Read this and weep. I quote:
World rice supplies are reaching dangerously tight levels as stores of South Asia's staple food fall to 25-year lows and governments strive to stabilise domestic markets.
The United Nations has called for richer nations to assist Bangladesh, where 40 per cent of people live below the poverty line, in tackling surging prices of foodstuffs. It said that poor households in the country spend nearly 70 per cent of their income on food.
On Thursday, the World Bank lobbied India to export rice to Bangladesh. However, Indian officials have their eyes fixed on their home markets and on the same day slashed import duties on several types of edible oil and rice in an effort to clamp down on a recent jump in inflation that is threatening the country's economy as a whole.
The Indian Finance Ministry said that the international price of crude palm oil has increased from $770 a tonne to nearly $1,220 in the past six months. “Retail prices for rice in Delhi markets increased from 15 rupees [19p] per kg to 18 rupees per kg over the same period,” it said.
Yet other countries are profiting. In January and February, Vietnam made $150 million through rice exports, an increase of nearly 80 per cent over a year ago.
World rice consumption has increased by 40 per cent in the past 30 years, from 62kg per person to 86kg, and only about 7 per cent of production is traded internationally, compared with 18 per cent for wheat. Rice productivity varies widely between countries. In 2000 Vietnam's rice yield was nearly twice that of Thailand.
Across Asia, pre-harvest losses of rice, mainly to rats, stand at as much as 17 per cent in some countries, with a 6 per cent loss throughout the continent representing enough to feed 225 million people, roughly the population of Indonesia, for a year.
All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!