Palikir, POHNPEI - President Manny Mori has called on the people of the FSM to be conscious of the rising price of rice in world markets, and has urged FSM citizens and residents to consume more local foods instead.
President Mori was reacting to international news reports that the price of rice has increased by as much as 50 percent in the past year due to world-wide shortages caused by drought and other natural and economic changes in key production countries.
The President noted that Australia is reported to have suffered a catastrophic 90 percent reduction in rice production due to the recent drought conditions there.
Even major Australian companies are importing rice from China and other South East Asian producers for sale within Australia. This has had an impact on FSM because a large portion of FSM rice is imported from Australia.
President Mori noted that as a result of world-wide and regional shortages, the price of rice has risen considerably in most areas and supplies are sometimes short even for those willing to pay higher prices. This is having a global impact on consumers in poorer countries in particular as rice is a major portion of their regular diet. "We cannot control the world price and supply of rice," President Mori said, "but we, the FSM should not panic and feel desperate as long as we have the abundance of local foods available to us."
President Mori called on businesses in FSM not to exploit the situation by raising prices unreasonably. He urged businesses to instead work closely with local farmers to increase the supply and quality of local food for sale locally at reasonable prices.
President Mori said the people of the FSM are very fortunate that our islands still produce an abundance of local food crops including breadfruit, bananas, taro, yam, sweet potato, cassava and a range of local food plants that are more nutritious and tastier than rice.
The President also called on government and community leaders, including in churches, schools and medical facilities, to show the lead by personally consuming more local foods and reducing their reliance upon rice as a staple food and to educate other members of the community, especially young people, about the health value, growing technology and preparation methods of local food. "For too long our children have been fed on rice as a staple food because of the convenience of preparation and storage. We have neglected our responsibility and even contributed to their lower health standards by failing to teach them to appreciate the natural food bounty of our islands," President Mori said.
"Now, the rise in the price of rice gives families greater incentive to do the right and healthy thing", President Mori added. President Mori also urged tourists and foreign residents of the FSM to also sample and use more local food items in their meals.