sufficiency.

The knee-jerk reaction of rice producing countries to curb rice exports in the face of lower production (to ensure adequate supplies for themselves) will restrict farmers (who would otherwise produce extra for the export market) to producing only sufficient to meet local demand.

Thus only a smaller percentage of rice from the world’s rice production will be available in the international market for rice importing countries causing food prices to soar.

Kuala Lumpur.

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