rice production continues to decline...
From an output of 599 million tons in 2000, global rice production went down to 569 million tons in 2002 owing mainly to a reduction in the rice harvested area, Dr. He Changchui, assistant director general and regional representative for Asia and the Paacific of the United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO) said in a report.
Rice yield also declined slightly, he reported at the
International Rice Forum held recently at the Philippine Trade and Training
Center in Pasay City. Organized by
the government and the private sector, the forum was held in celebration of the
International Year of Rice-2004.
Hand in hand with these perturbing development is the rapid
increase of the world population. For
instance, the 1,26 percent rate of population growth during the 2000-2002 period
was much higher than the growth rate of rice production over the same period.
Dr. He, however, optimistically projected that humankind can
produce the food it needs.
He conceded that the challenges of global rice production are
enormous. However, “FAO strongly
believes that with the commitment and support of all stakeholders, global rice
production can meet these challenges.”
Dr. He based his optimism on the adoption of high-yielding
varieties and improved crop management technologies over the 30-year period from
1970 to 2000.
“The experience gained during this period has demonstrated
the ability of global rice production to produce adequate rice when support and
investment from governments are available,” the FAO official asserted.
He cited the success stories in rice production of China and
In China, after the successful development of hybrid rice in
1976, the government provided incentive and support to its adoption.
This led to the rapid expansion of hybrid rice area from only a few
hundred thousands of hectares in the late 1970s, the government provided
incentive and support to its adoption. This
led to the rapid expansion of hybrid rice has enabled China’s rice production
to increase sustainability from 128 million tons in 1975 to 189 million tons in
2000. Subsequently, the rice harvested area in the country
decreased from 36 million hectares in 1975 to only 30 million in 2000, with the
saved area used for diversified activities to increase farmers’ incomes.
In Vietnam, rice production during the 1975-1988 period was
not enough to satisfy the demand of the population and the country had to import
200,000-400,000 tons of rice yearly between 1984 and 1988.
In 1988, the Vietnamese government adopted the
“Renovation” policy that provided farmers with more right and access to
inputs and markets. Rice production
in 1989 increased substantially, even enabling Vietnam to become a major
exporter of rice from thereon.
Dr. He pointed out that global rice production and its
ecosystems have undergone substantial changes over the past three decades.
The major technical issues and constraints facing rice-based
systems include diminishing land and water resources, stagnation of yield
potential, global climate change, consumer preference, malnutrition in
rice-consuming populations, productivity and efficiency in rice production,
maintenance of agricultural bio-diversity, and prevention of environmental
The FAO official noted that there are still 840 million
people all over the world suffering from chronic hungers.
The world population is projected to increase to 8.27 billion
in 2030 and the rice demand in 2030 is estimated to be 771 million tons, which
is about 202 million tons more than the amount of paddy rice production in 2002.
Summing up, Dr. He asserted: “The battle against hunger and
poverty does not end when bellies are full, but when they are nourished.
We must also look to science and new technologies to confront the need
for added value and biofortification of this staple crop.
We must also focus its value as a specialty food – a food that is
treasured in developed and developing countries alike.”