Developing Countries Will Lead Global Rice Import Growth in 2013-22, Says USDA Rice growers positive California MG prices are UP Russia MG Harvest coming to end Egypt open rice exports Vietnam’s rice export in tough competition with India Thai rice exports in May Rise Above Target This Year Viet-Nam Rice exports likely to fall this year
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Increasing rice prices seen as warning to Asia
Agricultural scientists say a 40 percent increase in international prices of rice this year following production shortfalls is a reminder that "Asia's ability to feed itself cannot be taken for granted". Announcing this, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) said after a meeting in Tsukuba, Japan, that an "international effort" has been launched to renew focus on the development of sustainable strategies to feed half of the world's population that depends on rice. The meeting, World Rice Research Conference from Nov 4-7, was organised as part of the United Nations International Year of Rice 2004 for focusing on the food security of three billion rice eaters. Rice, covering about 150 million hectares worldwide, has a profound impact on the environment and natural resources. One big challenge facing Asia, say scientists, is to meet national and household food security needs with an ever-declining natural resource base, especially water and land. Current annual rice production of 545 million tonnes needs to be increased to 700 million tonnes to feed an additional 650 million rice consumers by 2025, using less water and less land, which is a big challenge. In addition, rice is seen as crucial in meeting a prominent UN Millennium Development Goal -- the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Says the IRRI: "Rice is so central to the lives of most Asians that any solution to global poverty and hunger must include research that helps poor Asian farmers reduce their risks and earn a decent profit while growing rice that is still affordable to poor consumers." The Philippines-based IRRI announced details a new environmental agenda. It listed seven "key challenges" to producing enough rice for the world and doing it sustainably. These are poverty and the environment, farm chemicals and residues, land use and degradation, water use and quality, biodiversity, climate change and the use of biotechnology. "Each of these issues is crucial to rice production and efforts to ensure that the 800 million rice consumers who are trapped in poverty in Asia can get access to the rice they need to feed themselves and their families," said IRRI Director General Ronald P. Cantrell. Cantrell added: "As international rice prices jumped this year by a surprising 40 percent because of shortages in some countries, we are reminded that we cannot take Asia's ability to feed itself for granted. If we do, millions will suffer because of our complacency." ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries have been warned that they face "challenges" in three "vitally important" areas -- the looming impact of global warming and inadequately trained and increasingly scarce human resources. Since the start of the Green Revolution -- which began in Asia with the IRRI's release in 1966 of IR8, the first modern, high-yielding semidwarf rice variety -- supporters of this technology-based drive say global rice harvest has more than doubled, racing slightly ahead of population growth. IRRI says around 1,000 modern varieties -- approximately half the number released in south and southeast Asia over the last 38 years -- are linked to varieties developed by itself and its partners. Increased availability of rice has pushed down world market rice prices by 80 percent over the last 20 years, greatly benefiting poor rice consumers, urban slum-dwellers and landless farm workers alike, claim supporters of the Green Revolution. Farmers have also benefited as improved efficiency has lowered unit cost and increased profit, they say. But critics of the Green Revolution contend that its policies adversely affected the ecology, agriculture, politics and social relations in the Third World.
MGR Archive 9.11.2004
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