Rice, a staple for half of the humanity, is for 90% produced and consumed in Asia. This crop is challenged by policies ensuring food safety and farmers income in the world’s most populated countries.
First, rice has different grades and processes varying upon the types of food in which it is consumed: parboiled rice is frequent in Indian cuisine, unlike in most Chinese and South-East Asian cuisine. This factor influences trade routes, which relate to the populations and their cooking habits (e.g. diasporas of different regions, etc.). Some products even find specific destinations, such as broken exported to Western Africa.
Rice is dominantly produced as a staple in emerging countries. For the sake of social stability, the governments concerned need to ensure food security and to find a compromise between rice affordability in urban areas and income generated in rural regions, which in some cases hold influential voting power. In order to do so, they may use a wide array of measures to regulate their markets, such as tariff and non-tariff barriers, minimum prices, support programs, state inventories, etc. The evolution of these policies and the relative price other cereals entering into food programs (primarily wheat) can influence rice prices.