South East Asia: Center of the Rice Crisis
Posted May 2, 2008on:
Rice is the most staple food in this country, where in every corner of this archipelago, people are looking for rice. We never thought that there would be a rice crisis – or shortage of rice production, – but here we are now, at the center of the rice crisis. The government spends about $0.46 in every $100 of agriculture output, a level much lower than those of developing countries, which spends $0.53 in every $100, and much much lower in highly industrialized countries at $2.00 in every $100.
Now, where is the Philippines in this picture? Let’s not pin-point the Philippines as the main culprit. But yes! We do have contributed in this crisis – and we are in the forefront of the crisis. But there are many other reasons why we do have this crisis.
1. Oil Price is still as high as ever. Which means that basic transportation, work efficiency by using farm production engines, and other factors are contributing to a higher production cost.
2. Agricultural pest which pestered Vietnam and Thailand, world’s largest rice-producing countries. They ate up more that 200,000 tons of rice, and so, the countries needs to heap their rice production to alleviate their needs. They need a better pest control system. A costly need.
3. Climate change which collapsed Australia’s rice production- due to drought. It has eaten away at global rice stocks, which the country importers need to sustain their rice.
4. A population problem to the region, one of the highest rates in the World, leading to a corresponding leap in rice and agricultural consumption. Also, the population needs meat, and meat production requires huge amounts of water, labor, and grains to feed cattle, which in turn diverts resources away from rice production.
5. Less farmland, and irrigation in archipelagic region of South East Asia. The countries with main problem of rice is Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The Philippines has about 4 million hectares of agricultural farmland, but without a backbone of a river delta – like Mekong River of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – which by providing an easy and abundant water source, can produce higher yields of rice.
6. And lastly, without the use of irrigation, the countries is increasingly transforming farmland into office parks and suburbs. In the Philippines, half of irrigated land has been transformed into urban development in the past two decades. While this fuels new economic engines such as services and industry, it also undercuts resources needed to grow food.
The current crisis has prompted the countries to underscore their policies which is currently need of revision. The crisis itself had exposed the fallacy of the countries that rice is abundant, and we can get rice everywhere. Instead of having their policies amended, the exporting countries protected their looming rice supplies with increasing rice prices, and imposed rice export restrictions, leaving other countries to scramble to get their rice supplies. And with their intense need, economic laws are in motion – the Law of Supply and Demand.
On my next: This brought us to the Philippines, as the epicenter of the rice crisis.
HAPPY LABOR DAY!