FOOD SUPPLY

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

FOOD SUPPLY

Record Rice Crop Seen

World rice production will hit a record high this year, but increasing demand and restrictions on exports will keep prices high, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said Monday.

Global prices of staple foods have risen more than 40 percent in the past year, leading to shortages, hoarding and riots in some developing countries. Rice prices have soared 76 percent since December, and world stocks are at their lowest since the early 1980s.

Concepción Calpe, a senior economist at the Rome-based FAO, said that according to preliminary forecasts, world production this year could grow by about 2.3 percent, reaching a record of 666 million tons. "Prices are expected to remain extremely firm, at least until the third quarter of 2008, unless restrictions on exports are eased in the coming months," she said.

MEXICO

5 Held in Chief's Slaying

A police officer and four other suspects with ties to a powerful drug cartel have been arrested in the assassination of Edgar Millán Gómez, Mexico's acting federal police chief, authorities said Monday.

The three men and two women belonged to a cell acting on the orders of the Sinaloa drug cartel, said Gerardo Garay, the anti-drug coordinator for the federal police.

The alleged leader of the group, José Antonio Montes Garfias, had been assigned to a federal police unit in Sinaloa since February, Garay said. He is suspected in the killing of another federal police officer.

GAZA STRIP

Rocket Kills Israeli

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip killed an Israeli woman on Monday as she walked toward her house in Moshav Yesha, Israeli emergency services and the army said. The militant group Islamic Jihad asserted responsibility.

The woman was the second Israeli to be killed by rocket or mortar fire from the Hamas-controlled territory since Friday.

The attack occurred as Egypt tried to broker a truce between the Jewish state and Hamas. Israel told an Egyptian mediator Monday that a cease-fire deal with Hamas must address the issue of an Israeli soldier held by guerrillas since 2006.


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