Agricultural Development Economics


The changing structure of the world rice market, 1950-2000
D. Dawe
Publication date
The world rice market has been unstable for much of its post-world war II history, with prices volatile and the availability of supplies uncertain. These characteristics, exemplified by the world food crisis of the mid-1970s, influenced domestic price and production policies in a number of Asian countries. However, the structure of the world rice market has evolved and changed during the past 50 years. This paper identifies three distinct phases in the history of the market based on trends in the level and stability of production and the trade orientation of major exporters. The level and stability of production increased steadily over the entire period. Exporters have generally been active in the world market, with the period 1965–1981 being an important exception. Since the mid-1980s, prices have been low and quite stable, and the patterns identified in the paper suggest that prices will remain so in the future. The policy implication is that Asian rice importers can afford to rely more on the world market than was warranted in the past.