Thai Rice Demand Predicted to Rise as Ukraine War Continues

The early morning sun peaks over the leafy Thai hillside as a crew of 20 migrant workers toss fresh rice seedlings into the soaked paddy fields, signifying the start of the rice season in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai Province.

Speed and agility are the driving forces for the group of male and female laborers, mostly from neighboring Myanmar, who get paid by the hectare to plant the crop, earning as much as $35 a day, but working dusk to dawn.

The men and women have crossed into Thailand – some illegally – to earn a higher-than-average wage as word of rising rice production in the country translates into added days in the field.

Amid concerns about wheat shortages in Russia and Ukraine, Thai economists say demand for rice is set to rise this year, driven by the war in Ukraine and its impact on global commodity prices.

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Steve Sandford