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米价上涨,“稻贼”出动

亚洲国家都在控制大米这种主要粮食的出口,以免出现自身的短缺。在各种因素的“完美风暴”作用下,全球需求超过了供应,各国政府也更加担忧食品安全。伊恩•麦金农报道。
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萨米尼昂·科提雅站在齐膝深的泥水里,脸上涂抹着檀香木膏,头上戴着一顶宽檐帽来遮挡炎炎烈日。正在为两个月后的下次收获而插秧的萨米尼昂笑得合不拢嘴,她为自己干着稻米种植的营生而倍感庆幸。

这位37岁的妇女在泰国中部的讪布隆村租了一小块土地,她知道稻米的价格在飞涨,在某些情况下三个月里竟然接近翻番。她家里吃不了的稻米可以卖个最好的价钱。

但是,稻米价格的上涨也有不利之处,它造成了一个新现象:稻米失窃。一个晚上,萨米尼昂的一位邻居即将收获的稻子被盗割。当地警察现在已经禁止收割机晚上上路,而北部平原的农民们则在他们的田地里宿营,拿着上膛的猎枪防范潜藏的偷米贼。

“竟然会有人偷米,我以前从来没听说过这种事,现在却发生了,因为稻米太贵了。等到稻子熟时,我想我也必须到遥远的田里去看着。”68岁的隆·楚普说,他在自己的小农场里种稻子。

在整个亚洲,稻米价格的突然暴涨已经促使各国禁止出口,唯恐短缺引起食品骚动。2006年底以来,小麦、玉米和其它农产品价格高涨,部分原因在于为了抵消石油价格上涨的生物燃料需求增加,但稻米的价格一直相当平稳。

然而,到了今年年初,25亿亚洲人民的主食开始飞涨。泰国大米全球基准,一月每吨的价格还不到400美元,到了三月底就涨到760美元。

亚洲各国政府都很清楚这种至关重要的粮食的短缺会在国内带来麻烦,因此都已经着手保障本国人民有足够吃得起的稻米,这种保障政策反过来又进一步抬高了米价。

接近三月底的时候,继主要出口国埃及禁止出口之后,柬埔寨也宣布了两个月的全面出口禁止,以保证“食品安全”。而每年外运500万吨稻米的越南也宣布减少20%的出口。

印度在2007年底就开始限制出口。由于库存减少,这个出口大国采取控制措施,进行了有效的出口禁止,约为400万吨。巴基斯坦中国也进行了控制。

3月27日,对于印度在未来几个月里重新进入稻米市场的希望被彻底打破,在这一天,该国把稻米最低出口价格从每顿650美元提高到1000美元,有效地维持了出口禁止,唯一的例外就是有创汇补贴的印度香米品种。

菲律宾可能会成为最大的输家之一,它的稻米产量根本不够养活本国9100万人口。在农民警告会出现迫在眉睫的供应赤字之后,为了保护库存,马尼拉的快餐店开始供应“半份”米饭。菲律宾总统阿罗约也已经请求越南保证今年150万吨的供应。

印度尼西亚,人们走上首都雅加达的街头,抗议米价上涨,现在甚至连泰国这个最大的出口国也在进行自我防卫。泰国每年的稻米产量为3000万吨,目标出口量为850万吨。去年的出口量高达950万吨,今年可能会出口得更多,这促使泰国政府成员们开始考虑控制。“很可能出现本地市场的稻米短缺,”泰国政府大米协会秘书长普拉泽特·科萨维特说。

已经有报道说泰国南部出现了稻米短缺,因为来自北部稻米产区的商贩在价格还没上涨时就买空了所有库存。现在的全球库存量是1976年以来最低的,分析家们预测价格上涨将持续到明年底。一些分析家预言米价会涨到每吨1000美元,直到农民在高价的刺激下扩大种植、增加供应。

去年,需求超过供应将近200万吨,今年的预测短缺则超过300万吨,而总需求量则是4.24亿吨。在整个亚洲,由于人口众多且不断增长,即使有可以用于稻米生产的额外土地,数量也微乎其微,而且要实现“供给反应”也需要好几年。

中国和印度等国在长期内持续扩大的城市化,被当作短缺的一个关键因素,在这些国家,不断壮大的中产阶级对肉类和奶制品的需求增大,土地都转而为喂养牲畜服务。

非洲财富的增长也成为一个因素。富油国尼日利亚现在是非洲最大的稻米进口国,泰国稻米出口到非洲的最多,占到了40%,亚洲占35%。

横扫亚洲的灾害天气也损害了稻米生产。中国和越南遭受了破纪录的低温天气,越南遭受了虫灾,孟加拉国遭遇了破坏性飓风,澳大利亚则遭遇了旷日持久的干旱。

“人们把这形容为各种因素的‘完美风暴’,在其作用下,稻米价格涨到了上世纪70年代以来的最高峰。”设在菲律宾的国际水稻研究所(IRRI)的亚当·巴克利说。

世界粮食计划署(WFP)也提出了警告。为了养活遍布亚洲14国的2800万“穷人中的穷人”,每年要增加1.6亿美元的费用,这个联合国分支机构已经向三个捐助国政府要这笔钱,而这只是为了抵制食品价格上涨的5亿美元全球经费中的一部分。

WFP亚洲机构发言人保罗·瑞斯利说,“稻米价格上涨真正的危险在于‘低薪酬工作者’将很容易地变成‘穷人’,他们将指望我们来养活。有几千万人挣扎在每天1美元的贫困线上,甚至在这条线以下,他们70%的日薪都花在食品上。”

“如果食品价格翻番,” 瑞斯利补充道,“他们由于没有增加收入的机会,除了让自己和家人‘缩食’,别无选择。”

卫报新闻传媒有限公司2008年版权所有

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Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

社会责任的重新分配

如上文所述,米价上涨其主要原因为亚洲国家内需扩大,粮食生产成本提高等。但我认为经济全球化也为这次风暴的产生起了催化作用,体现了其负面性。

首先,粮价上涨是市场供不应求的表现,放到古代社会,就是饥荒。从古至今,亚洲历史上有千千万万的饥荒,但为什么只有21世纪的饥荒可以变得国际化?因为我们每个国家都越来越多地依赖于国际贸易。这既是全球趋势,又同时是一把双刃剑。所以,当内需扩大才,减少国际米供货,同时使贫困国家1亿人口陷入粮食危机的时候,世界银行行长佐利克不得不呼吁制定“一个全球食品政策的新政”,以应对食品价格危机。

其次,全球化的负面性还体现在了其对全球贫富分化的影响上。不可否认,发展中国家如中国和印度的内需扩大是中产阶级扩大的结果,这对于国家走向民主是有正面影响的。因为只有中产阶级占了多数的国家,财富才能均衡,才会有民主的可能性。但是,从国与国之间的利益权衡上来看,发展中国家内需扩大,也导致了贫穷国家更加贫穷。所以粮食危机的最终受害者,是那些缺少耕地缺少技术的贫穷国家。

既然看到了问题,就要寻求解决问题的方案。粮食危机的余波会是长期的,我们应对的办法也应该是长期性的。所以,像布什政府的短期补助绝对只是应急措施而已。长期有效的办法是:在国际上,加强食品政策和管理;在国家内,建立更多有效的国家和民间机构来预测和研究粮食问题。这里,值得指出的是,非盈利机构应在这一范畴内肩负起更多指责,从而使‘吃饭’这个基本问题能够脱离政府或商业之间的博弈,以免老百姓成为博弈的牺牲品。

一个社会责任的重新分配应该是这个新世界的又一主题。

VZ

A re-distribution of social responsibilities

As discussed by the article above, the main reason for the rocketing price of rice can be seen as the increase in domestic demand and costs of production. However, I also think the effects of globalisation somehow catalyzed this "storm", showing its dark side.

First off, the high price in rice is a phenomenon of supply not meeting demand. If this happened in the ancient world, it would have resulted in a famine. Look through the history of the Asian world, there were already thousands and thousands of famines, but why can such a "famine" in 21st century become this international? Surely, it is because more and more countries rely on international trade, which is not only a global trend, but also a double-edged sword. So after domestic demand grew, international supply reduced and more than 100 million people from the poorest countries were trapped in the food crisis, the President of World Bank had to call for "a new global food policy" to tackle the crisis of food prices.

Secondly, the dark side of globalisation also affects the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Undeniably, the domestic demand surges in developing countries, such as China and India, are a promising result from the emerging of the countries' middle class, which has a positive influence on the development of democracy in these countries. In the countries with its majority group as the middle class, the distribution of wealth tends to be more homogeneous, which is the foundation of a democratic society. However, on the level of the conflict of interests between countries, the growing domestic demands in developing countries ultimately cause poor countries to become poorer. So I believe the ultimate victims of the food crisis are those poor countries which do not have high technologies and enough farmland.

Since we have seen the problems here, there has to be a solution. It is believed that the ripples of the food crisis will be long lasting, so how we deal with it will be long term actions. Realizing short-term food aid funds from the Bush administration is definitely not a solution in the end. The possible long lasting solutions can be:

1. Internationally, reinforce food policy and management.
2. Domestically, set up more effective governmental agencies and NGOs to study and forecast about the food problem.

It is also worth pointing out that more responsibilities should be carried on by NGOs in this field. The goal for this is that ultimately the "question of eating" can be independent from the game between governments and businesses, avoiding any sacrifice of the countries' civil citizens. A re-distribution of the responsibilities should be the new scheme of the world.

Victor Zhang

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

粮食价格上涨的根本原因是工业化、城镇化加速

第一,工业化、城镇化步伐加快影响了粮食的生产和消费,它导致粮食供求结构性矛盾的重要原因。

其次,工业化、城镇化步伐加快推动粮食生产成本上升。粮食生产的总成本包括生产成本和土地成本。工业化和城镇化建设过程中迅速增长的用地需求及耕地面积的急剧减少导致工业用地价格大幅上升,带动农村土地价格加速上涨;同时,种粮比较效益下降导致种粮机会成本增加。

粮食价格问题:从短期看,加强粮食需求管理,适度调控粮食市场,控制粮价过快上涨。从长期看,提高农业劳动生产率才是实现高层次粮食供求平衡,综合解决粮价稳定和农民增收问题的根本途.

K

Industrialisation, urbanisation leads to rising food prices

Further industrialisation and urbanisation will have a big impact upon food production and consumption, reshaping the the supply-and-demand structure and shoring up the cost of food production and land prices in rural areas.

To tackle the food prices issue, measures to take in the short term include: bettering food demand surveillance and management, moderately regulating the food market, and preventing food prices from rising too quickly.

In the long term, increasing agricultural productivity is the fundamental solution to balance the food supply and demand, stabilise food prices and increase farmers' income.

K

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

技术还是责任?

张先生的观点很正确。粮价上涨最大的受害者的确是最贫穷的国民——通常只有穷人才从事粮食种植。然而,这并不意味着缺乏农业“高技术”是问题所在。粮价上涨部分原因是由于相关的投入(如运输成本)增加。这些投入与上涨的油价有关。请注意,大多数的“高技术”农业及工业化农业都需要化肥——几乎所有的化肥都以石油为原料。这无疑将使粮食成本上升。在全球范围内,粮食产量过剩。粮食的过剩(由于有些政府补贴农业,例如美国)导致全球粮价走低,进而使贫穷的农民更贫穷。他们无法与美国的低价粮竞争。中国的饥饿问题不只是农业技术问题,还是财富分配的问题。富人们不会挨饿。正如张先生所说,需要重新明确社会责任。Adam Curry

Technology Vs. Responsibility

Mr. Zhang makes a good point. Indeed the people most victimized by rising food costs are the poorest citizens--often the very people who grow the food. However, this is not necessarily a problem of the lack of "high technologies" available for farming.

Food prices are rising partly because the associated inputs (such as transportation) are rising. These inputs relate to the rising cost of oil. Now consider that most "high tech" or industrial farming practices require fertilizers--almost all of which are petroleum-based. This would only increase the ultimate cost of food.

Globally there is too much food. The over-abundance of food (thanks to government subsidized farming, as in the USA) drives crop prices down globally, which keeps poor farmers poor. They can't compete with US food prices.

The problem of hunger in China is not just one of farming technology, but of the concentration of wealth. Rich people do not go hungry. As Mr. Zhang says, we need to re-distribute social responsibilities.

Adam Curry