The price of rice in Burma has jumped 50% since Cyclone Nargis devastated the country’s most important croplands and destroyed several fully stocked grain warehouses. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that the cyclone may “sharply decrease national rice production and impair access to food.” And the disaster comes as global rice prices are at an unprecedented high.
In the late 1930s, Burma was the world’s largest rice exporter, sending 3.3 million metric tons a year from the fertile Irrawaddy delta to foreign markets, mainly neighboring India. In recent decades, however, the country has only just managed to produce enough to feed itself. (IRIN, May 15)