Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rice Crisis: An International Lapses

At first, there was a report from Vietnam raising the issue of a rice pest creating widespread havoc on their harvest. This had reached the attention of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines. IRRI cannot identify the rice virus and needs to research before it can recommend proper control. But lack of funds hampered their works and needing assistance from international communities.


Vietnam tossed in the air their concern that it may not satisfy the export commitment to the importing world. Thailand, India, and Pakistan echoed almost the same sentiment due to spiraling production cost and surging prices of rice. These sent a signal to rice consuming communities.


Politics in the Philippines is over its head. A Philippines Daily newspaper immediately barked on rice traders close to Malacanang that they are manipulating the looming rice crisis. Such unfortunate perception is tantamount to fueling unrest when in fact the shortage is an international concern and is inevitable. Political opposition and leftist organization found another venue to throw mud to Arroyo administration. They are quick to create a word of mouth rice crisis in the country. Hoarders, price manipulators, and other crime-related activities reacted to the issue. Terrorist, engaged in extortion, reportedly burnt a rice traders trucks in their warehouse. Farmers who do not tend the farms but till the streets of Makati and Mendiola rushed to the grass-roots and sow fears of alarming catastrophes of rice shortage.


How can this be? There was no flood or any disaster that may derail rice production. A showing of good harvest is in the offing throughout the rice producing regions. There were already a reported good harvest and may exceed by 7% the previous production last year. Why are these prophets of doom can effect easy access to media and right away spread malicious prophecy and destructive predictions. They are doing disservice to this country which is striving to rebuild its damaged reputations.


How can this country improve its marred stature when politics of destructions are the main menu everyday? Here, there is a convicted president after being pardoned; started campaigning, throwing garbage here and there, and gaining mileage for election years away. There are religious groups, instead of caring their parishioners, are engaged in a political maneuverings. There are uncivilized societies thinking nothing but how to junk the country in a waste bin. And also its people choosing a military secessionist in an electoral post rather than a bar topnotcher.


O-oh! I was carried by patriotic emotions and swerving to other issues….. Anyway, these are all contributing factors on how this rice crisis reached an alarming proportions. IRRI on the first place should have warned the community of nations long before this impending shortage. They have their own experts and monitoring skills to forecast producing event and determine the necessary advance actions to prevent shortage in the future. But they failed on this undertakings as well as the top producing cereals countries to preempt this rice crisis. And here comes the lapse of judgment . World rice production should have been planned and programmed years ahead so that any contrasting events can be addressed and a continuing solutions can be applied.


As a results of these problems, international hoarders and profiteers are taking advantage of the situation creating a real or illusionary shortage of this prime food commodity.


In the Philippines actually, we have a better rice production this year. However, international rice producing countries failed to produce enough rice to feed the world’s swelling population of 6.6 billion. The 8.5 billion hectares of world productive lands are diminishing due to irresponsible land conversion use, factories and subdivision use, and the more profitable growing crops for fuel instead of food.


With these unfavorable factors , however, IRRI has alarmed “about the coming food emergency as early as March l0, 2008.” World Food Program forecasted that the prices of rice will continue to increase, “probably at least until 20l0.” But these are quite already late. Per Bangkok Post: “Asia scrambling to find food. There is a surge of rice price over the past few months.” Wall Street Journal stated: “that prices hit new high. Farmers across Asia are hoarding their crops. Shortage in Asia and Africa would lead to widespread unrest.”


With this development, rice crisis is now in serious stage and this may lead to tension and violence. This is a major staple food and hungry people knows no boundaries.

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