Food for thought
Rice is the main source of food that the children and young people in dormitories receive. A typical meal consists of rice, fishpaste, chilli and yellow beans. To enable them to grow strong and healthy, we provide the children in the dormitories we support with vegetables, fruit and protein (see February Update below).
The Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) provides standard food rations to everyone in the refugee camps: rice 15kg (per month), fishpaste 0.75g per month, yellow beans 1kg (per month), oil 1 litre (per month), chillies 120gms (3 months), Asiamix (blended food) 1kg (per month), sugar 1kg (4 months).
However, there is now a shortage of rice in the camps and this is due to two reasons.
First, the price of rice has risen by as much as 70% during the past year, with increases accelerating in recent weeks,according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Second, due to the increase in price and a drastic cut in their funding, the TBBC has reduced rice rations to the camps, except to the dormitories.
Why is there a global shortage of rice? The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) explains that:
· Land for producing rice and irrigation water is being lost to industrialisation and urbanisation.
· The growing appetite among Asia’s burgeoning urban middle class, especially in India and China, for meat and dairy products is also leading to less land for rice production.
· Flooding in Indonesia and Bangladesh and recent cold weather in Vietnam and China have also reduced production.
· Export restrictions in major rice producing countries such as India, China, Vietnam and Egypt have reduced global supply.
Other commentators have pointed to the switch from rice to biofuel production and an increase in demand for rice in Africa.
This is a cause for concern. The continued increase in rice prices and the reduction in TBBC funding means that refugee camp residents will have much less to eat.In the event that the rice rations to the dormitories are cut, the diet of the children and young people will be significantly reduced in quantity and nutrition.