846E.2317/1–3052: Telegram

The Ambassador in Ceylon (Satterthwaite) to the Department of State1


446. All figures metric tons. GOC 1952 rice situation critical due reduction approximately 200 available from Burma. Against GOC minimum requirement 500 during 1952 to maintain current issue rate of 6.7 ounces per day per capita (which approx half GOC estimated prewar consumption rate) only commitments thus far are 120 from Burma,2 20 Pak, 15 Indochina, 15 Thailand leaving deficit 80 for first half 1952. Only prospects for second half are 80 from Burma and 20 from Indochina.3

Thai reported having surplus 1,600 of which 1, 100 being immed disposed of, 800 on govt-to-govt basis and 300 through commercial channels. Thai Govt reported to have already allocated 760 of 800.

[Page 1505]

GOC considers and Emb fully concurs it wld be most unwise reduce present rice issue. Gen elections undoubtedly will be held this year and results may well depend on food situation. At present critical months for Ceylon appear to be June, July and Aug which months probably will precede general elections. Min Food personally requested Emb urge US use good offices with Thai Govt to obtain addit 185.

Emb agrees fully with GOC estimate seriousness situation and strongly recommends Dept and Emb Bangkok give every assistance.

GOC also requests estimate current US stocks available for immed exploitation and stocks estimated available for export beginning May 1952.

  1. This telegram was repeated to Bangkok as telegram 4.
  2. All figures are in thousands of tons. The commitment of 120,000 tons from Burma was later reduced to 80,000 tons (telegram 478 from Colombo, Feb. 21, 1952; 846E.2395/2–2152).
  3. A more detailed explanation of the critical nature of Ceylon’s rice shortage was reported in despatch 664 from Colombo, Feb. 1, 1952 (846E.2317/2–152).