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Bob Moon: The recent cyclone in Myanmar wiped out more than 10 percent of the country’s total rice production. Planting season has already started there, and if farmers don’t get new seeds into the ground soon, the devastated country could suffer even more from a serious food shortage. Lisa Chow reports.
Lisa Chow: The Burmese eat more rice than the Vietnamese and the Thais. In fact, their monthly average is about triple that of other Asians. So with the recent storm wiping out so many rice fields, this means trouble.
Diderik DeVleeschauwer is with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. He says poor farmers in the region don’t have the money to buy new seeds. But without this harvest, he says, Myanmar could face food shortages through 2009.
Diderik DeVleeschauwer: The time is running out. We are running against the clock. Rice seeds need to be received in the area within the next 40 to 50 days, otherwise there will not be any planting and there will not be any rice harvest later in the year.
He says Myanmar could go from being a rice exporter to a rice importer this year. And this could create more stress on an already strained global food market. Rice prices have soared recently, up about 20 percent since January.
In Beijing, I’m Lisa Chow, for Marketplace.
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