Workers pour rice into bags to be loaded on to a truck for distribution, in Yangon,
Myanmar (AP).

Myanmar Cyclone Sacks Rice-Growing Region

May 07, 2008 05:05 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by Anne Szustek
The destruction left by Cyclone Nargis dented the Asian country’s rice crop, although analysts believe this will have little effect on global rice supplies.

30-Second Summary

The five Myanmar states that were declared disaster zones in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis produced 65 percent of the country’s rice crop. The Irrawaddy Delta area, among the hardest-hit by the cyclone, is known as “Burma’s rice bowl.”

About 40 years ago Myanmar was one of the world’s largest exporters of rice, shipping out some 4 million tons per year. That number dwindled to 40,000 tons in 2007 due to domestic demand for the cheap grain.

Myanmar, as well as much of Southeast Asia, consists of low-lying, swampy ground ideal for growing rice. However, urbanization and rising sea levels are encroaching on this terrain, which International Herald Tribune writer Phillip Bowring argues is the root cause of for the global rise in food prices.

“Per capita rice consumption tends to fall as societies get richer and diets more diverse. High prices will stimulate production. One day Myanmar will reemerge as a major exporter,” he wrote.

As for the cyclone’s affect on prices, HSBC Global Research Economist Frederic Neumann said, "I don't think the cyclone is sufficient to spark another bout of hoarding and panic buying by consumers around the world that was the cause of the recent spike in prices.”

The global price for rice for July delivery hit $24.745 per 100 pounds for the first time last month, prompting international panic. Arkansas-based box discount retailer Sam’s Club put a four-bag limit on jasmine, basmati or white long-grain rice per family per visit.

Headline Links: Cyclone obliterates rice-producing region

Video: International Rice Research Institute

Background: ‘Myanmar Cyclone Death Toll More Than 22,000’

Opinion & Analysis: Global price increases for food

Reference: Socially responsible food, ‘Nature Wages War,’ and food security


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