Agri-funds sprouting in Singapore

Singapore - Soaring prices for agricultural commodities are whetting investors' appetites for agri-funds that have been sprouting in Singapore, news reports said on Monday.

At least four investment funds launched in the past week have offered exposure to the performance of such markets as rice, wheat and soya, The Straits Times said.

Among them are Barclays Global Agriculture Delta Fund and BNP Paribas Agriculture fund, available to retail investors for a minimum 1,000-Singapore-dollar (740-US-dollar) investment.

Merrill Lynch is distributing its Citrine Agriculture Booster Notes, linked to six indexes. At least three private banks recently launched their own products.

Investors flush with cash after exiting equity markets are reportedly moving some money into the new funds as prices of food and other produce soar.

Global food prices have risen 45 per cent on average in the past nine months, according to the World Bank.

Agriculture plays are the "most promising area of the commodities sector," investment analyst Jim Rogers was quoted as saying at the launch of the Barclays agriculture fund. The "bull run could last for 10 years," he said.

Huge populations in China and India are consuming more food, Rogers said.

Industry players expect the funds to reach annual returns to 20 per cent, the report said. (dpa)