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Asia's Rice Crop Under Threat: Research Institute
Asia Pulse
CEBU CITY, Oct 28 Asia Pulse - The Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has warned that Asia's rice is under threat. The rice crop is fundamental to the region's political and social stability, food security, and economic development, an IRRI report said.
While rice supplies appear plentiful at present, it said recent rice-production challenges in some countries have led to rice supply shortages, causing the world rice price to increase sharply.
While good news for some farmers, it said such price increases in the international market present a major new threat to poorer, rice-importing countries and highlight the fact that rice supplies and Asia's food security must not be taken for granted.
IRRI said there are three major long-term threats to Asia's ability to produce the rice it needs:
First, rice farmers in many countries no longer get the water they need for irrigation, while several Asian river systems, including the Yellow River in China, no longer reach the sea in the dry season.
Alarmingly this year, it said the Mekong River dropped to its lowest ever recorded level.
Millions of Asian rice farmers depend on these and other rivers like them, to produce the rice the region needs, IRRI pointed out.
Secondly, it said new research shows that global warming may have a potentially serious impact on Asia's ability to feed itself, with rice yields expected to fall 10 per cent for every one degree centigrade increase in nighttime temperatures.
Climate change in other areas such as drought and rising sea levels is also to impact rice production, it warned.
Third, and perhaps most important, it said rice production in Asia faces a human resources crisis.
The industry no longer attracts the best and the brightest as many rice farmers are growing older and encouraging their children to leave the farm for education.
As a result, IRRI report said these three production problems: water shortages, global warming and a lack of skilled human resources have begun eating away at Asia's ability to produce the rice it needs.
In the short term, it said their impact may not appear serious, but over the longer term they are sure to severely reduce Asia's capability to produce the rice it needs to maintain regional food security, stability and economic development.
It said the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) believes the rice-producing countries of Asia must work together to overcome these three crucial challenges threatening the region's rice industry over the next decade.
IRRI said new rice varieties must be developed that will tolerate the expected temperature increases and other stressful conditions, such as drought.
There is a need to have management skills and technical knowledge to produce rice in a modern environment where water shortage and a changing climate will be a constant problem.
MGR Archive 30.10.2004
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