This news came out yesterday when I was traveling. And today, being May Day, does not have enough hours in it for me to do justice to this news. The food crisis, and specifically the rice crisis, is revving up.
First, the UN’s Ban Ki-moon announced that the U.N. would begin a Food Crisis Task Force.
Then, the strange news that despite the insufficiency of rice in the country currently (and Cambodia’s growing population), Cambodia announces its plan to lead the world in rice exports, hoping to export 8 Million Tonnes of Rice Per Year, by 2015. I fail to see how this will happen. “Three Tons Per Hectare,” anyone?
Finally, Thailand has begun discussions on the creation of a Southeast Asian Rice Commodities Trading Cartel.
From a purely economic standpoint setting up an effective rice cartel appears feasible. Unlike corn, wheat and other grains, rice is very thinly traded because only a handful of countries export in large quantities. The largest rice producers, China, India and Indonesia, consume the vast majority of their rice crop domestically.
I don’t know enough about the functioning and normal effects of commodity cartels (more reading to do now, I suppose), so have no idea offhand whether this is a good or bad thing. Please sound off in the comments if you have thoughts on this.