Rice! Rice! Rice!

by B-Naam

No, not Condoleezza Rice. Berenj!

It all started when the sharp rise in price of rice in Asia, especially in Thailand - world's largest exporter - was widely reported in the media couple of weeks ago. Soon after, Iranian stores in my town nearly doubled their prices and the rest, well, is history.

Basmati rice is a hard find these days. For those of you living in places with significant Iranian/Middle Eastern population, just drive to your nearest Costco or Sam's Club and you'll see. More than likely, the Basmati rice shelves are empty. These days the buzz at Iranian mehmoonis is all how everyone is hoarding rice. It has reached a crisis mode for those who have not bought an ample supply of rice, like it's the end of the world. A friend of ours was telling the story of how she bought 30 pounds, only to find out that her husband also bought 30 pounds in his way home the same day. This is madness and a classic example of how hoarding can potentially contribute to price increases even more. Fortunately, I don’t think this will happen.

All this hoarding business reminds me of the years following the revolution. Life was tough back then and hoarding or "ehtekar" was a term mainly reserved for businesses that stored away goods bought at subsidized prices for sale at outrageous black market prices.

Anyway, just like any other hot issue this will blow over soon too, when something new comes along and the sharp price increases gradually end. Or will it? Did you hear what happened in Myanmar (Burma) last weekend, another major rice exporter?

The saga continues…


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