Saudi turns to Thai rice farms in bid to meet food shortfall


Saudi Arabia, one of the world's top rice buyers, is likely to start investing in rice farms in Thailand by the end of 2008 in a move to boost security of food supply, industry sources and traders said on Friday.

"A number of private companies and Saudi officials already met last week Thai investors to discuss possible partnerships," said a Gulf industry source, who asked to remain anonymous.

"Those interested will be looking at meeting domestic demand and then exporting to neighbouring Gulf Arab countries, mainly the UAE," he said.

India, the world's second-biggest rice exporter in 2007, banned all non-basmati rice shipments in March, one of a series of protectionist measures worldwide that triggered a wave of panic buying, causing benchmark Thai prices to treble.