As the effect of the Asian rice crisis continues to bite, the price of the commodity is still going up. Commentators are referring to rice as ‘white gold’ and some farmers in Thailand have resorted to arming themselves at night to protect their increasingly valuable crop from rice hustlers.
The rice shortage in Asia has come about through a number of factors including poor harvests, most notably in Vietnam where much of the recent rice harvest was decimated by a virus. Although China is the largest rice grower in the world, Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice. The Thai government retains a large stockpile of grain and is yet to place any restrictions on exports. They have also assured local consumers that there is no danger of a rice shortage in Thailand itself, despite reports of some producers hoarding supplies.
Although some farmers are celebrating the record prices their crops have reached, many more have been caught out by the price fluctuations having sold at low prices to wholesalers before the market prices skyrocketed.