>Hun Sen: Orec can solve world hunger


Phnom Penh (Agencies) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) said on Monday that the Opec-style rice cartel proposed by Thailand would ensure global food security, not increase hunger and poverty as critics say.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said last week there was an agreement in principle to form what he calls Organisation of Rice Exporting Countries by Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The Mekong-region nations hope they can run a group similar to the oil cartel Opec.
Hun Sen said during a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh that the cartel would never try to manipulate markets like Opec. It would only seek to ensure global food security.
“We will not only ensure food security in each of our own countries, but will help solve the entire problem of (food) shortages across the region and the world,” Hun Sen said.
“When there are shortages, we will not stockpile the rice or increase prices,” the premier said. “We really want to help ensure food security.”
The Asian Development Bank said it hated the idea. Senior Philippines officials have blasted the proposal as “anti-poor”, designed to increase hunger and poverty.
Hun Sen urged them to stop. “The formation of the organisation is not meant to strangle the throats of countries that do not have rice,” he said.
The five proposed members of the cartel will discuss the organisation at regional talks in October, Hun Sen said, adding that the Mekong river nations would export up to 15 million tonnes of rice a year – 10 million by Thailand.
Hun Sen last week appealed to farmers to grow more rice in order to profit from the increased global food crisis.
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