News / Asia

    Floods Leave Southeast Asia More Vulnerable to Food Price Shocks

    Farmers in Indonesia sitting in front of processed rice that is ready to be sold. Economists say rice farmers living below the poverty line could be the most vulnerable to the impact of floods in Southeast Asia.
    Farmers in Indonesia sitting in front of processed rice that is ready to be sold. Economists say rice farmers living below the poverty line could be the most vulnerable to the impact of floods in Southeast Asia.
    Yong Nie

    Massive flooding in Thailand and elsewhere has destroyed large parcels of rice farmland, opening the possibility of higher rice prices and leaving Southeast Asia at greater risk of a food price shock.

    Heavy rains and massive flooding have destroyed crop land in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

    The United Nations says it is closely monitoring the potential for “serious food shortages” in several parts of Southeast Asia after floods affected agricultural activities and aid deliveries.

    Rice farmers in Cambodia tend to their crops. Some 12% of the country's paddy fields are believed to have been destroyed due to the flooding in Southeast Asia.
    Rice farmers in Cambodia tend to their crops. Some 12% of the country's paddy fields are believed to have been destroyed due to the flooding in Southeast Asia.

    The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Global Information and Early Warning System, in a report released on Oct 21, says although no precise figures are available, continuous rain and flooding is estimated to have damaged at least 1.6 million hectares of standing crop in Thailand, representing more than 12 percent of total national cropped area. Another 12 percent of the total area under paddy in Cambodia is also believed to have been damaged.

    About six percent of rice farmland is damaged in the Philippines, while in Vietnam it is reported that as much as 7.5 percent of the farmland is destroyed.

    Yang Razali Kassim, a senior fellow and analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, says food security in Southeast Asia will certainly be affected by the floods in the region.

    “The scale of the floods is unprecedented, and therefore, the threat on regional food security is also unprecedented. Rice supplies to the region is bound to be affected, adding to the pressure on food prices that have already seen rises in recent times due to shortages caused by erratic weather,” he said.

    Before the floods, said to be Thailand’s worst in the last 50 years, the Bangkok government forecast rice production to stand at 25.8 million tons. But, the government predicts it may lose some six million tons of rough-rice from flooding. Analysts say Thailand, which accounts for 30 percent of global rice exports, has already lost three million tons of rice due to floods.

    The price of rice is hovering at about $650 per ton currently, but rice traders are expecting the price to increase to $750 per ton, inching closer to its record-high level of $1,000 per ton in 2008.

    However, many Asian countries control rice prices via government subsidies, making it unlikely that price hikes will hit most consumers in the near term.

    Kamal Malhotra, U.N. Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, said rice farmers living below the poverty line are among the most vulnerable to the impact of the floods, as they are likely to have the least bargaining power, least resources to organize themselves collectively and are more likely to sit at the lowest end of the production chain.

    “Whether price increase[s] will result in income increase[s] for the majority of those involved in rice production varies, subject to how the production chain is structured and the relative bargaining powers between farmers, distributors and retailers,” he said.

    Malhotra said that while floods and other climatic conditions may cause price increases, the current prices of rice and other food commodities are also partly cost-pushed due to a fuel price hike and also the ongoing policy to replace food crops with cash crops.

    “Without reversing some of these policies, food prices will be extremely volatile to short-term ‘shocks’ such as floods, subsequently affecting food security,” he said.

    He added that shortages in food supplies are exacerbated by the possibility of panic-driven protectionism that may also push up prices.

    In 2008, a global food price shock mainly driven by rising oil prices caused political and social unrest in several poor and developed countries. A World Bank report released on February 15 said continuously rising food prices have pushed another 44 million people into extreme poverty and exposed them more to hunger.

    The floods that hit Southeast Asia have not only destroyed crops and livestock, but also claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands of people.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.