Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 11:27 UK

Rice at record as exports curbed

Harvesting rice
Traders say they can't meet demand for rice

The price of rice has hit a record on fears demand will outstrip supply as governments move to curb exports of the staple food.

Rough rice for May delivery hit a record of $20.26 per 100lb, according to Bloomberg data.

Export restrictions are in place in major rice producing countries such as India, China, Vietnam and Egypt.

International rice prices have increased about 20% since the beginning of the year.

Rice is the staple food for about three billion people worldwide.

"Demand remained strong and there were several inquiries, especially demand for parboiled rice from African countries," said one rice trader in Bangkok.

Thailand is the world's biggest rice exporter.

The Thai Rice Exporters Association said exporters fulfilled orders for 2,000 tonnes of rice on Thursday, while 10,000 tonnes were ordered.

Export ban

The World Bank estimates 33 countries face potential social unrest because of rising food and energy prices.

The price of soybeans, corn and wheat are also near historic highs.

On Tuesday, India, the third largest rice exporter, banned the export of non-basmati rice to help control soaring domestic food costs.

The price for exports of aromatic basmati rice has also been raised to $1,200 per tonne to discourage exports.

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