Nations of the world are increasingly facing the reality their stocks of rice may not be sufficient to handle normal demands from the population. In East Malyasia’s Sabah region, the supply of rice is enough to last for 1.6 months. This is about one third the amount normally in the reserves held by the nation. Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin admitted the “rice supply is presently a complicated problem not only in Sabah but across the globe.” He said his nation is expecting shipment of additional rice within the coming weeks from Vietnam and Thailand. “Our country is still getting supplies from these countries although they are now reducing their exports of rice.”
It is becoming increasingly necessary for governments to assume some control not merely of supplies but of price in order to protect consumers against price gouging. The assumption is traders will cooperate with government in maintaining supplies and prices. That, of course, is an assumption and the situation might become worse in terms of being able to obtain sufficient amounts of rice for the population.
There is need for international action to halt the use of food to deal with fuel needs and get nations focused on the importance of using food to feed people. What happens in East Malaysia if either Thailand or Vietnam is forced to curtail rice exports?