Officials from the world’s leading rice-producing countries are meeting in Thailand to discuss their plan to boost world rice prices by forming an unofficial cartel.

Present at the meeting are officials from five countries: China, India, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam, which together produce over three-quarters of the world’s rice.

The meeting aims to form an unofficial cartel that will hope to halt the fall of rice prices by determining a minimum price, below which the five countries will refuse to sell. The minimum price is likely to be around 1997 prices. Since then prices have dropped by around one-third, and rice producers are afraid that prices will continue to fall if nothing is done to stop it, reports BBC online.

Rice is a particularly important food, as it is the staple diet in many developing countries. Although common in commodity industries, cartel-type behaviour is a sensitive issue when it comes to rice.

Although farmers need to be paid a decent price for their crop, it is also important for the rice to be affordable to people in poor and developing countries.