Rice prices have surged to a 20-year high in the latest sign of global food inflation, creating policy headaches in Asia, where more than 2.5 billion people depend on cheap and abundant supplies of the grain. Thai rice prices, a global benchmark, surged last week above the level of USD 500 a ton for the first time since at least 1989, according to the UN?s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), prompting importing countries to seek assurances on supplies. US rice in Chicago, the benchmark for the world?s fourth-largest exporter of the grain, jumped on March 3 to a record USD 18.10 per hundredweight (USD 400 per ton) ? up about 75 percent in the past year. (Financial Times, UK)

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