Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 04/2012

In search of food security: Addressing opacity and price volatility in ASEAN's rice sector

Sally Trethewie

March 2012

Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies


The availability of rice has long been considered a key indicator of food security in Southeast Asia. However, for largely strategic reasons, there is a paucity of information in the public domain on rice availability, particularly figures on production, storage and trade. As a consequence, households, producers, mills and traders participating in the market have been doing so based on opaque information, and this has had significant impact on rice price formation. When price shocks and volatility occur, the ramifications of trading with insufficient data are magnified. This NTS Policy Brief recommends four measures that Southeast Asian governments might take to increase transparency, and thus address the continuing problem of price volatility.