Sat, Oct 15, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Government calms fears over higher rice prices

PLENTY IN RESERVE:The Council of Agriculture said local prices would be unaffected by the floods in Thailand because it has a 600,000 tonne stockpile

Staff Writer, with CNA

Recent flooding in Thailand and the new Thai government’s promise to raise rice prices have caused concern over prices in Taiwan, but officials said on Thursday that there is little likelihood that the impact from the floods in the Southeast Asian country would be felt by local consumers.

Although the floods in Thailand — the largest rice exporter in the world — might have caused the loss of about 5 million tonnes of rice, the Council of Agriculture said it was not yet able to predict the impact of the flooding on international rice prices.

The council said that compared with the flooding, the Thai government’s pledge to raise the minimum rice price for farmers by 50 percent would have a bigger impact on international prices.

However, it reassured the public that local prices would remain generally unaffected by any price increases on the international market, because the country has a 600,000 tonne rice stockpile.

It said that in cases of irregular price fluctuations, the council would release stored rice to stabilize prices.

Meanwhile, Agriculture and Food Agency Deputy Director-General You Sheng-feng (游勝鋒) said that although the current retail price of rice is NT$38.35 per kilogram, up 4 percent compared with last year, the price is still “reasonable.”

“Consumers should realize that the time of high food prices has come,” the Chinese-language United Daily News quoted You as saying.

The official’s remarks came after local rice retailers revealed that the price of white rice would probably climb to more than NT$40 per kilogram by the end of the year.

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