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June 18 - Asian rice prices almost trebled to their highest ever this year as export restrictions by leading suppliers fuelled insecurity over food supplies.
Now with signs of big harvests and export curbs being lifted, benchmark Thai prices RI-THWHB-P1 have fallen from their peaks.
For a selection of stories on rice click: [ID:nSP58629]
* October 2007 - India, which was the world's second-largest rice exporter last year but is set to lag behind Thailand and the United States this year, bans exports of non-basmati rice to rein in prices and control inflation, but later in the month eases the ban on some superior varieties of the grain.
* March 2008 - India bans exports of non-basmati rice again as inflation hits a 14-month high, alarming policymakers.
* March 2008 - Egypt bans rice exports from April 1 to October to hold down local prices. The country normally produces about 4.6 million tonnes a year of white rice, leaving a surplus of about 1.4 million tonnes for export.
* April 2008 - Vietnam extends a ban on rice sales until June to help stabilise domestic food prices as it tries to tame double-digit inflation. Prior to that, it had curtailed exports for March and April.
* April 2008 - Brazil temporarily suspends rice exports to safeguard domestic supply and keep prices of the basic foodstuff stable. Brazil, which is not a major global rice supplier, exported 313,000 tonnes of rice last year.
* April 2008 - Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest rice consumer, says it will curb medium-grade rice exports to combat inflation. Under Indonesia's new rice export rules, state procurement agency Bulog is allowed to sell medium-grade rice overseas only when national stocks are above 3 million tonnes and domestic prices are below a government's target price.
* April 2008 - India slaps export taxes on basmati rice, on top of an existing ban on non-basmati rice exports.
* May 2008 - Bangladesh bans non-aromatic rice exports.
* May 2008 - Cambodia becomes the first rice exporter to lift an export curb, which it had put in place two months ago, saying domestic stockpiles were sufficient and that it was short of long-term storage space. Vietnam also talks about ending its export ban from July, as planned.
* June 2008 - Vietnam says it will lift the ban on signing new rice export deals from July, and signs a government-to-governement deal to ship 600,000 tonnes to the Philippines.
WHY HAVE PRICES RISEN?
A cyclone sweeps through Myanmar's Irawaddy delta, inundating rice crops and raising the prospect that the country may need to import from its neighbours. While years of military misrule have seen Burma slip far from its post-indepedence position as the world's biggest exporter, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation said it had been looking for 600,000 tonnes of rice exports from Myanmar this year.
SCRAMBLE TO BUILD STOCKS
* January 2008 - Bangladesh signs deals and starts importing 180,000 tonnes of white rice from neighbouring Myanmar. The Bangladeshi government and private traders started importing rice after crop losses caused by flooding last year.
March 2008 - The Philippines says it aims to import up to 2.2 million tonnes of rice this year to meet a domestic shortfall, in what could be the biggest overseas purchase of the staple in a decade. Local harvests have failed to keep up with expanding population, lifting inflation to a 16-month high.
* March 2008 - Costa Rica expects its rice imports to jump 31 percent to 190,000 tonnes in the 2008/09 crop year, which begins in July, as farmers replace some rice fields with other crops such as sugar cane and pineapple. Bad weather in the remaining rice-growing areas also has cut yields.
* March 2008 - Bangladesh says it would import 400,000 tonnes of rice from India to cushion the country's dwindling stocks. The imports, allowed under a government-to-government deal, would not be subjected to the rise in rice export prices.
* April 2008 - Singapore says it would allow rice importers to bring in more stock to meet increased demand amid consumer fears of a rice supply crunch and higher prices.
* May 2008 - Mexico says it will eliminate import tariffs on foods including rice, which currently stand at 20 percent.
* June 2008 - The Philippines says it has signed a deal with Vietnam to buy 600,000 tonnes of rice, completing its purchases for the year. The price is nearly a fifth less than it paid in its previous tender in April.
FALLING WORLD INVENTORIES
World inventories have fallen by nearly 50 percent from a record high of 147.1 million tonnes in 2000/01, although they have already recovered slightly from a low in 2004/05. They are expected to rise marginally by the end of this crop year. Year Production Exports Domestic Ending
Consumption Stocks 2000/01 398.9 24.4 395.3 147.1 2001/02 399.7 27.9 413.5 133.3 2002/03 378.1 27.6 407.9 103.5 2003/04 391.7 27.2 413.2 82.1 2004/05 400.8 29.2 408.4 74.4 2005/06 418.1 29.4 416.0 76.5 2006/07 420.6 30.3 420.9 76.1 2007/08 425.3 27.5 424.2 77.2 Source; USDA data. Figures are in millions of tonnes.
DIVERSIFICATION OF LAND USE
In some countries such as the Philippines, production is failing to keep up with demand because paddy land is being overtaken for industrial development, or because farmers are seeking other trades. This is a longer-term issue that should contribute to supply tightness in the future.
Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines have moved recently to curb conversion of farmland to other uses.
In poor nations facing a doubling in wheat and corn prices, rice consumption is rising, but this is partly offset by falling per-capita consumption in big countries such as China. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that consumption in China -- which accounts for 30 percent of world consumption --has fallen by 3.9 percent over the past five years. But global consumption has risen by 2.7 percent over the same period, in places such as Nigeria, the Philippines and Bangladesh. (Writing by Sambit Mohanty; Editing by Michael Urquhart)