Developing Countries Will Lead Global Rice Import Growth in 2013-22, Says USDA Rice growers positive California MG prices are UP Russia MG Harvest coming to end Egypt open rice exports Vietnam’s rice export in tough competition with India Thai rice exports in May Rise Above Target This Year Viet-Nam Rice exports likely to fall this year
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No rice shortage in East Asia; high prices due to panic
MANILA, Philippines – East Asians, including Filipinos, need not worry about a rice shortage in the region, according to Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The soaring prices of rice is caused by speculation and fear among traders – not a regional rice shortage.

"East Asia has a rice stock led by Japan, and there is enough rice stock to take care of the region and to also share with the world in times of need,” Surin said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Surin, a veteran politician from Thailand, is in the Philippines to attend the 5th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology.

According to Surin, the soaring prices of rice is caused by speculation and fear among traders – not a regional rice shortage.

"The panic here is over," Surin said. "The price of rice has gone down. It may not be as low before and will never go back to the same price as before, but at least the panic is over."

According to Surin, ASEAN foreign, trade, and finance ministers had already deliberated on food security for the region and discussed ways on how to deal with increasing prices of commodities and oil.

"The issue of food security is being revisited, recalibrated, and analyzed," Surin said. "The ASEAN can come together and look at the issue and rationalize."

According to Surin, this is the time for the ASEAN countries to come together and deal with the problem instead of forming rice cartels.

"I think in the case of Thailand and the Philippines, there was an agreement that rice will be made available," he said. "And in the case of Vietnam they have decided to lift the export ban because of the pressure heightened by fear and speculation."

More funds for agricultural research

The Philippines, the world's biggest importer of rice, face possible shortages this year, according to its own government.

Earlier, the Philippines had called on international donors and financial institutions to increase funding support for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Laguna to avert a possible rice crisis.

Ambassador Hilario Davide Jr. also batted for increased funding for agricultural productivity research, which he included in his statement before a recent Special Meeting on the Food Crisis convened by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

"The call of the hour includes the immediate positive, affirmative response from all concerned, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Internal Fund for Agricultural Development and development partners to the most basic need of the IRRI – funds for research," Davide said.

He lamented that the research of the IRRI, the world's main repository of rice seeds, as well as genetic and other information about rice, "has been, unfortunately, tremendously slowed down because of cuts in funds for agricultural research."

"If money is available for research, IRRI can accomplish the task in four to seven years and save millions of people from hunger, from deaths," he said.

He said damage to rice crops, which has caused reduced production output, would have been prevented if only IRRI's budget for research had not been cut or reduced.

According to Davide, no fewer than 14 new types of resistant varieties of rice have been discovered. But cuts have prevented the IRRI from moving any further to breed stronger traits into widely used rice varieties
MGR Archive 9.7.2008
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