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Rice Price Reaches Cambodian-Americans

Rice prices on the world market have jumped 50 percent in the past three months and doubled since 2004. The high prices are hitting many families in Asia, but they have also reached Cambodian families in the US.

“Rice rose to a record $40 per 50 pounds in California, double the price a month ago,” said Bunna Seng, a grocery store owner in Long Beach.

Some countries in Asia have experienced rice shortages, and Cambodia has been forced to curb its exports. In more affluent countries, like the US, there is not a shortage, but families still feel the crunch. Some of them have begun stockpiling.

“The rapid price increase we have recently suffered is from record oil prices,” said Vanna, a Connecticut grocer. “Cambodian people bought between five and 10 50-pound sacks of rice to store in their house.”

Meanwhile, the actions of both consumers and rice sellers is affecting the cost.

“Hoarding by wholesalers and panic buying by consumers are factors of the soaring rice price,” said Marith Chhang, a consumer in the state of Washington.

The state of California is a huge rice producer in the US, but even here, the same factors affecting farmers in Asia are at work.

“There are many factors for the rise, including rising fuel and fertilizer costs, as well as climate change,” California farmer Thong Kim said.