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Government Imports Rice to Counter Steep Price Rises
UN Integrate Regional Information Network, July 12, 2004
Guinea-Bissau's recently-elected government has ordered 5,000 tonnes of rice to be immediately imported from neighbouring Senegal to make up for local shortages which have sent the cost of the country's staple food soaring by 25 percent in recent weeks.

The plan to import emergency stocks of rice by sea from Dakar, in partnership with local food importers, was announced by Trade Minister Iussuf Sanha following an emergency cabinet meeting on 7 July to discuss spiralling food prices.

Officials said rice stocks had dwindled because Guinea-Bissau's farmers usually barter much of their cashew nut crop for rice with traders from Senegal during the March-June marketing season, but this year most had chosen this year to sell their nuts for cash instead.

As a result, the quantity of rice imported by truck from Senegal to be bartered for cashew nuts had fallen sharply below its usual level, they added.

The resulting shortage has seen the price of a 50 kg bag of rice rise from 12,500 CFA francs (US$23) to between 15,000 and 16,000 francs ($27 to $29) since the beginning of June. A bag of rice now costs as much as a junior civil servant earns in a month.

Officials said the rise in rice prices in this former Portuguese colony of 1.3 million people had nothing to do with spiralling rice prices in neighbouring Guinea-Conakry, where youths have attacked rice trucks over the past two weeks and the government has intervened to subsidise retail prices.

Sanha said an emergency stock of rice would be imported into Guinea-Bissau from Senegal in five cargoes of 1,000 tonnes each. Import taxes and port charges on these shipments would be reduced so shopkeepers could keep street prices low, he added.

The Trade Minister said a further 27,000 tonnes of rice should arrive from the Far East over the coming four weeks, including a donation of 5,000 tonnes from China. That should bring prices back down to normal levels and keep the market well supplied for the next five or six months, he added.

The price of cooking oil and sugar has also risen slightly in recent weeks, but not as steeply as the price of rice.
MGR Archive 13.7.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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