News & Events

Global rice production continues to decline...

Rudy Fernandez
The Philippine Star, January 6, 2005 

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 Vietnam.

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 pollution.

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.”